Koh Tao Island The Turtle Island Located in The Gulf of Thailand
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Koh Tao Island
Koh Tao Island. The island is geared towards diving tourists more than backpackers on a budget and offers both basic through luxury accommodation. There are hardly any currents and a wide selection of dive sites and dive shops, schools and resorts.
Ko Tao is a small island of approximately 21 km² and receives over a 100,000 visitors per year. To minimize your impact on the eco-system, notice that there are no garbage disposal facilities, so everything that can’t be burned has to be taken away. Try to avoid plastic bags that are given out for every purchase you make. There is also no department to clean the roads or other public areas, so don’t dump your waste on the open landscape. Water is scarce and electricity expensive, so don’t waste them.
Historically Ko Tao was once a detention place for political prisoners similar to Ko Tarutao in Satun Province
Peak seasons in Ko Tao are from December to March and July to August. July/August is actually high season due to Northern Hemisphere summer and rain dominating most of the rest of the country. The Gulf of Thailand is on a separate weather system and is usually sunny, however regional instability – such as Typhoons in the South China Sea can provide daily bouts of rain. Monsoon is in Nov-Jan and can be constant rain for days at a time. It is a quite popular destination among Thais also, so it can be nearly fully booked on Thai holidays.
Getting There Koh Tao Island
Chumphon Airport, Pathiu IATA Code (CJM)
This option is one of the fastest to get to Koh Tao and generally much less expensive than via Samui Airport.
Nok Air operate two daily flights between Don Mueang Airport (DMK), Bangkok and Chumphon Airport, Pathio with van transfer for the 55 minute ride to the ferry terminal. Nok Air and AirAsia sell an integrated Fly ‘an’ Ferry combi ticket from Bangkok to Ko Tao via Chumphon Airport directly on their website; this combines flight, transfer and high speed ferry in a single ticket.
- Fame Tours and Services have a counter at arrivals hall offering transfer and hotel services. This is the best option for transfers as the airport doesn’t have a meter taxi service.
- Lomprayah has a counter offering transfers and tickets for high speed catamarans.
- The TAT Tourism Authority of Thailand, Chumphon has a tourism information counter offering information on the region adjacent to the airline counters.
Lomprayah will move the main ferry terminal and pier to a new purpose built facility at Cape Pathiu about 2 km from the Chumphon Airport in Pathiu, the pier will open Q3 2016. This will reduce travel time from the airport to pier by 50 minutes and cut 90 minutes from the bus journey from Bangkok to the ferry pier.
Samui Airport IATA Code (USM)
Samui is fairly well connected to major cities in the region such as Bangkok, Penang and Singapore. Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways and Silkair operate from the private airport in Ko Samui and both charge artificially high rates. Bangkok Airways operates more daily flights to and from Ko Samui than Thai Airways. There is a 300 baht departure tax for all flights.
Other Airports Several airlines, including Thai Air Asia, Nok Air and Thai Airways operate from the Surat Thani Airport.
By boat Koh Tao Island
From Bangkok via Chumphon to Koh Tao Island
The closest departure point for the island ferry service is Chumphon. Numerous agents sell tickets for a variety of boats and speeds travelling. The fastest Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran takes about 90 minutes, the slowest night boat almost 5 hours. Lomprayah have a pickup service from your hotel to the pier for 100 baht. The ticket itself is 600 baht wherever you book it.
These ferries depart Chumphon at 07:00, 13:30, 23:00 and midnight. The ferries at 07:00 and 13:30 are the normal passenger ferries offered by
– Lomprayah – High Speed Catamaran service about 90 minutes (600 baht)
– Seatran 5 to 6 hours
– Songserm Boat 2 to 3 Hrs
Both Lomprayah and Songserm sell packages from Bangkok by bus or Nok Air offer a fly / sea combi ticket.
The late night ferries are normally vehicle or cargo ferries, making for a slower (5-6 hour trip, arriving at 05:00) and offer a comfortable bunk bed in a dormitory included in the 300 baht ticket. If you are arriving via bus or train, be sure to arrive well before the ferry times, as the ferry terminal is around 1 hour travel time from the train station, and a missed connection either results in a late night trip on the vehicle/cargo ferry or an overnight stay and a 05:30 start to catch the bus to the ferry terminal for the first ferry the next day.
Train to Chumphon then boat Koh Tao Island
A good option for travelling from Bangkok is to book Sleeper Train #85; leaving Bangkok around 19:30 and arriving in Chumphon at 04:00 (usally late 1-2h) and then have a ticket booked for the 07:00 ferry. Most ferry operators can pick you up from the station where you can while away the 3 hour connection gap. You can also buy your ferry ticket at the station when you get off the train at 04:00.
Bus to Chumphon then boat Koh Tao Island
Lomprayah have an inclusive ticket from Bangkok on a comfortable large bus included in the price with connections to the port.
From Surat Thani Koh Tao Island
If you’re coming from the south, you can take a ferry from Don Sak pier, 60km from Surat Thani on the mainland with a travel time of around 3 hours for the morning ferry, or from Ko Samui, 1.5 hours, or Ko Pha Ngan 1 hour. If you’re taking a boat from Surat Thani, one possibility might be an overnight ferry. These depart around 23:00 and arrive in the morning, about 06:00 (subject to changes). It’s advisable to arrive early to grab a mattress as most of the boats are former cargo boats and so the passenger facilities are basic.
From the other islands Koh Tao Island
You can also day trip on diving charters from Ko Samui. Many have high speed boats that can make the trip to Ko Tao in about 1 hour.
Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran  or Seatran  are the fastest and most comfortable way to get to Ko Tao. They run twice a day from Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Surat Thani, and Chumphon. They also have online booking – useful for checking availability at peak times and all their boats have air conditioning and movies for passengers. Booking from Ko Samui can cost 500-1000 baht on the streets. You can get a ticket for the slower boat (2.5 hours) as low as 250 baht if you buy it in the ticket office next to the pier (next to 7 eleven). You can get a ticket on the spot, no need to book in advance.
Things To See Koh Tao Island
Take a bike around the island. Shark Bay is a good place to go snorkelling for the day (don’t worry too much about sharks, they are only small black-tip reef sharks). Ko Nang Yuan, Freedom beach, Laem Thian, Mango Bay, Hin Wong Bay and Tanote Bay are good day excursions, and are accessible by road or boat. Some roads, such as to Mango Bay, are more suited to dirt bikes or cars rather than scooters.
Many rental scooters come equipped with off-road tyres, which help tremendously with navigating the crevasse riddled dirt trails. Mango Bay and Laem Thian are accessible by scooter but are challenging rides and suited to more experienced riders.
However, to see the best places, go by foot as some are inaccessible to motorists. There are a number of good viewpoints around the island such as John Suwan Mountain Viewpoint in the south of the island, Two View in the centre, and Fraggle Rock in the north.
All beaches in Thailand are public. Some property owners may try to give the incorrect impression that “their” beach is private.
Beaches Koh Tao Island
Sairee Beach Koh Tao Island
This is the largest beach on Ko Tao, located on the west side of the island from the ferry terminal on the southwest corner of the island and running almost the length of the island. All along this beach you will find dive schools, resorts, restaurants, and bars. The southern and central sections of the beach are well-known for their night life, and the northern end has a large number of shops and restaurants which tends to be a bit quieter at night, but with the bars only a short walk down the “Yellow Brick Road”.
- AC Resort. Budget resort.
- Ban’s Avenue & Ban’s Avenue 2. Located directly in the heart of Sairee. Dorm rooms from 350 baht private room from 1,000 baht..
- Blue Wind, north Sairee Beach. Bungalows on the beach. Extremely helpful manager and friendly staff. The bakery offers a variety of good quality food. 300-1,500 baht..
- Casas del Sol, ([email protected]), . Boutique villas with modern tropical designs and great views. Open-plan living, dining, and kitchen areas with private swimming pools on the terrace. From 5,000-8,500 baht..
- Coral Grand (Nomads), Sairee Beach, ([email protected]). Backpackers can use the hotel facilities
- Koh Tao Backpackers Hostel, (central Sairee Beach), ☎ +66 88 447 7921([email protected]). checkout: 10:00. Eight bed dormitory rooms with air-con, hot water showers, lockers in rooms, free Wi-Fi and swimming pool use. Close to many restaurants, shops and bars. 300 baht.
- Koh Tao Cabana, Sairee Beach. 2 major room types; Whites, a wooden cottage-style room and a villa, a rounded concrete structure with a king-sized bed, spacious terrace, and newly renovated daybed section.
- Koh Tao Coral Grand Resort. On the beach. 2,650-10,700 baht.
- Koh Tao Family Bungalow. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. The bungalow is designed to blend in with the natural landscape, while taking best advantage of the sea and mountain views. Sairee Beach is only minutes away. The restaurant and plaza entertainment area are easily accessed by motorbike or foot. Air conditioning, cable TV & DVD, Wi-Fi, tea/coffee service, 24 hour security and Ko Tao pier transfer. 2,040 baht.
- Ko Tao Resort (formerly Ko Tao Cottage), Sairee Beach.
- Sairee Hut Resort, Sairee Beach. 1,800 baht.
- Silver Sands Beach Resort, (central Sairee Beach). Fan & air-con bungalows and hotel-style rooms. Close to many restaurants, shops and bars.
- Simple Life Resort, (Sairee Beach). Air-con rooms, swimming pool, bar-restaurant, spa and massage room and free Wi-Fi.
- SpicyTao Backpackers Hostel, (Sairee Beach). checkin: 12:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. From the popular Spicy Backpackers chain. Free breakfast, hostel guided tours, peaceful location. Dorms starting from 150 baht.
- Summer Guesthouse and Hostel, (North Sairee next to Gym and Fitness). Purpose built modern accommodation block, newly refurbished and located in the heart of Sairee with hot showers and Free super fast WiFi. Offering a choice of deluxe or budget options to suit any visitor wanting to stay on Koh Tao. Dorm beds starting from 400 baht, Deluxe private rooms with A/C and private balcony from 1,200b.
- Koh Tao Hillside Resort (เกาะเต่าฮิลล์ไซด์รีสอร์ท), 19/1 Moo 1 Koh Phangan Suratthani Ko Tao, Surat Thani Province 84360 Thailand (central Sairee Beach), ☎ +66 77601822 ([email protected]). checkin: 14:00; checkout: 10:00. Set in Ko Tao, 2 km from Mango Bay, Koh Tao Hillside Resort boasts air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The resort has an outdoor pool and a private beach area, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant. 1800-2800 baht.
- In Touch Resort (อินทัช รีสอร์ท), 1/16 Moo1, Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Suratthani Ko Tao, Surat Thani Province 84360 Thailand (Had Sairee Beach), ☎ +66 77456514 ([email protected]). checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. Located half a mile from Mae Haad Pier in Ko Tao, In Touch Resort features a restaurant, bar and free WiFi. Free private parking is available on site. 2200-2500 baht.
Chalok Bay Koh Tao Island
Chalok Baan Kao is a much more chilled, relaxed environment than Sairee Beach, while still giving access to a great range of restaurants, beach bars, and BBQs plus a wide range of accommodation from luxury resorts to budget rustic, beach-side bungalows.
- Buddha View Dive Resort. A resort primarily for divers with a range of budget to deluxe accommodation. Beachside cafe, bar, and nightly BBQs.
- Freedom Beach Resort, Chalok Baan Kao Bay, ☎ +66 77 456 596 (booking[email protected]). checkout: 09:00. Beach front bungalows for every budget although many are in need of refurbishment. All the bungalows have air-con and hot water although they lack fridges and TV. Two private beaches in front and a quiet location 10 minute walk to the Chalok Baan Kao Beach. Unfortunately there is quite a lot of old construction material dumped around the resort and nearby coastline. Inconsistent electric supply. From 500 baht for fan, up to 2,500 baht for A/C bungalows.
- Sunshine Resort 2, Chalok Baan Kao Bay. checkout: 09:00. Bungalows with 24 hr electricity. Windows have screens. Some bungalows have no electrical outlets. Friendly staff. European-style toilets, but with a pail and water replacing the normal flush function. 300 baht bungalow with double bed and fan..
- Woodlawn Villas, Chalok Baan Kao, ☎ +66 878 898 675 ([email protected]). Family-run with 6 fully-serviced private residences and a selection of villas and suites. Quiet, secluded, and 300 m from the main street at the end of a private road. Surrounded by 2 acres of coconut palm trees and tropical gardens. Supermarket, a variety of restaurants and bars, coffee shops, pharmacies, massage treatments are nearby. Daily maid service, free Wi-Fi & server with unlimited movies, series and music, fully-fitted kitchen, living room, air-con bedroom with en suite bathroom, hot water shower, cable/sat TV, DVD player & DVD library. Electronic in-room safe & bed linen provided. From 1,200 baht.
Tanot Bay Koh Tao Island
More populated than other east coast beaches, but this doesn’t mean it’s busy. There is no town or village here and only 4 resorts, each with an attached restaurant and one really tiny shop which is up the hill behind the resorts. There are no ATM machines. There are no really cheap places to eat as there are in Mae Haad.
The sand on the beach is coarse and there is an unbelievable amount of broken glass in it. Likely because of people drinking while sitting on the rocks. Careful where you step and do your bit to pick up some of the glass. The shore is rocky and there is plenty of coral right off the beach. You can rent snorkelling equipment for 100 baht per day. There is a large rock just out to sea for those interested in cliff diving.
There are regular trucks that go back and forth 3-4 times per day at 100 baht per person. Ask at your resort for taxi times. Alternatively you can charter your own truck for 400 baht minimum or 100 baht per person.
- Poseidon Bungalows, (near the middle of the beach), ☎ +66 77 456 735. Free Wi-Fi in the restaurant when it works. Thai food is 80-140 baht. The low-end huts are quite shabby, but are the cheapest no-frills fan rooms on the bay. 400 baht.
- Aow Leuk II Restaurant & Bungalows, (on the south hillside in Ao Leuk bay).
- Black Tip Diving & Water Sports Resort (“”Ao), ☎ +66 77 456 488, +66 77 456 489 ([email protected], fax: +66 77 456 489). Peaceful resort great for families, romantic holidays or just to get away from all the rest. Located on a quiet beach with one of the best bays on the island forsnorkelling. 24 hr electricity, swimming pool, Wi-Fi. 400-3,000 baht.
- Bohemia Resort, Ao Thian Og (southern tip of Ko Tao), ☎ +66 87 906 5619 ([email protected]). Thai-style eco-resort on the top of the hill with amazing view on the Ang Thong National Marine Park and Ko Pha Ngan, with quiet surroundings in the middle of nature only 10 min walk from the beaches. From 1,000 baht.
- Charm Churee Villa, Jansom Bay, ☎ +66 77 456 393 ([email protected], fax: +66 77 456 475). checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. A low-impact, eco-friendly, rustic resort with a quiet beach near the jungle. From 4,200 baht.
- Jamahkiri Spa & Resort,
- Ko Tao Bamboo Huts, Jansom Bay, ☎ +66 77 456 394 ([email protected], fax: +66 77 456475), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Resort built extensively from bamboo in the interests of environmental sustainability. From 6,700 baht.
- Koh Tao Heights, ([email protected]). Traditional Thai design and eco living on a hillside in the centre of Sairee with a panoramic view of Sairee Bay and Ko Nang Yuan Island. 500 m from the beach. From 1,100 baht..
- Koh Tao Star Villa, Sairee. Modern, spacious villa in the hills above Sairee Beach. Very quiet with panoramic sea, jungle and sunset views.3,000 baht and up.
- La Cigale, ([email protected]). Four private suites on 1 acre of avocado farm overlooking Sairee Bay, 250 m from the beach. From 2,000 baht..
- Pinnacle Koh Tao Dive Resort, June Juea Beach, ☎ +6677 456 404. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 21:00. Hotel rooms and bungalows on private beach with panoramic view of the Gulf of Thailand. From 1,800 baht.
- The Place Luxury Boutique Villas, Sairee, checkin: 14:00; checkout: 10:00. Luxury boutique villas, all with private infinity pools. Private and far enough away from Sairee to offer peace and solitude, but still a short walk to the beach. From 5,000 baht.
- Thipwimarn Resort.
- Villa Chacha, Shark Bay. Villa with outstanding view of Shark Bay. Located near the most popular beaches, 3 bedrooms on two levels with a Thai design and decor.
- Villa Sabai Jai, ☎ +66 8 538 54 99 ([email protected]). This Koh Tao resort occupies an exceptional position 35 meters above sea on the edge of a cape with panoramic views over the ocean, and resides nearby Ao Tian Og and Sai Daeng beaches.
- Villa Jivarah. Private villa.
Mae Haad Koh Tao Island
This is the main spot of Koh Tao where any ferry will arrive at a pier. There are a lot of shops: Restaurants, 7-Eleven, Diving Shops, Travel Agents, Post Office, Banks, Motorbike Rentals and anything else you will need.
- Pumski Apartments, 5/29 M. 2, Mae Haad, ☎ 077-456959 or 084-3840834 ([email protected]). checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. start from 500 THB.
- Sleep Inn Hostel, 2/75 moo2, Mae Haad (2 min walk on the Pier-up Road, after gasstation lefthand side), ☎ +6677-456904 or +66930015748([email protected]). checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. start from 300 THB.
- Koh Tao Central Hostel, 2/21 moo2, Mae Haad (1 min walk on the Pier-down Road), ☎ +6677456925 ([email protected]). checkin: from 11:00; checkout: 11:00. 340thb.
- Harbor Hostel, 5/30 Moo. 2, Mae Haad (Just ~150 meters from the pier on the left towards the top main road on the right side.), ☎ 084-3840834. checkin: 08:00 am to 20:00 pm; checkout: 10:30 am. start from 350 THB.
- Taco Shack Hostel, (Mae Haad). Two minute walk up the hill from the ferry pier. Air-con rooms, bar-restaurant, and free Wi-Fi. Dorms starting from 450 baht.
- Koh Tao Montra Resort and Spa, Mae Haad. Boutique spa resort with large swimming pools, Jacuzzi, international bar-restaurant, spa treatments and in-house PADI dive centre. From 1,500 baht/night..
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