Scuba diving. Snorkelling. Hiking. Rock climbing. Bouldering. Lying on the beach with a cocktail.

If any of the above tickle your fancy…  lean in a little closer as I take you through everything I know about the tropical paradise that is Koh Tao.

Koh Tao (also known as Ko Tao or Turtle Island ) is a small island in the Chumphon Archipelago in Southern Thailand. It’s an extremely popular island for snorkelers, divers, and laidback beach partiers.

Koh Tao is a popular spot amongst travellers. It lures travellers in with its pristine beaches and laid-back vibe. Not to mention its mind-blowing underwater world. But what I love about  Koh Tao is that although it’s a popular spot with tourists – it hasn’t lost its island magic.

Although Koh Tao is just a small island, it has so much to offer. Whether you’re a scuba diver, rock climber or a lie-on-the-beach-with-a-cocktail kind of traveller – you’ll want to deciding where to stay on Koh Tao that best suits you.

Lucky for you (and me!), I have explored this island many times and I have collected a lot of travel tips along the way. In this guide, I’ve compiled the best areas to stay in Koh Tao and organised them by interest. You’ll be an expert on the areas of Koh Tao in no time!

So, without further ado – let’s dive into it!

Where to Stay in Koh Tao

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Koh Tao, Thailand! Check out our booking guide on Koh Tao’s best hostels too!

Thailand Koh Tao

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Two Bedroom, Two Bath Apartment in Sairee | Best Airbnb in Koh Tao

This two bedroom, two bathroom apartment is a 10-minute walk from lively Sairee Beach. It’s close to laundry facilities, shops, restaurants and the area’s trendiest bars.

This property features a full kitchen, dining room, and an outdoor area perfect for lounging. This Airbnb is great for couples, friends, or small families visiting Ko Tao.

The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel | Best Hostel in Koh Tao

The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel is located in Chalok Bay less than one kilometer from the beach. It offers budget travelers and backpackers clean and comfortable private and shared rooms at an affordable price.

It has an on-site café, bar, and restaurant, as well as a rooftop terrace and common room.

Nadapa Resort | Best Hotel in Koh Tao

This two-star hotel is just 250 meters from Mae Haad Pier. It’s close to restaurants, shops, the beach, and all the area’s top attractions.

The rooms are comfortable, clean and have private bathrooms and balconies. Each room is outfitted with cable/satellite TV, a ceiling fan and a fridge. The property has a relaxing in-house bar, laundry services, and free-wifi throughout.

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Koh Tao Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Koh Tao

FIRST TIME IN KOH TAO
Chalok Baan Koa, Koh Tao
FIRST TIME IN KOH TAO

Chalok Baan Kao Bay

Located in the south of Koh Tao is Chalok Baan Kao Bay. The third largest beach on the island, this is the perfect place to stay in Koh Tao for first-time visitors.

ON A BUDGET
Mae Haad, Koh Tao
ON A BUDGET

Mae Haad

Mae Haad is the capital and main city on Koh Tao. It is where you will find the main ferry dock as well as loads of shops, restaurants, banks, amenities, and motorbike rental agencies.

NIGHTLIFE
Sairee Beach, Koh Tao
NIGHTLIFE

Sairee Beach

Have you ever wanted to dance the night away at a full moon party? Well Sairee Beach is the place to do it. This region of the island is where you’ll find Koh Tao’s hottest nightlife.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Tanote Bay, Koh Tao
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Tanote Bay

Located on Koh Tao’s east coast, Tanote Bay has a laid-back and relaxing atmosphere. Though it’s the most populated spot on the east coast, this bay is by no means busy. Home to just a handful of resorts, shops and restaurants, this bay is a calm oasis in paradise.

FOR FAMILIES
Thian Og, Koh Tao
FOR FAMILIES

Thian Og

Thian Og is a small and secluded bay on the south coast of Koh Tao. Known as Shark’s Bay, it’s famous for the gentle and harmless black and white tip reef sharks that swim throughout these tropical waters.

Koh Tao (or Ko Tao) is a small island located off the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand. Part of the Chumphon Archipelago, Koh Tao is a popular destination for snorkelers, scuba divers, and beach party enthusiasts.

Home to more than 1,500 resident, Koh Tao welcomes more than 100,000 people each year to experience its beautiful landscape and crystal clear waters.

Although small, there’s a lot to see and do in Koh Tao for adventurous travellers. From hiking and diving to lounging on the beach, there’s much to experience on this tiny Thai island.

Koh Tao is home to a handful of distinct neighborhoods, primarily centred around the islands different bays. We recommend that with each visit to Koh Tao, you see at least three or four of the different neighborhoods to get a good feel for the island.

To help you plan your visit, this guide will break down Koh Tao’s top activities and attractions by interest.

Mae Haad is the main town and ferry port on Koh Tao. Home to a wide variety of shops and restaurants, this village is also where you’ll find the best options for accommodations. From boutique hotels to backpacker hostels, there’s something in Mae Haad for every budget.

North of Mae Haad is Sairee Beach. This is the liveliest and most vibrant region on the island and where you’ll find the best bars, clubs, and nightlife spots.

Travel south of Sairee and Mae Haad to Chalok Baan Koa and Thian Og Bays. Located on the island’s southern coast, these areas are characterized by their stunning beaches, calm shallow waters, and abundance of interesting wildlife.

On the east coast of the island is Tanote Bay. Not easy to get to, this bay boasts amazing natural scenery and pristine beaches. Much quieter than the rest of the island, what this bay lacks in nightspots it makes up for in stunning views.

Still not sure where to stay in Koh Tao; don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

5 Best Areas to Stay in Koh Tao

Koh Tao is an island paradise covered in palm trees, white sand beaches, and surrounded by clear turquoise waters. Each charming village on the island has something different to offer visitors.

Are you interested in exploring the seas and lounging on the beach? Do want to spend your days hiking through the jungle?

Perhaps you plan to hit the bars all night long, or attend one of the island’s infamous Full Moon Parties. No matter the purpose of your visit, there’s an area of Koh Tao that’s right for you.

Here are the best areas of Koh Tao broken down by interest.

1. Chalok Baan Kao Bay – Where to Stay in Thailand for the First Time

Located in the south of Koh Tao is Chalok Baan Kao Bay. The third largest beach on the island, this is the perfect place to stay in Koh Tao for first-time visitors.

The atmosphere here is more chilled out and relaxed than in the north, while still having access to bars, restaurants, activities and more.

Chalok is also a great base for travellers interested in exploring more of the island. Several beautiful and popular beaches are within walking distance as well as a handful of amazing viewpoints. Enjoy shallow warm waters and stunning views at Chalok Baan Kao Bay.

Editor’s Note: There’s a good chance you’ll be visiting more of the country, so check out our Thailand backpacking guide with itinerary advice, places to visit, travel tips, and more!

Chalok Baan Koa, Koh Tao
Photo: Fabio Achilli (Flickr)

Seaview Bungalow | Best Airbnb in Chalok Baan Koa

With one bedroom and shower, this apartment is perfect for 1 to 2 guests. The apartment has a fully functional kitchen, air conditioning and a private balcony with stunning sea views. It’s Located near a shark bay, the best point for snorkeling in Koh tao and the Thai restaurant.

The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel | Best Hostel in Chalok Baan Koa

The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel is located in Chalok Bay less than one kilometre from the beach. It offers budget travellers and backpackers clean and comfortable private and shared rooms at an affordable price. It features an on-site café, bar and restaurant, as well as a rooftop terrace and common room.

Aukotan Place | Best Hotel in Chalok Baan Koa

Located just an eight-minute walk from Chalok Bay Beach, this hotel is well positioned for an enjoyable stay in the area. It is close to restaurants, bars, as well as a supermarket.

Recently refurbished, this hotel is made up of 33 rooms. Each is equipped with a refrigerator, private bathroom and cable/satellite channels.

Things to See and Do in Chalok Baan Koa

  1. Relax on the golden sands of stunning Chalok Baan Kao Bay Beach.
  2. Walk to nearby Freedom Beach and enjoy an afternoon in the shade at this beautiful location.
  3. Hike to the top of the John Suwan viewpoint and enjoy panoramic views of the island and the sea.
  4. Watch the sunset from the June Juea Bay, a remote and secluded beach.
  5. Enjoy delicious, fresh fruits, vegetables, lentils and more at I Love Salad, a restaurant that specializes in, you guessed it, salads.
  6. Ying Yang is known as one of the places to get the best Thai food in Koh Tao.
  7. Be whisked to Lung Pae, a marvellous restaurant overlooking Koh Tao. Although not technically in Chalok, this restaurant provides free pick-up from anywhere on the island.
  8. Hike out to Buddha Rock, a group of “spirit rocks” that look like a person sitting on the shoreline.
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2. Mae Haad – Where to Stay in Koh Tao on a Budget

Mae Haad is the capital and main city on Koh Tao. It is where you will find the main ferry dock as well as loads of shops, restaurants, banks, amenities, and motorbike rental agencies.

The town is also home to a stunning and pristine beach that stretches both north and south of the central piers.

Mae Haad is the ideal location for travellers on a budget, and our top pick for where to stay in Koh Tao for backpackers, alongside #3 on this list.

A great number of accommodations options are based around the beach, including hostels, beach huts, and economy hotels. Stay in central Mae Haad to enjoy the best of paradise without breaking the bank.

Mae Haad, Koh Tao

White Jail @ Koh Tao Hostel | Best Hostel in Mae Haad

Housed in a former political prison this hostel is quite an interesting place to stay. Centrally located in the heart of Mae Haad, it’s just a three minute walk from the pier, beach, restaurants, and a mini market.

It has shared dorm-style accommodation, outdoor terrace, bar and café.

Nadapa Resort | Best Hotel in Mae Haad

This two-star hotel is just 250 meters from Mae Haad Pier. It is close to restaurants, shops, the beach, and all the area’s top attractions.

The rooms are comfortable, clean, and have private bathrooms and balconies. Each room is outfitted with cable/satellite TV, a ceiling fan, and a fridge. The property has a relaxing in-house bar, laundry service, and free-wifi throughout.

Studio by the pier | Best Airbnb in Mae Haad

The 18 sqm studio apartment with one bedroom and bath has every amenity you will need for your stay in Koh Tao. The host also provided complimentary coffee and tea throughout your stay.

Things to See and Do in Mae Haad

  1. Walk out of town and spend a day on the secluded and beautiful Sai Nuan Beach.
  2. Visit Koh Tao Temple, a beautiful and serene Buddhist temple located 300 meters north of Mae Haad off the main road.
  3. Enjoy a great meal right on the beach at Breeze Koh Tao.
  4. Go swimming or snorkeling in the calm, clear and shallow waters of Jansom Bay.
  5. Big portions and big taste, The Living Room Koh Tao is the best place to go if you’re looking for a good burger and a cold beer.
  6. Enjoy fresh, delicious and affordable vegetarian food at La Carotte Qui Rit.
  7. Visit Gambero Rosso for authentic Italian food in the heart of Thailand.
  8. Go hog wild at Flaming Hof BBQ, a rustic restaurant that offers up some of the best BBQ’d food around.
  9. Learn to dive and explore the ocean floor in the turquoise waters surrounding Mae Haad.

3. Sairee Beach – Where to Stay in Koh Tao for Nightlife

Have you ever wanted to dance the night away at a full moon party? Well Sairee Beach is the place to do it. This region of the island is where you’ll find Koh Tao’s hottest nightlife. Whether you’re looking for a seaside party or a vibrant restaurant, Sairee Beach has it all.

Sairee Beach is also home to the most popular beach on Koh Tao. Stretching nearly 1,500 meters, Sairee Beach is made up of brilliant white sand. It’s a great location to snorkel and swim.

With coral reef not far from shore, it’s an ideal destination for new and experienced scuba divers.

Sairee Beach, Koh Tao
Photo: irumge (Flickr)

Designer Bungalow by the beach | Best Airbnb in Sairee

This cozy house is located in a quiet area in Koh Tao, a small and relaxed island, in the Gulf of Thailand, well known for world-class diving resorts. With an open plan floor, the house has one bedroom and a shower inside and outdoors a small kitchen and bbq on the terrace.

Summer Hostel Koh Tao | Best Hostel in Sairee

Open year-round, this is one of the best hostels in Koh Tao for budget backpackers and partiers. It’s located within walking distance of Sairee Beaches hottest clubs, coolest bars, and most stylish restaurants.

Featuring private and dorm-style accommodations, this hostel is perfect for singles, couples, and families. Enjoy a great atmosphere and modern amenities at this Sairee Beach hostel.

Pranee Amata | Best Hotel in Sairee

This three-star hotel is located a stone’s throw from Sairree beach. Close to restaurants, shops, and cafes, this hotel is a short walk to Koh Tao’s hottest nightlife destinations.

Featuring free-wifi and an on-site coffee bar, this hotel provides guests with clean, comfortable and modern accommodations. Each room has air conditioning, free bottled water, and a cosy seating area.

Things to See and Do in Sairee

  1. Make new friends and enjoy the island vibe at Banyan, a bar that caters to expats.
  2. Great food, drinks and views await you at FIZZ beach lounge; the perfect destination for a relaxing night out.
  3. Party on the beach until 2 AM at the Lotus Beach Bar.
  4. Enjoy live music at Good Vibe Bar, where they host concerts, open mic and jam sessions four nights a week.
  5. Learn to scuba dive in the calm, shallow shores of Sairee Beach where there are dozens of dive shops and schools to choose from.
  6. Spend a night sampling brews at The Beer Masons, Koh Tao’s only craft beer and cider bar.
  7. Swing through the air on the flying trapeze at Goodtimes Adventure.
  8. Watch the heavy hitters duke it out at Island Muay Thai, home of Muay Thai boxing.
  9. Dance, drink, party and play beer pong on the beach at Fishbowl Beach Bar. Here you’ll find a great party any night of the week.
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4. Tanote Bay – Coolest Place to Stay in Koh Tao

Located on Koh Tao’s east coast, Tanote Bay has a laid-back and relaxing atmosphere. Though it’s the most populated spot on the east coast, this bay is by no means busy. Home to just a handful of resorts, shops and restaurants, this bay is a calm oasis in paradise.

Tanote Bay is famous for its white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Ideal for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving, visitors come to Tanote Bay for the opportunity to explore the offshore coral reefs.

Easily accessed by a concrete road, this bay is surrounded by lush hills and a great place to get your adrenaline pumping by hiking, climbing and rock jumping.

Tanote Bay, Koh Tao

Montalay Beach Resort | Best Hotel in Tanote Bay

This recently refurbished resort is located across from Tanote Bay Beach. It’s close to scenic spots, popular attractions as well as a number of watersports equipment rental shops.

Boasting a private and outdoor pool, this hotel also has an elegant restaurant on-site. Rooms are comfortable and modern, and each has flat-screen TVs and wireless internet access.

Summer of ‘69 | Best Hostel in Tanote Bay

The closest hostel to Tanote Bay is the located less than 15 minutes away near Sairee Beach. Clean and inexpensive, this hostel offers standard and mixed dorm accommodations for up to 28 people.

It has an indoor common room, outdoor terrace, and a small kitchen corner. There is also an on-site bar that hosts live music and jam sessions throughout the week.

Things to See and Do in Tanote Bay

  1. Rent kayaks and glide across the clear waters of Tanote Bay.
  2. Strap on a snorkel and explore the world beneath the waves.
  3. Eat some of the best food on the island at Poseidon Resort.
  4. Get PADI certified and see the vibrant coral and exotic creatures that call this stunning locale home.
  5. Enjoy authentic Thai cuisine at Tik.
  6. Climb to the top of the rock and fling yourself off into the deep waters below.
  7. Rest, relax, and lounge on the pristine white sands of Tanote Bay Beach.
  8. Hike the mountainous terrain to the highest peak on the island, Two View, and take in the stunning sea, beach, and landscape below.
  9. Enjoy food with a view at Blue Heaven Koh Tao.
  10. Work on your tan on the beach at nearby Aow Leuk Bay.

5. Thian Og – Where to Stay in Koh Tao for Families

Thian Og is a small and secluded bay on the south coast of Koh Tao. Known as Shark’s Bay, it’s famous for the gentle and harmless black and white tip reef sharks that swim throughout these tropical waters. Thian Og is also home to friendly green turtles that swim up very close to the beach.

Thian Og is a great destination for families. More relaxed than other areas of the island, this beach is home to a number of activities for children. Kids of all ages will love playing in the warm waters, swimming with turtles and watching sharks from the shores.

Thian Og, Koh Tao

The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel | Best Hostel in Thian Og

The best family hostel in Koh Tao is The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel. Located less than a 15-minute walk from Thian Og beach, this hostel has five levels of modern and eco-friendly rooms to choose from.

Close to a myriad of activities, this hostel is conveniently located. Relax in the common room or enjoy the rooftop terrace at this exceptional Koh Tao hostel.

Taaton Seaview Resort | Best Hotel in Thian Og

This three-star resort provides guests with luxurious and comfortable accommodations. Located right on Thian Og Bay, this hotel is just minutes from the beach and is conveniently situated for exploring Koh Tao.

It has an on-site bar and restaurant as well as fun waterslide activities. Enjoy a range of modern amenities and activities at this seaside resort.

Things to See and Do in Thian Og

  1. Visit nearby Sai Daeng Beach for a relaxing day of sand castles, swimming, and playing on the beach.
  2. Rent gear and learn to snorkel in this warm, sheltered cove in paradise. You’ll be amazed by all the sea creatures swimming below.
  3. Drive north of Ao Thian Ok to Koh Tao Leisure Park where there are more than 5000 square meters of activities and games for the whole family.
  4. Rent snorkelling equipment and explore the ocean floor to see schools of brightly coloured fish – and maybe a turtle or two!
  5. Watch the sunset as you enjoy a delicious Thai meal at the Terrace At Jamajkiri Resort & Spa.
  6. Eat fresh, delicious and local fare at Eagle View, a nearby restaurant that boasts stunning views of the bay.
  7. Hop on a longtail boat and cruise around the island by visiting hard to reach and secret places.
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FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Koh Tao

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Koh Tao and where to stay.

What To Pack For Koh Tao

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
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Hanging Laundry Bag

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Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
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Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Koh Tao

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Koh Tao

In this guide we covered the 5 best areas to stay in Koh Tao for every type of traveler; backpackers, singles, couples, and families will all find their perfect haven on Koh Tao. We also discussed what to do and see on Koh Tao, which this article sums up nicely.

But one thing is for sure, whether you’re an experienced diver or snorkeling enthusiast, you’ll find your serenity in the beautiful waters of Koh Tao. Here’s a list of the top 10 dive sites on Koh Tao for some inspiration!

If you’re not sure which area you should stay at, here are our top accommodation picks on the island.

The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel is one of the best hostels in Koh Tao. Located in Chalok Bay less, it offers budget travelers a comfortable and affordable option just less than a kilo from the beach. There is an on-site café, bar, restaurant, common room, and rooftop terrace.

Nadapa Resort is the perfect affordable hotel. Close to the Mae Haad Pier, you’re also within walking distance to the beach, restaurants, and convenient shops. Each room has a fridge, ceiling fan, and TV. The property itself has a bar and laundry services.

Have you been to Koh Tao? Let us know if we missed anything in the comments below!

If want to learn more about security in Thailand, check out our separate safety guide for insider tips and stories.

Looking for more info on travelling to Koh Tao and Thailand?

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