Koh Tao (or Ko Tao) is a small island in the Chumphon Archipelago in Southern Thailand.
It’s an extremely popular island for snorkelers, divers, and laidback beach partiers.
Although a small island, there’s a ton to see and do in Koh Tao for travelers and adventure enthusiasts. Whether you enjoy eating delicious food, hiking, and diving, or lounging on beaches, there’s plenty to explore.
Home to a handful of distinct regions situated among different bays, you want to base yourself in the area best suited to your interests.
In this guide, we’ll cover where to stay in Koh Tao, and highlight our 5 favorite areas and the top things to do there.
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Koh Tao
- Where to Stay in Koh Tao
- Koh Tao Neighborhood Guide
- 5 Best Areas to Stay in Koh Tao
- 1. Chalok Baan Kao Bay – Where to Stay in Thailand for the First Time
- 2. Mae Haad – Where to Stay in Koh Tao on a Budget
- 3. Sairee Beach – Where to Stay in Koh Tao for Nightlife
- 4. Tanote Bay – Coolest Place to Stay in Koh Tao
- 5. Thian Og – Where to Stay in Koh Tao for Families
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Koh Tao
- Where to stay in Koh Tao first time – Chalok Baan Koa
- Where to stay in Koh Tao on a budget – Mae Haad
- Best area to stay in Koh Tao for nightlife – Sairee Beach
- Coolest place to stay in Koh Tao – Tanote Bay
- Best Neighborhood in Koh Tao for families – Thian Og
- Relax on the golden sands of stunning Chalok Baan Kao Bay Beach
- Watch the sunset from the June Juea Bay, a remote and secluded beach
- Walk to nearby Freedom Beach and enjoy an afternoon in the shade at this beautiful location
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Koh Tao, Thailand! Check out our guide on Koh Tao’s hostels too!
Best Hostel in Koh Tao: The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel
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.
Best Hotel in Koh Tao: Nadapa Resort
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.
Best Airbnb in Koh Tao: Two Bedroom, Two Bath Apartment in Sairee
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.
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Koh Tao
Chalok Baan Kao Bay
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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 neighbourhoods, 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 neighbourhoods 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.
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 Thailand, so check out our Thailand backpacking guide with itinerary advice, places to visit, travel tips, and more!
Things to See and Do in Chalok Baan Koa
– Relax on the golden sands of stunning Chalok Baan Kao Bay Beach.
– Walk to nearby Freedom Beach and enjoy an afternoon in the shade at this beautiful location.
– Hike to the top of the John Suwan viewpoint and enjoy panoramic views of the island and the sea.
– Watch the sunset from the June Juea Bay, a remote and secluded beach.
– Enjoy delicious, fresh fruits, vegetables, lentils and more at I Love Salad, a restaurant that specializes in, you guessed it, salads.
– Ying Yang is known as one of the places to get the best Thai food in Koh Tao.
– 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.
– Hike out to Buddha Rock, a group of “spirit rocks” that look like a person sitting on the shoreline.
Best Hostel in Chalok Baan Koa: The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel
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.
Best Hotel in Chalok Baan Koa: Aukotan Place
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.
Best Airbnb in Chalok Baan Koa: Seaview Bungalow
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.
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.
Things to See and Do in Mae Haad
– Walk out of town and spend a day on the secluded and beautiful Sai Nuan Beach.
– Visit Koh Tao Temple, a beautiful and serene Buddhist temple located 300 meters north of Mae Haad off the main road.
– Enjoy a great meal right on the beach at Breeze Koh Tao.
– Go swimming or snorkeling in the calm, clear and shallow waters of Jansom Bay.
– 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.
– Enjoy fresh, delicious and affordable vegetarian food at La Carotte Qui Rit.
– Visit Gambero Rosso for authentic Italian food in the heart of Thailand.
– Go hog wild at Flaming Hof BBQ, a rustic restaurant that offers up some of the best BBQ’d food around.
– Learn to dive and explore the ocean floor in the turquoise waters surrounding Mae Haad.
Best Hostel in Mae Haad: White Jail @ Koh Tao Hostel
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.
Best Hotel in Mae Haad: Nadapa Resort
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.
Best Airbnb in Mae Haad: Studio by the pier
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.
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.
Things to See and Do in Sairee
– Make new friends and enjoy the island vibe at Banyan, a bar that caters to expats.
– Great food, drinks and views await you at FIZZ beach lounge; the perfect destination for a relaxing night out.
– Party on the beach until 2 AM at the Lotus Beach Bar.
– Enjoy live music at Good Vibe Bar, where they host concerts, open mic and jam sessions four nights a week.
– Learn to scuba dive in the calm, shallow shores of Sairee Beach where there are dozens of dive shops and schools to choose from.
– Spend a night sampling brews at The Beer Masons, Koh Tao’s only craft beer and cider bar.
– Swing through the air on the flying trapeze at Goodtimes Adventure.
– Watch the heavy hitters duke it out at Island Muay Thai, home of Muay Thai boxing.
– 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.
Best Hostel in Sairee: Summer Hostel Koh Tao
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.
Best Hotel in Sairee: Pranee Amata
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.
Best Airbnb in Sairee: Designer Bungalow by the beach
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.
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.
Things to See and Do in Tanote Bay
– Rent kayaks and glide across the clear waters of Tanote Bay.
– Strap on a snorkel and explore the world beneath the waves.
– Eat some of the best food on the island at Poseidon Resort.
– Get PADI certified and see the vibrant coral and exotic creatures that call this stunning locale home.
– Enjoy authentic Thai cuisine at Tik.
– Climb to the top of the rock and fling yourself off into the deep waters below.
– Rest, relax, and lounge on the pristine white sands of Tanote Bay Beach.
– Hike the mountainous terrain to the highest peak on the island, Two View, and take in the stunning sea, beach, and landscape below.
– Enjoy food with a view at Blue Heaven Koh Tao.
– Work on your tan on the beach at nearby Aow Leuk Bay.
Best Hostel in Tanote Bay: Summer of ‘69
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.
Best Hotel in Tanote Bay: Montalay Beach Resort
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.
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.
Things to See and Do in Thian Og
– Visit nearby Sai Daeng Beach for a relaxing day of sand castles, swimming, and playing on the beach.
– Rent gear and learn to snorkel in this warm, sheltered cove in paradise. You’ll be amazed by all the sea creatures swimming below.
– 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.
– Rent snorkelling equipment and explore the ocean floor to see schools of brightly coloured fish – and maybe a turtle or two!
– Watch the sunset as you enjoy a delicious Thai meal at the Terrace At Jamajkiri Resort & Spa.
– Eat fresh, delicious and local fare at Eagle View, a nearby restaurant that boasts stunning views of the bay.
– Hop on a longtail boat and cruise around the island by visiting hard to reach and secret places.
Best Hostel in Thian Og: The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel
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.
Best Hotel in Thian Og: Taaton Seaview Resort
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.
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!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
If want to learn more about security in Thailand, check out our separate safety guide for insider tips and stories.
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Need More Inspiration?
- Backpacking Thailand on The Cheap
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Global renegade and experienced explorer, Clair has been on the road ever since she could walk. She splits her time between Europe, Australia and Asia and is a world-class PA to the horrifically organised Broke Backpacker. In her spare time, Clair enjoys misplacing her purse, red wine and yoga.