Are you searching for the best things to do in Koh Tao?!
Arguably the best island in Thailand, and one of the best tropical destinations in South East Asia, Koh Tao is not to be missed on your itinerary.
There are many awesome things to do on Koh Tao Island (Turtle Island) which is one of the most popular diving destinations in Southeast Asia, attracting scuba diving lovers from all over the world.
However, as a non-diver, there are many tourist spots in Koh Tao Island to discover – from white sand beaches to panoramic viewpoints, there is something here for everyone!
Read on to discover the best things to do in Koh Tao Thailand.
15 EPIC THINGS TO DO IN KOH TAO
JOHN SUWAN VIEWPOINT
John Suwan viewpoint is the best viewpoint on the island and is not to be missed!
It’s an easy 20-minute hike to reach the top of the viewpoint for sunrise and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning panoramic view at the top.
WHERE IS JOHN SUWAN VIEWPOINT AND WHAT TO EXPECT
John Suwan Viewpoint is a 15-minute drive from Sairee Beach, the main tourist hub of Koh Tao.
There is decent road access and when I visited this spot for sunrise there were no parking or entrance fees. However, some people told me they hiked to the John Suwan viewpoint during the day and had to pay a 50 Baht entrance fee, so just keep that in mind.
When you arrive in the car park at the jump-off point to John Suwan, you’ll see a sign with ‘viewpoint’ written on it and an arrow pointing the way.
Along the trailhead, you’ll come to an intersection with three different roads branching off. Be sure to take the middle road which is the correct trail to take to reach the viewpoint.
Full blog post: John Suwan Viewpoint
The trail is rocky with some make-shift stairs and you’ll also come across a few spots where there are ropes anchored in place to help you scale some bigger boulders, which was my favorite part of the adventure!
The hike is not that strenuous, and it takes approximately 20 minutes from bottom to top for the average person.
There are a few other viewpoints that can be found here, so don’t rush back down to the bottom, spend some time exploring the area and you’ll be sure to come across more epic views of the island and its coastlines.
BEST TOURS IN KOH TAO
Sairee Beach is the biggest, busiest, and most popular beach on Koh Tao’s west coast.
The beach is the main tourist hub on the island, and it has it all, from beachside bars and restaurants to dive shops and night markets.
If you’re here for scuba diving, I highly recommend checking out Big Blue Diving, one of the best dive schools on the island.
Also, if you’re coming from Koh Phangan or Koh Samui, this is where you’ll arrive, which is something to note.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, Sairee Beach is one of the best locations on the island to watch the sunset with a few bars, and take a dive boat!
WHERE IS SAIREE BEACH AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Sairee Beach is a 5-minute drive from the Mae Haad Pier. Sairee Beach has easy road access and when I visited there were no parking or entrance fees. It’s a stone’s throw from the jump-off point to the beach.
As I mentioned earlier, Sairee Beach is the biggest beach on this small island, stretching 1.8km along the western coastline.
During the day, it has a few fun things to do including tree swings, beach volleyball, sunbathing, and snorkeling out on the reef to see the marine life.
Another great thing about this beautiful beach is that you don’t have to go far to get some lunch or drinks as there are restaurants (try the Pad Thai!) and bars all the way along the beach, each with stunning views of the bay and neighboring islands.
Full blog post: Sairee Beach Koh Tao
Apart from that, I recommend checking out Infinity Koh Tao, which gave me a fantastic Thai massage!
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The nightlife at Sairee Beach is always buzzing and it’s the best place to be on the island for all things happening!
Night markets, streetside food vendors, and beach bars line the streets and I guarantee you will be far from bored during a night out.
For diving enthusiasts, all the dive shops on Koh Tao can be found here. Just pop your head in, say hello, and organize your scuba diving trips in advance.
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Freedom Beach is my favorite beach on the island and it is rated one of the best places to see by locals and tourists!
WHERE IS FREEDOM BEACH AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Freedom Beach is a short 10-minute drive from Sairee Beach and it has decent road access with no parking or entrance fees. It’s a short 2-minute walk to the beach from the jump-off point.
Freedom Beach Koh Tao is one of the smaller beaches but the beauty and scenic vibes make up for its size. Freedom Beach is a must-see location on your list of things to do in Koh Tao!
This fine white sandy beach is tucked away under a shady palm tree and mangrove jungle with some of the clearest, bluest water on the island.
Full blog post: Freedom Beach Koh Tao
A shallow reef can be found just off the shoreline at Freedom Beach with an abundance of corals and schools of fish which is known to be one of the best Koh Tao snorkeling spots!
Freedom Beach is one of the smaller Koh Tao beaches but the beauty and scenic vibes make up for its size.
This fine white sandy beach is tucked away under a shady palm tree and mangrove jungle with some of the clearest, bluest water on the island.
Next on this list of Koh Tao things to do is Shark Bay (also known by the local name Thian Og Bay) which is rated one of the best snorkeling spots on the island.
Shark Bay aptly gets its name from the frequent blacktip reef sharks that enter the bay.
WHERE IS SHARK BAY AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Shark Bay is a 15-minute drive from the main beach. Shark Bay can be accessed through the Haad Tien Beach Resort. Park out the front of the resort and then follow the signs pointing the way to the beach.
There is lots of exploring to do at Shark Bay and you MUST go snorkeling to try your luck at spotting a blacktip reef shark.
The sharks are harmless so you don’t have to worry about being bitten, just be sure to give them their space to move around.
Also, keep a sharp eye out for some green turtles and the abundant marine life that frequent the bay!
Unfortunately, I didn’t encounter any black tip reef sharks at Shark Bay but I was lucky to swim with a turtle that I spotted cruising around.
Full blog post: Shark Bay Koh Tao
If you don’t have your own snorkel gear, you can rent a set from the resort or the Thai food restaurant down on the beach.
Also, I highly recommend renting a kayak or taking a local boat out to Shark Island to explore the outer reefs.
There is an abundance of colorful corals and schools of friendly fish circling around under the water, so if you have a GoPro camera be sure to take it with you.
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LOVE KOH TAO VIEWPOINT
Love Koh Tao viewpoint is one of the most popular things to do in Koh Tao, boasting panoramic views overlooking Tanote Bay and the east coast of the island.
WHERE IS LOVE KOH TAO VIEWPOINT AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Love Ko Tao Viewpoint is located in the center of the island, just a 15-minute drive from Sairee Beach. It has good road access and a large car park at the top of the hill.
There is an entry fee of 20 Baht to take photos at the Love Koh Tao viewpoint or alternatively, if you buy something to eat or drink then the entry fee is waived.
Love Ko Tao viewpoint is a fantastic spot to watch the sunrise as it faces east over the Gulf of Thailand. If you’re not a morning person, no worries, it’s also a great spot for lunch and freshly squeezed fruit juice.
There are a number of great photo opportunities at the Love Koh Tao viewpoint, including the @lovekohtao sign, the netted beds, and the big colorful welcome sign.
The viewpoint is one of my favorite things to do on Koh Tao, for a short visit in between beach hopping.
Full blog post: Love Koh Tao Viewpoint
SAI NUAN BEACH
Sai Nuan Beach is one of the best, most unspoiled beaches to visit when you explore Koh Tao. It’s the perfect hideaway from the more popular beaches on the island.
WHERE IS SAI NUAN BEACH AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Sai Nuan Beach is a 15-minute drive from the main beach, and it has decent road access.
There are no parking or entrance fees when visiting Sai Nuan Beach and is a short 2-minute walk to the beach from the jump-off point.
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I visited Sai Nuan Beach around 2 pm one afternoon and I was stoked to have discovered this tropical paradise that is isolated from the more touristy beaches.
I first arrived at Sai Nuan Beach 2 and took some photos of the beach and seaside restaurant before following the shoreline around to Sai Nuan Beach 1.
Sai Nuan Beach 1 is my favorite pick of the two beaches because of its awesome tropical vibe about it!
A cozy bay is shaded by a coconut palm tree forest with a slackline and a tree swing between the palms! Sounds fun right?!
Sai Nuan Beach is the perfect spot to enjoy a day out with friends and family to soak up some sun, snorkel around the rocks, and beach bum while listening to the sounds of the waves and coral wind chimes.
THE 2 BEACHES AT SAI NUAN BEACH
There are actually two beaches to be explored at this location, Sai Nuan Beach 1 and Sai Nuan Beach 2.
If you happen to park in the first car park on the left-hand side at the end of the road, follow the walking trail down from here and you will emerge on Sai Nuan Beach 2.
To get to Sai Nuan Beach 1, follow the shoreline around the corner, walk through the restaurant beneath the palms and you will arrive in less than 2 minutes.
Full blog post: Sai Nuan Beach Koh Tao
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TAA TOH BAY
Taa Toh Bay is a magnificent cove hidden under a palm-fringed forest on the south coast of the island.
Taatoh Bay is the ultimate spot to relax on the beach for some peace and quiet away from the more popular attractions.
WHERE IS TAA TOH BAY AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Taa Toh Bay is a 15-minute drive from Sairee Beach with decent road access and when I visited there were no parking or entrance fees. It’s a short 2-minute walk to the beach from the car park.
I could have easily spent an entire day at Taa Toh Bay. There is so much to do including snorkeling, kayaking, beach volleyball, hiking, and hammock chills!
When I visited, there were only four other people on the beach, which surprised me as it was peak season on Ko Tao.
Full blog post: Taa Toh Bay
KOH NANG YUAN ISLAND
Koh Nang Yuan is one of the most stunning neighboring islands a unique tropical island in southern Thailand and one of the best day trips to be had here.
Experience the ultimate serenity and tranquillity on Nang Yuan Island, where you’ll find beautiful beaches, panoramic viewpoints, and some of Thailand’s best scuba diving sites.
HOW TO GET TO KOH NANG YUAN
Koh Nang Yuan is only accessible by taxi boat and the most popular route to get here is by organizing a day trip from Ko Tao.
The boat trip from Koh Tao takes approximately 15 minutes across the channel.
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Here are a couple of options to book a day trip to Koh Nang Yuan listed below:
OPTION #1: ASK A LOCAL
I found the easiest and cheapest way to get over to Koh Nang Yuan is to head down to the northern end of Sairee Beach where all the boats are lined up and find a local who has a boat that is willing to take you over the channel.
My friends and I did exactly this and we were able to barter a price of 1000 Baht between the five of us (200 Baht per person) for a return trip to Koh Nang Yuan.
OPTION #2: TOURIST OFFICE
You can book a day trip to Koh Nang Yuan from any of the tourist information offices dotted around the Mae Haad Pier and Sairee areas.
Expect to pay between 250-350 Baht per person if you book with this option as the boat tour companies charge more so they can make a commission.
Also, this is one of the best dive sites around, so they’ll be able to give you a few tips before you book your scuba diving trip.
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ARRIVING AT KOH NANG YUAN
Koh Nang Yuan is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 5 pm. I recommended spending at least half a day here to enjoy exploring as much of the island as you possibly can.
Make sure to arrange a time with your taxi boat driver for when you want to be picked up again to make the return trip back to Ko Tao.
There is a 100 Baht entry fee per person to visit, and you must leave no later than 5 pm unless you are staying at the Nangyuan Island Dive Resort.
Also, plastic water bottles and the flying of drones are prohibited on the island.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT KOH NANG YUAN
The nearby Koh Nang Yuan is very popular nowadays, so you can expect there to be quite a lot of tourists on the island.
Regardless of the herds of people, I still had a fantastic time swimming at the unique sandbar beach and hiking to the famous viewpoint.
If you would like to experience the island without the crowds, I recommend booking one or two nights at the Nangyuan Island Dive Resort. This way you will have the beaches and viewpoints all to yourself before the gates open to tourists each day.
There is a restaurant attached to the Dive Resort which is the only place to buy food and drinks, however, the prices here are much higher than the average Thai restaurant.
Full blog post: Koh Nang Yuan Island
KOH NANG YUAN VIEWPOINT
One of the best adventurous things to do in the region is hiking to the famous Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint that overlooks the entire island.
It’s an easy 15-minute hike to the viewpoint via a concrete path that leads the way through a small forest, up some stairs, and then a quick scramble along a couple of large boulders, finally emerging at the viewpoint.
Incredible panoramic views await at the top of the viewpoint, with an aerial perspective overlooking Nang Yuan Island and a glimpse of the beautiful western coastline.
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CHALOK BAAN KAO BAY
Chalok Baan Kao Bay is the perfect location for an entire day of exploring, beach bumming and relaxing.
I visited Chalok Beach at around 4 pm in the afternoon and the long white sand beach was practically empty.
WHERE IS CHALOK BAAN KAO BAY AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Chalok Bay is a short 10-minute drive from the main beach and one of the top things to do in Koh Tao. It has great road access, and parking spots are available all along the beach.
There are no parking or entrance fees here, and it’s a stone’s throw from the road to the beach.
There are a number of beach bars, bean bags, and restaurants along the beach where you can enjoy some afternoon drinks at sunset.
I explored the bay from one end to the other, stopping numerous times to take photos of the palm trees and the boats bobbing around in the shallow waters.
All in all, it is definitely one of the quieter beaches to visit, and with the convenience of food and beverage options right there too.
Full blog post: Chalok Baan Kao Beach
Mango Viewpoint is rated as one of the best viewpoints on the island and a great spot to spend a couple of hours chilling in a hammock, reading a book, playing board games, or sipping on freshly squeezed juice.
WHERE IS MANGO VIEWPOINT AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Mango Viewpoint is located high in the hills in the north of the island. It’s a short 15-minute drive from Sairee Beach.
It has decent road access, but it is very steep and you may end up having to walk up the hill if your scooter doesn’t make it.
When you arrive, there is an entrance fee of 100 Baht, which is a higher cost than other viewpoints but the view is definitely worth the money, in my opinion!
Incredible panoramic views welcome you upon arrival, and a small restaurant with fresh seafood, as well as a juice bar, is on the hillside.
My friends and I made ourselves comfortable on the large cushions while we took in the awe-inspiring views of Koh Tao’s western coastline and the beautiful Sairee Beach.
Full blog post: Mango Viewpoint
Tanote Bay is surrounded by rolling hills and large boulders. There is also a rock formation at Tanote Bay Beach that is well-known as the best rock jumping spot around Koh Tao Island.
WHERE IS TANOTE BAY AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Tanote Bay is located on the eastern coastline of the island, a short 15-minute drive from Sairee Beach.
Tanote Bay has decent road access and when I visited there were no parking or entrance fees. It’s a short 2-minute walk to the beach from the jump-off point.
Tanote Bay is the best place to watch the sunrise on Ko Tao Island as this bay faces east over the Gulf Of Thailand.
I visited Tanote Bay around 10 am to explore the beach and the rocky points before going for a swim and of course some rock jumping.
Full blog post: Tanote Bay Full Guide
The weather was unfortunately very overcast on the day that I visited Tanote Bay but I still had an amazing time exploring this coastline.
There are a couple of beachside restaurants and resorts along the beach, the perfect spot to get something to eat and drink without having to leave the oceanside.
Also, I highly recommend snorkeling in Tanote Bay as it’s said to be one of the best snorkeling spots on the island, with a variety of colorful corals and reasonably large fish just a few steps into the water.
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SAI DAENG BEACH
Sai Daeng Beach is another picture-perfect location to visit during your stay.
Located on Koh Tao’s south coast, Sai Daeng Beach is the perfect spot to spend a day snorkeling the reefs, kayaking in the bay, and working on your tan!
WHERE IS SAI DAENG BEACH AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Sai Daeng Beach is a 15-minute drive from Sairee Beach. Sai Daeng Beach can be accessed through the Sai Daeng Resort.
Park out the front of the resort and then follow the signs pointing the way down the stairs to Sai Daeng Beach. There are no parking or entry fees when visiting.
I personally stayed at the Sai Daeng Resort for 3 days and 3 nights and was lucky enough to visit Sai Daeng Beach every morning for a swim and snorkel.
Full blog post: Sai Daeng Beach Koh Tao
Some of the clearest, turquoise waters can be found here at Sai Daeng Beach and colorful coral reefs are only a stone’s throw away from the palm tree fringed shoreline.
It’s also the closest bay to Shark Island, which is one of the best snorkeling trips on the island. There are kayaks and snorkel sets available to rent from the restaurant located down on Sai Daeng Beach.
Paddling out to Shark Island in a kayak takes approximately 10 minutes and there is a floating buoy to tie off your kayak before jumping in the water for a snorkel.
Ko Tao Island has some pretty incredible viewpoints but I have to say that Sunset Viewpoint is my favorite.
Located high in the hills at the northern end of the island, Sunset Viewpoint offers incredible west-facing views overlooking the popular Sairee Beach
WHERE IS SUNSET VIEWPOINT AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Sunset Viewpoint is a short 15-minute drive from Sairee Beach. There is decent road access, but it’s very steep and you may end up having to walk up the hill if your scooter doesn’t make it.
Look out for the ‘High Rock View Point – Sunset Point’ sign on the left-hand side of the road as you come up the steep hill and make a left turn here.
If the track is muddy you may have to walk. Otherwise, you can drive all the way up and over to the viewpoint.
Full blog post: Sunset Viewpoint Koh Tao
There are large boulders at Sunset Viewpoint that make for a perfect photo opportunity with panoramic views of the western coastline of the island.
There are also some hammocks tied up between the trees for a very comfortable chill session while you wait for the sunset.
The day I visited, it was very cloudy and overcast so unfortunately, I didn’t get to experience a good sunset.
However, the incredible views at the top still made the adventure worthwhile and it’s not to be missed on your list of things to do on Koh Tao!
HIN WONG BAY
Hin Wong Bay on Koh Tao Island is a beautiful beach surrounded by large boulders and crystal clear waters, offering one of the best snorkeling spots.
I perused my map in search of a beach away from the more popular beaches and I discovered Ao Hin Wong Beach on the eastern coastline of Ko Tao.
WHERE IS HIN WONG BAY AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Hin Wong Bay is a short 10-minute drive from Sairee Beach with very easy to access as the main road leads all the way down to Ao Hin Wong Beach and there is a small car park at the bottom.
There are no parking or entrance fees and it’s a short 2-minute walk to the beach from the jump-off point.
Full blog post: Hin Wong Bay Koh Tao
I was surprised to see no more than 10 people down on Ao Hin Wong Beach, knowing that there were thousands of tourists on the island during this holiday season.
If you’re looking for a quiet beach away from crowds and one of the best Koh Tao snorkeling spots, head to the east side of the Island and discover the beauty of Hin Wong Bay, where the jungle meets the sea.
HOW TO GET TO KOH TAO
Koh Tao Island is only accessible by fast boat or ferry. From the mainland, there are daily boats leaving from Chumphon and Surat Thani.
Lomprayah is reputably the best boat/bus company to travel within Thailand, offering bus transfers and fast boat services to the islands.
Check out the 12Go Asia website to search for all bus and boat services to Koh Tao and book online ahead of time to get guaranteed the best rates.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT KOH TAO
The best time to visit Ko Tao Island is debatable because it has great beach weather all year round except in October and November, the wettest months.
The peak season in Koh Tao is typically between December and February and you can expect prices for hotels and other activities to be more expensive during this time.
On that note, you’ll want to be sure to book your accommodation well in advance if you choose to visit during the peak season before everything gets booked out.
WHERE TO STAY IN KOH TAO
Ko Tao has dozens of accommodations to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay to suit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Sai Daeng Resort Koh Tao
Mid Range: Wind Beach Resort
Budget: Indie Hostel
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN KO TAO, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
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FINAL THOUGHTS – WHAT TO DO IN KOH TAO
I hope you enjoyed this guide and if you have any questions at all about what to do in Koh Tao, please leave a comment below this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can!
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Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!
THANKS FOR READING
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