DIY Travel Guide Series: Koh Tao, Thailand

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor December 26th, 2015 Posted in Asia Travel Blog, Destination, DIY Travel, Travel Blog One Comment

Koh Tao or Turtle Island is a small tropical island located in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s first settlers named it Koh Tao due to its turtle-like shape. This is a popular destination for backpackers who want to have a more laid back tropical paradise experience and for those who are seeking to get a PADI license for Divers. The beaches in Koh Tao is another trademark of Thailand.

DIY Travel Guide-Beaches in Koh Tao
Overlooking Koh Nyan Ngua. Photo by Fabomania

Travel Tips:


There are different ways to reach Koh Tao via Ferry or Catamaran, here are some of the options:

1. From Suratthani – You can fly to Surat Thani from other cities in Thailand or directly from Kuala Lumpur and buy a bus and ferry ticket that will take you to Don Sak pier. At the pier, you will board a Catamaran that will take you to Maehaad Pier in Koh Tao. Take note that the ferry stops in Koh Samui and Koh Phangan and the last stop is Koh Tao. Journey will take about 3 hours from Don Sak Pier.

2. From Koh Samui – There are direct international flights to Koh Samui from Singapore and UK. This makes it the most expensive and fastest way to reach Koh Tao. You can take a ferry from Nathan Pier in Koh Samui for a short ride to Maehaad Pier in Koh Tao.

3. From Chumpon – Mostly backpackers coming from Bangkok are taking this route. You can fly or take a bus or train to reach Chumpon. Journey will take 1.5-2 hours from the Chumpon Pier to Koh Tao.

12go Asia

Related Article: Best Backpackers Hostels in Koh Tao, Thailand

Trip highlights:

Sairee Beach

Sairee is the most popular and the most accessible beach in Koh Tao. Bars, shops and restaurants are plenty in this area, starting from the main road all the way to the beach front. It’s best for swimming, the water is calm and warm. From here, you can hire long tail boats to take you to Koh Nang Yuan or other parts of the island. Many of the dive and snorkelling trips are starting from this point. It’s  also a perfect spot to watch the beautiful sunset. It has a busy night life but more laid back compared to other popular beaches in Thailand.

DIY Travel Guide Koh Tao
Sairee Beach. Photo by Fabomania
DIY Travel Guide Koh Tao
Sunset at Sairee Beach

Shark Bay

The view from several view points overlooking Shark Bay is amazing. It’s a place to chill and relax while enjoying your lunch or a drink facing the hills and white beach kissing the turquoise blue waters at this part of the island. Going down to the main beach is quite challenging. You need to drive to the opposite side of the hill and climb down on steep stairs and cross the chest deep waters to get access to the beach. Direct access to the beach is more convenient for guests staying at the beach front hotels.

Transportation Tip: If you’re looking for the cheapest way to book the Trains, Buses, Ferries, Transfers on this route, we use 12Go.Asia to compare the prices!

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DIY Travel Guide Koh Tao
Overlooking Shark Bay. Photo by Fabomania

Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Nang Yuan is a separate island from Koh Tao but due to its very close proximity from Sairee Beach you won’t miss this tropical paradise on a short long tail boat ride.

Best time to visit the island is early in the morning to avoid a crowd of tourists arriving on huge boats from nearby islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. A short hike to the hills will give you a spectacular view of the island.

This is also a perfect spot for swimming and snorkelling due to its clear waters, white sand beach and abundance of colourful fishes.

DIY Travel Guide Koh Tao
Clear and Calm Waters of Koh Nang Yuan
DIY Travel Guide Koh Tao
From the View Point of Koh Nang Yuan
DIY Travel Guide Koh Tao
Abundance of Colourful Fishes at Koh Nang Yuan


All expenses are in local currency (Thai Baht).

DIY Travel Guide Koh Tao


DAY 1: 
Arrived in Surat Thani Airport from Kuala Lumpur. Took a bus to Donsak Pier (pre-arranged) and boarded the ferry to Koh Tao.

Checked-in at the hotel and explored Koh Tao’s night life near Sairee Beach.


After breakfast we headed to Sairee Beach at around 9am and hired a long tail boat to Koh Nang Yuan. Boat ride took 10 minutes only and we rented a folding chair with umbrella once we reached the island. We left some of our stuff at the beach and started our climb to the view point. After climbing down from the view point we spent whole day swimming, snorkelling and relaxing at the beach. Back at Sairee beach, we stayed in one of the beach front bars to watch the beautiful sunset.


Early in the morning, we rented a motorbike so we can explore some parts of the island faster and cheaper. First stop is at Freedom beach for some beach bumming and swimming. We headed to Shark Bay for lunch and spent most of the afternoon there at the beach. On our way back to Sairee, we decided to check one of the view points for a spectacular view of the island.

Warning: There are a lot of motorbike rental scams in Koh Tao, be vigilant.


Checked-out from the hotel. Took a ferry back to Surat Thani and went straight to the airport to catch our flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

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Monkey DividersAbout the Writer

Jaypee LicudanJaypee Licudan is a Filipino Expat based in Singapore. He’s a traveller and writer for Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog and has been to over 30 countries across 4 continents. He’s major long term goal is to go back to the Philippines for a long time travel to discover the hidden gems of his home country. Follow his personal blog: The Rustic Nomad

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One thought on “DIY Travel Guide Series: Koh Tao, Thailand

  1. I heard about Koh Samui but never hear about this island before. Nice photos though but would it be too commercialized and crowded? I just went to Rawa Island (Johor, Malaysia) last weekend, a very nice & beautiful island also….

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