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- 13 Aug 2020, 3 nights
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Any island-hopping adventure off Thailand's east coast should feature Koh Tao. The small, lush sister of Koh Samui and Koh Pha-Ngan, this jungle-topped island feels excitingly undiscovered in places. As well as living it up on its bar-filled beach, it's easy to escape civilisation and venture up into the hills to find unforgettable views across the island. Many travellers are drawn to Koh Tao by its easily accessed dive spots and vibrant coral reefs that are home to turtles and abundant sea life.
You’ll find lots of beachside hostels in Koh Tao as well as jungle retreats. You can base yourself in a hut next to Sairee Beach's white sands, in a traditional Thai bungalow surrounded by tropical greenery or in a hilltop Koh Tao hostel with island views. No matter how far they are off the beaten path, most Koh Tao hostels offer free Wi-Fi. Some also have swimming pools, on-site bars and rooftop terraces.
Even though Koh Tao's small, it does have distinct areas. Chalok Baan Kao Bay on the south coast is known for its chilled vibe and quiet beaches, while Sairee Beach on the west coast is the island’s nightlife hotspot. You’ll find lots of bars and beach clubs throwing all-day parties here. On the east coast, there’s Tanote Bay – a quiet beach spot with a handful of shops and restaurants.
At only 7km long and 3km wide, it’s easy to explore the whole of Koh Tao. Start at the island's southernmost tip at John Suwan Viewpoint for 360 degree views over the island and out to sea. As you travel north, you’ll discover some of the best diving spots including White Rock and Shark Island. Mango Bay on the northern shore has a small beach with coral reefs, perfect for snorkelling or just soaking up the sun.
Most travellers working their way down from Bangkok head to Koh Tao first as it’s the most northerly of the east-coast islands. You can hop onto an overnight bus from the capital then take the two to three-hour boat ride over to the island. If you’re travelling by rail, there's a sleeper train from Bangkok to Chumphon train station, then a boat crossing. Getting around the island is easy. A lot of it is walkable, or you could catch a taxi. Bike rental and taxi boats are also available.