I had heard so many good things about Koh Tao that I had pretty high expectations for this tiny island! I wasn’t disappointed. Koh Tao (which refers to Turtle Island) might be small, but there are enough things and activities to do to keep you entertained. My main goal in Koh Tao was to do my open water course (you can read about my experience here).  Of course, I also wanted to make the most of the island while I was there.

In this article, you’re going to find information on what to do in Koh Tao, what are the best activities and what things you can do besides diving.  You’ll also dream while reading about the best beaches in Koh Tao or the famous viewpoints. You’ll also be able to prepare your trip to Koh Tao by reading my top travel tips at the bottom of this post.

Table of Contents

What To Do in Koh Tao | The Best Things to Do on Koh Tao

things to do in koh tao

Backpacking Koh Tao

When planning your trip to Koh Tao, make sure to add these best things to do in Koh Tao on your travel itinerary! There’s a lot to discover on this beautiful Thai island.

I was in Koh Tao for one week, but I was busy doing my open water course for 4 days.  It took a lot of energy, which means I wasn’t able to do daily adventures around the island. Although, at the end of the course, I went on two hikes and had enough time to see more of Koh Tao. (And, I also went on two extra dives, ha!)

Snorkeling & Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand

Koh Tao activities: Diving

Koh Tao activities: Diving

Koh Tao is well known around the world to be one of the best destinations to do a cheap open water course. Many people will target Koh Tao as a destination for snorkeling and diving, especially if you are a beginner.

Best Snorkeling Spots & Tours in Koh Tao, Thailand

If you’re planning on snorkeling during your trip to Koh Tao (because you should), here are some of the best spots as well as recommended tours. This could help you make the most of your time in Koh Tao.

Best snorkeling spots in Koh Tao:
  • Tanote Beach (click here to save the location)
  • Aow Leuk (click here to save the location)
  • Mango Bay (click here to save the location)
  • Shark Bay (click here to save the location)
Best snorkeling tour in Koh Tao:

Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand

Whether you’re getting your scuba diving certification in Koh Tao or you’re planning on diving while you’re there, there are many diving centres to pick from. It can even get quite overwhelming.  I personally did my courses and fun dives with Koh Tao Diving Academy.

Best Dive Sites in Koh Tao, Thailand:
  • Chumphon Pinnacle
  • Twins
  • White Rock
  • Green Rock
  • Shark Island
  • Southwest Pinnacle
  • Sail Rock

Best Things to Do in Koh Tao Besides Diving & Snorkeling

Things to do in koh tao

Things to do in Koh Tao

Of course, Koh Tao is so pretty that you don’t even have to hide underwater, ha! If you’d rather stay at the surface, why not consider one of these top things to do in Koh Tao!


Planning your upcoming adventures? Travel by bus! (It’s cheap!)


Beach Bumming in Koh Tao

best beaches in Koh Tao

Best beaches in Koh Tao

The island life has to come with some beach time, am I right? Thankfully, Koh Tao knows how to please people with its amazing beaches.  To help you pick the right ones here’s a quick list of the best beaches in Koh Tao where you can go for a swim, or simply enjoy the sunset with good island vibes.

Best Beaches in Koh Tao
  • Freedom Beach: Freedom Beach is located in the South of the island. I found this area to be a bit quieter. (click here to save the location)
  • Sairee Beach: Sairee Beach is the most popular area in Koh Tao. Many hostels and hotels are found in this area. You can find plenty of beach bars as well as great venues for an epic sunset around the beach. (click here to save the location)
  • Tanote Beach: Ideal for snorkeling around, Tanote Beach is a great option too. If you’re into cliff jumping, it would be an excellent option. (click here to save the location)
  • Sai Nuan Beach: Sai Nuan Beach is another option if you don’t want a crowded beach. (click here to save the location)

Top Outdoor Adventures in Koh Tao

When it comes to planning your trip to Koh Tao, you should keep it adventurous! There are a lot of great things to do while in Koh Tao. From hiking to admiring the views from your stand up paddleboard, there’s fun everywhere!

Hiking to the Viewpoints in Koh Tao
John-Suwan Viewpoint
View point Koh Tao

Viewpoint Koh Tao

John-Suwan Viewpoint is the most popular viewpoint in Koh Tao.  The hike to get there is quite short (about 15-20 minutes) from the parking lot. You have to pay an entrance fee. The last part is a bit tricky, so keep in mind you’ll have to climb rocks to get to the top. The view will be worth the climb! (click here to save the location)

Sunset Point View
View point Koh Tao

Viewpoint Koh Tao

Sunset Point View is a great spot to admire the sunset as the name suggests. The hike from the parking lot is pretty short (about 10 minutes) and it’s a pretty easy one. You might have to bring a torch with you for the way back as the sun won’t be there to show you the way. (click here to save the location)

West Coast View Point
View point Koh Tao

Viewpoint Koh Tao

The West Coast View Point (as I can’t seem to find the real name for this place and as Google Maps calls it this way) is a quieter spot. We went during day time and had the whole rock to ourselves. It was a short hike (about 10 minutes). (click here to save the location)

Some other great viewpoints to consider would be:
  • Nang Yuan Viewpoint (click here to save the location)
  • Mango Viewpoint (click here to save the location)
  • If you aren’t keen on the hike part, you could also enjoy the view from Love Koh Tao. This place is accessible by scooter. (click here to save the location)

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SUP in Koh Tao

As the water is pretty still in Koh Tao, a fun activity to do around sunset time (or day time) is SUP (which refers to stand up paddleboard). It’s a great way to enjoy the views and appreciate the turquoise waters all around you.  You can rent your SUP in many shops around Sairee Beach.

Scootering around Koh Tao

Koh Tao is a tiny island which means you can drive across the island easily. The best way to get around is definitely by scooter. It’s also a great way to discover every single corner while making the most of the island life.

Partying in Koh Tao

Partying in Koh Tao isn’t as crazy as in Koh Phangan but you will find great bars around the island.  One of the famous things to do for backpackers is to join the famous Koh Tao Pub Crawl. It’s a great way to connect with fellow travelers but also to discover the coolest bars on the island.

If you’re looking for places to hang out, here are my recommendations:

  • Blue Water Cafe (click here to save the location)
  • Fishbowl Beach Bar (click here to save the location)
  • AC Beach Bar Club (click here to save the location)
  • Maya Beach Club (click here to save the location)

FAQ about Koh Tao, Thailand

Top things to do in Koh Tao

Top things to do in Koh Tao

Where is Koh Tao?

Koh Tao is part of the Chumphon archipelago and is located on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. It’s a tiny island located close to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

Is Koh Tao safe?

Koh Tao has a scary history when it comes to crimes and deaths. Unfortunately, an important number of deaths and crimes have been reported over the years including major traveler murders.

That being said, Koh Tao has a bad reputation.  This means you should be careful out there and you should try to behave while you’re there by respecting the local culture, not getting too drunk or high on drugs and stay as safe as you can.

You can read more about these Koh Tao murders here and here.

I felt totally safe when I was in Koh Tao, but of course, I stayed out of trouble!

When’s the best time to visit Koh Tao?

Koh Tao what to do

Koh Tao what to do

The best time to visit Koh Tao is from January to March.  Although, anytime between January and October would be recommended as the rainy season is from October to December.

Can you fly to Koh Tao?

No. You can’t fly to Koh Tao but you could fly to Koh Samui and then take the ferry to Koh Tao.

  • Click here to check the flights to Koh Samui.
  • Click here to check the ferries from Koh Samui to Koh Tao.

How to get to Koh Tao?

Things to do in Koh Tao Thailand

Things to do in Koh Tao Thailand

How to Get to Koh Tao From Koh Samui

The quickest way to get to Koh Tao is via Koh Samui. You would fly to Koh Samui and then take the ferry to Koh Tao as mentioned above.  Although, it’s not always the cheapest option.

  • Click here to check the flights to Koh Samui.
  • Click here to check the ferries from Koh Samui to Koh Tao.

How to Get to Koh Tao From Surat Thani

The second quickest way to get to Koh Tao would be to fly to Surat Thani and then take the ferry to Koh Tao.

  • Click here to check the flights to Surat Thani.
  • Click here to check the ferries from Surat Thani to Koh Tao.

How to Get to Koh Tao from Bangkok

You could take the bus from Bangkok to Surat Thani or Chumphon and then the ferry to reach Koh Tao. Some of these routes can be booked all at once.

  • Click here to book your bus from Bangkok.
  • Click here to check the ferries from Surat Thani to Koh Tao.
  • Click here to check the ferries from Chumphon to Koh Tao.

How to get to Koh Tao from Krabi or Koh Lanta

If you’re planning on visiting Koh Tao from Krabi or Koh Lanta, you can book a bus and a ferry from these two locations.

  • Click here to book your bus/ferry from Krabi to Koh Tao.
  • Click here to book your bus/ferry from Koh Lanta to Koh Tao.

Where to go after Koh Tao?

After Koh Tao, you could visit the other islands around – Koh Samui or Koh Phangan. If you already visited these islands, you could go to Koh Lanta or visit Khao Sok National Park on your way to Krabi.

Can you renew your Thai visa in Koh Tao?

No. Unfortunately, you have to go to Koh Samui to extend your Thai Visa. You can read about Koh Samui Thai Visa extension here.

Is Koh Tao expensive?

Koh Tao is more expensive than Koh Phangan, but it’s still affordable. You can expect to pay a bit more in terms of accommodation. To give you an idea, dorms start at about TBH 190 per night and you can rent a scooter for about TBH 150-200 per day.

How to get around Koh Tao?

The best way to get around Koh Tao is by scooter. You can also organize transport with your accommodation if you need to or find local drivers around the island.  Although, it’s harder to get around if you rely on these options. If you’re not planning on driving a scooter, staying around Sairee Beach would be a great option so you can walk pretty much everywhere (restaurants, bars and beach).

Where to rent a motorbike in Koh Tao?

You can find scooter pretty much everywhere on the island, although, you should keep in mind that in Thailand, they will ask for your passport as a deposit and they will check the bikes cautiously when you will bring it back. To be on the safer side, you could also rent your scooter and pay extra for “insurance”.

We rented our bike at Mango Bike, located next to Frist Pharmacy 1 (see location). We managed to get a deal for TBH 150 per day.

If you’re planning on renting a scooter and drive around these viewpoints, be extra careful and make sure you have the right tires and efficient breaks. Our friend crashed his bike when going downhill as there were sand and gravels on the road (and he is an experienced driver). That being said, make sure you have travel insurance that can cover you if you’re driving a scooter in Southeast Asia. (Check options on World Nomads and Safety Wing).

Where to stay in Koh Tao?

We first stayed around the dive centre while I was doing my PADI course, and then we moved around the pier. We stayed at Upcycled Guesthouse.

Although, staying around Sairee Beach would also be fun!

Hostels: The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel / Savage Hostel / White Jail

Mid-Range: Upcycled Guesthouse / Ananda Villa / New Pop Villas

Luxury: Sensi Paradise Beach Resort / Matina Mountain Resort / The Tarna Align Resort

You may also like:
What it’s like to be living in Koh Phangan
What to Do in Koh Lanta
Best Hostels in Koh Lanta

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