Koh Tao is another small and beautiful island located in the Gulf of Thailand and is approximately 36 km north of the island of Koh Pha Ngan and is approximately 21 km² in area. This islands economy is just about entirely based around tourism with Scuba diving being perhaps the main attraction for foreign visitors.
Accommodation is mostly in small resort villages containing hotels, villas and bungalows and most are very close to the coast. Waking up to look out of the window and see the Gulf of Thailand just makes you feel good to be alive. All accommodation rooms are fitted with air conditioning and other basic facilities and most resort hotels have their own swimming pool and even rock climbing activities.
Access to the island has improved considerably since the 1980’s, when tourism began to gather some momentum as the word spread about this beautiful island. Thankfully the islands character and beauty has not been diminished with the arrival of more tourists and the development of holiday resorts.
How to get to Koh Tao There are three options available from Bangkok.
A direct flight to the nearby island of Koh Sumui and then connect to a high speed ferry to Koh Tao. If you are planning on going directly to Koh Tao from your home country it may be possible to get a direct flight to Koh Samui so you miss out the Bangkok stop. Either of these will be by far the fastest option although will be a bit more expensive.
Trains operate from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station where you can catch a connecting overnight train to Chumphon. Once you arrive in Chumphon you can catch a ferry to Koh Tao, normally in the morning shortly after you arrive. Combined train and boat tickets are available.
The final option is by bus from Khao San Road in Bangkok, again you can get a combined bus and boat ticket and again it is an overnight bus journey. You are advised to look for a reputable travel agent and do not engage with street vendors. The bus will take you to Chumphon and you connect with the ferry straight to Koh Tao.
How to get from Hua Hin to Koh Tao.
One option is to ask one of the local taxi drivers to drive you to Champion ferry port.
Go by train by jumping on at the Hua Hin railway station located in the centre of the city.
The final option and most likely the one that is chosen by the majority of international tourists in Hua Hin is going by bus from Hua Hin to Chumphon and then take the ferry further on to Koh Tao. The tour operator Lompraya operates from their office located in the center of Hua Hin at 79/3-4 Petchkasem Rd. just right next to the Clock Tower of the town. Under normal circumstances the bus will leave two times a day, one in the middle of the day and an other around midnight. The trip will in total take about 9-10 hours why many prefer the midnight bus, taking the opportunity to have a good nights sleep in the airconditioned luxury bus.
Resorts and hotels Nearly all resorts here are located on the west coast with a handful of resorts on the southern coastline, one on the north coast and one on the west coast. Away from the beaches the remainder of the island is largely jungle where you can go walking, hiking and mountain biking on a network of small paths all over the island. By taking one of these options you will discover a few vantage points to get some wonderful views and stumble on some places of interest including a huge rock formation that has an engraving of King Rama V.
Activities, tours and diving schools Fishing trips are available as is fishing tackle for hire. Local operators will take you out to sea and offer better tackle. The alternative is to hire a “long tail’ boat and look after yourself, a decent option if you know where to look for the fish.
Kayaks are also available and are a useful way to tour the coastline of the island and take your time to explore. The kayaks can be hired from most resorts or local operators at most of the beaches. You can hire a Kayak at an hourly or daily rate.
The main focus for tourists on Koh Tao is the surrounding waters and the creatures that live in them. This also means most of the beaches are not over populated if you simply want to relax outdoors. Koh Tao is essentially the home of Thailand’s Scuba diving scene with an impressively large variety of marine species such as the Barracuda, Grouper and Whale shark, not to mention the beautiful corals and all the smaller marine species that live among them. Diving schools are present at all resorts and offer trips and equipment for the novice and experienced diver.
Nightlife on Koh Tao If you are looking for a nightlife scene that may resemble something similar to most other tourist venues then you are going to be disappointed. There are bars and restaurants of course but this island cannot be compared to anywhere else in terms of the nightlife. It is incredibly relaxed, peaceful and what most holiday makers would consider ‘normal’. There is a small collection of “girly bars” but the reality is, if you are visiting Koh Tao to meet the girl of your dreams you are probably looking in the wrong place. Our advice would be to go to one of the larger cities or islands (Pattaya, Bangkok, Phuket etc.) and take one of those working girls for a holiday with you.
Other Islands and places you need to explore…
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