Map of Koh Tao & Orientation
The islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao form part of a ridge which runs through the Gulf of Thailand.
This becomes apparent when you look at Koh Tao – a ridge runs roughly north to south, creating a geographic boundary between the west and east coasts of the island. For this reason, most investment has occurred on Koh Tao’s more sheltered west coast, with the east remaining very quiet and remote.
Koh Tao is very small – just a few kilometers long, so you can easily get around the main areas of the island very quickly.
There’s really only one significant main road, running north to south, with a few more smaller roads accessing each of Koh Tao’s many bays and beaches. Most of the time, everything you need is in close walking distance, but if you wanted to travel the whole length of the main road you’d probably look at using either a motorbike or taxi.
In comparison to other tourist resort destinations in Thailand, Koh Tao is still undeveloped. Large portions of the island contain very few or even no buildings, so Koh Tao remains an island paradise. Yet the level of development is just about right – we have a few banks and convenient ATMs scattered around the island.
There’s a massive range of cuisine from all over the world ranging from traditional Thai to Italian, Indian, Chinese and Japanese, Mexican, Aussie Grills and BBQs and even a ‘Greasy Spoon’ cafe. So you can get whatever you want!
Plus there’s accommodation to suit all budgets, from inexpensive traditional Thai bamboo bungalows on the beach, to top end luxury resorts – something for everyone.
Mae Haad | Main Town and Pier Area
On the west, the main settlement on Koh Tao is called Mae Haad. In total Mae Haad occupies about 1 square kilometer, with most shops located here. Mae Haad is also the only proper pier in Koh Tao, so when you travel here by ferry, you’re bound to disembark in Mae Haad.
Sairee Beach, Koh Tao
To the north is Sairee Beach. This is the longest beach on Koh Tao, and is lined with many resorts, bars and restaurants. Sairee is also the main night life area for Koh Tao, with late night party venues clustered around the south end of the beach. Just back from the beach there’s lots of small shops selling tourist goods, convenience mini-marts, Thai massage shops and places to eat.
Chalok Ban Khao
To the south lies another small ‘village’ called Chalok Ban Khao. This is another beach, again with lots of accommodation and restaurants in the surrounding area. The beach is very laid back, with a few low key bars and places to eat.
East Coast of Koh Tao
The bays on the east coast [Hin Wong Bay, Laem Thian, Tanote Bay and Aow Leuk] each have small resorts and basic restaurants and are very beautiful. They are however pretty isolated, so although nice to visit for a day out, you wouldn’t want to spend you whole life there.
Just a few minutes boat ride to the north west of Koh Tao is one of the most spectacular sights in Thailand – Koh Nangyuan. This is three very small islands joined by a sand bar, with spectacular coral reefs surrounding the islands – a great photo opportunity.