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Ko Tao Tourism And Travel Guide
25.5° C / 77.9° F
January to May
3 to 4 Days
Koh Samui International Airport (68 kms)
Ko Tao is Thailand’s answer to all those asking for adventure. Yes, Most of Thai islands out there do let you indulge in swimming and boating and paddling and jet skiing and wind surfing and kayaking. But there is something that Ko Tao gives you that no other can - the cheapest Open Water Diving. Tourism in Ko Tao therefore has swelled because people come here to learn open water diving and get PADI certified in the sport. If you are one of them too, or if you want to be here to see the stupendous vibrant marine life, then here’s a short travel guide to Ko Tao for you.
How to Reach
The best way to reach Ko Tao is to take a flight to Bangkok and then travel by bus or another flight to Koh Samui.
The airports nearest to Ko Tao are Koh Samui international airport (1.5 hours) and Chumphon international airport (3 hours), each easily reached by boats, ferries and catamarans. You can fly to Bangkok from India and take a connecting fight to either of these.
You cannot reach Ko Tao directly by road because it is an island. But you can take the bus from Bangkok to Chumpon and then go by ferry to Ko Tao.
This is the only way to reach Ko Tao and most nearby mainland ports and islands operate ferry services. You can take a boat from Paralan Pier in Koh Samui to Mae Haad Pier in Koh Tao. Chumpon, Surat Thani and Ko Pha Ngnan are also well connected to Ko Tao by sea.
Ko Tao, being a small island, is easily navigable by motorbikes, scooters, bicycles and even on foot for that matter. But there are taxis, rented cars and other vehicles also available for transportation.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Ko Tao is usually great all year round but the activities in each season may differ.
Hot and Dry Season (February to May):
This season is the time of great clear blue skies and almost zero chance of rain. The temperatures are constant and hardly ever cross 30. If you want to visit for scuba diving then this is the time to visit.
Hot and Windy Season (May to October):
There is some rainfall at this time, though the winds are much heavier. So diving schools operate on a weather-report basis and many excursions and classes may suddenly get canceled. So make sure you see the weather reports before planning a trip during this time.
Wet Season (November to January):
Wet Season is a big no-no for PADI-interested diving enthusiasts as rainfall makes the waters choppy and you cannot do much on the beaches either. However, if you are here to just relax then this is a good time - Thai massages, chilling on wet beaches, using swimming pools in resorts and eating to your heart’s content.
Things to Do
Get a PADI Open Water Certificate:
Ko Tao is best known for its beautiful marine life and scuba diving schools that grant you PADI certificates. Most tourists come here to do their 4-day course and get certified, then dive into the deep blue sea. Some of the reputed schools here are Davy Jones Locker, Ban’s Diving School and Big Blue Diving.
Enjoy the Beaches:
Ko Tao beaches are just as pristine, with blue coloured clear waters that let you see right through. The marine life here is amazing and be prepared to feast your eyes on some corals, underwater creatures and coloured fish. Visit beaches like Sai Nuan (for peace), Sairee (for party) and Tanote Bay (for snorkelling and marine life).
Snorkeling in Koh Nang Yuan:
Koh Nang Yuan is a small island close to Ko Tao, and this place is known for its snorkelling prospectives and beautiful beaches. You don’t need to be a diver to go snorkelling here so a day trip to Koh Nang Yuan is usually preferred by tourists visiting Ko Tao.
Rent a Bike and Explore:
You can explore Ko Tao easily on foot, or by renting a bike to go around. It is a relatively small island, with mountainous terrain. So make sure to indulge in the natural vistas here by taking a scooter or motorbike and going around the beaches, local homes and resorts.
Get a Thai Massage:
The quintessential massage is a must in Thailand. In Ko Tao, some great massages are aloe vera body rub massages for sunburnt skin, coconut head rubs, foot massages and even neck and back massages. They start at around 200 Baht for one part of the body and the rates increase as you go for more intense or full body massages.
Where to Eat
Ko Tao has a very western edge to it, despite being a Thai island. Partly because of the ton of western crowd coming to learn diving here, partly because most diving schools are either owned and run by westerners or have instructors from Europe or America. This means the food on this island is a curious mix of Thai and European, even continental. Some Indian and fast food will also be found.
Visit Su Chili for amazing seafood with sunset, Bang Burgers to enjoy the usual meal of burger-fries-soda and Bing Cafe for sandwiches of all types. Roadside stalls sell the best nutella pancakes and smoothies, while the 7elevens around also serve decent packed food on the go. You will also find many restaurants and sea shacks serving traditional Thai cuisine, pastas and pizzas.
What to Shop
Ko Tao is the kind of place where you will find whatever you need - from cigarettes to Pringles, Hersheys to Bounty. But really, it is just not the place to shop. For one, the transportation cost for getting the goods here from mainland add to your pockets, and secondly, you don’t find much variety in terms of clothes, bags, shoes etc, like you do in say Bangkok or Phuket. Still, if you wish to buy something, make sure to buy diving gear, swimwear, souvenirs made from coconut shells, ceramic ware, bamboo items, bone beads etc.