Koh Tao is a small island located 70km out in to the Gulf of Thailand. Part of the Samui Archipelago, Koh Tao has a big reputation for diving and diver training. Koh Tao island is developing but still retains an island charm. The balance is just about right - we have a great variety of resorts to fit every budget, plus fine cuisine from all over the world (especially fantastic Thai food).
The West coast of Koh Tao has become the main touristic area, but buildings remain low level, mostly hidden among the palm trees that line the beaches. The East coast of Koh Tao is still undeveloped, largely due to the line of mountains that run down the centre of the island. Off the north west coast we have small three islands joined by a sand bar (Koh Nangyuan Island as pictured), plus the stunning Ang Tong Marine Park three hours south west of Koh Tao island.
On this page we cover a brief history of Koh Tao Thailand, the easiest ways to get here, where our DJL diving facilities are located and the best areas to stay. We also recommend great restaurants to eat in, plus the best Koh Tao bars to enjoy during the evenings.
How to Get to Koh Tao:
Most people enter Thailand by flying into Bangkok. From Bangkok there are three main options for getting down to Koh Tao island.
The Fastest but most Expensive Route - Fly to Samui:
You can pickup flights from Bangkok direct down to Koh Samui for just a few thousand baht. From Samui take one of the high speed ferries across to Koh Tao island (Lomprayah Catamaran or Seatran) - these cost about 600 baht per person and take about an hour and a half. If you shop around you may even be able to get a flight direct from your country of origin to Samui, cutting out the Bangkok bit.
The Compromise - Train to Chumphon:
Thailand has a great rail service. From the airport you need to get a meter taxi to the main Hualamphong train station in town (costing about 200 baht). From there you can catch a very comfortable overnight train down to Chumphon. You can get a bed in an air conditioned cabin for under 1000 baht, waking up fresh at your destination in the morning! From Chumphon you take a high speed ferry to Koh Tao island the same morning. This will take about an hour and a half and costing about 500 baht. This is my preferred way to travel.
The Budget Route - Bus from Bangkok:
Even this isn't too bad. From the airport get a meter taxi to Khao San Road (about 300 baht). At Khao San Road you can book a combined bus and boat ticket direct to Koh Tao. This will be an overnight bus ride to Chumphon, then boat the rest of the way and should cost less than 1000 baht all in. Look out - there are a few 'sharks' around the Khao San area, out for the naive tourist. My advice would be to go into one of the official looking travel agents and book with your ticket with them. Go for the Lomprayah or Seatran Discovery services, you should be able to book one of these in most agents. These are fast, comfortable services and usually show DVDs on the way down. You don't want to end up getting crammed on a mini bus or 'local' service.
When to Visit Koh Tao:
In Koh Tao Thailand we are lucky enough to have a twelve month scuba diving season, enjoying year round diving. This is due to our relatively sheltered location within the Gulf of Thailand . We do suffer a mini monsoon during November and early December, but we still continue to dive - you'll get wet anyway! It's hottest in March and April, and it doesn't really rain from February right through till late October. This raises one point - fresh water is a precious commodity on this small island. Sometimes water even has to be imported onto the island! If you do visit please be considerate and don't waste water. Regarding diving, visibility is good from February right through till the end of October. We get most visitors around Easter and during the summer season. Late September and early October are a great time to visit - diving conditions are normally fantastic plus the island is much quieter than during peak season.
Things to Do on Koh Tao:
Scuba diving certainly dominates this small island, but you're a non-diver don't worry - there is still plenty to do. Here are some ideas: Visit one of the luxury spas where you can pamper yourself, Try Thai cooking classes, Enrol in a Yoga class, Check out the fantastic (but slightly physical) Thai Massage, or take a massage course yourself, Play paintball, Rent a motorbike, ATV or jeep to tour around the island, Relax on the beach, Snorkel the shallow reefs (DJL also offer snorkelling tours around the island), Head into Mae Haad to pick up some holiday souvenirs, Visit the fantastic Ang Tong Marine Park just a few hours away, Play Mini Golf, Ten Pin Bowling (island style), Fishing, Flying Trapeze, Cliff Jumping, or have a go at wakeboarding!