Most visitors to Koh Tao will want to spend several days getting to know the island, so if you’re wondering where to stay in Koh Tao, read on for the inside scoop! We’ve detailed the best areas to stay in Koh Tao with pros and cons to each.
Koh Tao is located in the Gulf of Thailand, and is one of the best places in the world to go diving, experience exquisite wildlife, and luxuriate on endless white-sand beaches!
The natural beauty of Koh Tao is hard to overstate. This island might be the tiniest of the Gulf islands, but it is packed to the gills with astounding peaks, crystal-clear tropical waters, and lush jungle.
Koh Tao attracts divers from all over the world because it boasts some of the most spectacular diving in Thailand. Dive through colorful coral reefs, swim with friendly sharks, or even explore a wreck!
Where To Stay In Koh Tao: Best Areas
Koh Tao is an eclectic mixture of laid-back beaches, a fun party scene, and natural wonders for outdoor enthusiasts. It has family-friendly spots and backpacker haunts, as well as luxury resorts. Where you should stay in Koh Tao all comes down to your budget and travel style!
1. Mae Haad
Mae Haad Beach will be the first place you’ll see when you arrive in Koh Tao. It’s a fun and funky beach where you can find unique souvenirs for your friends and family back home. If you’re looking for the perfect bathing suit or a cute sarong, you’ll find them in Mae Haad. There are plenty of options, so don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Mae Haad Beach is home to a famous shipwreck, which is popular with snorkelers. Fish flock to the wreck, so if you’re looking to check out wildlife in a unique place, Mae Haad is your ideal spot!
Mae Haad has its fair share of restaurants that specialize in both western and Thai food, as well as cute little coffee shops. There is plenty of accommodation here for both budget travelers and those with bigger pocketbooks.
The only downside for some travelers is that Mae Haad lacks the party vibe of some of the other beaches and the tranquility of some of the more secluded spots in Koh Tao. Since visitors are generally looking for one or the other, some might find Mae Haad lacking.
Mae Haad has some of the best snorkeling in Koh Tao, an impressive wreck and some really cool shopping.
Mae Haad lacks the party vibe or tranquility of some of the other beaches. Some tourists might find it to be a little bit too commercial.
2. Sairee Beach
Sairee Beach is one of the best areas to stay in Koh Tao to party! A backpacker haven, this feisty beach town is always full of tourists looking to work on their tan during the day and check out the party scene at night. The beach is gorgeous and has a coral reef that is located right next to the shore.
You’ll always find Sairee Beach packed with people, so if you’re looking for a quiet beach experience, set your sights elsewhere. Many people visit Sairee Beach to check out the sunset, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants right on the water, making Sairee Beach the perfect spot to check out a sunset and chill!
There are also plenty of dining options on Sairee Beach. You can go for higher-end meals, or check out some of the local fare. Since this is a popular backpacker spot, Sairee Beach has some very reasonably priced dining options.
At night Sairee Beach comes alive for the party! Two popular bars are Fishbowl and AC Bar Beach Club. You can easily check out the sunset from either place. When the moon rises, the club vibes begin! Sairee Beach parties all night long!
Sairee Beach has a fun and hip vibe with budget accommodation and plenty of great dining options. Snorkelers will love checking out the coral reef too!
Sairee Beach is busy place, so if you’re looking for peace and quiet check somewhere else!
3. Chalok Bay
This family-friendly destination also happens to have some of the best views that Koh Tao has to offer! Visit Chalok Bay and you’ll get an unparalleled view of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and the Ang Thong Marine National Park. You can also set your sights on Buddha Rock, locally known as Hin Taa Toh.
You won’t find big waves on this part of the island, but the beach is great for those who want a chilled out swimming experience. The currents in Chalok Bay are generally milder, making it ideal for those who don’t have a lot of experience with the water. Since it’s in a bay, it is protected from some of the rougher elements of the ocean.
Foodies will love Chalok Bay too! The Cape Restaurant is a 5-star favorite that specializes in serving up fine dining in paradise. Dine at the Cape Restaurant for world-class French and Italian food, as well as high-end Thai favorites. You will not find this level of luxury anywhere else on Koh Tao, so if eating in style is on your vacation menu, make sure you visit this tranquil beach.
Backpackers will find hostels to lay their heads at in Chalok Bay, but the more rambunctious ones will find the vibe of this family-friendly beach a little too chilled out. If you like water sports, diving, or snorkeling, Chalok Bay is not for you.
Chalok Bay has some of the best views in all of Koh Tao, family-friendly beaches, and exquisite dining.
Chalok Bay doesn’t have the reefs or wildlife of some of the other areas, so if you’re into water sports and ocean exploration, check out another beach to stay in Koh Tao.
4. Ao Thian Og (Shark Bay)
When you think of paradise you’re picturing Ao Thian Og. The beaches there are beautiful beyond words. One of the best parts is, with everyone flocking to Sairee Beach and Mae Haad, you can have all of the splendor to yourself!
Ao Thian Og is the untouched part of Koh Tao. It’s the ultimate chill-out beach, dominated by the John Suwan viewpoint, a perfect place to gaze across the Gulf of Thailand.
If you prefer a little heart-pounding action to lazing on the beach, jump in the water with some of the ocean’s alpha predators. Black-tip reef sharks frequent Ao Thian Og. In fact, it’s known locally as Shark Bay! Brave snorkellers can get right in the water with these sharks. They’re not aggressive, but at over six feet long, they are certainly intimidating!
The sharks of Ao Thian Og are one of the area’s biggest draws, but they are far from the only one! The beaches in this beautiful area are home to some of the finest resorts that you’ll find in Thailand.
If you love being pampered and staying in style, Ao Thian Og is the place for you. Backpackers will want to stay away though. The accommodations in this part of Koh Tao are not suitable for those without deep pockets.
Fortunately, Ao Thian Og is close enough to other beaches that backpackers can visit for the day, swim with the sharks, and then head back to another part of the island.
Ao Thian Og beach is pristine and breathtaking, with plenty of activities for sun worshippers and adventurers alike.
Ao Thian Og is not a budget-friendly option to stay in Koh Tao and the coral in this part of the island is not as beautiful as in other places.
5. Tanote Bay
Tanote Bay is situated right on a sprawling beach that stretches for golden miles as far as the eye can see! Early birds will love Tanote Bay for the incredible sunrises, and athletes will want to check out the wide coral reef that lies just under the rippling waves.
Sea kayaking is popular here, as is trekking. Since Tanote Bay is in one of the more mountainous areas of Koh Tao it’s a great place to explore some of the verdant jungle that dominates much of the island. Tanote Bay boasts three amazing viewpoints and plenty of wildlife. It’s a little bit wilder than much of the rest of the island.
The only real challenge that you’ll encounter is the lack of accommodation. Tanote Bay is one of the areas in Koh Tao where options are somewhat limited. Still, that could be the appeal of Tanote Bay for some people who want to avoid the party scene!
Tanote Bay has a big, beautiful beach where you’ll be able to catch an incredible sunrise.
There are not many accommodation options in Tanote Bay, and it is not a great place to come to party.
Koh Tao is easily one of the most popular and beautiful islands in the Gulf of Thailand. No matter what your travel style, you will certainly be able to find the perfect place to stay in Koh Tao!