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Top 10 Things to do on Koh Tao

It took a day or two to acclimatize to a different atmosphere on Koh Tao after leaving Bangkok behind. The pace was suddenly reduced to the lowest of the lows and the energy on Koh Tao was the one of a true vacation where you do nothing but relax and only you set the pace for every kind of activity. In order to get around on this island, we rented a scooter, despite being advised against it from multiple sides. However, with a cautious and attentive driver in front of me, we drove around the island on the scooter where freedom has never tasted better. On Koh Tao we witnessed the most beautiful sunsets and dived in between corals and colourful fish, which I had never seen in the wild before. I look back at Koh Tao and remembering it with its unique and friendly atmosphere, the best place to dive and a place to explore the real Thailand.

On Koh Tao, Ao Tanote Beach is THE best location for snorkeling

1. Ao Tanote Beach

Thailand is a great place to go diving or snorkelling and on Koh Tao, Ao Tanote Beach is THE best location for it. After having explored most of Koh Tao’s beaches throughout our five days stay and having explored some interesting corals here, and colourful fish there, I found that Ao Tanote had it all. Being so close to natural wonders such as corals which come in all kinds of forms and shapes and swimming side by side the most colourful exotic fish, this was probably the best experience I had during my time on Koh Tao. What looks inconspicuous from the outside is hiding a real gem indeed. The magic of this place lies beneath the surface.

No one offers a view for your Thai cooking class like “Thai Cooking with Joy”

2. Thai Cooking Class

Traveling to Thailand during rain-season, or at least in the beginning of it, made us deal with some unexpected rain showers during some days. As we were trying not to waste our time on Koh Tao by staying in our bungalow, we opted for some alternative indoor activities like taking a Thai Cooking Class. There are a couple of places to choose between on Koh Tao, but no one offers a view for your Thai cooking class like “Thai Cooking with Joy”. When I arrived on the rooftop of the building, a view of paradise opened up to me; the blue ocean at the nearby horizon, was merely interrupted by the lush greenery of the island. Not only preparing food with this view, but also getting to taste it afterwards while staring across the island is the biggest privilege for a cooking class. This was such a unique experience in comparison to the beach and scooter days on Koh Tao, that I really don’t want you to miss out on this one. Therefore, add this one to your own top-10-things-to-do-in-Koh-Tao-list.

Freedom Beach -  this is the most popular of the smaller beaches on Koh Tao

3. Freedom Beach

Not far from John Suwan and Sun Suwan Viewpoint, you will find the Freedom Beach at the end of a road. This is the most popular of the smaller beaches on Koh Tao and a cozy little oasis. Entering the beach will require you to pay a small fee, and I believe the 50 baht are worth it though, since there are good toilet facilities amongst other. After a sweaty and strenuous hike to the John Suwan Viewpoint we fell limply into the sun chairs, recovering in the shades with a fresh breeze. Relaxing in a chair in the shade of the trees while looking over the soothing blue colour of the ocean, this is paradise indeed. Despite never taking a dip in the waters, the beach still is one of my favourites to mention, if not for the atmosphere alone.

A sunset view from the Sun Suwan Viewpoint

4. Sun Suwan Viewpoint

The best view comes after the highest climb, this is no exception on Koh Tao. After a strenuous hike to the John Suwan Viewpoint in the South of Koh Tao, we decided to do another one located nearby, the Sun Suwan Viewpoint which was much easier to access. To get to the viewpoint you will have to pay a small fee for a ticket which is valid throughout the entire day though. After arriving at the top, you can choose between multiple platforms, allowing you to pick the angle and location that suits you best with a full 360 panoramic view of Koh Tao. Not only does this viewpoint offer incredible views across the island, you can even order food and drinks along with your sunset view. After a short visit, we decided to come back in the evening to watch the sunset from here and, oh boy, was this a magical view.

Another hidden gem on the island is the Sai Nuan Beach on the south-west coast of Koh Tao

5. Sai Nuan Beach

Another hidden gem on the island is the Sai Nuan Beach on the south-west coast of Koh Tao. This is a lovely hideaway with fewer people than the Freedom Beach yet still is a beach with fine white sands and the turquoise water. The feeling of being in the midst of a tropical paradise didn’t get any better as I was laying there underneath a palm tree slurping a coconut while gazing into the blue horizon. The atmosphere of this beach is quiet and peaceful which gave me the feeling of having found a gem all to myself, and a very limited amount of other people.

The largest and simultaneously most popular beach on Koh Tao is Sairee Beach

6. Sairee Beach

The largest and simultaneously most popular beach on Koh Tao is Sairee Beach. Stretching almost 2 km along the Western coast of Koh Tao, Sairee has a lot to offer. This is the typical vacation beach which has it all, beachside bars and restaurants, diving schools, shops, beauty- and wellness salons, you name it. Adjacent to the beach lies the walking street which accommodates everything you can see from the side of the beach and more. Passing through the pedestrian street, the atmosphere had changed, this was clearly the epicentre of the island. With a countless number of bars and restaurants to choose between where people would gather inside together with hip cafés, Sairee is the place where you can feel the liveliness of the island.

In Sairee you will find the biggest selection of wellness salons along the pedestrian street

7. Thai Massage

During one of those days which began with a gloomy weather forecast, we decided to treat ourselves to a massage. We took our rented scooter and headed to Sairee which is where you will find the biggest selection of wellness salons along the pedestrian street. While we were strolling down the street adjacent to the beach, I was obsessed with finding the perfect spot for an hour of pampering. Inside “Koh Tao Island Massage” we had found our wellness paradise. As we were directed towards the best seats in the room, overlooking the beach and the ocean, I knew my obsession of finding the perfect spot had paid off – this is the very best place on Koh Tao to treat yourself with a massage.

Koh Nang Yuan consists of three small islands

8. Koh Nang Yuan

Not far from Koh Tao, you will find this beautiful island, Koh Nang Yuan. In fact, Koh Nang Yuan consists of three small islands that are connected by a sandbank made up of paradise white sand, forming this unique landscape while being surrounded by crystal clear blue water. You can easily spend the entire day here relaxing at the beach, snorkelling or hiking to the viewpoint. Due to the big hype of this island, the crowds come with it. I visited Koh Nang Yuan as part of a whole snorkelling tour around Koh Tao with the island being our first stop. After paying an entrance fee of 100 baht per person, we had plenty of time to explore the beaches, the water and the viewpoint. However, due to the great attention this island has been getting, it was a rather disappointing experience when for example having to wait in line in order to get to the viewpoint. It is undoubtedly a scenic paradise, just keep in mind that there are other people interested, too.

The most popular viewpoint of this island - the John Suwan Viewpoint

9. John Suwan Viewpoint

Located in the very south of Koh Tao, you will find the most popular viewpoint of this island, the John Suwan Viewpoint which was named after its local landowners and explorer Mr. John and Mr. Suwan. From the parking lot, which also leads down to the Freedom Beach, you will have a 20-minutes demanding hike to the viewpoint while following a jungle trail made up of rocks and ropes to facilitate the climb. I am generally in a good shape but climbing to the viewpoint at midday in over 30 degrees while trying to beat the heat and humidity was strenuous. Arriving at the top, the view was not disappointing. Overlooking the nearby Shark Bay and Chalok Baan Kao Bay to your right and left, the view goes on and on. After our hike, we desperately needed to cool down and headed to Freedom Beach which was just the paradise we needed.

Arriving at the bottom, we were greeted by the locals from the Freedom Bar

10. Ao Hin Wong

The Hin Wong Beach was one I had on my list to check out, but since we had already spent the day participating in a Thai Cooking Class, exploring and driving around on our rented scooter, we entered the beach to merely relax and enjoy the view for a short while. We had previously visited the Hin Wong Bay on our snorkelling tour around the island but the beach we hadn’t explored yet. We parked our scooter at the top, there was a guy charging for parking, but we didn’t pay as we were told from other visitors that they hadn’t paid either and thought it to be scam. From there, it’s just a few minutes down the road and a small paradise is opening up in front of you. Arriving at the bottom, we were greeted by the locals from the Freedom Bar who were a couple of friendly locals enjoying life at its best.


1. The most convenient transportation mode on Koh Tao is the scooter. Despite being advised against renting a scooter, we did it anyway since this is as well as the only way to get around the island. There’s also the option of taking a cab, but this will quickly get pricy and gives you less freedom.

2. In case you want to go on a snorkel boat trip, I’d highly recommend booking the premium tour. When we booked a day-trip snorkel tour around the island, we chose the normal one which was way too crowded and made me deeply regret not having chosen a tour with fewer people.

3. Another option would be to rent your own long-tail boat with a local – they hang out with their boats at the beaches and all you have to do is to talk to them. This will give you an even better experience and nothing will be ruined by the crowds and masses of people.

4. If I had to pick only one viewpoint, I would recommend the Sun Suwan Viewpoint over the John Suwan Viewpoint. At the Sun Suwan Viewpoint you have the actual possibility to sit down and enjoy the view while slurping on your cocktail.

5. From the island of Koh Nang Yuan I would have expected more. Despite paying an entrance fee to enter the island, the toilet facilities were dirty and in bad shape. There was an immensely long queue in the woods to get to the famous viewpoint. After waiting for half an hour and being eaten up by the mosquitos we decided to descend back to the beach and skip it after all. The view is stunning on pictures, so should you decide to go, just be prepared for crowds of people and mosquitos.


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