Koh Tao, which means “Turtle Island” translated from Thai, is one of the most beautiful places to visit while travelling Thailand and South East Asia. There are many amazing things to do on Koh Tao, fun nightlife, stunning viewpoints, relaxing beaches and plenty of adventures to enjoy.
Just be careful, many people have visited Koh Tao for a short visit and have ended up staying here for years, this Island tends to have a strange power over people.
1. Scuba Diving – Get Your PADI
It’s no secret that Thailand is one of the cheapest and best places to get your PADI diving certifications and Koh Tao is easily the most popular location to take them. You will get the chance to dive in one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas in the world, experience wonderful marine life and on top of that get certified for diving anywhere else in the world.
Taking the PADI Open Water course takes 3-4 days, after which you will be a certified diver and are licensed to dive down to a depth of 18m. If you are pressed for time you can always do a Discover Scuba Divingprogram which is a 1 day introduction to diving and means you can still see Koh Tao’s amazing Coral reefs.
2. Koh Tao Pub Crawl
Travelling around South East Asia it is impossible to go more than a few days without running into people wearing a Koh Tao Pub Crawl vest. It’s a really popular nightlife activity in Koh Tao, especially since the island is small, and all the nightlife happens around the same areas.
The pub crawl takes place 4 times a week and starts at Choppers bar in Sairee. After signing in you will receive a free bucket and a pub crawl singlet. Whilst on the crawl you will visit a few different bars, enjoy games and even see a ladyboy cabaret show which is pretty funny to see.
The end of the pub crawl will see you head to the beach to party with booming music and fire dancers. Overall it’s a great night out and a good way to meet people, a definite must for backpackers visiting Koh Tao who want a wild night out.
3. Snorkeling Day Trip to Koh Nang Yuan
A short longtail boat ride away from Koh Tao is a little island called Koh Nang Yuan, upon arrival you will have to pay a small entrance fee of 100THB which is a small amount to pay for the paradise you are about to enter. The island consists of 3 small peaks that are connected together by a beautiful white beach. Below the clear blue water surrounding the beach there are amazing coral gardens inhabited by lots of beautiful fish.
This area provides excellent snorkeling spots especially in the area known as Japanese Gardens that has many different varieties of fish. On the opposite side you can get the chance to snorkel with juvenile black tip reef sharks as they use the small bay as a nursery.
Out of the water the Island’s beach provides an excellent spot to relax and unwind in an idyllic setting. The southern “island” contains one of the main attractions of Nangyuan, the viewpoint. It is a 20 minute walk up the hill and along the way you will have to climb over a few big rocks.
Once on top it gives a great photograph opportunity that you can share across your social media accounts and make people back home jealous.
4. John Suwan Viewpoint / Freedom Beach
Down on the south of the island is John Suwan viewpoint which offers one of the most stunning scenes on the island. This is one view point, you should definitely not miss!! Offering a perfect panoramic view of the whole of Chalok Baan Kao and Thian Og bays all at once.
Just after the path that leads up to the viewpoint is freedom beach, this secluded beach retreat is one of the more popular beaches on Koh Tao. The beach itself has fine white sand with mangrove trees providing natural shade to escape the sun. This hidden treasure is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy some swimming and snorkeling after a walk up to the viewpoint.
5. Sunset Beers
Everybody loves a sunset and Koh Tao is one of the best places in the world to enjoy one, sitting on the beach, looking out to the Gulf of Thailand sea while enjoying a cocktail or cold beer. There are many beach bars that you can sit at either in Mae Haad or Sairee to watch as the sun sinks behind the horizon and gives the sky an amazing glow as the day turns to night.
For the more adventurous you can enjoy the sunset from a more elevated level at one of the hillside bars dotted along the island. You will never get tired of the scenery or the chilled out vibe at the end of each day after whatever activity you have been doing as you enjoy one stunning sunset after another.
As you can see Koh Tao has some fantastic things to do and more than enough to keep you entertained.
As I said at the beginning, just be careful as it is very easy to fall in love with the place and get “stuck” here for longer than you expected.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)