For many, Koh Tao is a dream holiday destination – gorgeous beaches, crystal clear waters, and awe-inspiring scenery. The island is famous for its coral diving and cocktails, but it is also a destination for backpackers where they can relax, chill, and party on the beach. Koh Tao is also famous for its budget-friendliness, a beautiful island with an easy-going vibe and inexpensive activities.
Koh Tao is famous for widely accessible world-class diving locations, featuring sharks, whales, and brightly coloured coral common to the Gulf of Thailand. It’s worth bearing in mind that November brings the monsoon season, along with poor weather conditions. There are multiple scuba diving training schools to choose from, but important factors will be the quality of the course and your diving instructor. You can easily find a PADI certified diver to get lessons from. Before going for the diving, you have to complete a three-day course before you can enjoy less supervised underwater expeditions. This is also one of the areas where Koh Tao’s wallet-friendliness kicks in – diving classes are very affordable, with high-quality courses available from around $25 USD.
Accommodation and restaurants
Going on holiday, everybody looks for the cheap accommodations and restaurants. You can easily find beautiful beaches and resorts where you can find silence, and they are not much expensive as well. Booking a room in advance is a surefire way to save you some cash, but there are many other affordable bungalows that you can get under $18 USD per day. For even cheaper rooms you can research hostels, but make sure you check the temperature. Some rooms will not offer air conditioning, and relying on fans to keep cool can be hit and miss.
The best way to eat on a budget on Koh Tao is to avoid western foods and touristy restaurants – skip the pizza and pasta and even enjoy Thai food for 60-80 baht (around $2 USD). Be brave and sample some of the local flavours. Street food is very popular and cheap, meaning you can enjoy great tasting food without breaking the bank. Just be aware of the quality of what you’re eating; if it doesn’t taste right, spit it out!
Koh Tao is easily accessible from the Bangkok. The fastest method is to fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui, then catch the ferry. Though efficient, this is also the more expensive route. You could save yourself some cash by taking an 8hr bus from Bangkok to Chumphon, followed by a two-hour ferry to Koh Tao, which will end up costing around 1,000 Baht.
Travelling on the island itself is very easy, as Koh Tao is much smaller than its neighbouring islands making it easy to cover ground by foot. It’s also possible to rent bikes, making for easy travel between the beaches on the west and south side of the island. There are at least five different “Banana Rock Beach”-es in Thailand, and you’ll find one of them here.
Koh Tao has developed a bad reputation since a series of murders spanning the years since 2014. This has resulted in the island being referred to as “Death Island” by various media outlets. The reason behind this is the mysterious death of six tourists, believed to be linked to organised crime families in the area. Until recently, Koh Tao was considered a backpacker’s paradise, and though the odds are in your favour (around 750,000 people visit this island every year), there are safer places to visit. Let your risk tolerance guide you, but don’t let fear make you miss out on the great partying and diving Koh Tao has to offer.