Best places to stay in Koh Tao
For sun, sand, fun and nightlife then the Sairee Beach area is the place to stay. Sairee Beach is the largest and most popular beach on the island, as well as the most developed, and although it is more easy going than its older sister, Koh Samui, is still famous for its 24-hour party scene. Sairee and the surrounding area offers an abundance of accommodation options, diving centres, leisure activities and hippie market bliss. Topple onto the velvety white sands to top up your tan, take a boat ride around the island or if you are feeling more energetic, have a game of beach volleyball. The calm and shallow aquamarine water is ideal for any level of swimmer.
Getting around this area is fast and cheap if you rent a scooter from one of the many companies available in the town. You can use the scooter to explore the interior of Koh Tao and wind your way through the island’s rugged jungle areas. At the end of the day there’s no better way to finish the day than by kicking back on a sun lounger on Sairee Beach, drink in hand, to watch one of its breathtaking sunsets. The scent of freshly barbecued seafood, which is Sairee Beach’s signature cuisine, as well as the many international options available, will surprise and tantalise you after sunset into going to one of the many restaurants that line the beachfront. If you still feel like going partying afterwards there is no shortage of options. The south area of Sairee Beach is the most frenetic with the greatest concentration of animated bars and clubs on the island in which to mingle and dance until dawn.
In contrast as you move north up the beach you will find that the party scene cools down and makes way for more upscale resorts and chilled out beach bars. This area is an ideal in between place to stay in if you are considering something more relaxed and upmarket away from the true backpacker crowd, but still within walking distance of nightlife should you wish to dip into it now and then.
You can also climb to adrenaline inducing heights by doing rock climbing, abseiling and bouldering inland from Sairee Beach or head off along one of the canopies of jungle paths to discover its lesser known areas, easily reachable from the town. Staying around Sairee Beach will mean you have instant access to the many tour companies that organise activities and trips around the island.
Chalok Baan Kao
Tucked away in the southeast of the island, the crystal clear waters of Chalok Baan Kao face out over the Ang Thong National Marine Park making it a remarkable place to stay. Popular with families, it is quieter and more serene than Sairee Beach with the calm, shallow waters providing fantastic swimming conditions for children. A holiday in Chalok Baan Kao will give you a tranquil base with which experience all that the island of Koh Tao has to offer.
Nevertheless, although the area is more sedate than Sairee Beach, it still has all the amenities you might need including the ever present dive shops, mini markets, travel agents, ATMs, restaurants and bars. It is one of the island’s most popular as well as largest dive centres, which are geared up to help you make a splash and witness some truly spectacular marine life. You can train to get your PADI or SSI certification at one of the certified training schools, which will open up a whole new and awe-inspiring world for you. As you dive down to explore this unusual world, you will be greeted by brightly coloured schools of fish, angelfish, stingrays and coral as well as potentially a black-tip reef shark hiding amongst the wonderful coral and rock formations.
Moving further south and separated from Chalok Baan Kao by a rocky outcrop, you will discover the paradisiacal beaches of AoTaaToh and Freedom Beach. Dreamy, translucent waters gently lap the pristine shore and a coral reef nearby create perfect conditions for snorkelling and swimming. There is a simple wooden restaurant on the beach selling drinks and snacks and you can also access the TaaToh Lagoon, a hidden lagoon and beach resort only a few minutes walk away.