|Koh Tao Info |
KOH TAO, little more than 21 Km2, is located about 70 km. east of the coastline between Suratthani and Chumphon, in the Gulf of Thailand.
Koh Tao means Turtle Island, because in the past the waters in the area were rich with sea turtles, nowadays they have mostly moved on to other breeding grounds.
Intially the island was not inhabited, there was only the occasional fisherman from the neighboring islands, looking for shelter in a storm or just taking a break before continuing his tiresome journey.
|On June 18, 1899, His Majesty the King Chulalongkorn (Rama V 1868-1910) visited Koh Tao and left as evidence his monogram on a huge boulder at Jor Por Ror Bay next to Sairee Beach. This place is worshipped even today and should be treated with respect.
From 1933 on the island was used as a political prison. In 1947, Khun A-Paiwong, prime minister at the time, pleaded and received a royal pardon for all prisoners on the island. Everybody was taken to the Suratthani shore and the "Turtle" was abandoned again.
But not for long
In the same year Khun Ueam and his twin brother khun Oh reached Koh Tao from the neighboring Koh Phangan by trying out their traditional sail boat, for that time a quite long and dangerous journey.
Even though the island was still under royal patronage, it didn't stop these pioneers claiming themselves a good part of the land on today's Sairee Beach.
Having brought their families over, they began to cultivate and harvest the excellent soil.
The first generation of today's community had settled!
They lived a very simple and tough life harvesting coconuts, fishing and growing vegetables, which were also traded with Koh Phangan.
Despite the difficulties in reaching the island, the population then grew steadily.
In the eighties the first travelers discovered the island paradise and their special "backpacker-network" quickly made it widely known and a popular destination. As a consequence, bigger, faster and safer boats were used to allow easier access to Koh Tao.
During the past ten years the reputation of Turtle Island's natural beauty, especially its marine life and coral reefs, has spread the world over and the number of paradise seekers increased rapidly.
It soon became one of the major dive sites in Thailand, attracting beginners and professionals alike.
The local businesses expanded immediately to catch up with the needs of the new clientele. The island today, though still remaining an absolute paradise, caters for all tastes and budgets.
Koh Tao has one major concrete road which connects the north end of Sairee with Chalok Baan Kao in the south, while passing the main village Mae Haad in the middle.
There is an increasing amount of small concrete roads leading to the other beaches and bays. Ever where else you will find more or less accessible dirt tracks, most of which will challenge even a skilled driver.
Steep trails, sharp curves, sand and grit, potholes, washed out tracks and the occasional dropping coconut demand mindful driving and fast reactions.
Vehicles in Thailand drive usually on the left, but traffic rules are often freely interpreted, speed limits are not observed and suicidal dogs prefer sleeping on the roads, which are often narrow. You must always be prepared to make room for the occasional moving or still obstacle.
Yet, it is not as bad as it seems, as long as you drive carefully and remember that an accident will hurt body and budget as well. Motorcycles can be rented from 150 B, Jeeps from 1000 B, the deposit of a passport is required.
However there are many other options of getting around:
Pick-up and Motorbike Taxis
These can be found parked in busy areas, or can be stopped at the roadside. They run from early morning until 11 p.m. Please be aware that taxi fares can vary and even double after darkness.
Always discuss the cost before the ride, not after. Basically the fares start with a minimum fee for one or more persons and then increase per additional customer.
From Mae Haad to
Sairee or Chalok Baan Kao: 1-2 pers. 60B/ +30B pers.
Tanote or Hin Wong: 1-4 pers 200B/ +50B pers.
Ao Leuk or Thian Og: 1-2 pers. 100B/ +50B pers.
From Sairee to:
Chalok Baan Kao: 1-2 pers. 100B/ +50B pers.
Ao Leuk: 1-2 pers. 160B/ +80B pers.
The colorful, traditional Long Tail Boats take you conveniently and quickly to stunning remote beaches and secluded bays.
You can find them at all the main beaches, they can be chartered for a short trip or a day tour.
Prices are quite consistent and reasonable: trips from Mae Haad
To Chalok Baan Kao: 150B per person
To Nang Yuan: 1-2 persons 100 B
To Tanote Nay: 1-3 persons 300B
Around the island: 1-4 pers. 1000B
Biking and Trekking
There are mountain bikes for rent around the island, which are not only cheaper than motorbikes, but will also help to protect the environment.
However, to discover the real beauty of Koh Tao, travel on foot.
If you are not afraid of exercise and enjoy a bit of excitement, you will be rewarded with the experience of the rich variety of the jungle, a cool swim in a lonely bay, a fantastic view over cliffs in the surf or a spectacular panorama from a mountain top.
An excursion like this can be very demanding and tiresome, so leave prepared: drinking water, sun block, mosquito repellent, tight shoes and a hat are essential and please don't go alone, like in diving, a buddy can be a life saver and besides, it's more fun.
Places to stay.
There is a huge variety of accommodation for every budget in Koh Tao. Most of the resorts are located on the main beaches Sairee, Mae Haad & Chalok Baan Kao.
Room rates start from 150 Baht for simple huts (public toilet and no electricity) and reach up to several thousand Baht for real luxury villas with all western amenities. The average bungalow with a fan and shower/toilet inside will be around 400 Baht, double that for air-con rooms.
Prices will change with the season. Beachfront is usually more expensive. Not all resorts supply 24hr electricity, many use their own generators from 6pm-6am and around midday, if that's not convenient for you, better double check when booking.
Peak seasons are from December to March and July to August. Then and during Thai holidays like Songkran, the island can actually be booked out. Check on rooms before arrival by phone or email. Also on-line booking is getting very popular.
Some dive resorts won't accommodate non-divers, but in low season exceptions can be made.
Sairee's with sandy beach stretches about 1.7km over most of the west coast, interrupted only by a few huge boulders. Mae Haad is only a 10 min walk away.
Being the most popular area on Tao, Sairee offers a huge range of accommodation, dive centers, restaurants, shops, beach bars, travel & email services, nurseries, etc. You also find here the Fishery Museum, the Rama V rock and on the way to Mae Haad the police station, the public school and the temple.
All boats arrive here. Naturally highly developed, but still managing to keep some of its old fishing village charm, Money exchange, post office, government office & health center are here, as well as offices for most of the dive centers. Lots of travel agents, email services, bike rentals, supermarkets, restaurants and night spots. A few budget and up market resorts are located on the southern end.
Chalok Baan Kao
Third largest beach, located on the southern coast facing Phangan and Samui. Much quieter than Sairee, but offers a similar variety of accommodation, eateries and nightlife. It is beautifully framed by Taa Toh lagoon to the east and Saan Jao beach to the west. The rock formation at cape Taa Toh resembles a sitting Buddha, this is best to be seen from the view point opposite.
Well preserved, secluded bay with excellent snorkeling, 5 laidback resorts, incl. a dive resort & water sport center with kayaks & water ski, as well as a German dive school.
Private bay with an exclusive, beautiful up market resort and a budget bungalow. Only a 10 min walk fro Mae Haad.
Sai Nuan Beach
After Jansom bay, reached by foot or better by longtail, one resort, laidback atmosphere, ideal for nature lovers.
Cape Jeda Gang
South-west coast, taxi boat recommended, one resort, simple huts & solid bungalows. Can't get it more private.
June Juea Beach
South-west coast, best reached by foot or longtail, two simple, small resorts, a real getaway.
Hin Wong Bay
North-east coast, abundant coral reefs in a natural pool, four small hillside resorts and one diving school.
Between Tanote & Hin Wong, a private cape with a small bay, excellent snorkeling and a lovely little resort. A remote refuge with free pick up service. Highly recommended.
On the way to Tanote bay, one of the most beautiful beaches. You can swim or just sit in crystal clear water surrounded by fish. Three small, simple resorts in a breathtaking surrounding. No luxury.
Thian Og Bay
Next Chalok Baan Kao. Huge private bay, one resort and a hillside spa/restaurant at the eastside; a hilltop restaurant/bakery and bungalows at the west. Reef sharks.
Sai Daeng Beach
Two resorts and a dive school nestled in an idyllic bay & a sandy beach, closest to one of Tao's prime dive & snorkel sites : Shark Island. Best reached by boat or 4-wheel.
Don't be afraid, there might be a few western luxury items missing, but the essentials can be found everywhere around the island. Supermarkets are open from early morning until late night. But that's not all!
From scuba dive & snorkel equipment to stylish, unique beach wear, there are a lot of shops offering quality and brand products for bargain prices.
Original ethnic souvenirs made from ceramic, coconut, shells or bamboo and unique jewellery made from silver, leather, beads and precious stones are offered in several shops as well as from vendors at the roadside.
There are also lots of little stores that seem to be specializing in only one thing: to have ever thing! Hawaii shirts, sarongs, hammocks, postcards, coconut oil, flip flops, fire crackers, the list is endless. Just look around and you are sure to find something you really need right now.
There are plenty of second hand bookshops and now even imported/reference titles available for rental.
Except in the big stores prices are open for discussion, as long as you stay friendly and reasonable.
Only a few years ago the culinary scene in Koh Tao was rather basic. Classic Thai dishes together with little western additions like American breakfast, pancakes, sandwiches and French fries have been on the daily menu.
Nowadays caterers and cooks from all nations have settled and extended the food variety. Lots of excellent restaurants offer culinary delights from all over the world.
You can get pizza, homemade pasta, smoked salmon, sushi, enchiladas, sausages, imported steaks, English pies, fresh bread & pastry as well as draught & imported beers, wines, fabulous cocktails, nothing is missing.
Fresh markets offer all sorts of tropical fruit and also prepare them on the spot to a shake of your choice.
With all this foreign dishes on offer you should never forget where you are. Authentic Thai food can be sampled everywhere, from street stalls & nightly grills to Thai kitchens and Seafood restaurants.
Savouring a zesty Thai curry, a BBQ fish and a coconut rum shake on the beach will make your holiday complete.
Enjoy your mea!!
ALIOLI Tapas Bar - Mae Haad - main road - opp. Post office
The lively Argentinean owner creates the tastiest, small dishes (Tapas) with cocktails or sangria, served with cool latin rhythms, Spontaneous pop parties. 5pm-late
CAFE DEL SOL - Cocktail Bar, Grill & Restaurant - Mae Haad
Exquisite world cuisine with a tasty range of breakfast sets, sandwiches, brochettes, pizza, smoked salmon & first choice steaks; excellent wine selection.8am-11pm
FARANGO PIZZERIA & STEAKHOUSE - (est. 1996) - Mae Haad
Tao's first pizzeria. Latin atmosphere, excellent Italian & Mediterranean specialties, homemade pasta, prime beef, duck & lamb; delivery service. Pier road. 11am-10pm
FAR OUT CAFE - (est. 1989) Mae Haad
The oldest eatery on the rock. Sandwiches, burgers,
Fried chicken, Thai food & seafood BBQ's from their own catch. Pleasant place with colorful design. 7am-10pm
SAFETY STOP PUB (est. 1994) - Mae Haad - beach front
Where friends & locals meet. Draught beer, English pub grub, Pizza, Saturday night BBBQ; all live sports on 8 TV's, Happiness Hour with beautiful sunsets. 8am - late.
OUT OF THE BLUE - Steakhouse - southend Mae Haad
Open for breakfast, lunch & dinner. BBQ steaks are AAA imported beef only. Gourmet BBQ burgers. 2nd floor bay view verandah. Relaxed Jazz & Blues. 8am-midnight
THE WHITENING - Bar & Restaurant - Mae Haad - beachfront
A romantic, yet stylish setting, offering a delicious blend of International fusion food & Thai cuisine. Soothing sounds compliment a laidback dining experience. 5pm - 10:30pm
BAAN KAO SEAFOOD / MOONSTONE BAR - Chalok Baan Kao
Beautiful bay view restaurant & beach bar in an natural, cosy setting at Koh Tao Cottage. Delicious Thai & Western cuisine, seafood BBQ. 7:30am - 10pm/Bar from 6pm - late
NEW HEAVEN Restaurant & Bakery - west Thian Og Bay
Fantastic sea view from the relaxing hilltop terrace, easy to reach. Delicious seafood & Thai cuisine, BBQ corner. Homemade bread & pastry, fresh coffee. 9am - 11pm
JAMAHKIRI Spa & Restaurant - east Thian Og Bay
Extraordinary hillside venue with splendid view and exquisite ambience. Savour from a large selection of great Thai dishes in a relaxing atmosphere. Pick-up service.
CHOPPERS Bar & Grill - Sairee Village near 7 Eleven
Aussie, Irish & authentic Thai tucker, ice-cold VB beer. Downstairs - tunes, sports & surf flicks, upper deck - movies on dolby surround 43" screen (daily 7:30). 6pm - late.
EL GRINGO Mexican Restaurant - Sairee village - main road
The real thing, most popular with the expats. Vast selection of tasty, authentic dishes & good steaks. Live sports on a big screen. 10 am - midnight, Happy Hours 5:30 - 8pm.
FLOWER Restaurants - southend Sairee
Wooden sala right on the beach, relaxing Thai cushions, atmospheric design, very friendly service. Original Thai food, seafood, BBQ's, European dishes. 7:30am
EL TORO Restaurants - southend Sairee Beach & Sairee Village
Sizzlin' Maxican dishes with home made nachos, salsa and guacamole, Pizza Extravaganza (40+Exotic'n'Italian Styles), tasty desserts & Western favourites, 9.30 am - late.
LITTLE MERMAID Restaurant - southend Sairee
Food for Vikings and meat lovers: Frikadeller, pytt I panna, hakkeboef, bernaice sauce and much more. Beach side between AC Resort & Ban's Diving. 9.30 am - late.
THE GALLEY/THE DECK - Restaurant/Beach Bar - north Sairee
Beachfront terrace with great Western & Thai food & BBQ's. Try the lasagna or meatballs with Swedish Logan berry jam. Kitchen open 6:30 am - 10 pm, bar open 5 pm - late.
INTOUCH Restaurant - southend Sairee
Beachfront dining lounge in a layered Thai sala with pool table. Korean BBQ, Western & Thai food. A nice place to enjoy the night in comfort. Kitchen open 7am - 10:30pm
LEAVES Garden Cafe & Book Shop - Sairee village
Tranquil place serving soups, salads, platters, fresh coffee & excellent selection of herbal teas. Unusual range of new and used books. Open Tue - Sun, 10am - 7pm.
LOTUS Restaurant & Beach Bar - north Sairee
Natural styled and spacious Thai restaurant, perfect to enjoy the sunset. Specialized on seafood BBQ's & Lobster. Special parties every Monday, open - air cinema.
MANGO BAY STEAK HOUSE - Sairee village - main road
Highly frequented by expats. Prime steaks from ostrich, kangaroo, crocodile, lamb & beef. Great burgers, large portions, reasonable prices, friendly service. 2pm - 11pm.
SUTHEP Restaurant - Sairee village
Cozy place with garden patio, tables & sofa area. Exquisite range of Thai, Western & other dishes, excellent steaks, good variety of cocktails. 7pm - 11pm.
SUTHEP On the Beach - north Sairee
Replacing New Way Restaurant, great selection of snacks, salads and main courses. Lovely deck & cushion area, and next to the Dry Bar! 8am - 10pm.
The Turtle, usually rather relaxed can get surprisingly energetic after dawn and if you like to party all night in a pleasant surrounding, you've come to the perfect place.
The major bars and dance spots around the island are mostly right on the beaches or on mountain tops. They impress with stylish, modern or colorful, ethnic design.
The owners are very creative and staff is extremely friendly. Drink prices are moderate and don't forget to check out the innovative cocktails, typically for Tao, Served in buckets.
Professional DJ's from all over the world spin their best and the freshest sounds are guaranteed. Amazing fire jugglers perform during the parties.
To find out what's up, look out for advertising at shops and taxis. The happy crowd never seems to get tired and basically there is a cool party going on somewhere every night, full moon, half moon, black moon or not, with enough taxis around to get you home safely.
For the more low-key clientele there are also a few pub-like venues and cocktail lounges with chill out tunes. Some show live sports, some have pool tables and you will easily find an expat to join a game of Backgammon.
Most restaurants have a daily changing movie program, advertised on white boards at the entrance.
Thai Boxing is performed irregularly, there are flyers and quite audible announcements from cars informing about date and place. Can't miss it!.
Hungry after midnight? There's the typical hawker food at all party spots and Captain Karaoke closely the post office in Mae Haad serves simple, but tasty Thai dishes until the wee hours.
Look out for new places which are opening all the time.
Recommended Night Spots.
AC-PARTY PUB - Sairee Beach
Koh Tao's Original party place, huge dance floor at the beach front, happy hours until midnight, fire words, BBQ, open daily, special parties on Tue, Thu, Sun. 8pm - 2am
DRY BAR - Beach Tree Bar & Sunset Lounge - Sairee Beach
Warm up & get picked up for the big parties at this unique bar, placed inside a tree. Relaxed & groovy sounds, sunset specials, Fridays beach party, open daily 4pm-1am
INTOUCH - Beach Bar - Sairee Beach
Spacious beach venue with cocktail bar and multiple relax areas. A fusion of art and music. Wed & Sat high energy party nights with int'l DJ's and progressive sounds.
LOTUS BAR - Beach Bar & Open Air Cinema - Sairee Beach
Atmospheric beach bar showing the newest flicks on a 3x4m screen with excellent sound. 2 for 1 drink specials between 9:30 - 10:30. Monday is party night. 6pm-late.
KU-DE-TA - Upstairs Restaurant & Lounge Bar - Chalok
European & Thai cuisine, pre-party bar, guest dj's, table tennis, pool table, music production facilities. Open 12 am - 4 pm & 7pm - 1 am, Happy Hours 7-9pm, Wed closed
VENUS PARK - between Ao Thian Og & Sai Daeng Beach
Most original & secluded party spot, dancing on a mystery mountain, beats & performance area, psychedelic, organic d?cor, int'l DJ's, taxi service, 2-3x a month. 9pm - late.
PING PONG BAR - hilltop between Mae Haad and Sairee
Several wooden salas with colorful design nestled into a hillside garden. Very relaxed & very friendly. Ambient, truancy, funky tunes, ideal for pre-party or chill-out. 6pm - 2am.
DRAGONBAR - Cocktail Bar & Fashion House - Mae Haad
Creative cocktails and superb food selection in a contemporary-retro styled bar, reminiscent of a 60's Bruce Lee flick.
Modern sounds, Jazz Beats, Electronica to Hip Hop. 6pm - 2am.
SEAMONKEY - Lounge Bar - Mae Haad Square
Upstairs atmospheric venue with the best vibe, eclectic DJ's, choice cocktails, healthy juices, original snacks, pool table. Open daily from 5pm - 12:30am.
TATTOO BAR&GRILL - Western, Thai, Indian - Mae Haad
Beautiful beach front beer garden with pool table, BBQs & sunset view. Colossal burgers, meat pies, sausages & wicked Mass man. Fantastic music selection. Also fishing trips.
THE WHITENING - Bar & Restaurant - Mae Haad - beachfront
Stylish open-air club, established 5 years, playing the freshest house music. Exotic cocktails & wicked buckets. Full on party every Friday with Intl' Dj's. 9pm - late.
Be aware & care.
Koh Tao, a tropical paradise, shouldn't we keep it that way? There are over a 100,000 visitors per year, who obviously have a severe impact on the eco-system. Unfortunately there are no garbage disposal facilities, what can't be burned, has to be taken away. There is no department to clean roads or the open landscape.
So, it is everybody's responsibility to help keep this problem as small as possible.
Here is what you could do, to make a difference.
Watching bad examples, does not mean you have to follow them, better give a good example to others.
There are containers for bottles and cans, use them.
Rubbish bins, even difficult to find, are always a better option than dumping your waste in the open landscape.
When going trekking, don't leave a trail of garbage and empty water bottles behind.
Try to avoid using the plastic bags that will be given out for any little item you purchase, bring you own bag instead.
Cigarette butts need ages to decompose & the ashes spoil the beach, so use ashtrays or empty cans or such.
Water is scare, especially during the hot season, don't waste it, don't leave it running, especially during a shower.
Electricity, supplied by generators, is very expensive, be economical, switch off the lights when leaving your room.
Don't throw paper or other things into the toilets, the pipes are easily clogged, but very difficult to clear.
The sea is naturally at higher risk because pollution is not as instantly visible as it is on the land. Imagine that yearly cleaning events organized by the dive schools retrieve tons of garbage from the bottom of the sea.
irst rule: Don't throw anything at all into the sea!
Second rule: Just look, don't touch!
Marine life is very sensitive & easily harmed, even killed, some is poisonous and some will just
Also organic waste (like pineapple, watermelon skin or lunch leftovers) should never be thrown into the sea, as fish will love eating it but then die slowly being unable to digest it as well as it will cover the corals and litter the beaches.
Corals are very slow growing, but fragile and easily destroyed, often by accidental contact with the scuba gear.
Dead corals and shells are very important for the bio-cycle, so every time you wanna pick up a souvenir, consider the impact of thousands of tourists doing the same must have. Besides most underwater beauty, a photo or video is always the better and longer lasting choice.
All in all, the basic rule should be to simply to leave this fantastic place the same as you'd like to find it: Unspoiled!
Just recently Koh Tao suffered under a severe water shortage. Be conscious and save water - it does matter!!
Just over 10 years ago buffalo carts and tiny boats were used as the main form of transportation. The first diving operations came from Samui with the divers staying overnight in primitive huts.
Only 2 years later a couple of very basic dive centers started operating on Koh Tao. Equipment was limited, wetsuits were not available for customers and only small fishing boats were used to take divers to the sites.
Finding popular sites was a combination of lining up fix points on the horizon and dragging dive masters on ropes behind the boat, hoping they would recognize the sites from the surface.
Since this time Koh Tao has exploded on the diving circuit and it now has the reputation of being the main training center for dive students in South East Asia.
Many international diving agencies are represented on this small island, including PADI, SSI IANTD, BSAC and NAUI. So intense has the market growth been in the past decade that PADI and SSI now send their representatives to the island to monitor the quality and to help keep all their members informed about changes within the industry.
All course levels are available from beginner to professional, including special courses like UW-photography and technical diving (nitrox) for the more adventurous, so if you just fancy a few days of fun diving or wish to go on with your underwater career, it's all here.
Actually Koh Tao has become the leading area in Thailand for Instructor Development Centers (IDC). IDC's are held at the larger dive resorts or shops with courses running every two months.
Equipment quality has also improved with shops using the latest models, including Scubapro, Suunto, US Divers, Technisub and Seac Sub. There are fully stocked retail centers for those who wish to purchase some quality brand scuba or snorkel gear for very attractive prices. Own equipment can also be serviced there. Safety is now at a very high level with a mono recompression chamber and a DMT O2 & evacuation station located on Koh Tao and a bigger chamber on Samui only 90 minutes away by speedboat.
Most of the reputable shops have staff that are fully trained first aides and provide oxygen on the boats and in their facilities. Most shops offer (or even include) diving insurances, to give that extra peace of mind.
If you don't fancy diving don't forget that snorkeling is available through most dive centers, and if you prefer it more private try a long tail day trip around the island or just kayak along Koh Tao's beautiful coast line.
Maybe, you are thinking by now Koh Tao is only for divers with nothing else to do. Well, you are mistaken.
The good thing about divers is, that they spent most of their time in the water. So you could start the day with the obvious and relax on a quiet, empty beach.
If that gets a bit boring you can get active in many ways: mountain biking, water skiing, wake boarding, kayaking, banana boat rides, etc.
Or maybe you like to go snorkeling in one of the many bays, to get a first glimpse of the spectacular underwater world (and then get instantly hooked and learn diving after all).
Charter an inexpensive boat for a trip around the island or to the neighboring little island Nangyuan, with its unique triple connecting beach. Daily Snorkel trips, deep sea and night fishing are offered from many travel offices.
Learn challenging rock climbing.
Stay in shape at the fully equipped open air gym, offering also yoga classes.
Explore the sights and heights on foot. The breathtaking views make it absolutely worth the effort.
After all these activities in the hot climate you feel probably exhausted. A traditional Thai massage is something you should not miss out. It will relieve your strained body and revive your spirit. A herbal steam bath will add to your well-being and cleanse your tired skin.
Why not develop your inner strength and heal body, mind and spirit? There is Tai Chi, Chi Gong and Yoga, Reiki, Foot Reflexology, all practiced and taught.
You see, the turtle has a lot of offer for non-divers after all.
Point of interest.
ere is a little collection of interesting sights. In Sairee, or better say Jor Por Ror bay at its southern end, you'll find the before mentioned (in the beginning...) Rama V Rock, right in front of the Fishery Museum.
At Sairee View, a hilltop resort in the north end you can overlook the whole east coast, a whale skeleton is on display and close by there's the mysterious diamond caves.
The main road stops at C.F.T. offering a spectacular sight of Nangyuan as well as Tai Chi & traditional Thai massage.
Another great panorama you'll have at Two View, the highest peak of Koh Tao, best take a taxi towards Tanote bay, get off at the signs and walk the rest, it's really worth it.
You could either walk straight down to Sairee, or if you want to see more, return the way you came, follow the signs leading to Ao Leuk and be rewarded with a refreshing swim in one of the most beautiful private bays.
Check out Chalok Baan Kao's east end with stunning viewpoints in every direction. From Last Paradise (with a heli-pad) you see Chalok, from New Heaven Restaurant you see Tian Og bay, and from John-Suwan Rock you can overlook both bays together. Proceed to the next bay Thian Og and find at the eastern hillside a beautiful designed Spa as well as the totally relaxed Eagle View. Absolutely breathtaking, the sights as well as the steep walking.
Like some more? Goto the west side of Chalok, cross the concrete bridge leading to Saan Jao. Take a break at the Viewpoint restaurant with the best angle of the Buddha Rock. Then climb the stairs behind uphill and follow a shady path down to a lovely, quiet bay: June Juea. This is where the real trekking adventure starts and proceeding is recommended only for the sportive and healthy ones.
The path goes very steep uphill and enters thick jungle. After a while you reach Cape Jeda Gang. Time for another refreshment. Check out the view and the very basic huts on the cape. From there uphill again, stay on the coast side path until the next bay, Sai Nuan and maybe float a little in the resorts salt water pool. Up again, through stick and stones, pass the "Remains of the Lost Hippie's Totem" and finally arrive in the gorgeous Jansom bay from where it is only 10 min walking through a couple of exclusive resorts to reach Mae Haad (and a taxi home to the could shower).
This trip should take about three hours without breaks from Saan Jao, so don't start too late.
Things to consider.
In Case you wish to explore the island more in depth, especially on foot, there is a very detailed, but inexpensive "Guide Map of Koh Phangan & Koh Tao" for sale in most supermarkets and resorts around.
Some advice that matters not only in Koh Tao:
Please keep in mind that you are a visitor and treat the locals and the environment with the necessary respect. Try to blend in rather than to stick out, your customs are not the standards here. For example: Thais are offended by nudity; decent clothing in religious sites is required; losing your temper means losing your face and gets you nowhere.
Imagine how many visitors have been here already and how many of them might have misbehaved, naturally this reflects on the future ones. So always being friendly, polite and calm, keep smiling even when it seems difficult, will help a lot and open many doors.
If you have a complaint try rather to explain than to demand, your needs are not necessarily understood.
When you feel wronged or cheated, consider if the cause is worth the hassle and maybe just follow the true Thai tradition of "Mai Pen Rai" meaning "Never mind"
and always keep smiling.
Attention, sleeping under coconut trees might not be as relaxing as it seems, because its likely that one of these nuts decides to drop down exactly while you are there.
There are no streetlights but lots of dark areas with plenty of obstacles, so get yourself a decent flashlight, it makes a big difference when staggering home after a long party night.
Oh, it has to be said: drugs of any kind are in Koh Tao as illegal as everywhere else, there are undercover police and even a little joint will be handled as a capital crime, resulting at least in a financial disaster, maybe avis ban throughout Asia, or even worse. You have been warned!.
Should you get ill or have a minor accident, you can find first aid, professional medical care, medicine and good advice in one of the many clinics around. If more serious you can reach hospitals in Chumphon and Samui by speed boat in about 1 ? hours or even by helicopter.
Now for some tips to avoid unpleasant interruptions of your valuable holiday.
People who come first to the tropics always underestimate some dangers of the otherwise wonderful climate and surroundings.
The Sun. Expose yourself slowly to the sun, 20 min on the beach is an awful lot for a white westerner. The burning rays will get you even in the shadow, through the reflection of the sea. Sun block is essential. Wear a shirt when snorkeling. In case of sunburn best apply Aloe Vera.
Dehydration. You will sweat a lot and you'll have to refill your loss by drinking lots of water, 5 liters a day is the rule of thumb, and sorry coke or beer don't help at all. Fresh coconut juice though is miraculous, a natural electrolyte.
Heatstroke. The sun again, better always wear a hat. Sitting in the sea is refreshing, but if for too long your head gets it all, in the same time your body can't sweat and your system shuts down. If you feel nauseous, feverish and dizzy, seek medical advice immediately.
Fungus. Not dangerous but itchy. Likes humid climate and damp clothes. Prevent it with talcum powder which is cooling nicely too. Dry your towels in the sun. If it's too late you can get relieving creams in the pharmacies.
Local food. It's good, its tasty, but you've got to get used to some of it, take it easy with the spicy stuff and avoid salads with fermented crabs, they are meant to make you run. Chinese green tea and rice soup or yoke are excellent to calm down an upset stomach.
Infections. Even tiny scratches can turn into nasty things if not treated properly. Keep wounds dry and clean and use lots of iodine. If it gets worse, better see a nurse.
Mosquitoes. You heard about them. They love sucking you dry in the early evening and anytime in the jungle. Don't scratch the bites or we are back to infections. There are plenty of repellents available. Cheaper is one of the local wonder ointments called Yah Mong, like Tiger Balm, this amazing stuff keeps them away, stops the itching and smells good. Helps for many other things. Too. Avoid sensitive areas like eyes or groin, that's worse than a bite.
Afraid of being stuck on the rock? Well, you're not. A wide selection of boat services connects you with the mainland or the neighboring islands, from where you can catch a bus, train or airplane to your next destination.
The transport ranges from slow night boats, big express boats and speed boats to a high speed catamaran.
Tickets have to be reconfirmed ? hour before departure. Due to weather conditions (especially fro Nov-Jan) trips might be cancelled, better try to leave one, two days earlier than needed or you might, well, get stuck.
Travel agents provide you with joint tickets, flights and accommodation to nearly every destination world wide, and offer reconfirmations, oversea calls and email services.
For a visa extension, you can make a day trip to Samui to the immigration; a border run to Hat Yai via Suratthani takes 3 day or 1 ? days to Ranong, with one of the hourly mini busses from Chumphon. For details ask expats.
The timetable on the next page gives an overview of the current situation, but times and boats might change, please double check when purchasing the ticket.
KOH NANGYUAN ISLAND DIVE RESORT
A unique paradise in the gulf of thailand.
Numeruse blissful activities... For the Fun of every mind. From dawn till dusk at Koh Nangyuan, you and your family will discover the happy charm of non-boring restful days. With numerous blissful activities; for example, learn international standard dive training, paddle kayak around the island or sunbathe etc. During the nightfall, you will be impressed by the romantic atmosphere along with superb cuisine at the seashore restaurnat. From all things here, you wil find that delight in every minute isn't too difficult to reach!
Full of happiness... in every relax time. Koh Nangyuan Dive Resort is fully equipped with facilities and the electricity is 24 hours available. Let's sleep well with the natural foothills lodge; both Fan and A/C Rooms can see the sea scenery from your balcony. In the night-time, you can privately sense the atmosphere of silent recreation encompassed by the pure natural sea.
Koh Nangyuan, the Wonderful of Beauty and Heaven of Relaxation, has been praised for one of the world's top ten most beautiful islands.
Koh Nangyuan consists of three small islands, joined by the white sand dunes, contrasts with the light blue sea. All of these elegant components appear to be the three private swimming bays. Around the island also have the coral reefs that you can enjoy viewing several clownfish swim all-round. Moreover, there is a viewpoint on the top of mountain that has the comfortable pathway. Here, you can sight the sunrise and sunset at the same beach which is the significant identity of Koh Nangyuan, only place in the world.
As all areas of Nang Yuan Island is the royal estate where Ministry of Finance has granted lease to Mr.Methee Chantharamporn and his associates to engage in the tourism business. Any unauthorized visit Nang Yuan Island or any action disturbing the right of the Lessee shall be regarded as violation and offense against the law. Therefore, any person wishing to visit Nang Yuan Island is require to comply with the rules and regulations of the Island, not cause any action to disturb the proper right of other guests nor enter in the area reserved only for guests on Nang Yuan Island. In case of violation, the Lessee is necessary to exercise his right to take legal action accordingly. This for your information.
KOH NANGYUAN ISLANDS ARE THE PROPERTY OF THE FINANCE MINISTRY OF THAILAND. THE OWNERS OF KOH NANG YUAN DIVE RESORT LEASE THESE ISLANDS FROM THE THAI GOVERNMENT / FINANCE MINISTRY. THE MANAGEMENT REQUESTS ALL VISITORS TO HELP US TO PRESERVE THESE ISLANDS FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT BY PLEASE COMPLYING WITH THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS :
1. DO NOT BRING ANY PLASTIC CONTAINERS OR CANS OF ANY DESCRIPTION.
2. DO NOT COLLECT / REMOVE ANY SHELLS / CORAL.
3. DO NOT ANCHOR ON CORAL REEF USE BUOYS / FLOATS PROVIDE.
4. DO NOT USE FLIPPERS / FINS TO WALK ON CORAL REEF.
5. DO NOT USE WEIGHTED FISH NETS ON CORAL REEF.
6. DO NOT USE SPEAR GUNS.
7. DO NOT GO INTO RESTRICTED AREA WITH OUT PERMISSION.
8. ON ARRIVAL PLEASE INFORM RESORT ADMINISTRATIVE.
9. ISLAND IS OPEN TO VISITORS BETWEEN 10:00 a.m. - 05:00 p.m.
10. HA WKERS ARE NOT PERMITTED ON KOH NANGYUAN.
11. VISTORS FEE 100 BAHT (฿) AND CHILDREN FEE 1/2 PRICE.