So you are visiting Thailand, and you are choosing where to go. Naturally, you will stop off at a few islands on your way. They are legendary after all. But which one to choose? Off the east coast, everyone has heard of Ko Phangan, the full moon party central, and Ko Samui, the tourist hell central, but what about Koh Tao? It is becoming more well known as an essential destination in recent years, but still has the smallest footfall of the three islands. Already a positive if you don’t like to follow the crowd. So here is five reasons why you should choose Ko Tao.
1. Lower footfall means more paradise to yourself, with all the amenities.
Not a full time adventurer, but like to leave the tourist trail occasionally? Well take a step off the trail here and get more paradise all to yourself, with all he comforts you may require. From luxury resorts to beach huts, your choice in accommodation can be anywhere in between, I chose a beach hut, because as the name implies, i could sit in my chair on my porch and still be touching the beach. The best part was that i could spend all day and night on this little stretch of beach and it would essentially be my own private stretch. There is a reason why i stayed here three times longer than i actually planned to.
2. The diving is amazing.
Planning on doing your PADI course? Great! Do it on Ko Tao, and get your accommodation free while you are doing the course. Oh, and that will probably only cost you about £130 in all. To put that into perspective, a course in the UK costs about £379, without the accommodation, and without the crystal blue seas full of interesting and vibrant wildlife. I found this a no-brainer. Even better was the fact that we jumped on the boat to Ko Tao, jumped in the back of a 4×4 taxi to a place we liked the look of, then walked up and down the beach window shopping for offers. We ended up with six nights free accommodation, then £2 a night after that. Haggling at its best. Sit back, relax with your banana smoothie, then enjoy some of the best diving the world has to offer. If you arrive in the right season, diving with whales is an actual possibility.
3. Everything is cheap.
Less tourism = lower prices. simple. I happily ate out for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, which cost me a hefty sum of roughly £5 a day. If i ate street food (and who can say no to banana and chocolate pancakes, or pad thai?) then the price was much lower. And believe me, the street food here is incomparable, even to the rest of Thailand. Although prices are slowly rising, they still do not match the prices found on Ko Samui or Ko Phangan. While you eat, you can also catch a film on a projector screen. Most nights i was there, the film shown was not even out in the cinemas. While the special effects took a bit of a hit and were unfinished in some places, i couldn’t really complain. I still had my cocktail, a bean bag, and a tropical beach instead of a crowded, stuffy cinema full of people coughing.
4. Explore the Island
Want to explore? Rent a Moped! They’re cheap enough, and the island is a perfect size for travel by Motorbike. Most roads are good enough for beginners to negotiate, however access to some of the coves can be more difficult. All you’ll need is a drivers license, (some even hire out without one of these). The roads aren’t too busy (especially when compared to the mainland), so it’s ideal. Find your own private cove for the day! Trust me, the sunsets are well worth the wait.
5. The nightlife is just right.
For me, Chaweng Beach on Samui was too dirty and touristy and Koh Pha Ngan was too crowded. In Ko Tao, there is a perfect mix of chilled out vibe and good times. The stretch of bars along Sairee Beach range from laid-back bean bag wielding nirvanas to full on clubs with buckets and strobe lighting with everything you can think of in between. When you feel like partying, you can hit the alcohol buckets, the fire dancing and the beach raves. When you feel like more chilled nights with new friends, you can relax on the bean bags with a new cocktail and watch the sunset in the midst of paradise. For me, the choice is perfect.
Emily, why haven’t you used any of your photos of Ko Tao i hear you cry? It is simple; i want to encourage you to go find out for yourself. The scenery is not something you should look at through a computer, it needs to be seen in the flesh. I can wax poetically about the beauty of the island into the new year, and show you all the pictures i have so lovingly saved onto my computer, but i would much rather you went to experience it yourself.
See you tomorrow, have fun planning your future trip to Thailand!