Ko Tao: Why it’s The Best Island in Thailand

John Suwan Viewpoint in Ko Tao, Thailand

Thailand has no shortage of astonishingly beautiful tiny island paradises. But with all the choices, it can be hard to decide where you want to spend your time when you’re traveling through. So why Ko Tao? 


I’ve spent a couple of months in Thailand and visited several of its best islands. But Ko Tao definitely stood out to me.  


If you’re traveling to Thailand, read on because I’m here to tell you why Ko Tao should be at the top of your list!

John Suwan Viewpoint

John Suwan Viewpoint in Ko Tao, Thailand

Probably the best view in Ko Tao, and maybe even the whole of Thailand! The headline Ko Tao photos (like the first in this article) are usually taken from John Suwan viewpoint. 


It’s located in the southernmost part of the island and takes about 15 minutes to hike to the top. You can gain entry to the viewpoint and Freedom Beach together for 50 TBH.

Sun Suwan Viewpoint 360 Bar

View from Sun Suwan 360 bar overlooking the sea in Ko Tai, Thailand

Just north of John Suwan Viewpoint is the Sun Suwan Viewpoint 360 Bar. There are only a few steps to get up to the Bar, so it’s much less effort than the other viewpoint. 


There are chairs, beanbags, and of course a bar serving ice-cold beers and cocktails, making this one of the top spots to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunset.

Jansom Bay

The clear water beach in Jansom Bay, Ko Tao, Thailand

We stumbled across this beach on a recommendation from the locals, and it seemed like a bit of a hidden gem. There were no other people on it at all, apart from the guy manning a small bar at the back of the beach. 


The beach is small and secluded, the water is clear and great for snorkeling.  It’s also on the way to Sai Nuan Beach, which will likely be a lot busier but has a cool restaurant that overlooks the beach and the sea. They are close enough to do both on the same day!

A Cool Rock You Can Climb

Large rock on the beach of Tanote Bay, Ko Tao, Thailand

If you’re like me, and jumping off a big rock in the sea is exciting to you, then check out this one! It’s located in Tanote Bay, which is on the East side of Ko Tao, and you can get there by bike. 

You can swim out to the rock and climb up the side using a rope. You can then jump, backflip, dive, bomb, or whatever you want into deep water! Note, I’d recommend only doing this if you’re confident with climbing. 


Here’s a video of me taking the plunge…

After you’ve tired yourself out there are plenty of spots on the beach to chill out and grab some food and drinks.

Scuba Diving Ko Tao

Sunset over the sea in Ko Tao, Thailand

Ko Tao is one of the cheapest places on earth to go Scuba diving and a great place to learn. You can acquire an open water license in 2 days, which allows you to go diving on your own once you have it. 


The dive sites close to the island are appropriate for beginners, but for the more advanced divers, there are some more thrilling dive sites on neighbouring islands, which are accessible from Ko Tao.

Best Food in Ko Tao

995 Roasted Duck

Everyone was raving about this duck restaurant called 995 Roasted Duck. I had to give it a try to see what the fuss was about. Let’s just say it earned its reputation. It’s top of my list for food in Ko Tao, and because it’s Thai food it’s really cheap!


It’s located in the Sairee Beach area, and if you’re staying at Revolution Hostel, it’s basically on your front doorstep so you can’t miss it.

Ko Tao Nightlife

Inside Fish Bowl Beach Bar in Ko Tao, Thailand

The party hotspot in Ko Tao is the Sairee Beach area. Here there are several beach bars and clubs to enjoy. The most popular two are called Fish Bowl and AC. 


At Fish Bowl you’ll see live music and fire shows in the evening and then a full-on packed-out party that rocks on until 2 am. AC is a beach club with a pool and pool tables, which turns into a nightclub with a dancefloor later on. (If I had to choose one, I’d go for Fishbowl!) 


Ko Tao also has some of the best boat parties in Thailand (and there are a lot!) You can book them through most of the social hostels, including Revolution. The boat will circuit some beautiful scenery as the sun goes down, and stop for breaks so you can dive into the water!

Where To Stay in Ko Tao

If you’re a backpacker and want to meet people, I’d recommend staying in the Sairee Beach area. This is where most of the backpackers go when staying in Ko Tao. The most social hostel is Revolution, which runs regular social events and boat parties.


Alternatively, there are lots of options near the Mae Haad Pier, if you want to be close to the ferry, or Chalok Baan Kao Bay.


Going to Bali next? Read about the best places to go in Bali in 2024 here!

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