Koh Tao has accommodation of all types and price ranges, from simple hostels and budget hotels to luxury resorts and villas on the hill. If you look at the map of Koh Tao, you will see 5 main areas with numerous places to stay and tourist services. Check them all when considering where to stay in Koh Tao.
Our guide to Koh Tao best areas will help you to get familiar with each area with hotel suggestions to suit every budget and style of traveler.
1. Mae Haad
Mae Haad is the gateway to Koh Tao, where the main pier of the island is located. If you don't want to get too far from the main town, Mae Haad Beach will be perfect for your stay. Here you will find the largest supermarkets, tourist agencies, motorcycle rental companies, various bars, and restaurants offering seafood. There are many local stores to eat as well as the fruit and vegetable markets where you can try exotic Thai fruits and Thai food at affordable price.
The downside of staying at Mae Haad is the beach. In general, the beach is not that bad, the water being shallow and without currents so it is suitable for swimming and sunbathing, but you will definitely find more charming beaches in other areas of Koh Tao. Actually Mae Haad is between Sairee Beach and Chalok Bay, so you will be just minutes away from two excellent beaches. If you don't mind about it, you can base at Mae Haad and explore the island during the day.
At the end of the beach you will find all the hotels. Many travelers who visit Koh Tao with the primary intention of scuba diving choose Mae Haad to stay in Koh Tao as it offers many cheap accommodation options at small guesthouses as well as good resorts facing the sea.
Some of the best rated accommodations at Mae Haad in Koh Tao:
2. Sairee Beach
Sairee Beach is the busiest and longest beach on Koh Tao Island. Sairee Beach is a long and beautiful curved beach, extending for over 3.2 kilometers. Nearby coral areas are perfect for snorkeling. Besides, Sairee Beach is famous for its sunsets and wonderful fire shows accompanied by bars with great promotions at happy hour.
Most of people choosing to stay in Sairee area are young travelers and backpackers. It is a great place to stay if you want to meet people, enjoy parties with lots of fun during the day and night in the southern part of the beach. The northern part of the beach is much quieter and more relaxed.
Sairee Beach is close to Mae Haad Pier, so you will be just minutes away from the port. You can easily get around with tuk-tuks and taxis or rent a motorbike there. In addition, at Sairee Beach you can take the long tail boat to the stunning Koh Nang Yuan and other wonderful Koh Tao beaches.
The list of hotels, beach huts and hostels in Sairee is large, making it one of the best places to stay in Koh Tao. There are also a large number of diving centers and schools in the area.
Some of the best rated accommodations on Sairee Beach in Koh Tao:
3. Chalok Baan Kao Bay
Chalok Baan Kao Bay is the most popular beach in the southern part of Koh Tao. It is much quieter and more relaxed than Sairee and Mae Haad. This Koh Tao area is recommended for those looking for a quieter place with a family-friendly atmosphere. It is also a good base for divers.
Chalok Baan Kao Bay is a very beautiful area and has the advantage of being close to small hidden beaches such as Sai Nuan Beach and Freedom Beach as well as some of the best Koh Tao viewpoints, including Chalok Viewpoint and John Suwan Viewpoint. There are a good number of small beach bars, restaurants and a bit of nightlife in this area but it’s much quieter than Sairee.
Several accommodation options ranging from basic guest houses to luxury resorts are located here. Most PADI dive centers and schools are associated with resorts. If you take the diving course at a diving center, you can get a discount or even sleep there for free.
Here are some of the best rated accommodations at Chalok Baan Kao Bay in Koh Tao:
4. Ao Thian Og (Shark Bay)
Ao Thian Og, also known as Shark Bay or Haad Tien, is located in the southern part of the island. This bay has one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and is home to some of the best resorts on Koh Tao.
This 200-meter-long beach has unique white sand beach and shallow water so it is perfect for a family vacation with children. The beach is suitable for swimming. Koh Tao’s Shark Bay is also popular with snorkelers but unfortunately there are a lot of dead corals. As its name says, harmless Blacktip reef sharks can be regularly spotted at the western and eastern end of the bay as well as around the offshore rocks of Shark Island, especially in the morning and with a bit of luck.
Ao Thian Og area is very close to Chalok Bay, so you can easily reach it if you want to dine or have a drink in the evening. There are fewer accommodation options at Shark Bay and most of them are mid-range and high-class hotels so it is an excellent place for couples looking for a romantic hotel in Koh Tao. Ao Thian Og is a great area to stay in Koh Tao, if you can afford it, as it is a real paradise for its natural beauty. If you are not staying at one of the resorts, you will need to pay to access the beach.
Some of the best rated accommodations at Ao Thian Og in Koh Tao:
5. Tanote Bay
Tanote Bay is the largest of Koh Tao’s east coast bays. This is an ideal place for swimming, kayaking, diving and snorkeling, as you will see many species and few diving schools come here. A large rock in the center of the bay also gives a magnificent view before jumping into the water.
Traveling to Tanote Bay is an interesting experience as the access is not as good as it should be but it helps to keep this area away from crowds of tourists. Taking a taxi is the safest option for getting between Tanote Bay, Sairee Beach and the Mae Haad area. There are few beachside bars and restaurants, so expect to pay a little more for food and drinks.
There are not many choices of accommodation at Tanote Bay but you will find the most stunning views from the room if you decide to stay in this Koh Tao area.
Some of the best rated accommodations at Tanote Bay in Koh Tao:
How to get to Koh Tao
Due to the lack of an airport and mainland connection, Koh Tao can only be reached by boat. To make your journey easier, we have prepared several tips on how to get to Koh Tao easily and safely from different parts of Thailand.
If you want to get an overview of all travel options for getting to Koh Tao, we would recommend to use this search form.
For more information about traveling to Koh Tao from Bangkok and nearby islands check:
How to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao
In the high season between December and March as well as between July and September, many accommodations on Koh Tao Island are fully booked. Therefore, you should plan a trip and book rooms in advance.
For the most exceptional stay on the Turtle Island, choose one of the best sea view hotels in Koh Tao.
If you are planning to stay on the island for several days, you can spend 2-3 days in different accommodations to discover several areas and take full advantage of the special atmosphere of each Koh Tao area.
Koh Tao has lots of incredibly impressive destinations that pull tourists all year round. Explore the best things to do in Koh Tao to better prepare for your next holiday in Thailand.