Sep 20 2012
If you look online, the only long-term accommodation options you’ll find on Thailand’s Ko Tao are very high-end villas at very high-end prices. This is not the case once you are here. Here’s our suggested plan of attack for finding somewhere to live once you do arrive.
Most people who come here looking to stay longer term are either looking to train to professional levels of diving or are looking for work. What I advise you should do in this case is just book a few nights of accommodation somewhere fairly central on the island, such as Mae Haad. This will ensure you have somewhere to go immediately on arrival, so you don’t have to trudge around with your bags in the heat.
Many guesthouses and resorts on Ko Tao do offer their simpler rooms on a monthly basis, so it’s worth hitting the pavement and having a look. Again Mae Haad is probably your best bet. Some of the resorts dotted along Sairee beach do offer some of their cheaper rooms at long term rates too, but Mae Haad is certainly a more central place if you are looking for work. Some places include WiFi and bills and some do not, so do be sure to ask. These rooms are simple with a bed, ensuite bathroom and maybe a fridge and TV but no cooking facilities. Eating out is cheap and if you are staying for around a month, then this might be suitable. You should expect to pay up to 9,000 baht a month.
If you are staying for longer and want a more traditional house with a kitchen and living room, then this is where the fun begins. These types of places are out of the tourist areas so you are going to need some transport. Like any rental option, houses only become free when someone is moving out, yet there is no central place to unearth this information on Ko Tao.
So, firstly ask! Anyone and everyone, your fellow divers, the person next to you at the bar, in fact anyone who looks like a local. This will certainly give you some leads to follow and some will be hilarious. I remember following directions to find someone who had the keys to a rental property; I was told to look for the ladyboy hairdresser on the road with the boxing.
Next, head to one of the three big stores on the island, which have notice boards. Pen Wholesale, located on the main road near the temple, has a whole window full of adverts for all sorts of things for sale as well as houses for rent too. Chai Wat located on the main road by the Aow Leuk turning is the same. If you want something on the southern end then head to Aukotan in Chalok where you will find their front window similarly plastered with adverts.
Then take a drive around out of the tourist areas and you will find signs with phone numbers for houses for rent. You’ll need a phone and some patience. Stop and call. You won’t necessarily find that the signs and notices are close to the accommodation. By the end of the day you should have a few options and you will certainly have had an extremely good tour of the island’s non-tourist spots.
While viewing, remember to find out who the electricity provider is. Most commercial properties have both government electricity and Nam Seng. Nam Seng is the private provider but they are a lot more expensive; nevertheless when government goes off you will appreciate having the option to switch. Do be aware that if the accommodation runs just on Nam Seng you will pay a lot more overall for electricity. Similarly, if you don’t have the option to switch, when there’s a problem with the government power supply, you’ll be left quite literally in the dark.
Treat looking for somewhere as an adventure. Don’t get too frustrated, remember to have a break, drink water and most importantly — enjoy an ice cold beer at the end of the day. It will all be worth it.
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