Ko Tao is so big, we've split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Ko Tao as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don't know where to start? Read an overview of Ko Tao's different areas.
While it has been said that Ko Tao is a drinking island with a diving problem, you can easily avoid the mayhem if you wish. However you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog unless you wanted to find out where the party’s at and there’s certainly a party to be had on Ko Tao on any given day.
Sairee beach is home to the most nightlife the island has to offer and it all starts as the sun starts to slip low on the horizon. Sairee is lined with beachfront restaurants and bars and any and all of them offer an unobstructed view of the setting sun. Sunbathers attracted to beach comfort will have already sought out the plush Bali-style loungers in front of Maya Bar on the far southern end of the beach and relaxed with a tasty beverage. Maya Bar often attracts international DJs and the place rocks, so keep your eye out for posters.
If you’re hanging out further south then head for the comfy lime green bean bags that furnish the deck of Fizz Bar and enjoy the funky tunes as the sun sets. As it gets dark the music gets louder and you have a number of options in easy walking distance of each other centrally located on Sairee. Lotus is simple and rustic and is famed for its fire dancers. Star Bar is a relatively new kid on the block and most recently seems packed and popular with a great atmosphere. Check out Fishbowl, too, which often holds parties — again keep your eye on those flyers and posters.
Sairee also hosts The Lady Boy Cabaret and you’ll find this on the road leading from Lotus to the clinic and petrol station. Entry is free but you are expected to buy a drink, which will be slightly more expensive than anywhere else. However it’s not bad value when you consider the show you get; it’s fun and tongue-in-cheek, with the obligatory crowd participation, but don’t worry, it’s voluntary!
The spot to meet the locals in Sairee is Banyan Bar, which is found away from the melee up the road towards the boxing stadium. For most long-termers this is on the way home or conveniently located for a meeting point and quick bevy on the way out. Most of the time it has the welcoming feel of your local if they could keep the beer garden open year-round. The occasional party or general high spirited celebration ranging from the dog’s birthday to well anything really can turn the spot on its head. Whatever the flavour of the night, you are likely to be included and introduced to many new friends.
While Mae Haad remains quieter, Moov, which is located just off the road leading away from the Songserm pier towards the main road, is worth keeping an eye on. They also attract international DJs and throw the occasional great party too. Whitening, on the beach and close to the Songserm pier, is more of a restaurant but serves a wicked cocktail and they are happy for you to watch the sun sink Mae Haad style. Tattoo Bar is another great Mae Haad spot to watch the sun drop too; with the clientele made up of locals and visitors alike, the atmosphere can vary but the beer’s always cold and the view never falters. Vibe Lounge is located in the centre of Mae Haad, where you’ll find a mostly resident diving crew.
Heading towards the southern end of the island, things get quieter still, but on the main road before you get to Chalok you’ll find The Castle. The club is a large multi-roomed and floored affair with a large open-air dance floor fit for throwing a few shapes. Their parties are regular events and go on late into the night.
Chalock itself has a couple of drinking establishments if you don’t fancy the hectic pace of Sairee. On the beach and right next door to each other is Buddha on the Beach and The Bar Next Door — no prizes for guessing which one came first. Further along the beach, you can follow the concrete walkway to Babaloo, a very chilled and simple bar reminiscent of those that were the norm around 10 years ago.
With so much choice it’s not difficult to understand why you might get sidetracked… so you can see the reason why the drink and diving quote kicked off.
By Ayesha Cantrell
Last updated on 27th March, 2015.