Ko Tao has hundreds of places to stay are spread over a dozen different bays and beaches. We commence our coverage at the logistics hub for Ko Tao, Mae Haad. From there we cover the most popular area to stay, Sairee Beach, but we're split it into three sections – southern Sairee (noisy), northern Sairee (quiter) and Sairee Village (off the beach). From here we just back to the south of the island, with low key Haad Sai Nuan, Laem Jeda Kang and Ao June Juea filling out the southwest corner. Chalok Ban Kao, Freedom Beach, Ao Thian Ok and Sai Daeng are the primary south coast beaches. On the more remote east coast, you have Ao Tanote, Ao Leuk and Hin Wong. Last but not lease, Ko Nang Yuan sitting off the northwest coast of Ko Tao.
We have 36 places to stay in and around Ko Tao.
Although close to Ko Tao’s main pier, the southern stretch of Mae Haad is quite pleasant and is home to one of Ko Tao’s best resorts. There are also a few newer guesthouse options back from the beach along the two main roads that run out of town. The southern extreme is tranquil, and the sea here provides some decent shallow-water snorkelling with soft and hard corals, plenty of fish life and even a shallow shipwreck to explore.
The southern stretch of Sairee Beach includes a party strip that gets a little crazy late at night – beware that noise can be an issue in this vicinity. You’ll also find resorts closer to the village which are slightly removed from the wildest nightlife. This is a popular and tightly packed part of Ko Tao.
Not as mental as the southern stretch of the beach, this northern strip is home to larger resorts (which climb up and around the headland) and more specious bungalow villages. This is a reaasonable area to consider if you prefer to have Sairee Village within walking distance rather than the pubs and clubs of the south and prefer a beach bar than a beach club. We found much of the accommodation here to be of decidedly mediocre value.
A pulsating swirl of restaurants, bars, boutiques, guesthouses and hostels, Sairee village is the centre of the action. Below we’ve spotlighted a terrific hostel and a couple of solid flashpacker options; if looking for something cheaper you could try one of the many rooms found above shops and eateries or head down to a fan-cooled bungalow off Sairee Beach. If you’re after a dirt-cheap hostel, Mae Haad village has a better selection.
Haad Sai Nuan is actually a pair of small and gorgeous beaches broken up by an outcrop of boulders on Ko Tao’s secluded southwest coast. A steep road runs from the Chalok Ban Kao area down to the southern stretch of Haad Sai Nuan, from where it’s a five-minute walk up to Sai Thong Resort. You can also get here by taking the somewhat confusing trails starting at Sensi Resort to the south of Mae Haad Beach.
Jutting out from Ko Tao’s southwestern corner, Laem Jeda Kang is a rocky cape with a couple of coves on either side. Tao Thong Villa operates bungalow joints on both sides, with the original resort overlooking a tiny beach that leads into a secluded patch of sea that’s good for swimming and snorkelling. From here a rough road winds up and down to Chalok Ban Kao. You can also hike down here from the southern end of Mae Haad, passing Haad Sai Nuan along the way.
The beachfront land directly behind Chalok Ban Kao beach is stuffed with dive resorts alongside several mediocre midrange resorts like Ko Tao Resort, JP Resort and Sunshine Resort – we didn’t feel that any of these midrangers were worth listing but they probably won’t be horrible either. Some better options can be found in the periphery of the bay.
The beach itself is home to just two resorts only one of which is budget. A third perches on the headland overlooking the bay. The main stretch of the beach is owned by one upscale resort, which restricts access to non guests. This bay is easier to get to than neighbouring Haad Sai Daeng, making it the better choice for staying in a quiet locale while still being in reach of a night out in the busier areas.
Ko Tao’s satellite island – actually it’s three tiny islands connected by sand bars – attracts boatloads of day trippers from Ko Tao as well as Pha Ngan and Samui. The stunning islands can feel like a theme park managed by the only place to stay, which could improve in just about every possible way.