Photo: Longtails at anchor.

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.

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Ko Tao's Ao Mae Haad runs to the north and south of the island's main town, Mae Haad, which is also where the ferry piers are located. Your arrival here will be hectic and noisy with a plethora of touts and taxi drivers vying for your custom.

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Take a breath and relax.

Booking beforehand usually ensures a pick up but do check. If you know where you are going then arranging a taxi is not a problem aside from the usual haggling. If you want to take a moment simply keep walking away from the melee and stop at a restaurant for a drink. The chaos subsides as quickly as it began and you can relax, peruse a map and take it from there. There will still be plenty of taxi drivers around to take you wherever you desire.

The town is busiest when the ferries arrive and depart and sees some traffic when the dive centres transfer divers too. Otherwise it remains largely sleepy. The immediate beach area around the piers is quite cluttered and industrial, so not very pretty, but the areas to the far north and south are clean and have some nice snorkelling too.

Mae Haad is comprised of two roads leading up to the main road, and one long road and track running parallel with the beach, with a few side roads connecting them. Bakeries, clothes shops, banks, souvenir shops, internet cafes, travel agents, restaurants and bars make up the commercial area and the post office is located here too.

Mae Haad has pretty much everything you need and because it's the main town and central to the island you can easily arrange transport by boat or songthaew to anywhere on the island. It's an ideal base if exploring the island is your aim.

The town stays quiet at night but Sairee is within easy range should you want to taste the nightlife. Some top class resorts are secreted away on the southern headland and a range of budget and mid-range bungalows and guesthouses are dotted to both the northern and southern reaches.

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