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.
Haad Sairee, the longest and most popular beach on Ko Tao, boasts a vast stretch of sand lined with bars, restaurants, resorts and dive centres. While the area around the beach is a major hub of activity, the beach itself doesn't get overcrowded – there's always a patch to spread your towel over.
The bay can get quite busy with longtail transfers, so keep a keen ear out for boat engines while frolicking. Hawkers do walk the beach selling sarongs, tasty snacks and fresh fruit but are not bothersome. For resort comforts, privacy without total isolation and convenient snorkelling, head north where the coastline gets rockier but the silence makes it worthwhile.
Haad Sairee is a top spot to watch the sunset in Ko Tao, and with many beachside bars to choose from, sipping a cocktail as the golden orb dips is a great way to round off a hectic day of beach bumming. The bars that buzz at sunset seem to lie more toward the northern end, where the night-life has a more laidback feel. The further south you walk, the bigger and later the party gets. Light sleepers should avoid accommodation at the south end.
Just a hop, skip and a jump inland is the yellow brick road, a path lined with souvenir shops, convenience stores, ATMs, clinics, tattoo parlours and massage salas. This path runs parallel to the beach and allows for easy foot traffic between Haad Mae Haad and Haad Sairee. Motorists should stick to the main road just one block further inland, though often drivers do use the yellow brick road, to the great annoyance of those on foot.
Sairee village sprawls from the four-way junction at the main road for another 200 metres in every direction before the bright lights peter out. You could arrive in this area and not need to leave until your boat does – it's home to more restaurants, bars, clothes stores and internet cafes.
Haad Sairee offers a huge range of accommodation, from budget backpacker huts to some of the fanciest spots the island has to offer. Advance booking is a good idea if you want to avoid a tiresome accommodation search upon arrival, especially after the famous Full Moon Party in Ko Pha Ngan. At quiet times, it's worth bargaining if you plan to stay more than three days.
By Erin Wildermuth.