Located in Thailand’s Gulf Coast, Koh Tao (also known as Ko Tao, which means Turtle Island) is a popular beach destination in the country! Mostly known for excellent diving locations, it also comes with some fascinating cultural and culinary attractions. It is popular with both tourists from abroad, and those from Thailand, so has a great mix of visitors.
Though it is quite a small island, infrastructure is minimal. This can make it hard to get around – though most places are within walking distance. It’s important to figure out what you want from your stay before booking your accommodation.
Which is why we’ve created this guide! We figured out the seven best neighborhoods on Koh Tao, and have categorised them based on what they are best for.
So let’s get started!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Koh Tao
- Tanote Bay – Best neighborhood in Koh Tao for your first time
- Mae Haad – Where to stay in Koh Tao close to everything
- Sairee Beach – Where to stay in Koh Tao for nightlife
- Thian Og – Best neighborhood in Koh Tao for families
- Jansom Bay – Where to stay in Koh Tao on a budget
- Chalok Baan Kao – Best neighborhood in Koh Tao for couples
- Leuk Bay – Best neighborhood in Koh Tao for a remote stay
Where to Stay in Koh Tao
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Koh Tao.
Best Hostel in Koh Tao
As the best-rated hostel in Koh Tao, Bed and Ink has to take our top pick for backpackers accommodation! Its location between both Mae Haad and Sairee Beach makes it one of the most convenient options, and the social facilities are frankly unbeatable. It has a modern atmosphere with a local twist.
Best Budget Hotel in Koh Tao
Though Montalay Beach Resort is very well priced, what you get in return is frankly remarkable! Their infinity pool gives you unbeatable views of the ocean, and they have some great treatment options available at the on-site spa. It’s a little out of the way on the east coast, but well worth the journey.
Heading to Koh Tao? Save some money with our guide to the coolest hostels in Koh Tao!
Best Splurge Hotel in Koh Tao
Jamahkiri Resort is the only five star accommodation on the island that isn’t a private villa, so naturally, it takes our top spot for luxury hotels! This is a massive resort that has all the facilities you could ever need – from spas and pools to gardens and modern technology. The service standards are unbeatable.
Koh Tao 7 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the seven best neighbourhoods in Koh Tao. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
(Best neighborhood in Koh Tao for your first time!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Tanote Bay – get your PADI certification, allowing you to dive independently, with Calypso Diving
- BEST place to visit in Tanote Bay – Ao Tanot Beach is the perfect spot to sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere
Located on the far east of the island, Tanote Bay is somewhat secluded from the main tourist strip – but nevertheless has some fantastic attractions! As the largest town on the east coast, it has plenty of facilities as well as some great restaurants. The beach is less crowded than the more popular western beaches, giving you space to kick back and unwind.
For first time visitors, Tanote Bay gives you an easy introduction into life on the island! It is well connected with the west coast, giving you easy access to travel around the best spots – and can actually be reached from the most popular beach town on foot within a couple of hours.
- Hike along the coast to Leam Thian, a gorgeous park area where you can admire the stunning natural beauty of the island and coastline
- Within the town itself, Ao Tanot Bay is considered a park in its own right – with plenty of large rocks from which you can jump into the ocean
- Lai Beach Bar is the main restaurant in the town, serving up local cuisine at reasonable prices right on the beach
- Further inland, Two View Bar and Restaurant is a bit of a hike but well worth it for the opportunity to dine with a view
- For less experienced divers, there are also snorkelling and kayak hire facilities available from the beach
Best Hotel for Backpackers Tanote Bay
Though there aren’t any hostels on this side of the island, Moondance Magic View Bungalow offer private rooms at backpacker-friendly prices! They also have excellent views across the coast, allowing you to soak up the natural beauty of the island from the comfort of your room.
Enjoy your stay in Koh Tao! Check out our guide for what to do in Koh Tao while you’re there!
Best Budget Hotel in Tanote Bay
This three star resort is the most popular hotel in the Tanote Bay area and it’s easy to see why! Their crowning facility is the infinity pool that overlooks the bay. There is also a spa on-site offering massage treatments, as well as snorkel hire facilities. A complimentary breakfast is included.
Best Splurge Hotel in Tanote Bay
Koh Tao is such an inexpensive island that many of the towns don’t come with luxury hotels – including Tanote Bay. Despite this, if you want to experience the ultimate in comfort nestled amongst verdant forests, Tanote Villa is the next best thing! Rooms are spacious and come with huge windows for full views.
(Where to stay in Koh Tao close to everything!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Mae Haad – Thai Cooking With Joy offer some fantastic culinary classes featuring local cuisine
- BEST place to visit in Mae Haad – Koh Tao Temple is the main religious site on the island, with a calm atmosphere
Mae Haad is technically the capital of the island – though is not a large town by any means! This is where ferries to the mainland depart, and where you will find most of the transport options that can take you around the island. It is within walking distance of most west coast towns, as well as Tanote Bay on the east.
There are some great tourist facilities within the town – including the largest selection of tour companies on the island! This makes it an ideal option for those that are only on Koh Tao for a couple of days and want to take in the main attractions on the island.
- Koh Tao Tour are the best-rated tour company on the island, allowing you to take in all of the main attractions within a day
- There are plenty of fantastic diving schools in the area – including Isla Tortuga Divers, Charm Churee Divers and DPM
- Mae Haad Beach itself is a popular attraction – though it can be quite busy, it is still relatively more serene than the more popular beaches to the north
- Hire a stand-up paddleboard from SUP Tao, and take in the coast in an easy-going and relaxed manner
- Seaside Bar & Restaurant is located on a cliffside – giving you dramatic views without the business of the beach restaurants
Best Hostel Mae Haad
This newly renovated hostel is situated on the boundary between Mae Haad and Sairee Beach – giving you easy access to the two main resort towns on the island! The on-site bar is popular with both guests and other tourists visiting the town, and there are some great social facilities.
Best Budget Hotel in Mae Haad
Though this resort only has two stars, it is still big on facilities and service! Rooms come in the form of self-contained units, giving you a little extra privacy. They provide fishing and snorkeling equipment hire, and the on-site restaurant offers a great selection of Thai cuisine at budget-friendly prices.
Best Splurge Hotel in Mae Haad
This lavish four star resort has a pool that spans across three levels! Rooms are spacious and come with gorgeous wooden décor that will have you feeling right at home. An American style buffet breakfast is provided every morning, and they also offer a wide range of activities from cooking classes to snorkelling.
(Where to stay in Koh Tao for nightlife!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Sairee Beach – Sairee Beach is not only the most popular beach during the day, but also hosts the only full moon party on the island
- BEST place to visit in Sairee Beach – check out local boxers at work at Island Muay Thai
Chances are, if you’re already planning a trip to Koh Tao, that you’ve already heard of Sairee Beach! This is the place to be on the island for tourists – with the largest expanse of beach, as well as a huge array of attractions, facilities and restaurants. It is also home to the only nightlife on the island – perfect for the party crowd.
During the day, Sairee Beach is a vibrant hub of divers, boxers and performers! This party extends into the night, with many of the bars offering cheap beer and vibrant atmospheres. There is also a full moon party every month – a great choice if you want something a bit more laid back than the more popular celebrations on Koh Phangan.
- The Gallery is the only major shopping destination on the entire island, offering clothing, food and souvenirs
- During the day, Sairee Beach is a great spot to try out some diving – especially if you want something that caters to those without experience
- Good Times Adventure is a small trapeze park located between Sairee Beach and Mae Haad
- Lotus Beach Bar is open year-round on the beach – they serve up delicious cocktails and budget-friendly beers until 2am
- If you’re more interested in craft beer, you need to make a stop at the Beer Masons – the only craft beer pub on the entire island
Best Hostel Sairee Beach
This central hostel is a great choice for backpackers that want a good place to socialise whilst staying in Koh Tao! They have large common areas, as well as regular events where you can mingle with other guests. It is centrally located on Sairee Beach – perfect for soaking up the nightlife.
Best Budget Hotel in Sairee Beach
This three star hotel gives you the resort experience for a fraction of the price! Rooms come with locally sourced furnishings, Cable TV and air conditioning – as well as a private decking area overlooking the beach. They also have spa facilities on-site offering regular holistic therapies.
Best Splurge Hotel in Sairee Beach
For a bit more of an upgrade, this resort comes with a four star rating and some great luxury facilities! It has its own dedicated PADI certified dive centre on-site, as well as a beautiful garden and snorkel hire facilities. There is also an outdoor pool, extensive fitness suite and guests are given access to a local golf course.
Editor’s Recommendation! These are the staff pick for the top hostels in Bangkok (for all budgets!)
(Best neighborhood in Koh Tao for families!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Thian Og – Jamahkiri Diving Club offers activities to suit all age groups
- BEST place to visit in Thian Og – Thian Og Beach is a nice secluded spot where you can relax and enjoy the serene ambiance
Whilst Koh Tao isn’t really considered a family destination among Western visitors, it is actually a very popular island with Thai families! Thian Og, in particular, offers some great facilities for families that want a laid-back trip to the island. It is well connected with the main strip by public transport and is within walking distance of the east coast towns.
The beach in Thian Og is a lot quieter than those on the west coast, giving you some peace and quiet to enjoy the sun, sand and sea! Despite this, they still offer some great facilities – including diving lessons and inexpensive equipment hire.
- Reef Dive Centre also offer some fantastic diving experiences – though they are better for older kids and adults, they are perfect for exploring the surrounding reefs
- Take a trip down to John Suwan Viewpoint where you can enjoy spectacular views across both Thian Og and Chalok Baan Kao
- inSea Bar and Grill is a relatively inexpensive restaurant on the beach – perfect for families sticking to a budget
- Koh Tao Leisure Park is located in the interior, but can be easily accessed from Thian Og and offers plenty of family-friendly activities
- For something a bit more upmarket, Eagle View restaurant overlooks the town from the surrounding mountains
Best Hostel Thian Og
This fairly simple hostel comes with an eco-friendly ethos – making it a great choice for backpackers that care about the environment! Spread over two buildings, there is a gorgeous roof terrace where you can admire views across the town and the bay. There is also an outdoor pool and bar.
Koh Phangan is great! Koh Phangan’s hostels are great too!
Best Budget Hotel in Thian Og
This beautiful three star resort is the perfect choice for families sticking to a strict budget in Koh Tao! Set right on the bay, guests are rewarded with magnificent views across the beach and coastline. Rooms are spacious, and many come with either a balcony or a terrace. Breakfast is included.
Best Splurge Hotel in Thian Og
This luxurious five star resort is not only the best option for families looking for luxury – but for anyone with a large budget visiting the island! There is a huge spa facility on-site offering a wide range of holistic therapies and treatment options. The complimentary breakfast showcases Thai and American cuisine.
Recommended Article: Looking for the best hostels in Ko Phi Phi? Check out our EPIC Guide!
(Where to stay in Koh Tao on a budget!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Jansom Bay – hike along the route connected Mae Haad with Koh Tao’s south coast
- BEST place to visit in Jansom Bay – Jansom Bay isn’t the best beach on the island by any stretch, but it has a nice and calm atmosphere
Jansom Bay is located just south of Mae Haad and is a reasonably remote part of the island. This gives it a serene atmosphere where you can get up close with nature without the interference of the tourism industry! It is also ideal for budget travellers that want to stay within walking distance of the main attractions.
As Jansom Bay is such a small and secluded area, we have also included neighboring Sai Nuan Beach as a budget pick! Together these small towns are the main stopping points on the walking route between Mae Haad and Chalok Baan Kao – great for those interested in hiking.
- Sai Nuan Beach is a bit of a walk away but has a nicer beach with unspoiled views of the Gulf of Thailand
- Char Bungalows is mostly an accommodation provider, but they also have a great restaurant set right in the middle of the sea
- Siam Cookies, on the other hand, offer an excellent casual dining option – they’re a very popular stop-off point with hikers
Best Hostel Jansom Bay
This is an adults-only accommodation – making it a great choice for tour groups and couples visiting the island on a budget! Private rooms and dorms are both provided, and the rural forest setting ensures you are staying close to nature. Free WiFi can be accessed throughout.
Best Budget Hotel in Jansom Bay
This is the only accommodation located within Jansom Bay proper, giving you the true secluded experience. It comes with a private beach and an excellent restaurant, so is a great option if you want the kind of holiday where you never have to leave the hotel. They also offer a variety of activities.
Best Splurge Hotel in Jansom Bay
Located close to Sai Nuan Beach, this is another great option if you want a truly secluded accommodation! With a four star rating, it also comes with its own private section of beach. A regular shuttle is available to Mae Haad, keeping you well connected with the main tourism areas.
(Best neighborhood in Koh Tao for couples!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Chalok Baan Kao – drink and dance the night away at Pirate Bar, a truly unique nightlife venue
- BEST place to visit in Chalok Baan Kao – Freedom Beach is only a short walk away and has a more secluded atmosphere
Chalok Baan Kao is the third-largest town on the island, with one of the most popular beaches! For couples, Chalok Baan Kao offers the same level of facilities as the larger resorts on the west coast, but with a more serene atmosphere. Its location also makes it one of the best spots for catching the sunrise.
The large bay area is lined with bars and restaurants – as well as plenty of diving schools and equipment hire places! Further inland you will find restaurants that have a more local atmosphere, as well as independent vendors selling souvenirs and clothing.
- Chalok Baan Kao is the largest beach on the south coast and has plenty of great dive schools offering budget-friendly rates
- Family Thai Massage is also located on the beach and offers some fantastic massages as well as other spa therapies
- Unseen Tours Koh Tao are a little more inland but offer some great tours for those that want to go off the beaten path
- The Muay Thai Training Centre is mostly used by locals, but once a week they offer taster sessions for tourists
- It’s a bit of a trek, but Tree House Cafe is the perfect restaurant for a romantic dinner among the lush Thai forest
Best Hostel Chalok Baan Kao
Assava Dive Resort isn’t just a hostel, but also provides dive training and equipment hire! This is a great pick for backpackers that are visiting Koh Tao mainly for the diving opportunities. They offer privates, and the dorms are limited to four people each giving you a little more privacy.
Best Budget Hotel in Chalok Baan Kao
This two star hotel is pretty basic but is only a short walk away from the beach. If you are a couple on a super strict budget, this is the perfect choice for you! Rooms come with both air conditioning and a fan, as well as small refrigerators – perfect if you want to self cater during your stay.
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Best Splurge Hotel in Chalok Baan Kao
This magnificent four star resort has a very contemporary atmosphere – perfect for couples that want to keep their home comforts whilst visiting Koh Tao! Rooms are fully air-conditioned and come with modern appliances to ensure you are comfortable throughout your stay. Breakfast is included.
Koh Phi Phi is incredible! There are tons of things to do there!
(Best neighborhood in Koh Tao for a remote stay!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Leuk Bay – hike the route from Leuk Bay to Sai Daeng Beach for an off the beaten path adventure
- BEST place to visit in Leuk Bay – the beach itself is among the most secluded and pristine on the entire island
Leuk Bay is so off the beaten path that there aren’t many tourism facilities – making it the ideal choice for experienced travellers that want something a bit different! There are only a few restaurants, but they are all locally owned and use ingredients sourced from the island and surrounding waters.
It is also the starting point of many hiking trails along the east coast of the island, as well as towards the interior! Leuk Bay is a rewarding destination for adventure travellers that want an authentic experience in the middle of luscious Thai nature. For a truly unique experience, you have to head to Leuk Bay.
- Dive Point Koh Tao are the only diving facility in the area, though they are quite quiet thanks to the lack of tourists giving you more time in the water
- Ao Leuk Grand Hill is a restaurant perched above the bay where you can enjoy locally sourced food with views across the ocean
- Ao Leuk Two is owned by the same people, but it’s beachside location gives it a more laid-back atmosphere
- If opting to visit nearby Sai Daeng, CV Divers not only offer diving lessons and equipment hire, but they also run regular boat tours of the coast!
Best Hostel Leuk Bay
Gecko Republic Jungle Hostel is another backpacker accommodation that comes with an environmentally friendly attitude! They offer pod-style beds, giving you a little bit extra privacy compared to other hostels. The on-site café and bar only sell vegan food – perfect if you require this.
Best Budget Hotel in Leuk Bay
As the name suggests, this hotel comes with spectacular views across the sea! It is actually nestled within the island’s interior but is so high on the mountains that you can basically see across the entire island. A complimentary breakfast is included and has plenty of options.
Best Splurge Hotel in Leuk Bay
Situated on its own peninsula, this resort is a collection of self-contained units with excellent facilities that ensure it more than earns its four star rating! There is a large garden on-site, as well as a well-maintained pool. They offer bike hire to all guests, and there is a communal sun terrace.
Bangkok has a strong tour game – check out the best tours in Bangkok (for all budgets!) here!
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Koh Tao?
Koh Tao is a gorgeous destination that must not be missed on any itinerary in the south of Thailand! Though usually only considered by divers and Thai locals, other tourists have a lot to gain from the natural and cultural attractions available.
For the best neighborhood, we have to go with Mae Haad! All of the other neighborhoods can be easily reached from this area, and it has all of the facilities you need.
That being said, Koh Tao is a very small and walkable island, and each town has something unique to offer. We hope this guide has helped you plan your trip.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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