Koh Tao was the first of our islands to visit. It’s the island for water sports, especially snorkelling and scuba diving – in fact, it’s the second cheapest place in the whole world to get your PADI licence (following Honduras) hence why this is where travellers tend to visit.

Read our previous blog Tokyo here

To reach Koh Tao, it requires a lot of patience and motivation because it’s about a 10-12 hour trip (something me and Luke were really not looking forward to!). But surprisingly it’s an easier trip than expected. We boarded a coach at 9PM from outside the Lomprayah office in Khao San Road and slept all the way through to 5AM. From here in Champorn, we had a 2 hour wait to board the boat as it was still dark, then once ready, got onto the top deck for a 1.2 hour ride. This whole experience only cost us 1,100baht each (£25) which is quite good bearing in mind the distance we travelled.

From getting off the boat, you can see why people come here immediately. Crystal waters that change from turquoise to bright blue with the sunlight beaming down making it glisten, accompanied by white sand beaches with greenery and coconut palm trees surrounding the whole island – walking off the pier was like walking into paradise.

That was until we made the mistake (again!) of thinking a 15 minute walk with our 25KG luggage was easily done to get to the resort, we don’t seem to learn from our previous mistakes! Sweating and stressed, we finally found the resort and checked in. We were only staying for one night in ‘In Touch Resort’ which was a pretty little hut with just the essentials, not far from town and pretty much on top of beautiful Sairee beach. Once showered and changed we headed into town for lunch.

Koh Tao’s town is an often overlooked rural area of the Thai islands, it feels like a microcosm of the larger ethos of the islands which is that of pure tourism and unexplored potential for the weary backpacker.

When finished lunch we had a look about on ‘Trip Advisor’ for the most trusting place to rent a motorcycle. Same as many, we heard all about the horror stories for a first time rider from being mugged off on price to renters demanding payment for scratches that weren’t even your fault and safe to say that on top of neither of us riding one before, we were scared that this would happen to us – let’s face it, me and Luke never have that much luck in terms of things going right!

We found a couple of reviews about a place near to town called RPM so we weary walked there and asked 1. Prices 2. Terms and conditions and 3. How the hell we ride one. We can honestly say that we had no problems in regards to this company. In fact, they made us feel very comfortable by taking pictures of the bike at every angle before we even got on and even said to us that it’s not a problem if we scratch or scuff the bike, it’s only if we break a part that we would have to pay. So with that, Luke had a little test run up and down the road and it’s safe to say that he was scared but shortly after a few trips, finally got the hand of it.

Once mastered, our first stop was the John Suwan look out on the south of the island. We’d researched it before we came out here and both agreed it was something we really wanted to do. Once arrived, we parked the bike up for the first time hoping that it would still be there upon return! It cost 50baht each (£1.18) to get a pass up to the viewpoint. It takes around 20 minutes to get all the way up, past some very questionable ascent routes. Once you’re halfway you actually get a decent view of the beach below, heading all the way up however, although tiring is worth the pristine and radiant view.

After a descent through the mountain which was pretty steep, a short 100m down the coast takes you to freedom beach. One of the most secluded and beautiful beaches in all of Koh Tao. Palm trees drape the coastline only meters from where the water hits land, surrounded by rocks and nature, the silence only broken by smooth sounds of the waves glazing the edge of the beach. We were here for quite some time taking in the wonderful views and having a few dips in the ocean.

Onwards from here, we headed over to Sairee beach – a place where quite a lot of bloggers were talking about. But, to us felt quite busy and a little bit dirty. Alternatively, it is meant to be brilliant especially at night time where the fire dancers and pub crawls come out to play, however, we were there at the wrong time with it being out of season and the annual mourning of the king – a massive disappointment to say the least!

Shortly after, we went to explore another beach – Ao Leuk. It was quite hard to find this place but after nearly giving up, we managed to find it. Taking our ped downhill and paying 50baht (£1.18) to enter the beach, instantly tells you that it’s going to be good as the money enables the upkeep. Clear waters makes it great for snorkelling. Deck chairs and straw umbrellas were dotted along the edge of the water to help you relax in this idyllic setting. Included in the price you get a free beverage of your choice too. After that, we were shortly reminded that we were in monsoon season so we headed home and went out later for a Pad Thai

The next day consisted of having breakfast, returning the bike (hassle free!) ready for our boat trip to Koh Pha-Ngan.

Koh Tao had left its mark on us, as one of the islands described as ‘backpackers paradise’ it’s easy to see why. The small island packs a real punch with easy transport, easy facilities and a wild side (albeit quiet at this time of year) that rivals even Koh Pha-ngan for some evenings.

As the island of Koh Tao got smaller on the crystal blue horizon, we both knew it wouldn’t be our last time there.


  • RPM is a good idea to rent if your thinking of exploring the island that way.
  • Although more expensive, come in high season to experience the real Koh Tao
  • A good place to get your PADI license
  • Don’t take flip-flops up the John Suwan look out point – like Luke! It’s actually a difficult hike up

About The Author

Wanderlust Lab is a collaboration between Abbie and Luke for the sharing of travelling knowledge to help backpackers and travellers all across the globe. Live Wanderlust.

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