Koh Tao has a special place in our hearts. This stunning island in the Gulf of Thailand is home to incredible marine life, pristine beaches, gorgeous viewpoints, breathtaking hikes, and beautiful sunsets. Yes, we love it, and we have been there a couple of times. On every trip, we chose a different place to stay in Koh Tao, so we could experience the many sides of the island. Now it’s time to share our tips on where to stay in Koh Tao, Thailand, the best areas, and the pros and cons of staying in each of them.
Before choosing your hotel in Koh Tao, you should think about the purpose of your trip. Are you traveling to Koh Tao for diving? Is it a family holiday? Do you want to experience Koh Tao’s nightlife? Do you want to be pampered in a luxury resort with incredible views? Depending on what type of experience you want to have, it will be better to book a hotel in Sairee Beach, or in a more quiet area like Tanote Bay, for example. But don’t worry, we’re gonna talk about all these below.
Before we get started, do you need more info about the island? Read here:
So let’s talk about where to stay in Koh Tao. First of all, there is no bad area to stay in Koh Tao as the whole island is beautiful, but definitely, there is bad accommodation in Koh Tao. Dirty hostels, resorts that are lacking maintenance, or rooms without A/C, we know, we’ve chosen poorly. But we learned, and I’m happy to say that we managed to book perfect stays on the last trips.
This Koh Tao accommodation guide is divided by areas with suggestions of hotels for all budgets and travelers. After the list of best beaches to stay, you will find recommendations for Koh Tao’s best hotels, hostels, and diving resorts.
Where to stay in Koh Tao: best beaches and areas
If you check Koh Tao’s map, you will see five main areas: Sairee Beach, Chalok Bay, Shark Bay (Ao Thian Og), Tanote Bay, and Mae Haad – the island city center. These are the best beaches/areas to stay in Koh Tao, where you can find good accommodation, shops, restaurants, bars, diving schools, and motorbike rentals. We’re gonna talk about each of them, so you can get a better picture and book a hotel in the right place for you.
> Where to stay in Sairee Beach – Koh Tao
Sairee Beach is the busiest and the longest beach on the island and, of course, it’s beautiful! It’s a great place to stay if you want to meet people, enjoy Koh Tao’s nightlife, shop around for diving courses, sleep and eat cheaply. The list of hotels, beach huts, and hostels in Sairee is big, making it one of the best places to stay in Koh Tao for any budget.
Things you need to know about staying in Sairee Beach:
Sairee Beach is busy with a lively nightlife and people around all the time. All the parties and pub crawl happen there, needless to say, it’s a hub for young travelers and backpackers in Koh Tao. Sairee Beach is famous for its sunset, the views are incredible, and the bars offer great happy hour session.
The beach itself is great for snorkeling, for stand up paddling, swimming, and sunbathing. We loved our stay in Sairee, the main reason is that you can do and find everything there, from tattoos to diving shops, from Thai street food to hipster cafes and nice restaurants. There are shops selling food, clothes, massage parlor, and even a Ladyboy Cabaret. Sairee Beach is great fun during the day and night.
Sairee is close to Mae Haad Pier, so you will be a few minutes from the arrival/departure point of the island. You can easily get around with tuk-tuks and taxis, or you can rent a motorbike from one of the shops there. Also, from Sairee Beach you can get the taxi boat to the stunning Koh Nang Yuan and to other beaches on the island.
Staying right on the beach is a must for you? So check the beach bungalows in Sairee, hotels that are almost on the sand. There you will find options from luxury to middle-range accommodation, hostels, and guesthouses. Here are our top pick accommodations in Sairee Beach Koh Tao:
This boutique-style resort features an intimate vibe and some of the most beautiful views you’ll witness in Sairee Beach – regardless you get a room with a garden, pool, or sea view. At The Tarna Align guests enjoy a modern infrastructure, stylish rooms equipped with special amenities, 3 restaurants on-site, and cocktails to sip by the pool while watching the sunset. They also offer diving lessons, massage treatments and free shuttles to spots on the island.
Amidst luscious palm trees (thus the name), The Plantation Koh Tao is a short walk from the beach and Sairee’s awesome bars and restaurants. Featuring spacious cozy apartments and pool villas, every unit comes with its private balcony and the stunning sea views that come along. For customers’ convenience, a free pick-up from the pier can be arranged.
Located right along Sairee Beach, this three-star hotel is in the perfect location for those who want to sleep and wake up by the ocean. The helpful staff, tasty food, the serenity of the place and its lovely rooms and bungalows are among the reasons why guests keep on coming back.
Prik Thai Resort is a top choice for travelers looking for a place to stay in Koh Tao that is both accessible and in the middle of all the action. The rooms are comfortable and clean, and you can choose between fan or air conditioner, pool or sea view. The property has a beautiful garden and the hosts are very friendly.
A hostel that features a bar, a restaurant, and a rooftop swimming pool overlooking the sea?! Welcome to Savage Hostel Koh Tao! Besides the excellent location and the free WiFi, they serve vegetarian food options and have a billiard table for guests to mingle before hitting the nightlife spots nearby – be prepared for large and extra comfy beds to rest later on.
> Where to stay in Mae Haad – Koh Tao
Mae Haad is the city center of the island, where the main pier is located, and where you can find the biggest supermarkets, tour agencies, motorbike rentals, and shops. You can see more of the island local life there, as there are fewer tourists than Sairee Beach. The town has everything you need, it’s slightly cheaper than Sairee or other beaches, making it the best place to stay in Koh Tao on a budget.
Things you need to know about staying in Mae Haad:
Mae Haad is the perfect place to stay in Koh Tao for those looking for cheap accommodation and who wants to be close to the pier. We stayed there and found it very handy to get around the island and to catch the early morning ferry to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, or Chumphon.
There are plenty of places to eat, and the fruit and veggie markets are amazing, especially if you want to try the exotic Thai fruits for a few bucks. The downside of staying in Mae Haad is the beach, it’s nice, you can sunbathe and swim, but it’s definitely not the best beach on the island. If you don’t mind driving or getting in a taxi, you can sleep there and explore the island during the day. Mae Haad is in between Sairee Beach and Chalok Bay, so you will be a few minutes from two awesome beaches.
Mae Haad offers cheap accommodation in Koh Tao, but not only, you will also find good beach resorts and small mid-range hotels there. Here are the best accommodation in Koh Tao if you choose to stay in Mae Haad area:
Facing Mae Haad Beach, the scenic Sensi Paradise is built with natural materials that add a chic feel to this rustic getaway. The wonderful amenities and service complete the experience, as guests immerse in a most relaxing atmosphere, surrounded by nature and its sounds. There’s a wide range of rooms available, such as family rooms, romantic seaview, garden view, and hillside bungalows.
When looking for a place to stay in Koh Tao, depending on your plans, you may find convenient to be near the Mae Haad Pier. So Bros & Sis might just be your Place! This beachfront hotel covers all the basic needs regarding location, neat rooms, great service and food, with local and international menus. Plus, spectacular sunsets for you to sit back and enjoy life in paradise without spending a fortune.
With an unusual name, White Jail was a political prison that was turned into a charming hostel. It’s only a 3-minute walk from the Mae Haad Pier and offers free private parking and WiFi access. The minimalist decor surely comes to mind as a highlight, as well as the kind staff and the on-site bar (although you’ll be surrounded by bars, restaurants and so on). They also have a gift shop and a cash machine, that’s always handy.
> Where to stay in Chalok Bay – Koh Tao
Looking for nice views, a quiet beach, relaxed vibes, and good restaurants? Then your hotel in Koh Tao should be at Chalok Bay. This beach has everything you need for a perfect holiday minus the parties from Sairee Beach and the busy daily life of Mae Haad. It’s the third-largest beach in Koh Tao, and it’s close to some of the island’s best viewpoints and secluded beaches.
Things you need to know about staying in Chalok Bay:
What we like about Chalok is the pace of life, it’s not as hectic as Sairee, but you still find everything you need. The area has a lot of restaurants owned by foreigners that fell in love with the island and moved there, so don’t be surprised to find a French bistro, an Italian restaurant, and Israeli falafels.
The price tag at Chalok Bay is a bit higher than Sairee, but not that much. The beach bars and restaurants offer a delicious menu for a reasonable price, and the happy hour’s deals are a big temptation. When it comes to transportation, you can get around the island easily by motorbike or taxi. Keep in mind that Chalok Beach is not that great for water sports, but from there you can reach some of the best spots for snorkeling in Koh Tao.
On our first time on the island, we stayed in a cheap beach bungalow in Koh Tao Freedom Beach, a tiny beach near Chalok Bay, and we had an awesome time. That’s the best thing about staying in Chalok Bay; there are small hidden beaches around (Sai Nuan Beach and Freedom Beach) as well as some of the best be the viewpoint in Koh Tao (Chalok and John Suwan viewpoints).
This quiet paradise offers budget-friendly accommodation and beachfront resorts. Here are our recommendations of hotels in Koh Tao Chalok Bay:
Nestled in a sublime natural setting on the mountain, brace yourself for outstanding views when you book a room at Chintakiri Resort. The beautiful rooms, the peaceful atmosphere, the generous food selection that’s served graciously… The only complaint is that the resort has too many stairs, but let’s face it, you gotta go up in order to reach heaven.
Fisherman Koh Tao is an adorable and well-located hotel in Chalok Bay. The rooms and bungalows are cozy and equipped with all the essentials. But it’s the infinity pool that is definitely one of the favorite features among the guests. Freedom Beach and the Chalok Viewpoint are close by.
Looking for good value accommodation on Koh Tao? The Dearly Koh Tao Hostel is the place to check out – and then check-in! Its gorgeous facilities and amazing staff are every backpacker’s dream come true. They offer private and dormitory-style rooms, as well as private and shared bathrooms (with powerful showers). Also a pool, an on-site bar/restaurant and a rooftop relaxing area.
> Where to stay in Ao Thian Og (Shark Bay) – Koh Tao
Shark Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, and it’s the address of some of the best resorts in Koh Tao. Ao Thian Og, also called Shark Bay, is located in the South of the island, it’s a bit far to get there, but once you arrive, you will have the feeling of staying in paradise.
Things you need to know about staying in Shark Bay:
This secluded bay is famous for its natural beauty and the blacktip reef sharks that live there, which means it is one of the best spots for snorkeling in Koh Tao. Shark Bay is quite far from Sairee Beach and Mae Haad Pier, resulting in a quiet vibe. If you are not staying at one of the resorts, you will need to pay to access the beach, so expect to see fewer tourists there than on other beaches.
Being so secluded, you won’t find many restaurants, shops, or nightlife there. On the other hand, most of the hotels in Shark Bay offer 3 to 5-star service, so you won’t need to leave the beach or the property to be pampered with the best of the best. This is an excellent place for couples looking for a romantic hotel in Koh Tao, or a group of friends that want to share a luxury villa.
To get around you will need a motorbike or taxi. Most of the hotels in Shark Bay offer pick up service at Mae Haad Pier, ask them when booking your accommodation in Koh Tao. We didn’t stay in Shark Bay, but we visited the beach and loved it. A pool villa in Koh Tao overlooking the Shark Bay is on our bucket list for the next trip.
Here is our suggestion of where to stay in Koh Tao Shark Bay:
Imagine waking up to some of the most dazzling views of Shark Bay. ‘Cause that’s what you get at Jamahkiri Resort & Spa. That and a private beach, a PADI certified diving center, luxurious rooms with bathtub, and fantastic food, drinks and wine – from their wine cellar! They also offer free pier transfers and massage treatments for your utmost relaxation.
Sitting on an undisturbed location, the Beach Club by Haadtien is a fabulous resort at Shark Bay. With beautifully furnished facilities and a staff that goes out of their way to assist you. Besides the wonderful pool, by the beach they also have an Italian bistro and a laid back beach bar.
It’s no wonder this family-run resort is one of the top choices in Koh Tao island. Surrounded by amazing views and some of the best spots for snorkeling (that you can do with their free gear), the Taatoh Seaview Resort is affordably delightful. Yummy food and thoughtful service are included.
> Where to stay in Tanote Bay – Koh Tao
Book your stay in Tanote Bay if you want a laidback holiday in Koh Tao. This beautiful beach on the east coast of the island is perfect for travelers who like kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and jungle trekking. Located on the opposite side of Sairee Beach and Mae Haad Pier, Tanote Bay is definitely a unique place to stay in Koh Tao.
Things you need to know about staying in Tanote Bay:
If you want to wake up with beautiful sunrises, your hotel in Koh Tao should be in Tanote Bay. The best way to get there is by motorbike, but it’s on the hilliest part of the island, so be careful when venturing yourself on two wheels. Taxis can take you to/from Mae Haad and Sairee Beach as well, and some hotels can arrange a driver to take you around.
The beach is excellent for swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, and rock jumping. We visited the beach a couple of times and Rob spent hours in the water admiring the marine life. The hotels on the beach offer snorkel for rent and diving courses, so once you book your accommodation there, you are sorted.
Tanote Bay doesn’t have a commercial center, only beach bars, and restaurants, so expect to pay a bit more for food and drinks. Most of the hotels will offer a good menu, so you won’t need to leave the area for meals. We recommend you going for breakfast at the Love Koh Tao viewpoint.
Although there are only a few options of hotels in Tanote Bay, you can find accommodation for all tastes and budgets. Check out our suggestions of where to stay in Koh Tao Tanote Bay:
Rising from an immaculate hill, Tanote Villa is a dreamy hotel overlooking Tanote Bay. You might have a hard time deciding whether to enjoy the pristine beach nearby or the two big pools in the property – spoiler alert: there’s a saltwater one! Delicious cocktails and food complete this gem’s package.
Lovely design and staff, comfort and some of the clearest waters around. Montalay Beach offers a great stay with a perfect snorkel spot. If you’re looking for that wonderful resort feel but don’t want to spend too much, this could just be the sweet retreat you deserve.
Need to spend even less, but still want a beachfront option in Tanote Bay? No problem, check out Montalay – Eco Cottage! These adorable cottages are equipped with a fan and have shared bathroom facilities. Guests have access to the restaurant of Montalay Beach Resort, as well as to a diving center, a spa and sauna. There’s also fresh towels and free water every day!
Surrounding the five areas we talked about, there are other smaller and incredible beaches as Mango Bay, Aow Leuk, and Hin Wong Bay. They are the perfect place to stay in Koh Tao if you want to disconnect from everything. You will find some of the best hotels in Koh Tao there, just keep in mind, it’s a bit more challenging to get in and out, and no shops or restaurants around.
Did you know you can rent a villa or a beach hut in Koh Tao via Airbnb? Curious? Sign up here and get a discount on your first booking!
Best accommodation in Koh Tao: luxury hotels, diving resorts and hostel
Now that you know where to stay in Koh Tao by beaches/areas, it’s time for a quick round-up of the best hotels in Koh Tao. We understand that you might not be worried about location, but want the perfect 5-star hotel, or are looking for a diving resort where you can get your Open Water Certification, or maybe a cool hostel to meet friends. So, as usual, we got you covered.
Be ready for the best accommodation in Koh Tao.
> Best villas in Koh Tao
Views, private pools, luxury service, and incredible food. You can get it all at the best villas in Koh Tao:
Phandara Luxury Pool Villas is the sophisticated getaway everyone should have at least once in a lifetime. Unbeatable views of Sairee Beach from the infinity swimming pool, exceptional facilities, and a staff that goes above and beyond. Each unit features a kitchen with a fridge and a microwave, but you can still order drinks and food on site.
Fancy a modern intimate paradise? Well, you just found it. At Monkey Flower Villas, a work of art structure and its excellent staff welcome you and your loved one for unforgettable moments contemplating Sairee Beach. The rooms are very well equipped and some of them come with a bathtub and a private pool.
Soak in glamour and privacy at Villas Del Sol Koh Tao, on Shark Bay. The breathtaking surroundings live up to the 3 stunning villas which are fit for all your needs. Floor to ceiling windows that allow the natural light to come in make for a romantic setting – probably why this is a favorite pick among couples.
> Best Diving Resorts in Koh Tao
This is the perfect accommodation in Koh Tao for those who want to sleep and learn to dive in the same place. A few diving schools in Koh Tao offer their own hotel or dive resort, so you can book your Scuba Diving Course and accommodation in one go.
In case you’re looking for a nice place to stay in Koh Tao that also features a diving center, Ban’s Diving Resort could be the chosen one. With a pool area, great food and accommodating staff, this 4-star resort is on a great location in Sairee Beach and has all the amenities for a blissful experience.
Koh Tao Coral Grand is a super cute resort on Sairee Beach. They manage to keep a tidy and quiet complex despite being on walking distance from the hustle and bustle of the island. Guests can have diving lessons, do snorkeling and kayaking, and even learn how to cook Thai food. This is definitely a good value for your money.
They say a Simple Life doesn’t require much, but this awesome resort does not miss out on much either. Big rooms with big cozy beds, friendly staff, a refreshing pool, and a convenient location near Sairee Beach. The hearty accommodation provided by Simple Life Resort has everything a diving enthusiast needs for a pleasantly affordable stay in Koh Tao.
> Best Hostels in Koh Tao
Friendly vibe, comfy and clean rooms, and great reviews. If you are looking for the best hostels in Koh Tao have a look at the options below:
Are you ready to travel to Koh Tao? Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter which area or hotel in Koh Tao you choose, before booking read the reviews carefully. Some people believe that you can get a cheap, comfy and clean room when arriving on the island. We have done that, and to be honest, it was a bad idea. The best hotels in Koh Tao are booked in advance, from luxury to hostels, and the rooms that are left free are the not so good ones. We strongly recommend booking your hotel in advance, especially during the high season.
That’s it, I hope you like our tips about where to stay in Koh Tao and if you need any extra info drop us a message below. Are you traveling to other islands? Don’t forget to read our guide to Koh Samui, travel tips to Koh Lipe, and top of things to do in Koh Lanta.
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