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Visiting Koh Tao FAQs: All Your Questions Answered about the Thai Island

Koh Tao is truly one of my favorite places in the world. I first visited it back in 2012, then came again in 2013, and finally returned at the end of 2017 to live here for a while. I love the smallness and community feel of it as compared to other places I’ve been to in Thailand.

I never expected to stay here as long as I have, but I’ve been living on Koh Tao for 9 months now. When I talk with tourists here or people trying to plan their trip, many tend to ask me the same few questions about the island, so I figured I would put my answers all in one place.

Skip ahead…

Is Koh Tao a safe place for tourists?
Where’s the party at?
Which scuba diving school should I dive with?
Which viewpoint/beach is the best?
Where should I go to watch the sunset?
Where can I get good “cheap” Thai food?
Where can I go for vegetarian food?

This post may include affiliate links which means if you buy something through the link, I get a very small commission. I only recommend products and services I have used/done myself and love and think you’ll love too!

Is Koh Tao a safe place for tourists?

Yes. Follow up question: is Koh Tao “Death Island”? No. There was an awful, horrific double murder here in 2014 but this is hardly a trend and you are not in more danger than you would be anywhere else, and especially anywhere else in Thailand. Read this to know what I mean.

Alex from Alex in Wanderland, who has lived here for many years, explains everything you need to know in her post if you want the ‘long answer’ to this question.

Walking to Hin Wong in Koh Tao
Hiking around Koh Tao with Zo

You don’t need to worry about murder if you’re traveling to Koh Tao on holiday, but if you want to worry, here are some things you should worry about:

  • Renting a motorbike and either getting ripped off or getting into an accident
  • Getting involved in a lot of drugs and/or alcohol and either getting caught or making poor decisions that put you at risk

Related: A Walking-only Guide to Koh Tao


Where’s the party?

Mainly, Fishbowl. This is the main place where people go out at night. If you’re a young single person, you might also be interested in the Koh Tao Pubcrawl, which does eventually end up at Fishbowl too.

Group photo from night out at Fishbowl in Koh Tao

Which SCUBA diving school should I dive with?

When deciding on a dive school to do your SCUBA certification, the main thing you will want to consider is do you want a big school or a small school? Secondly, do you speak a language other than English and want to learn in your native tongue?

On the scuba boat in Koh Tao
Post-dive with some friends

I personally prefer the experience of diving with a small school because it feels less like a factory, you get more personal attention during the learning process, and I just find it more relaxing and fun. I did my advanced certification at Mojo Divers and was the only student in the course. That means it was just me and the instructor on the dives. There’s nothing like one-on-one attention if you’re feeling nervous about something (like night dives for me!).

Underwater snorkeling in Koh Tao, Thailand

Which viewpoint is the best? Which beach is the best?

I think you’ll find the most ‘postcard-worthy’ views from either Koh Nang Yuan’s viewpoint or the John-Suwan viewpoint.

For snorkeling, I recommend Hin Wong, and as for a pretty beach with nice water for swimming, I would say Shark Bay/Haad Tien.

John-Suwan viewpoint in Koh Tao
From the John-Suwan Viewpoint

Where should I go to watch the sunset?

Sairee beach faces west so is the perfect sunset spot. Grab a drink and chill in the sand or go to Maya Beach Club or Fizz for some sunset vibes.

Sunset from Sairee beach in Koh Tao, Thailand

Where can I get good “cheap” Thai food?

Prices on Koh Tao are never going to be as low as you’ll find on the mainland. Also, while Koh Tao does Western food surprisingly well, I wouldn’t say the same for Thai food. It’s kinda hard to find authentic and delicious Thai food here.

That said, here are some places I recommend:

995 Roasted Duck – They have amazing duck noodle soup. I also really love their soup sukiyaki.

The 7-Eleven night market – This is the big 7-Eleven in Sairee. You’ll find multiple Thai food stalls here.

Samosa Restaurant – It’s across from Babo’s Sushi. Beware if it’s busy you’ll wait hours for your food. I love the ginger chicken here.

Yang Thai Food – Near Mae Haad. They have lots of great affordable Thai and Western dishes. The portions are huge! If you’re staying in Sairee, you’ll need a bike to get here though.

Where can I go for vegetarian food?

We have some really excellent Western-style restaurants, including places that offer lots of veggie options:

Vegetabowl – Lots of salads and Buddha bowls

I Love Salad – Salads, duh. They’re located in Chalok.

Coconut Monkey – Right near the pier in Mae Haad. Western style cafe with great brunch and lunch options.

Babaloo – This one’s a little harder to find…It’s on the way to Chalok down a road on the right. They have veggie versions of Thai dishes.

Living Juices – In front of BND. They have smoothies and smoothie bowls and a few other healthy little snack things.

Fitness Cafe – Up near Smile Mart in Sairee.

La Pizzeria/Sairee Sairee/Farango’s/Sairee Cottage Restaurant for pizza

Smoothie bowl from Living Juices in Koh Tao
A smoothie bowl from Living Juices

Veggie Thai dishes to order at any Thai restaurant: Thai omelet and rice (khao kai jieow), papaya salad (som tam thai), stir-fried mixed veg (pad pak luam), spring rolls, stir-fried morning glory, and obviously any dish with tofu substituted for meat, or just no meat.

For more, check out my full Koh Tao guide here.


More on Koh Tao…

Is Koh Tao a Good Place to Live as a Digital Nomad?

WTF Have I Been Doing on Koh Tao

Koh Tao, Why Don’t You Love Me?

After living here for over 9 months, I've interacted a lot with tourists passing through Thailand. I put together this post to answer some frequently asked questions about Koh Tao.
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