Small guide to the Thai islands 1/3 : Koh Tao

Jun 6, 2015

One of the favourite part of my trip in Thailand was the islands. I only went to Ko Tao, Ko PhiPhi and Ko Lanta but I had such good different experiences on each one of them that I decided to blog about it in as much details as I could to share with you the reasons I enjoyed it so much. This first post is about the different bays and spots I went to on Ko Tao.

8 hours overnight train from Bangkok to Chumphon followed by a 3 hours boat ride, Ko Tao is not that easy to reach but it is worth the hassle.
The easiest way around the island is by scooter. It's very easy to rent one and you can find shops all around the island. Make sure you take pictures of the scooter before you take it or do a check with the shop owner and point out any scratch or bump. Although some bays are only accessibble by foot like Liam Bay, a motorbike will take you almost everywhere else.
On Ko Tao I was staying in Sairee village. I had been told Ko Tao was one of the least touristy island in Thailand, but still there was quiet a lot of people - I did understand the true meaning of touristy island when I went to Ko Phi Phi afterwards.

Sunset from the beach in Sairee village

Ao Him Wong Bay

2.5 kilometers from Sairee village, it's a very steep walk up then down to get there. Although you can go all the way there by scooter, I recommend you leave it at the view point when it starts going down and continue by foot as the last bit down the bay is very very steep. There is a small beach and a restaurant where you can rent snorkelling gears for 100 Baht. It's a good snorkelling spot. When I was there there was very few people on the beach and no one else was snorkelling. You might want to start from the rocks next to the restaurant, it will give you a better access point to the water and you'll be right in the middle of where the fish are.
Oh Nemo!

Laem Thian Bay

This one is not reachabe by scooter. It's a streneous walk with a lot of up and downs through the jungle but it's worth your effort. You might think otherwise as you first see the building near the beach as it is abandoned and there is plenty of rubbish, but once you reach the sand, it is a beautiful small quiet bay.
When I was there, there was a few people as well as 2 divers boats but it was mostly quiet anyway, beside the occasional noise from the boats. But after a while they left.
Make sure to rent snorkelling gears before you get there as there is no shops at all. The abandoned buildings around look like there used to be some sort of business going on, but the not so easy access to the beach have probably forced them to close down.
I really enjoyed this spot to snorkel. The water is very shallow so be careful not to damage the coral and not to hurt yourself, but if you go a bit further it quickly becomes deeper and you can enjoy some really good snorkelling, as well as diving I'm sure, if you're into it.
Not the easiest way to get to Laem Thian Bay...

But your efforts will be rewarded
Laem Thian Bay is a beautiful snorkelling spot

Freedom Beach & John Suwan Rock Viewpoint

South of Ko Tao, it's very easy to access it by scooter, and there is a small parking lot 50m before the beach. My main purpose to go there was to reach John Suwan Rock viewpoint and to fly my drone from there. I made a quick stop at freedpom beach and took some pictures there. It looked very nice, as usual the water was turquoise clear and there was small shops along the beach. I then started to hike up the viewpoint. It's a short one but the path is very narrow and you'll have to briefly climb small rocks at some point. From up there you'll get a nice view of the gulf of Thailand when looking at the water, as well as a nice view of Chalok Baan and Thian Og bays when facing the island. And an even better one from an aerial point of view if you go there with your drone :-)
Freedom Beach

Panorama from Joh Suwan Rock Viewpoint

Chalok Baan Kao Bay
Thian Og Bay

Aerial view of John Suwan Rock Viewpoint, Chalok Baan Kao & Thian Og Bay

Sai Daeng Bay

Southe East of Ko Tao, it's another bay easy to access by scooter although the last few hundred meters is a really steep road. There is even a sign "1 person per motorbike" on the way back up. Bigger beach than the other ones and more shops but if your main goal is to snorkel you can walk further in the rocks and set from there and it'll just be you... and a lot of fish. If you're a good swimmer, you can probably reach shark island which is in the disctance. But be carefull as there is a lot of boat traffic around the island. This was my favorite snorkelling spot. There was plenty of different fish and the coral was beautiful.

Aerial View of Sai Daeng Bay

Aerial View of Shark Island

Ao Leuk

Not much to say about that one. I did not stay long as it was quiet busy. But if you lke the beach you should check it out, it's probably on of the most beautiful beach of the island from what I briefly saw. And it's easy to ride there.

Ok, it's not that busy... but you can easily find other spots with even less people than that

Ao Leuk Bay is a must go if you like the beach and clear water

Tanote Bay

Quiet hard to access by scooter. The last bit is this rocky dirt road but nothing too bad for a scooter. Just be careful and go slow and you'll be fine. Nice beach, clear water - again - and quiet busy. 

Aerial view of Tanote Bay

Love Ko Tao viewpoint

Although it is not a bay, I think it's a nice spot to check out. Up there in the highlands of Ko Tao, this view point will give you a nice view of Tanote Bay - take the road that goes up on the left on your way to Tanote. There is a sign. At the top there is a small cafe where you can refresh yourself. But if you're not planning on buying anything you'll have to pay a 20 Baht entrance fee anyway as it is a private property - That's what the woman at the cafe told me. The cafe takes the whole space from which you can see the view so you have no choice but pay or buy something to enjoy it.

With my drone, I was able to film the other side of the viewpoint : Sairee village


Nangyuan Terrace

North West of th eisland, you have to go through a resort to access the water. It's obviously crowded and there is no beach but it's a great spot for sunset as you have Ko Nang Yuan island in front of you.

Sunset from the drone

Ko Tao is a great island to snorkel or relax on the beach. The different bays are not all easy to access but it adds to the charm of the island. 
Leave a comment if you have been to one of those bays or to other ones on the island that you think are worth a visit.


  1. How do we sign up for notifications for your next post? Great Blog!

    1. Hi Nathan, thanks! You can follow me by entering youremail address in the box on the right side bar at the top :)

  2. Hello Laurent, I just wondered if we could use the aerial image of Tanote Bay in an article and we will credit you and link to you? Thanks!

    1. Hello Admin,

      Yes sure. And please send me the link of the article :)

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