Where to stay in Koh Tao for first time: 5 Safe areas

I visited Koh Tao a few years ago.  It is a beautiful Island located 50 km north of Koh Phang. In today’s article, I will help you to find the safest places to stay in Koh Tao for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Koh Tao for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Koh Tao and recommend some of the best hotels in Koh Tao for visitors with various budgets.

Koh Tao, also known as Turtle Island, is a part of a group of islands that also includes Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. The island features beautiful beaches such as Sairee Beach, Chalok Baan Kao, and Tanote Bay.

The island is known for its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, making it a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. It has numerous dive schools that cater to divers of all levels, from beginners to experienced professionals.

Koh Tao has a history of sea turtle nesting, and conservation efforts have been made to protect these creatures. The island got its name due to its turtle-like shape and its history of being a nesting site for green and hawksbill turtles.

While not as lively as nearby Koh Samui or Koh Phangan, Koh Tao has a relaxed nightlife scene with beach bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the sunset and socialize.

Beyond the beaches and underwater attractions, Koh Tao offers hiking trails leading to viewpoints that provide stunning panoramic views of the island and its surroundings.

Koh Tao is accessible by ferry from the mainland and neighboring islands. The island itself is small, and many visitors get around on foot or by renting scooters.

The climate is tropical, with a monsoon season from October to December. The dry season, from January to September, is the most popular time to visit.

Is Koh Tao Safe to Visit?

Yes, Koh Tao, like most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, is generally safe to visit. But like any place, it’s important to take basic safety precautions to ensure your safety. 

If you’re engaging in water activities, follow safety guidelines and ensure that equipment is in good condition. Choose reputable diving schools if you plan to dive, and be cautious about the weather conditions.

It is also recommended to stay hydrated, protect yourself from the sun, and be cautious with food and water hygiene. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs to ensure you’re respectful and compliant.

Where to stay in Koh Tao for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Koh Tao for first-timers and tourists are Sairee Beach, Mae Haad, Chalok Baan Kao, Ao Thian Og (Shark Bay), and Tanote Bay. It’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions no matter where you stay.

Sairee Beach is the main and most developed beach on the island, offering a wide range of accommodations, restaurants, and nightlife. It’s a hub of activity, making it ideal for those who want a lively atmosphere.

Mae Haad Pier is the main arrival point on the island, and staying here provides easy access to the pier and the main town. It’s a convenient location with various shops, restaurants, and services.

Chalok Baan Kao is a good choice for those who want a quieter setting but still have access to amenities and restaurants. It has a more laid-back atmosphere compared to Sairee Beach. 

Shark Bay (Ao Thian Og) and Tanote Bay are quieter areas away from the main tourist spots. They are a good choice for those who want a more peaceful and nature-oriented stay.

During my trip to Koh Tao, I stayed for 3 nights at the DD Hut Koh Tao. It was a great 2-star accommodation, located close to the pier and Sairee Beach. My room was beautiful, the sunset restaurant on the seafront was amazing, and breakfast was also lovely.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Koh Tao for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Koh Tao first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Koh Tao first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Koh Tao, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Koh Tao have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safest areas to stay in Koh Tao for first-timers and tourists

1. Sairee Beach

Sairee Beach is a popular and long beach located on Koh Tao. The beach is lined with resorts, restaurants, and bars, making it a hub of activity for tourists.

The area is known for its vibrant nightlife, with beach parties and various water sports activities available during the day. Boat tours from/to Koh Nang Yuan Island depart from this area.

Best places to stay in Koh Tao in Sairee Beach for first-timers:

  • Mid-range ($$): In Touch Resort, 2-star accommodation located just a short within walking distance from Sairee Beach, Mae Haad Pier and Sairee Town.  It is close to many restaurants, bars but away from the noise of nightclubs.
  • Budget ($): Koh Tao Heritage, great accommodation located in a quiet area close to the pier, Sairee Beach, Jansom Bay Beach. It has free parking, comfortable family rooms, and free parking.  
  • Budget ($): Savage Hostel Koh Tao, popular hostel located in the center of Sairee beach, close to the small walking/driving street with restaurants, shops and everything you need. It has dorm/private rooms, a lovely rooftop swimming pool and bar with views of the sea.

2. Mae Haad Pier

Mae Haad Pier is a practical choice for those who prioritize convenience, easy access to transportation, and a central location. It is located on the west coast of Koh Tao and serves as the main entry point to the island.

Mae Haad Pier is also close to the main town, providing easy access to shops, restaurants, and services.

The area around Mae Haad offers a variety of services, including dive shops, tour operators, and equipment rental shops. This makes it a practical choice for those planning to engage in water activities.

Best places to stay in Koh Tao in Mae Haad Pier for first-timers:

  • Budget ($): Sunrise Koh Tao, great accommodation, located right on the beach, easy distance  from bar, restaurants, and the piers where a boat arrives/departs island.
  • Budget ($): Field-D House, great guest house located near Mae Haad Beach and Sairee Beach. It has  free private parking, luggage storage, excellent breakfast, and an outdoor dining area. Close to Jansom Bay Beach, Chalok Viewpoint, and Exchange/ATM Sairee Branch.
  • Mid-range ($$): Sensi Paradise Beach Resort, 3-star resort,  short walk from shops and restaurants. It is only a short boat ride from the islands of Nang Yuan, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan. The hotel has wooden bungalows, an outdoor pool, and a private beach area.

3. Chalok Baan Kao

Chalok Baan Kao is a picturesque and laid-back area located on the southern part of Koh Tao.It  is an excellent choice for travelers who prefer a peaceful and scenic setting away from the crowds.

The bay in Chalok Baan Kao is surrounded by hills and has a scenic backdrop, providing a beautiful setting for your stay. It’s a great place to enjoy the natural beauty of Koh Tao.

Like the rest of Koh Tao, Chalok Baan Kao has dive shops and schools where you can arrange diving courses and trips. The area is known for its dive sites, making it a suitable base for diving enthusiasts.

Best places to stay in Koh Tao in Chalok Baan Kao:

  • Mid-range ($$): Koh Tao Relax Freedom Beach Resort, 3-star beautiful resort in a quiet and romantic location occupies the whole bay. It has a private beach area, Excellent Breakfast, and family rooms. You can also find many restaurants nearby on Taatoh Yai and Freedom Beach.
  • Mid-range ($$): Assava Dive Resort, great accommodation located within walking distance from Chalok Baan Kao Beach, offering free shuttle service. Also easy access to Shark Bay Beach, Freedom Beach and Chalok Viewpoint. 
  • Mid-range ($$): View Point Resort, popular resort located only a 5 mins walk from Chalok Baan Kao Beach, featuring an onsite bar, private beach area, 24-hour front desk, and shuttle service. Nice spot for sunbathing, snorkeling and kayaking.

4. Shark Bay (Ao Thian Og)

Shark Bay, also known as Ao Thian Og, is a beautiful and relatively secluded area on the southern part of Koh Tao. It  is an ideal choice for travelers seeking a peaceful and natural environment, especially those interested in snorkeling and diving

Best places to stay in Koh Tao in Shark Bay:

  • Luxury ($$$): Jamahkiri Dive Resort & Spa, 5-star hotel located on Ao Thian Og, offering free pier transfers. It has  a private beach, PADI certified diving center, and Exceptional Breakfast. Great spot for diving and snorkeling. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Cape Shark Villas, 4-star well-kept accommodation, set in a peaceful and quiet location with stunning views from the villa.  
  • Budget ($): Coral View Resort, 3 star accommodation located only a minute walk from Haad Sai Daeng Beach. The resort has free pick-up service from Mae Haad Pier, which is 10 mins drive away. It has free parking for guests who drive.

5. Tanote Bay

Tanote Bay is a picturesque area on the eastern side of Koh Tao, known for its crystal-clear waters and coral reefs. It’s a great choice for those seeking a quieter and more relaxed environment.

Best places to stay in Koh Tao in Tanote Bay:

  • Mid-range ($$): Ecotao Lodge, 4-star good value for money accommodation, located close to Tanote Bay Beach, Aow Leuk Beach and Sunken Ship.
  • Budget ($): Tree House Bungalows Koh Tao, 3-star accommodation located 20 mins walk from Mao Bay Beach. It has an onsite restaurant serving Thai cuisine, Vegetarian, dairy-free options.
  • Budget ($): Mountain Reef Beach Resort, amazing location, good size rooms, nice breakfast, far from the more touristy and busy part of the island.

In conclusion, Sairee Beach, Mae Haad Pier, Chalok Baan Kao, Shark Bay, and Tanote Bay are the best places to stay in Koh Tao for tourists and first-timers. These are generally a safe destination, but it’s always essential to take precautions and follow local laws/customs wherever you go.

You can continue reading about other tourist destinations in Thailand in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Koh Tao. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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