The time that this little island was solely a diving paradise is long gone! Just like any other tourist destinations in Thailand, Koh Tao is getting more popular each year. Many tourists and travelers finding its way to this tiny little nirvana in the Gulf of Thailand. Traveling to Koh Tao is popular than ever before and there are numerous things to do besides diving. Hiking in Koh Tao is fabulous and with so many cool viewpoints it is one of the reasons to travel to Koh Tao in 2023.
Over the last years 10 years I have visited Thailand almost 20 times and the moment I discovered Koh Tao it quickly became one of my favorite places to visit in Thailand. In total I spent more than 7 months on the island. When looking for Koh Tao travel tips, you found the right travel blog. May you have any more questions leave me a comment below and I am more than happy to help you.
Get yourself a local sim card on arrival in Thailand to stay connected. Check out my guide for buying a sim card for Thailand or even easier here is my list of the best e-sim cards for traveling to Thailand in 2023. Also here are my 65 things to know before traveling to Thailand.
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Koh Tao
Diving still is the main tourist attraction in Koh Tao and it draws many tourist from around the world. Together with Utila in Honduras it again is rated as the cheapest place in the world to get your PADI open water certification in 2023. Getting your dive certification will cost about $250 USD, including 3-4 nights accommodation. But what if you are not a scuba diver and you don't have any intention becoming one? Don't worry there are loads of things to do in Koh Tao besides diving.
In the link above you will find a complete list of all the things to do in Koh Tao, but this blog post is dedicated to the amazing Koh Tao viewpoint and hiking trails on the island.
If you know what the islands landscape looks like you already know that there must be some great hiking trails in Koh Tao. Scattered across the island there are several hilltops, flanked by either a beach or a secluded bay. Every viewpoint in Koh Tao has amazing views of the Gulf of Thailand and some viewpoints allow you to see the whole island in a 360 degrees view!
So what to do when visiting Koh Tao? Strap on your Nikes and find out what is your favorite Koh Tao viewpoint. Hiking shoes? Overrated! Do NOT bring your hiking shoes with you for hiking in Koh Tao. Read more about that in my Thailand Packing List.
Still contemplating where to stay in Koh Tao? Click on the link and I will explain you the best areas on the island and give you some great Koh Tao hotel recommendations.
Use the search engine of 12Go Asia for booking your boat, bus and train tickets online. Heading to the full moon party in Koh Phangan then book your boat ticket online through the following search engine. Mobile tickets, best prices and up to date time schedules.
Best Hiking Trails in Koh Tao
Before I tell you about the best viewpoint Koh Tao has to offer I will first introduce two other hiking trails that are worth checking out.
1. Hike to the abandoned resort in Laem Thain - (1.5 hour, 4 km)
One of the more unique things to do in Koh Tao is to visit the abandoned resort in Laem Thain. Once a fully functioning hotel but due to mudslides some roads got inaccessible. No roads means no motorbikes and therefore already is the route to Laem Thain one of my favorites hikes in Koh Tao. Don't expect any other tourists either, this is a well kept Koh Tao travel tip.
Head North on the Sairee Beach crossing then about 5 minutes after Gym and Fitness turn right and follow the road for about 30 minutes. After a while the road becomes a path and the vegetation becomes thicker. The hike is not too hard, but a great adventure as the last part is a bit adventurous and rocky.
An abandoned resort sounds a bit creepy and yes that is exactly what it is. Especially if you read the news about the Koh Tao Murders! No, I am kidding a little bit! In the link you will read how I never felt unsafe living, partying, drinking, diving and hiking in Koh Tao!
Hiking to the abandoned resort can best be combined with visiting Mao Bay, a secluded bay on the east coast. There are no shops, hotels or any facilities, but if you are looking for beautiful places to visit in Koh Tao then put this one on your list.
2. Hike from Mae Haad to Chalok Bay (2-3 hours, 6km)
This hike is one of my favorite things to do in Koh Tao. The coastal walk all the way from Mae Haad to Chalok Bay will lead you to gorgeous hidden bays and deserted beaches, 7 in total! The beaches you will find along this route: Jansom Bay, Pepe Boulders Beach, Sainuan Beach 1, Sainuan Beach 2, Tao Thong, Saan Joa Beach, Chalok Beach.
If you are looking to go off the beaten path in Koh Tao then go for this hike. Totally away from the tourist trail, not even well known by long-term expats. Along the way there are some viewpoints, hidden beach resorts, bars and restaurants. Truly a unique Koh Tao activity.
My secret Koh Tao travel tip: bring a little day pack and spend the night in one of the basic overwater bungalows. There is nothing to do on this part of the island, but it is the ultimate place to unwind or have a romantic getaway. There are several Koh Tao hotels along this hike. I once stayed in the pretty upscale Bamboo Huts, with the perfect sunsets.
If you are looking for a break, hike a little inland uphill after Tao Thong Villa 2 and you will find Sky Bar. Sometimes it is abandoned, sometimes there is someone to serve you a drink. Another popular Koh Tao viewpoint on this hike is the Chalok Viewpoint with the best views over Chalok Bay.
For more details of hike from Mae Haad to Chalok Bay have a look at #2 on the list in my blog: Best Things to do in Koh Tao.
3. Hike from Sairee Beach to Tanote Bay (2-3 hours - 4km)
This hike will make you cross the island from the west side to the east side and will take about 2 to 3 hours. Start walking uphill at Sairee Beach. The first bit is a paved road and then turns into a path until Koh Tao Two View Restaurant & Bar where you can grab a drink and enjoy the amazing views of the west coast of the island.This is kind of half way into the hike.
Continue east to one of the best Koh Tao viewpoints: Love @ Koh Tao, where you can enjoy endless views of the east coast before you start a steep decent into Tanote Bay on a paved road.
4. Hike from Sairee Beach to Mango Bay
Mango Bay is a secluded bay in the most northeastern tip of the island. On the Sairee crossing head uphill towards Gym & Fitness and keep on continuing straight until the road goes steep uphill towards your left hand side. Follow the signs for Mango Bay Viewpoint, but on the cross road for Mango Bay Viewpoint continue straight, not towards the most popular viewpoint in Koh Tao.
Pass the High Rock Viewpoint Bar, Jims Bar and Butterfly Bar and the road will go steep down towards Mango Bay. There is a little detour (5 minutes) towards Lighthouse Beach, another secluded beach in Koh Tao. There are several Koh Tao accommodation options in both bays. You can actually climb up to the top of the lighthouse.
Best viewpoints in Koh Tao
1. Love @ Koh Tao Viewpoint
Probably the most romantic bar in Thailand with the best name possible: Love @ Koh Tao. In another Koh Tao travel blog I named this spot the number one place to impress your one-night-stand. Jump on a scooter 30 minutes before sunrise and bringing him or her up to the Love @ Koh Tao Viewpoint for an epic sunrise with Koh Phangan in the distance.
If you decide to hike you have to leave early though as it is about 1,5 hour walk from Sairee Beach.
2. Mango Bay Viewpoint
This viewpoint is among the best places to visit in Koh Tao and an all time favorite with travelers. If you are looking to meet cool people then Mango Bay Viewpoint is a great place to go apart from the fantastic views over Sairee Beach.
You will always meet people up here chilling and enjoying the views over the Gulf of Thailand. This is also a beautiful spot to enjoy a sunset, however you will have to descend back towards your Koh Tao hotel. The hike up here from Sairee Beach will take you about 1,5 hours, the way back will only be 45 minutes.
Back in the days you could buy something to smoke up here, but you never know. Bring your own stuff if you want to get really high! If you want to know more about the best places to buy 'stuff' then check my Koh Tao Restaurants & Bars guide.
3. Two View Viewpoint
Reach the summit of the island here at the highest viewpoint in Koh Tao at Two View. You can get here either from Tanote Bay or Sairee Beach. There are signs pointing you in the right direction. It is also not far from Love @ Koh Tao. Two View is the highest point on Koh Tao island. I don’t need to tell you the views up here are fabulous plus this is not a place where you will find many tourists.
4. Chalok Viewpoint
You wont often find this hiking trail in a list of what to do in Koh Tao as it is not that popular. The trail pretty much follows the road to Tao Thong and therefore is not that exciting. But the viewpoint itself has the best views over Chalok Bay with Koh Phangan in the background on a clear day.
5. John Suwan viewpoint Koh Tao
To get to this viewpoint you only need a little climb (15min) from the popular Freedom Beach. You will conquer some stairs in the beginning then pay the 50THB entrance fee and follow your way through the trees till you get to the steep path that leads to the viewpoint. There are lines that will help you getting up when it is slippery.
6. Koh Nang Yuan Viewpoint
The most popular Koh Tao viewpoint actually lays on the little island 10 minutes away from Koh Tao. and therefore still named in this list. Visiting Koh Nang Yuan is among the best things to do in Koh Tao. To get to this famous viewpoint you need to fix a boat taxi from Sairee Beach that brings you to three little offshore islands connected by a sandbar.
Once you arrive on Koh Nang Yuan follow the path along the water at the end of the beach and close to the Koh Nang Yuan Resort and you can climb up to the viewpoint. Bring mosquito repellent or just walk faster than the mosquitos can fly. :)
What to bring when hiking in Koh Tao
Don't trust me as I am living an island life for many years and love to walk on flipflops. I have done all the hiking trails in Koh Tao on flipflops, but it is better to wear some trainers. The trails are fairly easy, it can just get pretty steep sometimes. Whenever it is not paved there is a good trail available, it hardly gets rocky.
My favorite viewpoint in Koh Tao? Impossible to say. The view from the Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint is gorgeous and unique, but normally I don't stay here for too long. Mango Bay Viewpoint is then my favorite, because the hike up there is challenging and once on top the views over Koh Tao are magnificent plus there are hammock to chill and even those nets to lay down in.
Still contemplating where to stay in Koh Tao then click on the link and let my guide help you! What about the Koh Tao safety issues? I lived on the island when the Koh Tao Murders happened! A tragic incident which affected the island badly. Afraid to get scammed when renting a motorbike? Then consider this: renting a motorbike with insurance in Koh Tao!
How to get to Koh Tao
As there is no airport it is not possible to fly to Koh Tao. You can only reach the island by boat and the fastest route is a boat from Chumpon to Koh Tao. From Bangkok to Koh Tao can best be booked with a joint ticket of Lompraya, but there are also other companies that make the trip.
Try the Thailand transportation search engine below. On the 12Go Asia website you can find you every possible way to get from and to Koh Tao, including time tables and prices. Book online and get your e-ticket in just a couple clicks.
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