Asia Thailand 23 Best Things to Do on Koh Tao, Thailand

23 Best Things to Do on Koh Tao, Thailand

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Koh Tao is one of the most beautiful islands in the Gulf of Thailand and a fantastic spot to get your beginner’s diving license. This tiny paradise is full of incredible things to do and see. Besides snorkeling and scuba diving, you can enjoy incredible viewpoints, sandy white beaches, and great party scenes – not to mention incredibly friendly locals! 

Whether you plan to stay a few days or a few weeks, you’ll want to know all the best things to do on Koh Tao to make the most of your vacation. Start scrolling to plan your ultimate getaway!

Scuba Diver, Tropical Fish and Coral Reef
Rich Carey / shutterstock.com

Get Your Diving Certification

Many tourists visit Koh Tao for their diving certification, specifically because of its excellent environment. Koh Tao has calm, warm, and clear blue waters all year round, offering the perfect conditions for beginners. The island is home to over 25 dive sites, and divers often get to swim with whale sharks, barracuda, turtles, and other incredible sea creatures. 

If you’re interested in getting your open-water dive certification on Koh Tao, make sure to plan enough days on the island. An open-water dive course usually takes three or four days to complete. Alternatively, if you’re not sure you’ll like diving, you can book a Try Scuba Dive package, which doesn’t give you any certification but is an excellent introduction to the sport. You should also know that you cannot fly within 24 hours of your last dive (in order to avoid the risk of decompression sickness), so plan your diving days according to your travel itinerary. 

You may wonder what the best dive school on Koh Tao is, but that’s an impossible question to answer, seeing as there are over 60 dive shops and resorts on the island. Like any outdoor activity, diving does have a risk factor, so it’s important to learn with a high-standard dive shop so that you’ll gain all the skills you need to dive safely. Check out our guide to scuba diving on Koh Tao to learn how to find the right dive school for you. 

girl in snorkeling mask dive underwater with fishes
Tropical studio / shutterstock.com

Go on a Snorkel Excursion

Another excellent way to see the beautiful waters and wildlife of Koh Tao is with this full-day adventure snorkeling trip. You’ll go out on a vintage wooden boat for a day of cruising, snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. 

The boat will venture out to Koh Nang Yuan, a stunning island just a few hundred meters off the coast of Koh Tao. You’ll get an hour to snorkel and explore before hopping back on board for a buffet lunch. After lunch, the boat makes its way to the picturesque Mango Bay, one of the best snorkeling and diving areas on Koh Tao. 

The trip includes five snorkeling stops around the island, with the option to hang out on the beaches nearby as well. After a day in the water, you can enjoy a complimentary barbecue dinner. 

Spectacular view to a paradise bay in Koh Tao, Thailand
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Watch the Sunset From a Viewpoint Bar

While Koh Tao is a relatively small island, it has several incredible viewpoint bars that offer the perfect spot to unwind after a day. 

The sunset from a viewpoint bar is an absolute must-see on Koh Tao. One of the most popular is Secret Bar, which overlooks 180 degrees of the island’s southern tip. It has several tables and beanbag chairs where you can relax with a cocktail, listen to music, and soak up the golden hour. Secret Bar is about a 15-minute scooter drive from Sairee Beach, but the road gets quite steep. If you aren’t fully confident in your scooter skills, don’t make the drive with a back passenger. 

Another excellent observation deck and bar is Exotic Hive. This viewpoint bar is in the center of the island, offering incredible views of Sairee Beach, the bay, and the sunset. The bar even has live music around sunset sometimes, letting you enjoy a serenade with your cold beer.

In case you don’t have a motor scooter or don’t want to pay for a taxi to these viewpoints, you can also watch the sunset from one of the island’s first rooftop bars, Barracuda Restaurant and Bar on Sairee Beach. Another great rooftop bar to head to at golden hours is Serve Chilled Roof Garden in Mae Haad. The bar even boasts a telescope for those who wish to explore the night sky with a snack and drink!

K View Panorama Koh Tao, Thailand
Photo: Breanna Farrell

See Exotic Birds and Turtles at K View Panorama Koh Tao

Not far from Mango Bay sits another great viewpoint and little zoo, K View Panorama Koh Tao! Scootering to the viewpoint is relatively easy and this is a great option for families with little ones. Once you arrive, you’ll first have to walk through the café where you will be pointed in the direction of the top of the viewpoint, which is a five-minute walk away. You’ll pass a mini zoo of peacocks, birds, chickens, and even turtles, which you can play with and handle so long as you ask permission first. Once at the top of the viewpoint, you’ll be hard-pressed not to take a hundred photos and videos as the area overlooks Ao Hin Wong Beach, Sairee, and the southern part of the island. The owners do not charge to go to the viewpoint, see the animals, or park your scooter, so please consider buying a drink or making a donation to support the business! 

Fire Show on the beach in Koh Tao, Thailand
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Join a Jungle or Beach Party

There’s always a party to find on Koh Tao, and you’ll see several signs across the island advertising the parties happening that week. 

Two of the most popular weekly parties are the Secret Party at Karma Bar and the Jungle Party by Koh Tao Escobar. Both parties sell tickets in advance online and at the entrance. You can expect to see fire shows, live DJs, and plenty of dancing and balloons! Free shuttles are often available as well.

Aerial view of Sairee Beach or Sai Ri Beach in koh Tao, Thailand
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Hang Out on Sairee Beach

Sairee Beach is the main hub of the island, offering plenty of beach bars, shops, and activities. You can play a game of volleyball at the beach, snap a picture on one of the swings, go for a dip in the water, or rent a paddleboard or kayak. Paddleboarding or kayaking is especially nice at sunset! For a truly relaxing sunset experience, get a massage at one of the covered decks overlooking the beach. 

At night, Sairee comes alive with bustling bars and clubs. If you want to catch a rugby or football match, head over to Choppers Sports Bar, where you’ll find plenty of live sports games and a pool table. It also hosts a pub crawl. One of the more popular bars for a night out is Fishbowl Beach Bar. This lovely hotspot is known for its plethora of beer pong tables and a bumping dance floor right on the beach!

Other cool places in Sairee to checkout include the Gaming Lounge, where you can play Playstation games or use the virtual reality mask while snacking on popcorn, Lotus Bar, where you’ll find nightly fire shows and plenty of bodypaint, and AC Bar Beach Club, which boasts a pool, beer pong tables, and rocking parties.

Moulin Rose Phuket Cabaret Show
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Catch a Show at Queen’s Cabaret

One thing you’ll hear tourists rave about on the island is the show at Queen’s Cabaret on Sairee Beach. This is easily one of the best tourist attractions on Koh Tao!

If you haven’t heard of the cabaret show, you might know it by another name – “the ladyboy show.” The transgender dancers at Queen’s Cabaret put on the show of a lifetime at 10 p.m. every night, dancing along to familiar hits and bending into positions you may have thought impossible! This is a great way to spend an evening and also affordable, as a ticket costs only 200 baht (about $5.50) and includes one drink. 

The show is very popular, especially on weekends when the local pub crawl stops in, so make sure to get there before the doors open at 9 p.m.!

Join the Pub Crawl From Choppers

If you’re wondering what to do on Koh Tao if you only have a few days, then sign yourself and your crew up for the Pub Crawl! The Pub Crawl starts at Choppers Sports Bar every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and tickets can be purchased the same day outside the bar starting at 6 p.m. for 580 Baht (as of 2024). Once you’ve got your ticket, you’ve got an hour until the pub crawl starts, so your best move is to stay at the bar and get a hardy meal into you; especially since pub crawlers get 50% off menu items from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m! You’ll also be given a free bucket ticket for Choppers and a free Pub Crawl T-shirt. The T-shirt is used as a form of a ticket, so don’t lose it! 

The night begins at Choppers with upwards of 200 other crawlers who will make their way around 7:15 p.m. to the Queen’s Cabaret to watch the dazzling drag show. This is a special condensed show specifically put on for the pub crawl, so it’s high energy and tons of fun! Don’t be afraid to volunteer or join in the games, too, as you can win some awesome prizes like food vouchers or a one-hour paddleboard rental. After Queen’s Cabaret, the crawl usually then heads to AC Bar Beach Club and Lotus Bar for fire shows, beer pong, dancing, and some fun games to get to know fellow travelers. Loads of free shots are handed out throughout the night, as well as a discount card to use around the island afterward! 

View point of Nang Yuan island of Koh Tao island Thailand
Maxim Tupikov / shutterstock.com

Take a Day Trip to Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Nag Yuan is a lush, beautiful island and easily one of the best Koh Tao attractions. The island comprises three islets connected by a sandbar, offering turquoise waters, fantastic snorkeling, and jaw-dropping views of Koh Tao. 

You’ll need to take a 20-minute water taxi ride from Koh Tao to Koh Nang Yuan, and you can book tickets from any local tour agency. One of the most popular things to do is to climb the 200 or so steps to the Koh Nang Yuan Viewpoint, which offers incredible panoramic views (but can get quite crowded during the day!). The hike takes about 10-20 minutes.

Abandoned Resort on Koh Tao, Thailand
Photo: Breanna Farrell

Explore Abandoned Resorts

For an island that is rapidly growing as much as Koh Tao, there are actually quite a few abandoned buildings. Now, when we say abandoned, many of the resorts/buildings still have owners and you never know the circumstances behind their abandonment, so it’s important when visiting these spaces that you treat them with respect and not as your own personal rage room! However, landowners in Thailand are more relaxed and will allow people on their private property so long as they don’t leave garbage or cause damage; as is the case with the ‘abandoned’ resort at Lang Khai Bay. You are permitted to use their beach and paths so long as you don’t cause damage or wander off into construction areas. 

The coolest area to explore a bunch of abandoned bungalows is between Sai Thong Beach and Jansom Bay, but you will have to hike to this area. You can most easily access the path by first scootering or taking a taxi to Sai Nuan Beach. Behind Banana Rock Bar there is a path that leads to Sai Thong Beach and a resort area where the IBMF beach parties are held, which is roughly a 10-minute walk. If you’re standing on Sai Thong Beach, you’ll notice a rock staircase on the north end. Take the stairs and follow the cement path for another 15-20 minutes and then you’ll arrive at the abandoned huts overhanging a cliff over the ocean! This is an incredible space to watch the sunset and there are several cement huts with pools, beds, desks, chairs, and much more just seemingly left to rot. Again, we really want to stress not to leave trash, break windows, or do any damage to the already falling structures! 

John Suwan Viewpoint in Koh Tao, Thailand
© anathomy (null) | Dreamstime.com

Climb to the John Suwan Viewpoint

The stunning John Suwan Viewpoint offers incredible views of Shark Bay, Freedom Beach, and Koh Phangan. The viewpoint is on the south end of the island and costs 50 baht to enter. The entrance fee includes access to the white sands and crystal-blue waters of Freedom Beach, along with parking. 

It takes roughly 15-20 minutes to walk from the entrance to the top of the viewpoint. The path is filled with gravel, so we recommend wearing sturdy shoes instead of flip-flops. Make sure your phone is charged, as you’ll want to get lots of pictures from the top! 

Join a Jam Session at Baby Rasta

Baby Rasta, one of the island’s best-hidden gems, makes for a unique and fun thing to do on Koh Tao. Just a short walk from Mae Haad Pier, this treehouse-style bar boasts live music, a pool table, and a large stage with guitars, bongos, and drums.

On certain nights of the week, the stage becomes an open jam platform, inviting visitors to join in on the music. Jump up to the mic and sing a song, or grab a bongo and bang along to the music! Even if you aren’t musically inclined, Baby Rasta is an amazing hangout spot, offering plenty of hidden nooks, beanbag chairs, and hammocks throughout its two floors. 

Play Super Mario Bros. at Non-Coffee Cafe

Non-Coffee Cafe is another fantastic hidden gem on Koh Tao, about a 10-minute ride from Mae Haad Pier. This open bar offers cheap drinks, great food, and tons of activities. You can go for a dip in the on-site pool, play a round of pool, or choose a board game and settle into one of the private cavelike sitting areas. The bar also features a large projector screen, letting you watch a movie or play Super Mario Bros. on the gaming console. 

Wat Koh Tao in Thailand
Photo: Breanna Farrell

Visit Wat Koh Tao

Wat Koh Charoen Santi Dhamma (better known as Wat Koh Tao) is a beautiful Buddhist temple and a must-see for anybody sightseeing in Koh Tao. The newly built temple is small but boasts incredible golden details and friendly locals who are happy to chat. Located a short walk away from Mae Haad Pier, the temple is a great spot to observe Buddhist culture and learn more about how religion is practiced on the island. 

Tanote Bay in Koh Tao, Thailand.
© Igor_Tichonow | Dreamstime.com

Go Cliff Jumping at Tanote Bay

If you’re wondering what to do on Koh Tao for the adventure-seekers in your group, look no further than Tanote Bay. It boasts one of the best beaches on the island and is far less crowded than the likes of Sairee. It’s also home to the island’s only cliff-jumping spot. 

To go cliff jumping once you reach Tanote Bay, you’ll have to swim about 20 meters in shallow waters to the rock formation where the jumping area is, and then you’ll have to climb to the top using a secure rope. The jump is only about 5 meters, but it’s still one of the most thrilling activities on Koh Tao! 

Cool Down With an Ice Bath at Blacktip Cafe

If you’ve ever wanted to try an ice bath, Blacktip Cafe is the place to go. This communal workspace and restaurant is tucked away between Aow Luek and Mae Haad Pier. You can stop in for a bite to eat or pay to use the air-conditioned coworking space. But the best part of this cafe is the ice bath.

Unlike other ice baths you may see in town, Blacktip’s is in the jungle, away from the cafe and crowds. This way, if you only last 10 seconds in the bath, no one will judge you! There’s also an open shaded area where you can bring a yoga mat and meditate after your bath. 

View of Sairee village from West Coast Viewpoint on Koh Tao, Thailand
© Vika12345 | Dreamstime.com

Hike to West Coast Viewpoint or Tanote Peak

If you want to get out into the jungle and snap some seriously amazing pictures, consider taking the short hike to West Coast Viewpoint or Tanote Peak.

Start your journey by making your way to Koh Tao Two View Bar & Restaurant. You’ll have to pay an entry fee (100 baht) here, but the ticket includes a free drink at the bar. You can hike to either of the two vista points from this restaurant. Both are fantastic spots to watch the sunset and take around 20 minutes to reach. Make sure to bring good walking shoes, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent!

Flying Trapeze Adventures Koh Tao, Thailand
Photo: Breanna Farrell

Take Circus Lessons at Flying Trapeze Adventures Koh Tao

One of the most unique things to do on Koh Tao is to unleash your inner clown and join the circus! Okay, we don’t mean literally, but kind of! Flying Trapeze Adventures Koh Tao is run by two incredibly energetic and encouraging ‘Frequent Flyers’ with decades of experience behind them. Classes are open to anyone aged six and above, and you’ll even get to hang upside down and get a chance to be caught by a catcher in your first class! Trapeze isn’t the only thing taught here, though. Aerial classes are also available for those who want to try rope, hula hoop, or silks.

If you are lucky enough to be visiting Koh Tao during one of Flying Trapeze’s public shows, then make sure to get a ticket. The energy is fantastic and the talent behind these performers is admirable! 

Sai Nuan beach in Koh Tao, Thailand
© Sergii Figurnyi | Dreamstime.com

Spend a Day at a Beach

There are several fantastic beaches on Koh Tao, but the best one depends on what you want to do. If you want a lively beach with plenty of bars and people, spend a day hanging out on Sairee Beach. Sairee Beach is also one of the only places where you can play beach volleyball on the island. Every day at around 5 p.m., Fizz’s sets up their volleyball net on the beach and has an open play for tourists to join. Another great beach activity at Sairee is to do a sunset paddleboard adventure by renting a board and heading out to explore!

If you’re looking for a good snorkeling spot, hang around Freedom Beach, Aow Leuk, or Hin Wong Bay. (Most beaches on the island charge a fee, which helps keep them clean.)

Play Mini Golf or Giant Billiards at Koh Tao Leisure Park 

Looking for some wholesome fun on Koh Tao? Then head over to Koh Tao Leisure Park for an afternoon or evening! Located a short walk from Mae Haad Pier, this Koh Tao attraction has all the family fun activities and was actually once a coconut plantation. Visitors can head to the 24-seat cinema and perch up on one of the sofa couches for a movie, play billiards, try the popular French game Pétanque, or get competitive with a game of giant foot pool! The main attraction is definitely the 18-hole mini putt course, which features overhead lighting for those who prefer to play in the cooler evenings. To make things even more interesting, you could play a round of “Goofy Golf”, a fun twist on mini golf where players have to spin a wheel and complete the challenge while taking their shot! Koh Tao Leisure Park also offers an on-site restaurant and bar where travelers can chill out with a pint or cocktail and parents can unwind while letting their little ones play on the playground. 

Muay Thai fighters compete in a Thai kickboxing match at MBK Fight Night in Bangkok, Thailand.
© 1000words | Dreamstime.com

Watch a Muay Thai Match or Try Muay Thai

A couple of times a month, visitors can watch a Muay Thai fight hosted by the island’s training gyms, and boy are these ever entertaining! Fighters who have come here to train from around the world and from the mainland put on several fights in the night, treating visitors to a taste of the famous Thai fighting style. Keep your eye out on the island for posters advertising the next fight and take note of the gym that is hosting it as you can pre-purchase tickets in advance for a fraction of the door ticket prices. 

Tourists who find themselves impressed by the fights might want to try a Muay Thai class themselves. We recommend checking out Monsoon Gym, as they have been established on the island for over a decade and offer a variety of classes like boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, and HIIT boot camps. Monsoon Gym is also Southeast Asia’s only 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu affiliate. 

Enjoy a 10-Course Thai Meal at the Gallery

The Gallery offers a dining experience like no other on the island, and if you’re lucky enough to get a sitting on one of their open days (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), then you’re in for a real treat. This is easily the island’s most unique and intimate dining experience as it’s run with a “Trust the Chef” mentality, meaning you’ll be putting your taste buds in the hands of one of Thailand’s most amazing culinary chefs. Allergies and dietary requirements are considered in the meal, but there isn’t an a-la-carte menu. Diners will start their culinary journey with sunset at the on-site bar around 6 p.m., and at 7 p.m., the chef will call for dinner to begin. Around 10 traditional Thai courses will be prepared specially for the group and each course is introduced with a story. An in-house DJ also plays beats in the background to help bring the whole ambiance together and the dinners usually last around three hours, ending at about 10 p.m. 

We highly recommend booking this well in advance as slots for the dinner fill up quickly. Those who don’t get a reservation will be put on the waiting list as a substitute for those who do not make the 6:15 p.m. check-in time. 

Back view of young people group practicing yoga with instructor
© Denis Moskvinov | Dreamstime.com

Join Yoga, Art Classes, Community Dinners & More at Blue Chitta

Those looking to embrace the island community and possibly learn a new skill/hobby should head over to Blue Chitta. This wellness center and yoga studio always has something cool going on, from pottery and sound healing workshops to morning yoga, ice baths, and lap dance classes! Visitors can also sign up for one of their vegetarian/vegan community dinners and mingle with like-minded travelers, or get intimate with their partner at a Thai massage class. The possibilities are endless at Blue Chitta! The best way to stay up to date with what’s going on here is by visiting Blue Chitta’s Facebook page. They are up to date with posting their monthly workshop schedule along with upcoming specialty classes and prices.

There you have them – the best places to visit on Koh Tao! Just remember to carry sunscreen and bug spray at all times, as those pesky bugs get quite bad around sunset. We hope you enjoy your time on this little slice of paradise! And if you’re wondering where to stay, be sure to check out our list of the best hostels in Koh Tao for great accommodations.

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