Having a hard time on deciding where to stay on Koh Tao? Booked your accommodation with your dive school but not sure which location to stay in after your Open Water course? Don't worry, our guide on where to stay on Koh Tao will help you make your decision a lot easier.
Koh Tao has three main areas stretching along the west coast of the island. Mae Haad in the centre, Sairee Village to the north and Chalok Baan Kao Bay also known as Chalok Bay to the south. You will find these locations have their own unique vibe, atmosphere and each offering different things to do on Koh Tao.
If it's hiking on Koh Tao, yoga, sunbathing, partying, or just chilling out in the hammock is what you're after, then you will surely find everything to suit your needs on this little island.
Now, let us guide you through the three villages, helping you make your decision on where to stay on Koh Tao.
Mae Haad - The Centre
Mae Haad is a busy town in the centre of Koh Tao and the first place you will arrive. Known as the port town, Mae Haad is a very busy area where small alleys are filled with souvenir vendors, handmade jewellery stalls, numerous dive shops, guesthouses, hostels, bars, restaurants, and cafes.
What puts us off staying here though is the lack of nice beaches on your doorstep. As you can imagine, being a port town, the water doesn't have that same beautiful turquoise effect like many other beaches on Koh Tao.
We also find the nightlife is lacking compared to the neighbouring Sairee Beach, which is only a 15-minute walk away. Although, you can find some nice chilled bars playing live music.
Besides the many shopping opportunities or strolling through the busy alleyways, there is not much to do in Mae Haad. We would only recommend staying here if you need to be close to the pier. And if you do decide to stay here, we suggest renting a scooter.
Where To Stay In Mae Haad
Budget → 8 home`stel is a new hostel offering big bunk beds, air con, hot showers and is only a 5-minute walk from the pier. Located on the main road it is close to local shops, eateries and ATM`s. Perfect for budget travellers who want to be close to the pier and the centre.
Mid Range → Moov Inn Garden Hostel is centrally located and offers a restaurant, a bar, as well as weekly events. Watch the sunset from the rooftop and enjoy a beer or hang out in the common area playing a few games of pool.
High End → Bro&Sis Place can't get you any closer to the pier. Located right on the beach you can enjoy an ocean view from your room. Featuring an on-site restaurant you won't have to adventure too far looking for food. Travellers can also enjoy the live music played in the bar during the evenings.
Sairee Village - The Most Lively
Sairee Village is by far the most popular and busiest area on Koh Tao. With a variety of cafes, fancy restaurants, cheap eateries, dive shops, accommodation, yoga studios, adventure activities and a gym, it won't be hard to decide on where to stay on Koh Tao. Not to mention, a lively and fantastic nightlife.
Home to the longest beach on the island (Sairee Beach) it offers a range of activities to choose from. Mornings can be spent doing yoga on the beach, snorkelling or renting kayaks to visit the famous neighbouring island, Koh Nang Yuan.
During the day beach bars play chilled music, serve food and cold drinks, while at night the beach comes alive. During the early evening hours, fire performers take over the beach, while the bars pump music out to travellers from all over the world dancing the night away.
Although, Sairee Village is not just all about the beach life and nightlife. Sairee is also a great location to escape the beach for the day to discover challenging hiking trails while visiting some of the best viewpoints on Koh Tao.
Whatever it is you are looking for you will most likely find it here.
Where to stay in Sairee
Budget → Spicy Tao Backpackers is located on the outskirts of Sairee Village, surrounded by a lush green area and high rising palm trees. The dorm rooms are quite basic but the common area is lively with organised events which is a great way to meet new travellers.
Mid Range → Taco Shack is close to eateries and shops and only a 5 minute walk away to Sairee Beach. This is a newly built hostel with a great atmosphere and a rooftop hangout spot. Perfect for connecting with fellow backpackers.
High End → Coral Grand Resort sits right on the beachfront at the quiet end of Sairee Beach. These charming cottages are big clean spacious rooms with a freshwater pool only a stone throw away.
Chalok Bay - The Quiet Escape
Chalok is located in the south of the island and is the most chilled out town to stay on Koh Tao. There is no real hustle n bustle like in Sairee or Mae Haad, and nights can be very quiet here. One of the main attractions in the evenings is the popular High Bar, not just a name ;-). The bar sits on a mountain hillside with an awesome ocean view, perfect for kicking back and watching the sunset.
Your day can be spent strolling to one of our favourite beaches and viewpoints, Freedom Beach and John Suwan Viewpoint. A little further east sits the beautiful Shark Bay, one of the nicest beaches on the island. Here you have an opportunity to swim among blacktip reef sharks around 100m or so offshore.
Chalok Bay itself is a clean white sandy beach and the second biggest beach on the island. The beach is not one of our go-to beaches but with Freedom Beach and Shark Bay nearby, you can't complain.
Close by is an easy hiking trail which will take you past seven less visited beaches. In one of our articles hiking on Koh Tao, we start from Mae Haad to Chalok. The hike itself is not a loop and can be done the other way around from Chalok to Mae Haad.
Chalok is a great quite alternative to Sairee if you are still not sure on where to stay on Koh Tao. Except for the party nightlife, this little town has all you need.
Where to stay in Chalok Bay
Budget → Baan Chalok Hostel is great value for money but a bit of a distance away from Chalok Bay and the main centre. Although you can make use of their bicycle rental, restaurant, and laundry service.
Mid Range → JP Resort is a great location if you want to stay close to the beach and town. Private rooms can be booked with an ocean or a garden view. The beachfront restaurant offers a great variety of dishes which can be enjoyed during sunset.
High-End → Booking with Ko Tao Resort you can expect excellent service and amazing private bungalows. Offering luxury hilltop rooms with an infinity pool overlooking Koh Tao`s dense jungle.
A Little More Isolated Time To Yourself
If you're trying to figure out where to stay on Koh Tao that's a little more isolated, then we suggest staying on Sai Nuan Beach 2. This piece of paradise is located on the west coast between Mae Haad and Chalok Bay. Sai Nuan is a small beach covered in soft white sand and is lined with palm trees. Being a little more difficult to get to, you can expect to find that true isolated island feeling here.
You can get to Sai Naun from the pier by taxi or a taxi boat. We suggest taking a taxi boat dropping you right onto the beach. Do check out both options first to see which one works out cheaper for you. Taxis on Koh Tao are not cheap. So if you're planning on staying at Sai Nuan and visiting the town each day, expect your costs to add up.
There is only one resort at Sain Nuan Beach 2 called Sai Thong Resort. Unfortunately, they don't have an online booking system but you can find photos and contact details on there Facebook Page.
Did you enjoy reading our guide? Did it help you make a decision on where to stay on Koh Tao easier? Let us know in the comments below where you ended up and how you liked it!