Things are changing! Where the island has always been a divers paradise, more and more travelers make the trip to Koh Tao just to enjoy their Thailand holiday and indulge on island vibes. Diving still is big business and the main thing to do in Koh Tao and pre pandemic there were almost 100 dive schools in Koh Tao.
An increasing amount of people island hopping in Thailand come to experience the laid-back vibe, to snorkel in the stunning remote bays, drive a scooter around and Koh Tao, party on the beach for sunset, experience the amazing hiking trails in Koh Tao or just chill out and watch incredible sunsets from Sairee Beach.
But what are the best places to stay in Koh Tao and where on the island should you book your hotel or hostel and what about private villas and Airbnb's? You can find it all here in this complete guide about where to stay in Koh Tao, updated in March 2023!
With all these travelers coming in, the island has seen big developments over the years before the pandemic. Many people have invested in places to stay in Koh Tao and as a traveler you are spoiled for choice with uncountable hotels, hostel, Bed & Breakfasts, boutique hotels, private villas apartments and more.
Traveling Thailand on a budget and planning to go scuba diving? Ask your dive school as there is a big chance you get FREE (budget) accommodation when visiting Koh Tao! Most dive schools offer free or hugely discounted Koh Tao accommodation when you sign up for a course with them. One of my secret travel tips. See all of them in my article: 65 Things To Know When Visiting Thailand.
If you don’t have any plans to see the underwater world and just want to relax and see some of the tourist spots in Koh Tao then there are several areas where you could book your stay. In this blog I will guide you through it and name all the areas to stay and give you the best places to stay.
Related: 15 Best Things To Do in Koh Tao in 2023!
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If you want to stay close to the pier then opt for one of the many guesthouses and hostels in this area. It is like the city center of the island. Obviously it’s the busiest and definitely not the best place to stay in Koh Tao. During the day it is very lively and there are many cafés and restaurants, but this is all because the busy port where the tourist boats come and go.
In the evening there is nothing to do in Mae Haad. Also Mae Haad lacks a nice beach as well. You could go for a little 10 minutes walk to get to Sairee Beach or down South the remote and private Jansom Bay.
Mae Haad accommodation options:
Most of the budget and mid range accommodations did NOT survive the Corona pandemic and shut down. There are still some open, but I have not been back since.
Luxury*: Sensi Paradise Beach Resort, Coral View Apartment.
* There are not really luxury hotels in Mae Haad apart from these the above. Sensi Paradise Beach Resort is a nice place to stay, but if you are looking for luxury hotels in Koh Tao then Mae Haad is may be not the best place to stay in Koh Tao.
Sairee Beach is the most popular area and the place where most travellers hang out, the perfect neighborhood to meet fellow backpackers and to me the best area to stay in Koh Tao. The 7eleven crossing in Sairee Beach is the central point around which everything is located. The two narrow streets leading towards the beach are the main tourist drags with plenty options to find delicious Thai food and excellent restaurants like Barracuda and Portobello bistro. Here you will also find a good sushi restaurant named Oishi Kaiso and Le Petite Palace is a lovely French place serving excellent wines and food. Read all about this in my blog about the best restaurants In Koh tao and best bars of course! ;) All of this and many more places to eat, drink and party you can find within 100m from the 7eleven crossing. Evenings gets very lively and roaming around here will for sure be among your favorite things to do in Koh Tao.
Budget Accommodation in Sairee Beach
Accommodation options are obviously plenty and hard to choose from in this area. A good place for the budget traveller is Good Dream Hostel. A friend of mine lately stayed here and did not speak a bad word about it. They renovated in 2017 and opened up in a new building. It is a 2-minutes walk to the 7eleven crossing and a 2-minutes walk to the beach as well. Good Dream Hostel gets a 8.1 review score out of almost 200 reviews. That is pretty good for Koh Tao. Click on the link to find a bed for $8 per night. To me this is one of the best places to stay in Koh Tao for budget travelers. Great location yet quiet as it is two streets away from the hustle and bustle.
A place more relaxed and green is Spicytao Backpackers. It is a 4-minutes walk to the 7-eleven crossing so still pretty central, but located in a lush green area with plenty hammocks to chill out in and between the palm trees. According to many budget travelers the best place to stay in Koh Tao, but I never stayed here myself. It is pretty basic, but surely one of the cheapest. Spicytao has a 8.0 reviews score out of 10 reviews. You can sleep here for $7 and breakfast is included.
One of the best options for backpackers traveling to Koh Tao is Savage. A new addition to the Koh Tao accommodations right in the heart of Sairee Beach. Sleep here in a dorm for $15 per night. Pretty pricey for Thailand, but a fabulous location and a completely new hostel as of end 2018. Savage has 90 reviews and is rated with an 8.6.
It is hard to tell you where to stay in Koh Tao if you are looking for cheap beach bungalows. There are a couple along Sairee Beach but they are from small local guesthouses, which is more or less all based on walk-in. The more north you walk, the more options you will find. I heard that they start from 800THB per night but I never rented one.
Are you willing to get away from the crowds? Then head to Chalok Bay in the South where you will find great places to stay in Koh Tao. Enjoy its amazingly relaxed vibe and beautiful bay. Don’t expect the bustling vibe like in Sairee Beach, at nighttime it can get very quiet here. A couple cool sights are within walking distance. The fabulous John–Suwan viewpoint and Chalok Viewpoint are only a little hike from the bay.
Two stunning beaches and bays are just around the corner as well: Freedom Beach and Shark Bay. In 2009 I stayed in Chalok Bay and I loved the serenity at night, some chill bars with hammocks are around and you will find peace in places like High Bar and Natural High! Are you looking for an island life feeling away from the crowds then ‘where to stay in Koh Tao?’ has just been answered! Ever heard of the Chalok viewpoint Koh Tao from where you can see Koh Phangan?
A remote bay on the east side of the island. Not much going on here as there is only one road leading up to a small beach with some high palmtrees. Very gorgeous bay stay relax and watch the sunrise from your place. Obviously besides snorkeling and chilling in your hammock there is not much going on. There are a couple places that serve food, but I bet one of the 4 places to stay in Tanote Bay also serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
IF you are into hiking then a short steep hike will get you to the Love @ Koh Tao Viewpoint. Don't miss this place it is one of the best viewpoints in Koh Tao.
In Shark Bay is where you will find a great mix of accommodation in Koh Tao: luxury hotels and resorts, very budget friendly villas, cheap accommodation and even some gorgeous private villas. Shark Bay has a pretty wide and long beach and isone of the bigger bays in Koh Tao. Although it is a great place to stay, I never stayed overnight myself on this side of the island.
Shark Bay is facing southeast and overlooking Shark Point, a rock formation sticking out from the bottom of the ocean. Shark Bay is well known for snorkeling with HARMLESS baby sharks. Next time I travel to Koh Tao I promised myself to stay here.
Mango Bay - Ao Muong
One of the best place to visit in Koh Tao is the Mango Viewpoint. But when you decide to stay in the most Northern tip of the island and you are watching the sunset from the Mango Bay Viewpoint it still is a long way down to Mango Bay, and that is not easy in the dark. Mango Bay is one of the most remote bays in Koh Tao. That means no tourists, off the beaten path and basic facilities. When you are lucky you receive a phone signal and in the evening there is electricity.
However Mango Bay is a very relaxed place to stay in Koh Tao when you are looking for quietness. During the day there will surely be a couple tourists visiting this gorgeous bay and clear waters. It is good snorkeling in Mango Bay and actually very few times you will see a dive boat coming for a dive. It is not easy to get to Mango Bay, so when booking your accommodation I would arrange a pick-up from the pier.
Accommodation in Mango Bay is very limited and the apart from some very basic huts from locals there are only two proper places to stay. Mango Bay Boutique Resort is definitely the nicest accommodation here, but also the most expensive. Its private semi-luxury huts are built on the rocks with endless ocean views. The cheaper option is a room in the Ao Muang Beach Resort.
Nearby is the another secluded bay: Lighthouse Beach. You can get there from Mango Bay in a short 10 minute hike.There is only one hotel: The Lighthouse, basic private huts with ocean views. Walk ins only.
Staying in one of the remote bays
Are you the adventurous type of travelers or may be the more hippie type of traveler? Then I found the best place to stay in Koh Tao for you. Consider one of the bungalows off the beaten path in Koh Tao in one of the many remote and fantastic bays like Tanote Bay, Aow Leuk, Mango Bay, Hin Wong Bay or Sai Nuan Beach. Here they offer stunning ocean side bungalows for the grab, definitely one of the more unique places to stay in Koh Tao.
Value for money is amazing, but as soon as the sun sets there is nothing but darkness. Perfect if you want to listen to the ocean in a hammock on your balcony and simply enjoy the silence. The roads leading to these places can be rough. Best way to get to these places with your luggage is to rent a taxi boat! Are you into island hopping? Check out all my island hopping Thailand tips!
Luxury hotels in Koh Tao
Prepared to splurge for a romantic night? Are you willing to surprise your lover with the best place to stay in Koh Tao and looking for a romantic place then you are in the right place! TripAdvisor rated ‘The Place Luxury Boutique Pool Villas’ as the world’s most romantic hotel in 2015.
Spacious luxurious villas that come with all the amenities you can think of: a private infinity pool on your balcony, total privacy, endless jungle and ocean views and a garden bathroom. Expect to pay for what you get! I stayed here 3 nights and had the time of my life. I also stayed at some luxury Koh Tao hotels away from the hustle and bustle, check for example my Bamboo Huts Koh Tao review.
More examples of luxury places to stay in Koh Tao are:
Luxury: Viking House Villa, Over The Moon KT.
Mid-range: Thalassa, Koh Tao Seaview Resort.
Budget: Gecko Republic Jungle Hostel, BP Hostel.