It may look like a small island, but finding the best place to stay on Koh Tao is an important decision. Public transport is quite limited, restricting your movements to different areas if you don’t rent a scooter.
And, even with a scooter, there are a lot of steep roads that make driving up and down the mountains not something you want to be doing lots of times each day (especially at night).
The good news is that you’ve got lots of choice with Koh Tao accommodation, and you shouldn’t have any trouble trying to find the right place for you (assuming you’re booking ahead for busier seasons, that is).
So, the big question is: where should you stay on Koh Tao. Each part of the island offers something slightly different, and there are pros and cons to each.
I would recommend choosing your Koh Tao accommodation based on what kind of trip you’re hoping to have. Remember, there are lots of different things to do on Koh Tao.
These are the main areas that I’m going to talk about in this story:
To get a sense of what you’ll find in each of them and the prices for the days you’re thinking of visiting, you can start by using this interactive map of accommodation in Koh Tao.
But to help you find the best place to stay in Koh Tao, I’ll run through the main options and my suggestions at each of them.
Mae Haad Pier
Almost everyone arrives on Koh Tao by ferry and so the first place you’ll see is Mae Haad, the town that has the island’s main pier. It has a good selection of shops, restaurants, a few bars, and some budget accommodation.
It may be tempting to be lazy and just stay where you arrive – but I don’t think this is the best option on the island. Mae Haad doesn’t have as much vibrancy as other areas and can feel a bit like a ghost town in the evenings.
The advantages to staying in Mae Haad is that it is convenient and a lot of the dive shops are based here. So, if you’re going to spend most days meeting at the dive shop and heading out on the boat, you may like the ease of already being here. If you’re not going to use a scooter, it’s also a convenient central spot to get public transport.
As well as the town, there’s the small Mae Haad Beach, and it has some nicer hotels on the water, so you can still have the tropical island experience combined with the convenience.
- White Jail at Koh Tao Hostel: Although this is in an area that used to be a political prison, the rooms are large and comfortable.
- Loft Hostel: It’s right next to the pier and has comfortable beds with privacy curtains in the dorms.
- Infinity Guesthouse: A basic comfortable hotel on one of the town’s main streets with easy access to everything in Mae Haad.
- Nirvana Guesthouse: As a combined guesthouse and hostel, there are private rooms and dorms, but both offer great value right in the middle of town.
- Big Tree Boutique Hotel: In the jungle just above the beach, this relaxing hotel combines beautiful modern touches with a tropical atmosphere.
- Simple Life Cliff View Resort: This large property has two pools and water views, and you get the convenience of being close to town while still feeling like you’re in a resort.
Just north of Mae Haad is Sairee Beach, a long stretch of sand with lots of waterfront hotels, bars, and restaurants. This is the most popular area to stay on Koh Tao and caters to a whole range of different travelling styles.
Even right on the beach, you’ll find affordable budget bungalows, as well as modern luxury hotels. Going a bit further inland, there are plenty of even cheaper options for the backpackers.
A quiet street runs along the coastline, a block back from the water, and there’s a great variety of shops, places to eat, and the main nightlife of the island (along with the beach bars, that is).
For most travellers, Sairee Beach is going to be the best area to stay in Koh Tao. It has plenty to do, beautiful sunsets over the beach, easy access to other parts of the island, and it’s still very close to Mae Haad Pier (you could walk it in about 15 minutes).
- Save Hostel: A really clean hostel with small dorms, this is a great option if you’re looking for something a bit quieter.
- Taco Shack Diving Hostel: Although anyone can stay here, this hostel is particularly good if you’re planning to do a fair bit of diving.
- The Stamp Hotel: Clean and comfortable, without any unnecessary extras, you get great value for money here.
- Mama O Chai: The rooms have seen better days but the location right on the sand makes this a special budget option.
- Koh Tao Beach Club: The Thai-style property has a private beach, a bar on the sand, and a convenient location near lots of restaurants.
- Blue Tao Beach Hotel: Right on the sand, amongst all the action, this modern hotel is close to the top bars and restaurants.
- The Place Luxury Boutique Villas: Private villas up amongst the jungle make this one of the best spots around Sairee Beach for secluded luxury.
Chalok Baan Kao Bay
If Sairee Beach sounds a bit too busy for you, then I would recommend Chalok Baan Kao Bay, which is on the southern coast but less than ten minutes from Mae Haad by car/scooter. It’s one of the best places to stay in Koh Tao if you’re looking for something relaxing but don’t want to be too disconnected from everything.
The beach is about 500 metres long and has hotels and resorts along most of its length. It doesn’t have the beachside bars and restaurants that make Sairee Beach so busy. Instead, it’s more laidback with people eating, drinking, or relaxing on the accommodation’s wooden decks overlooking the water.
Although there are a few modern luxurious resorts here, there are also a good number of affordable options that offer great value for younger travellers who have moved beyond their backpacker days.
- Dearly Koh Tao Hostel: The rooms are really clean and nicely decorated, but the highlight is definitely the large pool.
- Deishaview Jungle Hostel: Just up from the beach, amongst lush greenery, this is a really friendly and relaxing hostel.
- Namhasin House: On the main road into the beach, this is a simple but very affordable guesthouse.
- Fisherman Koh Tao: The bungalows in the tropical garden are wonderful, and the restaurant serves amazing food.
- Ko Tao Resort Paradise Zone: Up on a hill surrounded by jungle, there are great views and a fantastic pool.
- Horizon Luxury Pool Villas: If you really want to treat yourself, this private villa with a pool is a wonderful way to experience the island.
Chalok Baan Kao Bay is the easiest of the beaches to reach in the southern half of the island, but it’s not the only one. There are about half a dozen other beaches and they each offer places to stay.
Again, there’s a range of places for different styles and budget, but generally these beaches are toward the upper end of Koh Tao accommodation. If you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, this could be one of the best places to stay on Koh Tao.
The downside to a lot of these areas is that they’re mostly down the bottom of a steep hill, and it can be a bit of a hassle to ride a scooter in and out of your accommodation all day, as you explore the island.
So these Koh Tao hotels and resorts are more appropriate if you want to lounge around your accommodation during the day – and, if you do take a tour, you can arrange a transfer.
- Coral View Resort: On the sand at Haad Sai Daeng, you get a chilled beach vibe here for a good value price.
- Tree House Bungalows: A wonderful option if you prefer to be away from the beach in the island’s green mountains.
- Ecotao Lodge: Although there’s a natural wooden feel to these bungalows up the hill, everything is modern and very well presented.
- Beach Club by Haadtien: Elegant rooms look out over the water and the stylish pool area at Shark Bay.
- Ko Tao Resort Paradise Zone: While a bit more rustic than your usual luxury resort, it’s the chilled yoga vibes and ecotourism aspect that makes this so popular.
- Cape Shark Villas: These luxurious villas on the coast offer just the right mix of privacy and service – with amazing views.
Looking at the other half of the island, you’ll find there are far fewer places to stay on Koh Tao’s north. This is because the north is much more mountainous and has fewer beaches, so is less developed.
But it’s the relative remoteness that offers the opportunity for some amazing secluded accommodation options on Koh Tao. (When I say remote and secluded, keep in mind that it’s all less than five kilometres from the main pier, though).
In the north of the island, you’ll find some places to stay on Koh Tao that have individual bungalows looking out across the water from up on a hillside, resorts that have their own private access to great snorkelling, and quiet luxury retreats that are perfect for honeymooners or stressed out executives (or is that too much of a stereotype?).
These Koh Tao resorts are a reminder that the island is about more than just divers and backpackers.
- View Rock Resort: Although the latest update was that it still hadn’t reopened after the pandemic, hopefully it comes back because it’s a very affordable bit of remote paradise.
- Priscilla Villa: Another private villa, with views across the water, the two bedrooms make this great for a family or group of friends.
Koh Nang Yuan
The final option I want to mention for where to stay in Koh Tao is Koh Nang Yuan. If you haven’t heard of it before, you will when you get here, because visiting it is one of the best things to do on Koh Tao.
Koh Nang Yuan is a small island just 500 metres off the northwest coast of Koh Tao. It consists of two main peaks connected by a sand bar and is stunning. Getting a photo from the viewpoint at the top of one of the peaks is a highlight.
Most people come for a couple of hours as part of a tour around Koh Tao, but there is also accommodation here.
Although there’s just one company, there are bungalows of different prices, depending on their position and quality. Spending the night here certainly gives you a much more exclusive experience than those who just pop in briefly.
The downside, of course, is that you’re limited to the island’s only restaurant (which isn’t great) and it’s a hassle (and an expense) to go over to the main island to do anything there. This is not the best option for Koh Tao accommodation if you want to explore properly, but it could be a special treat for a night!
Luckily, as you can see, there are plenty of other amazing places to stay on Koh Tao, so you won’t have trouble finding anything – just make sure you book in advance!