Finding the cheapest hotel rates on Thai beaches?
It's easy. Book directly with the hotel. With no commissions, this saves the hotel money. Some hotels then pass savings back to the guest - but not all. We thus identify all Thai beachfront hotels that GUARANTEE, in writing, discounts for direct bookings. If Koh Tao has no Guarantee hotels yet (it will have in future), go to the Thailand map page for the full list. We put you in direct contact with the hotel, and take no commission.
Note that we also sell DISCOUNT ROOM VOUCHERS, the very cheapest rooms available on Thai beaches. Follow the links, or contact Jade for advice about those: jadebeachfront@gmail.com

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See more detailed info and photos of Koh Tao in the many travel guide pages about the island

Koh Tao; a rugged little granite island in the Gulf of Thailand; many small beaches

Koh Tao is a small island, but one of Thailand's more important beach destinations in which we have mapped about 40 beachfront hotels and accommodations on 11 beaches, big and small. Its major fame is as a diving resort and a budget, relaxed gathering point for younger people from around the globe who come to chill out far from the busier, mainstream tourist areas.
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The island was completely uninhabited before tourism arrived in the late 1980s, so there are no local villages and what little infrastructure we see now was built to service beach resorts and their visitors. There are some rickety jetties at Mae Haad on the west coast, a single sealed road from the middle of the island to the south coast, and rough tracks branching off that to other beaches. It's all rather basic.
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Koh Tao has no all-weather anchorage for boats, and is thus very susceptible to monsoon and other stormy winds and waves. Potential visitors should understand that this island's main monsoon comes from the Northeast, hitting the island hardest in November-January. See our page on the weather over the Gulf of Thailand islands.
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The island's name translates as Turtle Island, named due to the shape of both its outline and its even mountain shape that resembles the rounded carapace of a turtle from the distance. It is a granite island, with huge boulders around all shores weathered into beautifully rounded sculptures in many forms. It is these granite boulders that make interesting underwater topography for both snorkelling and diving, the only organized activities on Koh Tao.
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Granite boulders and the lush foliage surrounding them also make interesting locations for accommodations and restaurants. Many resorts have built right in among them, some in very creative ways. Our photos show each beach here, every beachfront resort on the island, and how many have fitted into the local topography. Perhaps the most interesting example of rooms among boulders is seen in - Charm Churee Villa on Jansom Bay.
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Almost the only flat land on the island is found behind the large bay on the west coast, allowing the development of two small tourist villages at Mae Haad and Sairee beaches. - Mae Haad is the transport hub with a small commercial and accommodation area adjacent. - Sairee village, at the northern end of the same bay, has more flat land behind the beach and its village is becoming the biggest and most active on the island. Both villages have shops, convenience stores, restaurants, travel agents, banks, ATMs, pharmacies, bike rentals etc.
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There is a sealed road linking Sairee to the bottom end of the island where we find a concentration of diving resorts on - Chalok Ban Kao Beach. This has a rather deep bay where the dive boats can shelter.
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All other beaches are rather difficult to access. Small, rough tracks bump their way over rocky ground and steep slopes. Beach on the East coast have especially rough access tracks. Most resorts there pick up guests from Mae Haad jetties in 4-wheel drive pick-ups, bringing them over the mountain with rough rides. Motorcycles can be rented in both villages – cheaply and without a licence – but only experienced riders should attempt the sometimes dangerous tracks to the east coast beaches.
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This island, like all other beach destination within the Gulf of Thailand, has the unusual two tides every 24 hours, rather than the standard four. It means that both low and high tides can last all through the day, making a significant difference to one's holiday experience. For more information on this unusual phenomena see Why the Gulf of Thailand has such unusual tides.

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by John Everingham