Our series of posts for “Where to go for this summer vacation” continues with the spectacular beaches and islands of Thailand. Our schedule for this time is very satisfactory, with three to four days of scuba diving, sunbathing, eating seafood, and exploring the two super beautiful islands of Thailand namely Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan. To atone for our mistake of not introducing these two islands in the post “The most worth going beaches in Southeast Asia,” we have decided to make a detailed itinerary of the islands in this post. Continue reading to find out more details.
So, how many days in Koh Tao is enough? I think 5 days is okay. In this article we will introduce our field trip to one of the most beautiful island of Thai Lan, Koh Tao and near by island Koh Nang Yuan. Now, let’s check out our suggested Koh Tao itinerary 5 days on how to spend 5 days in Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan perfectly as follows!
About Koh Tao, Thailand
Koh Tao is an island located on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand. In the Thai language, Koh Tao means Turtle Island because many sea turtles are living here. With turquoise water through which you can clearly see the bottom, Koh Tao’s special activity is scuba diving. There are many stunning beaches around the island and the most popular beach is Sairee Beach, which is not far from the ferry terminal. In addition, there are many other beaches and fun activities that you can look at in this photo to imagine but it’s hard to put it into words.
How to get to Koh Tao, Thailand
From Vietnam, there is no direct flight to the islands in Thailand but you have to transit through Bangkok and then take a ferry to the island. So the steps are as follows:
Flying from Vietnam to Bangkok
That time we flew at night, so we arrived there at 10 pm. Also, because of that, the airport was deserted and it was relaxing to go through. We didn’t wait for a long time for the customs check. Oh! A small tip for you is to remember to always have a pen handy to fill in the entry information. Don’t be like us, we waited in line to borrow a pen for half an hour and almost busted into tears.
From the airport to the city
- Take a taxi: If you arrive at DMK (Don Muang Airport), go to gate 7 or 8 to wait in line for a taxi. The taxi at this counter runs according to the meter, so rest assured you don’t have to bargain like those outside the airport. However, there is a long queue there, we waited for an hour to take our turn.
- Take Grab: Another option is also quite ideal for those who are familiar with the technology. Booking Grab is affordable and you know the price before hopping on the car, so you will have peace of mind. Remember to purchase a 4G sim to book and contact the Grab driver. Book at KKday for home delivery. Link for 4G sim here.
- Take the shuttle bus: An option for a large group of people who are a bit lazy or especially if you get off the plane late. Taking the shuttle will be a lot less tiring as there’s no need to wait at all. Book a shuttle bus before going to Thailand. Upon landing and getting the custom check, you can walk out of the lobby and see someone holding a nameplate to pick you up right at the airport. Super fast and convenient. Shuttle bus picks up are available at both DMK and BKK Airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport). Link to book the shuttle bus here.
From Bangkok to Koh Tao
From downtown, there are many bus stations to Koh Tao. But we chose the bus station in Khao San, partly because we had a late flight and when we got downtown, we didn’t want to rent a hotel just to sleep for two or three hours and wake up. You can explore Khao San overnight and take a nap on the way to Koh Tao the next day like us. From Bangkok to Koh Tao, there are only two trips at 6 am and 9 pm, together with bus and ferry, the total journey is about 8-9 hours. Thus, you can sleep comfortably without losing your energy. We booked tickets at Lomprayah High-Speed Ferries company on Susie Walking Street. (You can check the hours and fares here: http://www.lomprayah.com/timetable)
Along the way, you will be given snacks and drinks on the bus. Close your eyes and sleep for a few hours until noon to arrive at Chumphon. From here, take the ferry for another two hours to Koh Tao. The ferry also stops by Koh Samui and Koh Nang Yuan to pick up and drop off passengers. If you wake up when the ferry stops, you can run to the upper deck to take some photos.
From other islands to Koh Tao: If you are on the surrounding islands and want to visit Koh Tao or Koh Nang Yuan, you can take a look at the ferry schedule here. Or if you plan to go to Koh Samui, check out the shuttle tour from Koh Samui and visit Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan in just one day. Especially, you can scuba dive and play with a variety of sea creatures, particularly turtles. Link for booking here.
What to do for 5 days? (#koh tao itinerary 5 days)
Day 1 – Fly to Bangkok and transfer to Koh Tao
As mentioned above, on our first day of the trip, we only traveled, ate, and relaxed on the way to save energy for Koh Tao, so there was nothing significant to record here.
Day 2 – Koh Tao (#koh tao itinerary 5 days)
Arriving in Koh Tao at 3 pm, we were all exhausted and hungry, so we had to carry our luggage and rush to the nearest restaurant for something to eat before checking in at the resort. The restaurant was quite nice with a view overlooking the ocean. The meal for three includes pad Thai, rice, and seafood noodles, which cost us only BHT 400 (about USD 12). But we were so hungry, so we forgot to take some photos. But you just need to get off the ferry and there will be a series of restaurants in the harbor to choose from. Koh Tao’s food is super delicious, especially fresh seafood, and way cheaper than Bangkok’s.
After a full meal, we check the map to find the best way to our resort on Sairee Beach. The distance from the port to the resort is about 3 km. A taxi on the island costs BHT 100/person, which is a little high for us. Thinking that we have the energy and the distance is not too long, we decided to walk there. However, with 3 km of red dirt road, up and down slopes plus two large luggage bags, it felt like going on a pilgrimage, not an enjoyable trip anymore. Don’t be like us and torture yourself, be mindful of your body and spend some money to get a taxi.
Our resort price is also quite affordable. A triple room costs USD 77, divided into three making it only USD 26 per person. With that cost, you will get a full spa and a swimming pool with full facilities. Such a great deal!
A note for you, the resort in Koh Tao does not have air conditioning and is surrounded by luxuriant gardens, so there are quite a few mosquitoes. Remember to visit 7-Eleven to buy a spray bottle of lemongrass essence, affordable and effective to repel mosquitoes. Just spray a few times and you will sleep soundly all night.
Evening: Visit the night market, food tour, and bar hopping
Because we checked in at the resort quite late, after resting for a while, it was already evening. We were hungry and needed to grab food, so we went to a walking street on the island. Walking around, there are only massage shops, souvenirs, and some fancy restaurants. Knowing it would cost a lot, we decided to go back to the resort for dinner. Dinner at the resort is charged by skewers, but don’t worry, each skewer here will surely make you full until tomorrow. Our meal cost us only about USD 5-7/person.
After eating, we decided to go explore around. Most of the bars and restaurants are located along the coast, so you just need to walk on the coast and see which one you like without the need to go further. Stop by Lotus Bar, one of the famous bars on Sairee Beach with a unique L-shaped coconut tree that everyone coming here must take a check-in photo of. We just stopped by to watch the fire dance – a specialty of the bar – then moved to Fizz Bar. Chilling here is really cool, with the sea breezes and delicious drinks, not to mention we were surrounded by beautiful guys and girls. The place offers not only tastes but also looks, making us endlessly satisfied.
After eating and drinking, we went back to sleep to recharge for a full touring day tomorrow.
Day 3 – Scuba diving in Koh Tao
Actually, we did not have time to dive during this trip, and it is also our biggest regret. When writing these few lines, my heart is still broken for not having tried the activity. So we wanted to add it here for your reference. Although it is highly recommended, from our experience, you definitely have to spend another day scuba diving in Koh Tao, Thailand. Just take it easy, you don’t need to rush. Sairee Beach is the center of Koh Tao, and scuba diving is a specialty on this island. So it is not difficult to find diving classes or register for diving tours here. Just walk around the area and make sure you find a place you like. Look at these beautiful photos to imagine the experience.
You may not feel comfortable with swimming and diving since scuba diving goes down to a certain depth, making many people panic. So a less hardcore diving activity for those who like playing near the water surface is snorkeling. With snorkeling, you only have to swim in the water facing down to watch fish, turtles, and other creatures. Kind of like this.
A diving session usually takes place from 8 am until the afternoon. You will learn some general knowledge of diving, practice breathing, try to get into the water, and finally swim around. If you are in Koh Tao and do not have time to spend a day going to Koh Nang Yuan, you can book a combined tour of snorkeling and sightseeing in Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan for your convenience. This tour actually starts from Koh Samui, but if you are already in Koh Tao, you just need to take part in the group tour for diving and sightseeing.
Diving for a whole day, you can enjoy seafood and get some sleep to visit Koh Nang Yuan tomorrow morning.
Day 4 – Koh Nang Yuan
Morning + afternoon: Koh Tao – Koh Nang Yuan
Waking up at 6 am, we packed the luggage, checked out of the resort at 7 am, and went straight to Sairee Beach to find a taxi boat to go to Koh Nang Yuan. But it was too unfortunate for us, the people here hung out quite late, so they got up late as well. At 7 am, wandering outside the taxi boat port without a driver, we had to walk around and ask from one end to the other of the beach to find a driver. For your advice, you can leave your place at about 9 am.
Taxi boat costs about BHT 300/person, including going back and forth from Sairee Beach – Koh Nang Yuan. The taxi driver waited for us at the port the entire time, letting us play on the island and then driving the whole team back to Koh Tao. The important thing is you will arrive at Lomprayah Ferry, not back to Sairee Beach, which saves BHT 300 taxi fares back to the ferry. Fantastic!!!
The boat takes about 20 minutes to dock at Koh Nang Yuan, a complex of 3 small islands connected by a white strip of sand. This island is preserved to every grain of sand with a series of adorable signs calling for consciousness from tourists.
The entrance fee to the island is BHT 100/person and the island is only open to visitors until 5 pm. After 5 pm, guests residing at the only resort on the island can stay here.
Just stepping on Koh Nang Yuan is like being struck by lightning! What an astonishing view!
Taking advantage of the hot atmosphere, we headed straight to the viewpoint and climbed to enjoy the scenery of Koh Nang Yuan from above. After about 15-20 minutes of physical exercise and overcoming countless stairs, we were so happy and satisfied. But remember to apply mosquito repellent before climbing if you don’t want to be stung by forest mosquitoes. This is a very sincere piece of advice! Apply mosquito repellent!!!
Remember to stand firm, take a deep breath, and prepare yourself not to faint with the view of Koh Nang Yuan from the top of the mountain. Honestly speaking!!! If you don’t believe us, look here:
After spending time climbing the mountain for the view, we decided to go down to the beach and swim. The beach is clean with transparent water looking down to the bottom, you can see dozens of creatures below. Totally awesome.
Because the water is quite clear, seeing to the bottom will give you a feeling that the sea here is quite shallow. But remember not to go far, especially for those who do not know how to swim (like me). Keep close to the shore for safety.
On the island, there will be a place for you to change into swimsuits and rinse after bathing. So, don’t worry, just enjoy it to the fullest.
After an entire day of playing, we got on a taxi boat to get back to the ferry. We were determined to come back here and rent a nice resort because it was not enough for us to experience this place!
From Koh Tao to Bangkok: We continued using Lomprayah’s bus and ferry service. There are two trips at 10:15 am and 2:45 pm, arriving in Bangkok at 8:30 pm and 00:30 am respectively. We chose the 10:15 trip to return to Bangkok early. We continued the 2-hour journey on the train to Chumphon, stopped at the dining station, then spent an endless 7-hour trip on the bus from Chumphon to Bangkok. The bus dropped us off at Khao San at 8:30 pm. So, when we got off the bus, our stomachs rumbled and we quickly swooped into a restaurant for some chicken rice and Thai milk tea. Absolutely satisfied with the meal.
Day 5 – Bangkok
After a few days of having fun on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand, we returned to the bustling urban life of Bangkok. We went to familiar places and ate our favorite dishes, which if you have not known what Bangkok offers, check out some of our other posts.
After a wonderful trip, we were ready to get back to our ordinary life and prepare for our next journey! YEAH!!!!
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Koh Tao you can refer to
- Koh Tao and Koh Nangyuan Full Day Tour with Snorkeling Experience by Speed Boat
- Daily Snorkeling Trip at Koh Nangyuan & Koh Tao Start from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan
- Koh Tao Diving Day Trip from Koh Samui
- Ferry Ticket between Koh Samui and Koh Tao by Lomprayah
- Ferry Ticket between Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan by Lomprayah
- Koh Tao & Koh Nang Yuan One Day Tour with Snorkeling Experience
- Koh Phangan One Way Ferry Ticket to Koh Tao
- From Samui: Koh Tao and Koh Nangyuan Day Tour with Snorkeling Experience by Catamaran
- Ferry & Bus Ticket between Bangkok and Koh Tao by Lomprayah
- Lomprayah Ferry Ticket between Hua Hin and Koh Tao
- Koh Tao Snorkeling Experience by Oxygen
- 5 Islands Day Trip around Koh Tao and Koh Nangyuan by Sangthong
- Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan Day Tour in Koh Samui by Travstore
- Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan Day Tour by Speedboat from Koh Samui
- Ferry & Bus Combo Ticket between Surat Thani and Koh Tao by Lomprayah
- Koh Tao Koh Nangyuan and Koh Pha-Ngan from Samui
Read more Koh Tao guide here.