Thailand's South

KO TAO

Global Mark : 12.79 (up)

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 5 1 1 1 2 4 3 1 9.78

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
24 96% (23) 87% (21) 96% (23) 10 to 20 15.80


Description :
The diving paradise of Thailand

Comments : This small "Turtle" island is clearly geared toward under water activities and those are big serious businesses...

What to do ?  Get dressed then get wet ! / Sip oxygen in bottles / Spot colorful Christmas Trees / See dolphins, whale sharks, turtles,... Who knows how lucky you will be ? /  Snorkel around an old wrecked ship / Back and dry, cross the mountainous island /  In the evening, relax by a video (jaws maybe ?) or discuss your next dive / 

What you may not like ?  The difficulty to find cheap accomodation during HS  / The cost of accomodation, around B150-200 for a basic bungalow (even so there are a  few cheapies at around B100, in particular on the east coast) / Not diving (what are you doing here ?) so having nothing to talk about / The pushy touts / All this business around / The cost of food and the limited choice / Some thefts in the unsecured bungalows / Seeing more westerners than Thai people


Backpacker's Tips :  Ian G. (March 06)
As a diver I would imagine it isn't the best place if you are not interested in these things. The diving is ok. Compared to your average backpacking destination it is a bit more expensive, but then if you are diving, you have an expensive hobby in any case. Some spots can be a little crowded. But for people learning to dive, you could not get better. Good instructors and the main schools are very professional. I would recommend you go with one of the bigger groups, ie Buddha View. They have many classes, good gear, great instructors and a cool vibe. If you want a smaller group and smaller company, try Scuba Shack. Both these schools are on the Chalok side. The accommodation may be alittle pricier
than some would like, but what can you expect when you stay on the beach and watch the sunset with a beer in hand.
 

Backpacker's Tips :  Cathy White, USA (April 05)
Having just finished my Open Water PADI course at Ko Tao, I thought I'd correct the '03 update about courses. Yes, prices have gone up. The most recent Thailand LP says an Open Water course is 8000 baht. When I was there (a week ago), it was 8500 baht. However, I was able to get free accomodation through my dive shop, Scuba Junction. We booked through Infinity Travel in Chumporn. Maybe the coral isn't spectacular, but it was a great place to learn to dive. No nasty marine critters (think Great Barrier Reef or coast of Northern California), great visibility, other beginners (not intimidating), great dive shops. 

Backpacker's Tips : Aurelien Reys, France (Oct 03)
 There are over 30 dive centers! but still nice bay and corals easy to reach with snorkels and good diving. Prices for diving and accomodation should increase soon about 20-50%, most of the dive centers have passed a contract together to give a common price for the same services, and it won't be possible to get free accomodation with a dive course as it was so far the norm

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Oct 01)
 The coral is quite damaged and a few divers therefore leave disappointed. There are still some beautiful spots but, as a whole, it is not as good as the Philippines or Malaysia. Too crowded as well...


How long ? From a few dives to a full PADI course

When to go ? The diving never stop but visibility isn't too good during the monsoon, from mid October to mid January. 

How to reach ?  From the mainland, the best is to take a boat from Chumphon straight to the island : speed or express (3 hours) are expensive at around B400 and leave in the early morning but there is fortunately a slow boat for B200 leaving at midnight (5-7 hours). Between October to December, the monsoon can bring this service to an halt and you will have to reach via Ko Pha-Ngan.  

Next destinations : Ko Pha-Ngan / Ko Samui / Khao Sok National Park via Surat Thani