FAQ Getting & Staying Here

Are you ready to discover paradise? What was once a tropical secret hidden off the beaten path now beckons travelers from around the world, many of which make annual treks to SCUBA dive and reunite with their dive families. But how do you get here? You’ll need to make a plan and put it into action. Here are the secrets of getting to our paradise, Koh Tao.

Your trip probably won’t be short, especially if you’re traveling from the mainland United States, the United Kingdom, or the European Union. So be sure to plan enough time to make the travel worth while. We recommend having at least 10-14 days completely free for your trip (no work allowed!). This will ensure you have enough time for your travel each way while still having time to relax, dive a little, and meet some great new people. Because Chris and I are staying here long term, we have plenty of experience coming and going, and we can give you feedback on your travel plans. But before you contact us, give this information a review (and set aside the time off from work and worry):

To make a proper plan, you’ll need to consider (and arrange) 1) how to get here, 2) how long you can stay, 3) where you will stay, 4) how you will get around on the island, and most importantly, 5) your diving, eating, relaxation/party budget.

  • 1.Getting to Koh Tao
    Click below for important logistical information about getting to the paradise Koh Tao.
  • How do I get to Koh Tao?
    Halie Suzy20-02-2018

    Transportation to and from Koh Tao depends upon your budget. The optimal transportation is the quickest, while the cheapest transportation can add as much as 24 hours on your total travel time. If you're goal is to get here quickly to enjoy your stay, you'll want to look for flights that look something like this:

    Quickest international flight options

    According to Rough Guides, fly straight into Ko Samui via either Singapore or Hong Kong on Bangkok Airways, or fly into Ko Samui via Kuala Lumpur on either Berjaya Airlines or Firefly Airlines. (From Ko Samui, pay for a mini van transfer to the Lumprayah ferry to Koh Tao.)

    Cheaper flight options

    Schedule at least 60 days in advance using a service like Google Flights, and don't be afraid to book yourself from different airports, as necessary. For example, If you cannot book with American Airway all the way to Ko Samui, book American to Singapore, and search for and book another airline from Singapore to Ko Samui. Be sure to give yourself 3 to 4 hours between your arrival in Singapore on your airline of choice and the departure of your next flight. (Once on Ko Samui, it's easy to buy a minivan transfer to the ferry to Koh Tao).

    Another cheap option may be to fly into Bangkok via Qatar Airways, but beware that extra legwork is required of you (as well as an overnight stay in Bangkok). Many international travelers fly into Bangkok for business, but when traveling to the southern islands on a tight budget, this is not necessarily the best choice. Arrival times for the cheapest flights often put travelers in Bangkok in the middle of the night, left to figure out where to stay (sleep in the airport or get a taxi at night for a cheap room just to get to the airport six hours later?).

    Another important consideration is the departure airport of your connecting flight. If you've opted for the cheapest flight on a budget airline, it's probably departing from Don Mueang (DMK), not Suvarnabhumi (BKK) that you arrived in. Confused yet? If you make this decision, you'll want to do some research via sites like Travel Bag, who try to lay it all out for you. Better choice is to try to avoid the Bangkok trap altogether, as it will add several hours to your trip and a lot of stress to your travels.

    Land/Ferry Transport to Koh Tao

    Once you are in Ko Samui, Surrathani, or Chumpon airports, go immediately to the ATM and pull out Thai Baht that you'll need to buy ferry tickets and for miscellaneous expenses (like food). You cannot avoid land transport to the ferry and the ferry crossing (600-1000TBT). But this is the most exciting part of your travel, as you are almost here in paradise.

    At the airport, Thai people will immediately ask you where you are going. Ferry options differ depending upon your time of arrival, so just go with the flow, as Thai people happily help direct you to the only available services at that time. Trust them to give you the information that you need and to help you get where you need to go. (At times, they may seem direct or even a little bossy, but they are moving a lot of people around and do not want you to miss your next leg of travel. Always smile and laugh a little to lighten up the atmosphere, then proceed with their directions.)

    Lomprayah Ferry: You may be directed to the Lomprayah Ferry, which is often the fastest, as it's a speedy catamaran. This will require a bus ride to the ferry, then a couple of hours on the ferry. Note, put your luggage as directed by the boat crew, then sit inside for air condition or on the shaded deck if you want to enjoy the views of the Gulf of Thailand. It's a long trip, so get comfortable, and take sea sickness pills if needed.

    Seatran Ferry and Songsern Ferry are other, slower options to get to Koh Tao, but if they are the only ferries available upon your arrival, do not hesitate to take them. You may have read that ferries are overcrowded, and this is true, especially in high season. Again, you cannot avoid a ferry crossing, so go with the flow, and sit in the inside, main deck, in the air condition. Get comfortable for a couple hours, and buy some snacks to keep you happy. All of the ferries have a small canteen with snacks available (you will need some Thai Baht).

    On Koh Tao: Getting to Your Resort or Lodging

    If you have booked your SCUBA Adventure reservations with us in advance, we will arrange for a pickup. Just let us know your mode of transportation and expected arrival time (shoot us an email or call us).

  • How Long Should I Stay?
    Halie Suzy20-02-2018

    Short answer? As long as you can.

    When planning your trip to Koh Tao, subtract 4 days for travel. Even if you're only traveling for 36 hours, jet lag is real. You'll also want that time to relax after traveling once your settled in your seaside accommodations.

    Calculate 4 days for travel plus 5 days on the island at minimum. This will ensure the maximum enjoyment gained for the amount of time traveling to get here spent. Rest assured, you will only long for more time here, so don't make the mistake of trying to pack too much into your vacation time. Do it right, and spend your vacation time in paradise.

  • 2.Staying on Koh Tao
    Click below for our recommendations regarding your holiday in the paradise Koh Tao. Note, we do not earn commission for recommending any accommodations or scooter rental. Our recommendations for lodging and scooter rental come from our own experience on the island. If a place is not listed as one we recommend, feel free to ask us about our experience with the business.
  • Where will I stay?
    Halie Suzy01-03-2018

    Where you stay on Koh Tao will depend on your budget and your lifestyle. Ask yourself the following questions:

    Do I want to relax or to party? If you answer that you want to relax, you'll want to opt for a quiet beach away from the party areas of Sairee and Mae Haad. We recommend you choose Chalok Baan Kao at the southern tip of the island or the eastern Tanote Bay.

    Do I have plenty of money or am I on a shoestring budget? Koh Tao has luxurious high-end resort accommodations and villas for rent by the night, week, or month with swimming pools and amazing overlooks of the entire island. Koh Tao also has basic, beachside bungalows for as little as $15 USD a night in Chalok Baan Koa and elsewhere. Travelers on a tight budget can easily find hostels and shared rooms for as little as $6 USD a night near Mae Haad pier. With so many places to choose from, you should narrow it down.

    So how do you choose? We recommend either Chalok Baan Kao or Tanote Bay. To decide between them consider your planned activities. Are you planning to SCUBA dive? If you're planning to SCUBA dive, you may be interested in a free or discounted room. Reserve through us, and we will make it happen. If you just want a gorgeous beach to sun bathe, swim, and snorkel, Tanote Bay won't disappoint.

    Both Chalok Baan Kao and Tanote Bay locations are laid back and drop dead gorgeous with accommodations and cafes within footsteps of the crystal blue water. Choose Chalok Baan Kao if you want to meet and hang out with a dive family, play beach volleyball, or catch the occasional beach BBQ and karaoke night at Buddha Bar. If you want an even more exclusive experience, opt for Tanote Bay with its fabulous snorkeling, gorgeous sunrises, and family-friendly vibe. SCUBA divers staying in Tanote can walk the beach to the dive center and will enjoy much smaller groups on the Montalay Dive Resort boat and in the water as well as amazing diving and snorkeling just footsteps from their bungalows.

    SCUBA Diving with us? If you're taking either Open Water SCUBA or Advanced courses with Chris or Halie, you are eligible for FREE accommodations (with advanced reservations here on our site) with Buddha View Dive Resort in Chalok Baan Kao. This would put you in basic "diver dorms," very simple fan rooms within short walking distance of everything you need. If you want something nicer, an upgrade is available. Learn More by clicking here.

    No matter what you decide, extensive accommodations are available via booking.com or agoda.com for the entire island.

  • How do I Get Around on the Island?
    Halie Suzy01-03-2018

    Getting around on the island is not a problem. Many people walk from their accommodations to the dive operations and other daily activities, like shopping, cafes, bars, and the beach. But if you stay at one end of the island and plan to take a dive course in the other end, you're going to need transportation. Likewise, if you want to explore the island, you'll also need transportation.

    Hire a SCOOTER: Despite the horror stories, people with little experience can get around Koh Tao on a scooter easily. You'll see entire families jammed on one scooter as well as little old ladies driving scooters. Many scooter accidents are a result of, you guessed it, drunk driving. If you're not drinking and driving, chances are, a scooter will work fine for you. And you can rent them for approximately $6 USD/day from a reputable company. We recommend Jack at Buddha View 2 in Chalok Baan Kao.

    Hire a TAXI: Taxis are abundant on the island; although, you may be surprised that they are not luxurious sedans. No, taxis are pickup trucks, and passengers ride in the flat bed together on benches. A taxi ride can be a bit bumpy, and you'll feel quite exposed, but try to relax. It's a very short ride and part of the island experience. Despite the distance, taxis will charge as much as $10 USD for a short trip, so plan for this expense.

    Enclosed, sedan or SUV taxis may be available for upmarket clientele, but these are few and far between. It's best to opt for a scooter, to walk, or to plan to budget for occasional taxi rides. Remember, your pickup and drop off from the pier should be included with your reservations through our site. Just be sure to give us your arrival and departure details as soon as you have them.

  • How Much Should I Budget?
    Halie Suzy01-03-2018

    Here's a low-baller budget for your SCUBA Adventure on Koh Tao. The first price is a backpacker minimum expense you should expect. The second price is what you can expect for "flashpacker" living, which is quite a bit more comfortable, but still not "high roller," by any means.

    Flights: Depend upon your departure city and route.

    Ferry: $18 - $30 USD each way, per person, depending upon the airport you arrive in and length of ferry trip from the nearby port.

    Taxi from Pier: Included in advanced booking of SCUBA Adventure through this website. Otherwise $9-$10 per trip (sometimes negotiable with a smile, especially if you're willing to wait for others to share with you).

    Accommodations: Backpacker = FREE with SCUBA Open Water  (3 nights free) or Advanced course (2 nights free); Otherwise, backpacker = $6-$9 USD / night/ person. Flashpacker = $15-$20 / night; Stays of a month or more are significantly cheaper and should be arranged on the island with the owner.

    Food: Backpacker = $10/day; Flashpacker = $15-$20/day (does not include beer or cocktails)

    Getting Around: Backpacker = FREE walking; Flashpacker = $6/day scooter

    SCUBA Courses: Please Choose Your Adventure here to see prices.

    Fun Diving: Please see Fun Diving here for prices.

    Other wonderful activities available on Koh Tao:

    Free Diving / Snorkeling / Kayaking / Climbing / Stand Up Paddle Boarding / Trapeze / Yoga / Gift Shopping

     

Ready to Book Your SCUBA Adventure? Click here.