About Koh Tao
Koh Tao, or Turtle Island, is only 90 minutes boat ride north of Koh Samui and offers the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand. With crystal clear waters and stunning bays, the underwater world is right on your doorstep.
Koh Tao has a sub-tropical climate and is affected by the NE and SW monsoons. The heaviest rainfall occurs from the middle of October to the beginning of December, but for ten months of the year the climate is generally excellent. The peak seasons are from February to April and from July to September.
History of Koh Tao
Initially the island was not inhabited, there was only the occasional fisherman from the neighboring islands, looking for shelter in a storm or just taking a break before continuing his tiresome journey.
It would appear from old maps (1600-1850) and descriptions that this island was known by European cartographers and mariners as “Pulo Bardia”. The best example is a map by John Thornton dated 1685. Page 383 of ‘The Edinburgh Gazetteer, or Geographical Dictionary’ (1822) also mentions the island and provides a geographical position. In his book titled “Narrative of a residence at the capital of the Kingdom of Siam” by Frederick Arthur Neale (1852 p. 120) he describes the people and wildlife of Bardia. According to the account there were farms and even cows in a village on the bay lying to the west side of the island – (probably Sairee?). The book includes a fanciful illustration of ‘Bardia’ showing huts and palm trees.
On June 18, 1899 King Chulalongkorn visited Ko Tao and left as evidence his monogram on a huge boulder at Jor Por Ror bay next to Sairee Beach. This place is still worshiped today.
In 1933 the island started to be used as a political prison. In 1947 Khuang abhaiwongse, prime minister at that time, pleaded and received a royal pardon for all prisoners on the island. Everybody was taken to the shore of Surat Thani and Ko Tao was abandoned again.
In the same year Khun Uaem and his brother Khun Oh reached Koh Tao from the neighboring Koh Phangan by trying out their traditional sail boat, for that time a quite long and dangerous journey. Even though the island was still under royal patronage, it did not stop these pioneers claiming themselves a good part of the land on today’s Sairee beach. Having brought their families over, they began to cultivate and harvest the excellent soil, forming the first generation of the present-day community. They lived a simple and tough life harvesting coconuts, fishing and growing vegetables, which were also traded with Ko Phangan. Despite the difficulties in reaching the island, the population grew steadily.
In the 1980s the first travelers discovered Ko Tao and their special backpacker network quickly made it widely known and a popular destination. As a consequence, bigger, faster and safer boats were used to allow easier access to the island. In the late 1980s Koh Tao finally became known as a scuba diving destination. Today you will find several dive centers along the coast line offering scuba diving courses and free diving courses. Sairee Cottage Diving Koh Tao is located in the north west of the island at Sairee Beach. Give us a call and we will come and pick you up Call +66(0)77456374.
Nightlife on Koh Tao
The nightlife has everything from relaxed, chilled bars on the beach to places which host international DJ’s where you can dance until dawn.
Transportation on Koh Tao
New roads are being paved at a quick rate. 90% of all traffic on the island is motorbike, with mopeds and dirt bikes being the main mode of transport. There are plenty of taxis to get around on too.
Ko Tao is serviced by ferry services from Suratthani (4 hours day boat, 9 hours on overnight boat), Chumpon (1.5 to 3 hours), Koh Samui (approx 2.5 hours) and koh phangan (approx 1 hour). All ferries dock at Ban Mae Haad. Journey times vary due to the different boats used by the various ferry companies. Ticket prices are almost the same for all companies, however, the boats themselves differ greatly. The two main ferries are Lomprayah and Songserm, with Seatran also offering services between the islands and mainland. Lomprayah offer the quickest service on the newest boats, and also have VIP lounges where passengers can watch movies in an air conditioned lounge. In contrast, Songserm is a no-frills point to point fast ferry, where most passengers disembark slightly more green in the face than when they boarded.
Train services are available from Bangkok down to Chumphon where travellers can then catch a ferry. A first class ticket on an overnight train will cost around £20. Second class tickets are a little cheaper at around £16, passengers do not have the luxury of their own private cabin in second class, however, beds do pull down and once the party is over it is possible to have a good nights sleep. Food is served by train vendors.