Our visit to Koh Tao in Thailand
Our second week in Thailand was spent on the beautiful island of Koh Tao. Thailand’s islands are very popular with tourists and we did some research into them all before deciding we would visit just Koh Tao rather than island hop. We really liked the sound of Koh Tao and its laid back diving community and we weren’t disappointed! We had planned 4 days on the island but this quickly increased to 6 days after arriving in paradise!
How we got there
We travelled from Bangkok to Koh Tao by train, bus and ferry. It cost us about 1300baht (£26) and took around 16 hours.
We travelled from Bangkok to Chumphon by overnight sleeper train. We left Bangkok at 7.30pm and spent the night on a 2nd class sleeper carriage with AC. I actually found this quite exciting.
The trains are comfortable and cold so its easy to relax. Around 9pm someone comes round and turns your chairs into bunk beds! I took the bottom bunk because it had a window and I wanted to see the countryside. We did sleep on the train which was good since we were on it until 5.30am the next day. It was delayed, a common occurrence in Thailand!
I experienced my first squat toilet on the train! The strange experience of squatting to pee was heightened by being able to see the train track while I did!
A tip for new travellers like us is that the train staff will come round and wake you up just before your stop. We set an alarm but the train was delayed so we could have slept on if we’d known about the wake up call.
When we arrived at Chumphon, the port town that serves the islands, we had some time to spare so we had some food and started looking for our bus to the ferry port. There was a massive queue of back packers at a ferry window so we guessed thats where we should also be, we were wrong! While this queue of travellers got on a swanky double decker air conditioned bus we got in the back of a van with about 20 other people and all our luggage… It was a squeeze and I spent the journey worrying my backpack was going to fall off the back. Luckily it didn’t!
The ferry was clearly owned by the same company as the bus. It was a catamaran and we were welcomed on board by some cockroaches and stories of snakes in the toilet. I didn’t go. The ferry was almost empty giving us a row of seats each to sleep on. It took 3 hours but it felt faster and then we were in Koh Tao!
Within minutes of getting on the island we knew we were going to love it. It really is paradise with its white sand and turquoise sea. We were delighted when we arrived at InTouch resort to find our little cottage was just 50m from the beach!
We spent our week in Koh Tao swimming, sunbathing and reading. We did go snorkelling one day which was awesome. It cost 550bt, about £10 and we got to snorkel in 5 different bays around the island. The fish we saw were beautiful and I got to try out my GoPro! The best thing I saw was a swordfish and a school of borrow banded sergeant majors that were quite happy to mingle with the snorkelers. All the photos can be seen on our Facebook page.
Koh Tao has lots of restaurants and bars. Our favourite restaurant was The Gallery. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was really chilled. The owner Chris is a keen underwater photographer and he has a gallery attached to the restaurant, hence the name. In the Gallery you can see the equipment he uses for under water pictures, we were surprised how heavy the stuff was. Jake and I were immensely jealous of Chris, he seems to be living the dream on Koh Tao with an awesome restaurant and a career as an underwater photographer. Lucky guy!
We would visit Koh Tao again in a heart beat. It’s really unfortunate about the recent murder of the two British people. I always felt really safe there and I’m hyper sensitive to anything potentially dangerous. That said we were pretty well behaved and didn’t stay out very late so it might feel different after midnight.