Here I am FINALLY writing about the grand finale of my Thailand trip. I know, I know, I’m like SO behind but things have been a little crazy on my end over here.
So here it is, my final destination in Thailand, the little paradise island of Koh Tao.
Originally, I was going to bypass Koh Tao altogether until a couple of weeks before the trip when I decided I’d rather be island hopping than staying in Koh Samui for 4 days. Little did I know you’d actually need that much time to see all that island has to offer but in the end, I was really happy with my decision of taking a ferry over to Koh Tao and staying for a couple of days, even if we didn’t have the best of weather. Unfortunately, there was a typhoon going through the Philippines during our stay, causing us to live in downpour rain for most of our time but, when the skies did lighten up, we were able to see why Koh Tao ranks high as a favorite destination for travelers.
Here’s Basking in the Paradise of Koh Tao: A Travel Diary:
After spending a couple of nights in Koh Samui, we snagged an 8 am ferry to Koh Tao from Koh Samui’s Mae Nam Pier. I booked a roundtrip ticket through Ferry Samui with Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran for around $37. This price was the most I paid for a transfer while in Thailand but the ferry boat was also the nicest so I wasn’t complaining. When leaving Koh Samui, a stop is made in Koh Pha Ngan first before continuing on to Koh Tao, the whole trip taking about 1.5 hours.
I knew that this was going to be, by far, the most incredible place we’d stay on our trip to Thailand and I wasn’t wrong; I couldn’t recommend this place enough! We lodged at The Plantation, privately-owned villas in the jungle of the island, about a 5 minute walk from Sairee beach. The host, Thip, was incredibly accommodating, even paying for our taxi transport to The Plantation and giving loads of recommendations of things to do, places to eat, and which businesses to use for certain things, which is great to have while traveling in a foreign country.
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The room itself was incredible. The stylish and chic decor gave the villa an updated and modern look. It included a full kitchen, a large bed and a beautiful bathroom with a marble walk-in shower.
But what really made this place a stand-out were the views. The villa’s glass doors that lead out into the patio open the length of the room, overlooking a coconut farm of palm trees and the blue waters of the Chumphon Archipelago in the distance.
Lunch & the Beach
After doing a little exploring around The Plantation, we walked about 5 minutes down to Sairee to snag some lunch. A few restaurants line Sairee Beach but we just grabbed some sandwiches to go from the 7-Eleven and made our way to the beach.
Sairee Beach is long, sandy and very clean, although the divers who do trash pickups on a nightly basis may have something to do with that. Multiple restaurants and bars are sprinkled along the coast line and taxi boats to the teeny island of Ko Nang Yuan can be booked here too.
Before coming to Koh Tao, I heard that the water on this island was the clearest in all of Thailand but I didn’t find that to be the case here at Sairee Beach, although the views were outstanding looking out into the sea, especially while chilling on one of those typical Thailand rope swings.
Dinner, Drinks & Sunset
After spending a few hours at the beach, we headed back to The Plantation to wash off the sand and freshen up before heading down for drinks and dinner. Since it was still a little early to eat, we stopped by the beach front bar at the Wind Resort for some cocktails.
I absolutely adored the environment of this place as you can chill on bean bag chairs with your feet in the sand while watching the sunset roll in over the sea. And did I mention how eco-friendly they are by supplying metal straws?!
We planned on heading elsewhere after coming to the Wind Resort bar but, after a few strongly-poured cocktails, we sunk deeper into those bean bag chairs and ended up ordering food off of their menu. I ate a burger that was pretty bomb and Andy got the Pad Thai, as he did for almost every meal while we were in Thailand.
If you have long hair like me then you know how incredibly annoying it is to manage your mane while traveling. Whether it’s the chlorine from the pools turning it green or the salty sea making it into a dry, matted mess, it’s much easier to just throw it back and not have to deal with it. I was to my wits end with my hair at this point on the trip so after paying at the bar, I walked into a nail salon to get my hair braided.
10 minutes later, the sweetest Thai woman gave me a hairstyle that I should’ve had for our whole trip. And the best part? It only cost 3 Baht, or 90 cents!!
After those few drinks and my new hairdo, felt like a new woman with my hairdo, or at least like Ronda Rousey ’bout to go enter the ring but I was more than exhausted so we headed to bed to gear up for day 2 on the island.
Breakfast with a View
The morning of day two looked promising as the skies seemed a bit clearer than the day before. Thinking that we finally may get blessed with a full day of sunshine for the first time, we sat outside on the patio looking out at the views and soaking in the heat.
Our host left us with a list of restaurants that would deliver to us and, since we were without transport, we decided to order in breakfast from the Greasy Spoon. Going with the American Breakfast, the meal was complete with toast, eggs, bacon and a hashbrown, as well as fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee, costing us 360 Baht, or about $11 for the whole meal.
I would’ve paid $100 for breakfast as long as I could sit here while eating it, staring out at the blue abyss.
Taxi Boat Attempt to Koh Nang Yuan
The discussion at breakfast led us to plan a trip via taxi boat over to Koh Nang Yuan. This was probably the most recommended thing to do in Koh Tao by fellow bloggers so it was going to be on our itinerary regardless.
Koh Nang Yuan is a small, uninhabited diving island about a 5-10 minute boat ride from Koh Tao. There’s only one hotel on the island, a dive resort, so most people who visit just come for the day.
After walking down to Sairee Beach to talk with the local about getting a ride out to the island, he informed us that the remnants of the typhoon would be hitting Koh Tao in a couple of hours so they had already canceled all boat trips for the day (insert devastation here). This was one of my main reasons for coming to Koh Tao so I was absolutely gutted but we sucked it up and began the search for a different activity before the storm hit.
Renting a Scooter
As we were heading back to our room to decide what we were going to do for the day, we remembered our host referring a scooter rental place next to our lodging. On the ground floor of the Sairee Seaview Hotel we found a local offering up their scooters so we handed over our passports, grabbed some helmets and took off into Koh Tao.
Exploring Koh Tao
Unsure about where we should go, I told Andy to just start driving on the main road and keep going until it ends. This took us past Sairee Beach and alongside little concentrated villages with fruit vendor stands, shops, temples and bars. We came up to a gravel road that ended at a hotel where multiple scooters were parked so we assumed this was the end. We followed the arrows down to the beach and found the most majestic slice of paradise.
It was here on the south side of the the island where I began to see why everyone that’s been to Koh Tao raves about it. As we made our way down the hill, a small stretch of sandy beach and the clearest teal waters that I had ever seen peeked through the trees by the shoreline, inviting us in for a dip.
Freedom Beach Festival
This small stretch of beach is the site for the Freedom Beach Festival that takes place once a month, hosting hundreds of young partiers who dance the night away to DJs playing house music and hip hop.
As we were about to leave the beach, we discovered a narrow concrete walkway that was elevated above the water and disappeared over the boulders in the distance. Even though we could see the storm rolling in, we took this route thinking it may get us back to where we parked our scooter.
Walking on top of the walkway was a little sketch as the waves were splashing up onto it, making the surface slippery. It also seemed like the path was falling off the stakes underneath it but we made it safely around the bend for some stunning views of the second part to Freedom Beach.
Freedom Beach Bar
The Freedom Beach Bar and the beach in front of it was just the environment I was searching for during our whole trip to Thailand.
Walking up to a bar, sandy feet and all, and ordering a Mai Tai in your bikini is such an awesome and freeing feeling, there aren’t many things better in my opinion.
The Freedom Beach Bar exuded that tropical vibe with the blaring Calypso music, rope swings, hammocks and volleyball nets.
I swung on that rope swing for at least an hour, letting my feet brush in the soft sand and watching the storm roll in.
Even though it was still early in the day, it took no time for the typhoon to hit the island. I wanted to soak up this moment as long as I could but, since we were on the scooter, we figured we should get going before getting caught in the down pour.
We made about a mile down the road before the winds and rains began, about knocking us right off our two wheels. Returning the scooter and running back up to our villa as fast as we could, we played a few games of cards while waiting on the weather to lighten up.
‘Za for Dinner
After the rain went away, we wandered around the village for a few minutes before coming up to Sairee Sairee Pizzeria Grill, conveniently running a buy one get one pizza deal. Sold! I didn’t even need to see anything else on the menu.
Sleeping with Lizards
And what’s a tropical island getaway without lizards trying to crawl into your bed? Yepppp, we got back to our villa and were hanging out on the couch inside when we saw a lizard climbing up the wall! I hear it’s good to leave them alone because they eat mosquitoes and other bugs but the only reptiles I’m ever used to are miniature gardener snakes so I was more than willing to get this thing out of our room. After attempting to corral the thing with a broom and dust pan for about a half hour, we finally got the little bugger out onto the patio and closed the doors as fast as we could and were sound asleep early to prepare for our morning ferry departure.
Leaving Koh Tao
As mentioned before, I booked a roundtrip ticket from Koh Samui to Koh Tao so our return was scheduled for 9 am to head back to Koh Samui. This was only the beginning of our looooong trek to get back home to California. We took the ferry from Koh Tao to the Bangrak pier in Koh Samui then walked 2 miles to the airport. After waiting there for a few hours, we snagged a flight back to Bangkok, had a 3 hour layover there, flew to Taiwan where we stayed for a few hours and then finally made it home to San Francisco, the whole trek taking about 55 hours.
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