Koh Tao, Thailand (August 2018)

On top of Nangyuan Island

Koh Tao, aka Turtle Island, was my favorite island and my favorite other place visited besides Chiang Mai. This island screams IM SUPER CHILL BRAH AND EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT. I loved Koh Tao because everything was pretty much walkable in the part where we stayed (Sairee Beach). It was like a beach town but there wasn’t really a beach to hang out at… at least no sand area. Koh Tao is known for scuba diving and snorkeling and there are many areas on the island to do just that.

Day 1 – Tuesday

  • Check in to Sairee Cottages
  • Lunch at Sairee Cottage Restaurant
  • Walked around the area
  • Dinner at Farango Pizzeria (dude…$90 baht/$3 USD magherita pizzas here for happy hour)

Day 2 – Wednesday

  • Breakfast at PermPoon Coffee Bar by the Pool (part of our hotel)
  • Hung out at the pool
  • Rained so we hung out at our balcony and read or played games
  • Went to go check out different snorkeling and scuba diving places
  • Dinner at 995 Roasted Duck (BEST FOOD OF THE TRIP)
  • Dessert at Butter I-cream (ice cream at our hotel)

Day 3 – Thursday

  • Breakfast at PermPoon Coffee Bar by the Pool
  • Oxygen2 Snorkeling Tour (Full Day)
  • Snorkeling at Nangyuan Island, Shark Bay, Mango Island, Lighthouse Bay and Aow Leuk. Lunch, snacks and beverages included.
  • BBQ dinner at Sairee Cottages Restaurant

Day 4 – Friday

  • Breakfast at PermPoon Coffee Bar by the Pool
  • Scuba Diving Lesson and Open Water Dive at Ban’s Diving Resort
  • Dinner at Roasted Duck (yeah this place was freaking awesome, we went twice)
  • Dessert at Butter I-cream

Day 5 – Saturday

  • Breakfast at PermPoon Coffee Bar by the Pool
  • Taxi to Mae Haad Pier for Koh Samui

Getting There

Took a Lomprayah catamaran from Koh Phangan (check out my previous post!) to Koh Tao. Unfortunately it was raining during the commute so the waves were really rough. I don’t really even get sea sick but I got it bad that time. Everyone around me was throwing up. Soooooo the moral is bring medicine just incase!


There are a few areas on Koh Tao to stay but we knew we wanted to be near the action. Thus, we chose Sairee Beach. It had tons of hotels and restaurants. Sairee Beach didn’t really have a big sand area to lay out, like other beaches we went to. Most people just walked the sand. Plus during high tide, there was no beach to walk on. So I’d suggest getting a hotel with a pool. We looked around TripAdvisor and found Sairee Cottages. While we wanted a beach-side cottage, which was sold out, we ended up with a fabulous second choice – a pool-view room on the second floor. This was great, especially since it came with a balcony area where we chilled a lot, even when it poured. The room was pretty clean and the staff was friendly. The room also had a safe and umbrellas you could borrow. The only thing to be aware of was the shower/toilet area – there wasn’t any floor separation between the two areas and the water would overflow into the toilet area. Pool and ATM conveniently right next to the main office.

Things We Did

1.Walk Around Sairee Beach

Every night, we would take a walk around the area. We caught a few cool fire dance shows and was almost going to go to see a drag show.

2. Chilled at our room balcony and pool.

We got a second floor balcony room facing the pool and it was perfect environment for private outdoor relaxing, even when it was raining. We both brought books to read and I brought my Nintendo switch to play. 

3. Snorkeling

The first stop of the snorkeling tour – Nangyuan Island

We opted to do a tour because it seemed like the easiest option to go around to different popular snorkeling spots like Shark Bay and also to Nangyuan Island, where there’s a great picturesque view and another sandbar with water on both sides. The tour was great with Oxygen. They picked us up from our hotel and took us to their main office where we shortly would board the boat. The crew was really fun and entertaining. The snorkel spots were cool, although I feel like I’ve been to better ones in the Caribbean. I saw a baby shark! A delish lunch (chicken and rice), snacks and beverage were included. They also dropped us back at our hotel at the end of the day.

4. Scuba Diving

My scuba group on their second dive (I only did one)

We weren’t quite committed to becoming certified- even though Koh Tao would’ve been the place the do it. In 3 days and for much cheaper than other countries, you can become a certified diver. But we wanted to try it out so we did a 1 day “Discover Scuba Diving” package. 1 hour basic course on diving theory, then 1-2 hours of pool training. If you are able to learn the few basic skills in pool training, then you can go do 1-2 open water dives with the group and instructor up to 12 meters deep. TBH, I was extremely anxious but excited. During pool training, I really struggled in the beginning doing the skills. Luckily one of the instructors worked with me with another struggling gal and I finally got it the last minute. The whole dive was cool and I’m glad I did it but it was really stressful for me- the fact that I could literally mess up and kill the rest of my group was too much pressure haha. But thousands of others have done it and been fine. Guess it’s not my cup of tea. Anyway, I would still recommend this one day course for people to try it out!

Where We Ate

1. 995 Roasted Duck

Roasted duck with egg noodles in soy bean paste sauce

I wanted to talk about this place first because IT IS BOMB. The best meal (and one of the cheaper ones) in Koh Tao and one of the best out of our entire Thailand trip. 600+ reviews and a 4.5 star rating on TA? Sold. We came here twice for dinner. It’s a small place but we didn’t have to wait (we also came here on weekdays). I had #9 egg noodles with roasted pork and soy bean paste the first time and #8 egg noodles with roasted duck and soy bean paste the second time. Both were damn good. That soy bean paste is crack. Hubby had #6 noodle with roasted duck in mild soup both times and thoroughly enjoyed it. Service is friendly and quick as well.

2. Sairee Cottage Restaurant

The food here is decent but not the best we’ve eaten. Good enough, I guess. It was plainly convenient for us, especially when it rained. It also had a nice view of the beach. I would say their BBQ was better than their Thai food. Weird.

3. Farango Pizzeria

$3 Margherita pizzas with watermelon shake & beer

We discovered this pizza restaurant walking around town and me being the frugal queen I am, was immediately attracted to the “30 baht pizza” sign hanging outside their door. $3 USD for an entire personal pizza? I’ll take up that offer. (Don’t worry, I consulted Trip Advisor before actually pulling the trigger.) The offer only applied to “happy hour” times, which they don’t specify and only to the Margherita pizza. Hey, $3 pizza? I’ll take it. That’s the cost of 1 NY slice. The pizza itself was pretty decent and I loved being able to people watch sitting near the entrance. Would go there again…. only during happy hour.

4. PermPoon Coffee Bar

This little cafe restaurant was part of our hotel area and right across from our hotel room. We ate breakfast here every day because of the convenience and decent pricing for waffles and pancakes. Waffles/pancakes and morning drinks were good. They also serve cafe-style lunch like sandwiches. Plus the waitresses there are really sweet (and possibly overworked). We would see the same waitress working at the cafe in the morning and then see her again at night working the ice cream shop. But she always kept a smile!

5. Butter I-cream

Yeah you read that right. I-cream. Why not Ice-cream? IDK. This dessert place was also part of our hotel area and right below our hotel room. We stopped in most nights to get some ice cream before turning in. A bit expensive for ice cream but hey, we were on vacay. Don’t expect fancy ice cream flavors but they had a larger variety than I expected. Ice cream was good and a nice treat.

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