Both Ko Tao and Ko Samui are island in the gulf of Thailand and considered as one of the most popular touristic spots in the entire region. Where Ko Samui is the bigger island, also with an own airport with very well connections from Bangkok, Ko Tao is a much smaller island and also less touristic. So if you look for party, beaches and action Ko Samui is your island, but if you look for more relaxed vibe, a nice spot for diving and an incredible sun downer, Ko Tao is the island of your choice. The downturn is that you will get bored there quite soon, as it is a rather small area.
My personal travel journey took me onto both island in 2018, whereas I stayed 3 nights on Ko Tao and 5 on Ko Samui. In this area is also another island rather popular for their full-moon parties: Ko Pagan. I didn’t visit it but it is a good route to check out all 3 island after each another. This should be doable in ~10 days. The islands are pretty good connected via ferries and speedboats, so it is super easy to get from one to the other and back to the main land.
Ko Tao instantly gives you the vibe of the small tropical paradise when you arrive at the Mae Haad pier. The island is only reachable via boat so this is your most probable entry point. The biggest parts of the village is directly next to the pier. The island itself is rather small and it will only take you 1h to get from one end to the other. Exploring with a motorcycle is yet indeed worth doing. Also if you into diving and snorkeling the island is a good choice for you. There are plenty of diving schools and guides around. Following I want to give you just a small selection of beaches and viewpoints – there is much more to explore on Ko Tao.
Koh Nang Yuan Viewpoint
That highlight of Ko Tao and the view you might have seen before. Koh Nang is a small island in front of the main island and connected via a small sandbank with crystal clear water left and right. The climb up to the viewpoint is a little bumpy and to get on the very top you need to climb some rocks. But the view is totally worth the pain getting up.
Sai Ri Beach
This is the main beach in Ko Tao village and a really great view both on day and night. It is rather long and also the hotel zone is quite close, so a lot of tourists will be there, but as of the size people are evenly spread up.
This beach is rather small and not that frequented. Located in the south next to the Suwan viewpoints a small road brings you down the hill onto the beach. It has a very nice hippie vibe there and everybody is super chill.
Mango bay is on of the popular diving and snorkeling spots on the island and can be best reached via boat. It has rich wildlife and when you are lucky you can even spot a small shark.
Ko Samui is one the popular touristic spots in Thailand and can be compared with Phuket when it comes to the vibe and also what kind of people you will meet there. The island itself is big enough to spend some days exploring it with a motorbike. Driving there has the constraint of being called very dangerous as there is so much sand on the roads, but i my opinion if you are not going to crazy in turn nothing really bad can happen.
This beach is the main beach on the island and directly near the main town. It is very long and super nice with clear water.
Na Muang waterfalls
There are many waterfalls in the inner area of the island but this one I can highly recommend. In fact there are a couple of big waterfalls in the area and also an elephant sanctuary.
Grandfather and grandmother rocks
In the south of the island you can find this funny looking rock formations that reminds someone of human testicles. I keep this up to your imagination 😉