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As boutique resorts become the new buzz in discerning travellers guide. Why not head to a boutique island; as Koh Tao (Turtle Island) is shaping up to be just that. Its small size and relative anonymity until the last ten years made it a well kept secret over the early nineties when most of the unscrupulous developing was carried out on Samui and to a lesser extent on Phangan. It had time (and the money – diving bought well needed cash to the island) to develop at a decent pace and the result is an ultra chic scene with a great independent vibe.
Resorts surrounded in jungle harmonies with boulder filled tropical landscapes whilst offering a surprisingly high level of accommodation, eating and nightlife options. The amazing diving that has made the island famous over the last decade raised the standards in resorts and restaurants, so much so that on a walk down Mae Haad main street, you could experience cuisine from over 10 nationalities at everything from a street vendor stall to a contemporary modern restaurant-come-dance music club!
Another great thing about the island’s small size and remoteness is that it has kept away the hoards, appealing to a more independent type of traveller, thus there are still plenty of old bamboo bungalows to be found in amongst the A/C palaces and the Southern Thai island vibe is as strong as it ever was, making the place seem like time just stops there; unless there’s a cock fight or beach BBQ going down! That said the nightlife on Tao is definitely some of the best in South Thailand, with excellent established venues, quality sound systems and the cream of the Gulf’s DJs, visiting or holding residencies.
So whether you want to dive at some of Asia’s best sites, chill out on a deserted beach or wine, dine & party the night away in unique stylish venue – the Turtle can provide it all; and if you stay there for a while you get to realize that Tao has had that boutique vibe long enough to have invented it!
By Air (To Koh Samui or Surathani Province and then continue by boat to Koh Tao)
Bangkok to Koh Samui : Bangkok Airways* provides over 10 flights/day.
Thai Airways International (02 628-2000) offers daily flight to Suratthani. More information at www.thaiair.com
Singapore to Koh Samui : Bangkok Airways provides a daily flight
By Air (To Chumporn Province and continue by boat to Koh Tao)
Air Andaman flies four times a week to Chumphon. More information at www.airandaman.com
Bangkok Air Tel: (Bangkok) +662 229 3434; 229 3456 (Bangkok Don Muang Airport) +662 535 2497-8; 535 3757 Internet: http://www.bkkair.co.th
From Bangkok to Chumporn (For travellers not in a hurry, the train is the most pleasant way to travel to Chumporn.)
Express #85 - (Bangkok - Chumporn) leaves Bangkok 19:15 daily and arrives in Chumporn between 3:30 and 5:00. 2nd class air conditioned and fan-cooled sleeping carriages and air-conditioned and fan-cooled ordinary carriages available. Ask the conductor to wake you up for Chumporn Station.
Diesel - (Bangkok - Chumporn) leaves Bangkok at 22:30 and arrives 06:00. 2nd class air conditioned ordinary carriages only.
From Southern Bus Terminal - Air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned coaches leave the Southern Bus Terminal for Chumporn throughout from about 09:30 to 22:00 daily. (We highly recommend air-conditioned coaches - non-air conditioned buses can be cramped and uncomfortable, particularly for taller people). The journey normally takes about seven hours. Fares range from 136-317 baht
From Kaosarn Road - daily bus & mini bus depart at 20:00-21.00 and arrives in Chumporn at approximately 04:00.
Koh Tao Resort
Chalok Baan Kao
Start: 1,800 THB .
Black Tip Dive Resort
Start: 400 THB .
Start: 500 THB .
Sensi Paradise Beach Resort
Start: 2,800 THB .
Coral View Resort
Start: 400 THB .
Start: 600 THB .
Koh Tao Coral Grand Resort
Start: 2,950 THB .
Nang Yuan Island Dive Resort
Nang Yuan Island
Start: 1,500 THB .