Koh Tao, which means Turtle Island, is a
small paradise (only 21 KM2) set in the midst of the Gulf
of Thailand about 70 KM off the east coast of mainland Thailand.
Initially the island was uninhabited until 1933 when the island
was used as a political prison. But in 1947 then Prime Minister,
Khun A-Paiwong, received a royal pardon for all the prisoners.
Soon after the island was slowly populated by families migrating
from Koh Pha Ngan. They came to harvest and cultivate the
nutrient rich soil.
Around 1950 members of Ko Dam’s family
migrated to Koh Tao to start a coconut plantation. Originally
Aow Tanote was owned entirely by his family. And while you’re
in Tanote see if you can spot the one palm tree that’s
different from the rest. This sugar palm, or Tanote, was planted
by Ko Dam’s grandmother, Nae Suwan, for which the bay
Meanwhile the population steadily grew, and
the first backpackers finally arrived in the early 80’s.
Due to its natural beauty above and below the water, Koh Tao
was hailed as a paradise. Word quickly spread about the undiscovered
island and it became a popular destination. The local business
expanded to meet the needs of the new clientele and today
you can find almost anything you need.
Boat and pick up taxis go to all parts of
the island. Many shops on the island provide internet, phone
and fax service. There are also a good number of banks and
agencies that can exchange traveller’s cheques and foreign
currency and several ATMs on Koh Tao. Most retailers accept
VISA, Master Card and American Express; however, they do charge
tax. Several different ferry companies provide transportation
to and from the island from several different destinations.
To reach Koh Tao you can either buy a joint
bus/boat or train/boat ticket from any travel agent in Bangkok.
Take the bus/train to Chumporn and they will transfer you
to the boat to Koh Tao. Or you can fly to Samui and take the
boat from there to Koh Tao. Please note that the last boat
from Samui to Koh Tao leaves at 1:30 PM.