Sairee Beach, Koh Tao: A complete travel guide

Sairee Beach is the largest and liveliest beach on Koh Tao and the main tourist hub of the island. Located on the west coast of Koh Tao, the beach overlooks the Gulf of Thailand and features a 1.7 km (1 mi) stretch of golden sand.

Along the beach, you’ll find numerous bars, restaurants, hotels, tour operators and diving schools. It’s the center of activity of Koh Tao and the perfect place to base yourself when exploring the island.

Although I usually try to avoid touristy areas when I travel, I stayed at Sairee Beach during my Koh Tao trip and actually really enjoyed spending my time there. The area wasn’t overly busy, it had a nice laid-back vibe and I liked the convenience of having everything close by.

In this blog post, I’ve compiled all of my travel tips for visiting Sairee Beach in Koh Tao, including where to stay, the best things to do and where to eat. At the end of this post, you’ll also find a map where you can see the locations of all the points of interest at and around the beach.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links from which I may make a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase.

A longtail boat parked in the clear blue water in front of Sairee Beach in Koh Tao
A row of palm trees and a strip of golden sand on a windy day at Sairee Beach, Thailand.

Where to stay at Sairee Beach

Sairee Beach is the most popular place to stay in Koh Tao. It’s easily accessible, has a large variety of hotels and amenities and is a convenient place for taking day trips to the different parts of the island.

There’s a wide range of accommodation options to choose from at Sairee Beach – from budget-friendly hostels to private villas, beachfront bungalows and luxurious resorts.

Here are the best places to stay for different budget levels:

BUDGET: Savage Hostel Koh Tao
A chic and modern hostel with a great social atmosphere and the perfect location right on the beach. They have an amazing rooftop pool that looks like something you’d find in a luxury hotel.

MID-RANGE: Ban’s Diving Resort
We stayed in this resort and really enjoyed it. Despite being one of the largest resorts on the island and being located in the center of Sairee village, it has a very peaceful and quiet ambience. The hotel grounds have several large swimming pools and beautiful gardens and the rooms are spacious.

LUXURY: Phandara Luxury Villas
Nestled in the hills overlooking Sairee Beach, this property boasts gorgeous Bali-inspired villas with private pools and sea views.

Things to do at Sairee Beach, Koh Tao

1) Sunbathe, swim & snorkel

A long strip of tan sand and calm blue sea with a longtail boat on a sunny day at Sairee Beach.

Let’s start with the most obvious one. The long palm-tree-lined beach offers ample space to put your towel down and sunbathe. Sun loungers and parasols, however, are harder to come by but you might find some in Maya Beach Club at the southern end of the beach.

With its calm clear water and sandy shoreline, Sairee Beach is an excellent place for swimming, unless you visit when the tide is lowest and the water gets too shallow to swim (check the tide times).

Because of the warm shallow water, it’s also a perfect beach for families with young kids. Be aware that in the high season, which runs from December to February, there can be a lot of longtail boat traffic though.

Me sitting on a swing hanging from a tree on a beach and gazing at the sea.
There are also several swings on Sairee Beach

In front of the beach, there’s a coral reef where you can snorkel and see some fish. However, Sairee Beach is definitely not among the best spots for snorkeling on the island. You’ll find more vibrant marine life around the smaller and more remote Koh Tao beaches.

2) Watch the sunset

Me sitting on a beach chair with a cocktail in my hand, looking at the sunset at Sairee Beach.

Another one of the best things to do at Sairee Beach is to watch the sunset. As the beach faces west, it’s perfectly positioned to offer fabulous views of the sun dropping behind the horizon.

Grab a cocktail from one of the many bars on the beach, find a nice spot on the sand and enjoy the view. Most of the beach bars have happy hour deals during that time of the day.

3) Go SUPing

If you’re looking to do something a little more active, rent a stand-up paddle board and explore the calm blue waters of Sairee Beach. Although you can go SUPing at any time of the day, as long as the sea is calm, the sunset hour offers the most magical views.

Popular spots to rent SUP boards is SUP TAO at Maya Beach Club and Ban’s Diving Resort. You can rent them by the hour, for half a day or for a full day.

Other beach sports you can do on Sairee Beach are kayaking, beach volleyball, football and frisbee.

4) Get a massage

There are several little massage parlors on Sairee Beach, where you can get a variety of massages while listening to the relaxing sounds of the sea. You can usually choose between Thai massage, oil massage, aloe vera massage, foot massage and a few others. The prices are very affordable as well. 

We got a really good 30-minute aloe vera massage at Koh Tao Island Massage, which cost just 300 THB (8 USD). It’s the perfect way to soothe your sunburnt skin and relax after a long day of swimming, snorkeling or diving.

5) Book your diving and snorkeling tours

Koh Tao is famous for its amazing underwater world full of tropical fish and corals. Therefore, taking a snorkeling or scuba diving tour is a must-have experience on any Koh Tao itinerary.

On Sairee Beach, you’ll find the vast majority of Koh Tao’s tour operators and diving schools. If you’re interested in getting a diving certification you’ll have to set aside a few days to take a scuba diving course.

Otherwise, you can do a Discover Scuba Diving experience (also known as a Try Dive), which doesn’t require having a certificate. Or if you already have your certificate like we did, just step into one of the dive schools and book your dives.

If you don’t want to scuba dive, go on a snorkeling boat tour instead. On the snorkeling tours, you’ll usually circumnavigate the entire island of Koh Tao and explore the best snorkeling spots. 

This 7-hour snorkeling tour includes hotel transfers, 5 snorkeling stops, a traditional Thai lunch and snorkeling equipment. It also includes a stop at the wonderful Koh Nang Yuan Island, one of my favorite places to snorkel in Koh Tao.

You’ll also find a lot of longtail taxi boats on the beach, which can take you to the different snorkeling spots and other beaches around the island.

6) Enjoy the nightlife of Koh Tao

People watching a fire show performer on Sairee Beach at night.

Koh Tao is also known for its bustling nightlife and Sairee Beach is where most of the parties take place. From beachfront bars to sports bars and pubs with live music performances, there are options for every preference. You can also watch fire shows on the beach in the evenings.

Some of the most famous party spots at Sairee Beach are Lotus Bar, Fishbowl Beach Bar and Chopper’s Sports Bar. Chopper’s is also the starting point of Koh Tao Pub Crawl, which I’ve heard is a lot of fun.

During our visit in late September, we didn’t see any big parties taking place. The overall atmosphere was rather quiet (which I didn’t mind at all!) but I imagine it’s very different in high season.

7) Watch a ladyboy cabaret show

For a fun and entertaining evening at Sairee Beach, head to Queens Cabaret to watch a live performance by a team of fabulous ladyboys (which is not considered an offensive term in Thailand, by the way). The cabaret shows are held every night at 9pm and the entrance fee is 200 THB, which includes a free drink.

I didn’t personally see the show but based on the reviews I’ve read, people are raving about this place. Apparently, the performers in this cabaret are super talented and their songs, costumes and dancing are fantastic.

8) Go shopping

A paved walking path lined by small shops and lush tropical trees in Sairee Village at Koh Tao.
Sairee Beach walking street

The walking street along the beach, especially the northern part of it, is lined with different shops selling everything you might need during your holiday. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, beachwear, groceries, medicine, electronics, diving gear or camera accessories, you’ll find it here.

I was positively surprised by the small clothing stores here. They have some pretty cool boho-style clothes and accessories so if you want to expand your summer wardrobe, go check them out.

9) Hike to the viewpoints above Sairee Beach

In the mountains behind Sairee Beach, there are several viewpoints that you can hike to. Some of the most famous ones are Mango Viewpoint, West Coast Viewpoint and Small Viewpoint. I’ve marked the exact locations of these spots on the map at the end of this post. 

From there, you’ll get a panoramic view of the entire west coast of Koh Tao and its lush mountainous landscapes.

You can either hike up the entire way from Sairee Beach or take a taxi or a scooter halfway to cut down some of the hiking distance. The trails leading to the viewpoints can be pretty steep, so wear comfortable footwear and bring plenty of water.

10) Check out the statue of King Rama V

At the southern end of the beach, you’ll find a place of worship consisting of a large boulder and a statue of King Rama V. The boulder is inscribed with the king’s initials, which were carved into the rock in 1899 during his visit to the island.

He was a beloved Thai king who abolished slavery, introduced many beneficial social and economic changes and played an important role in modernizing Thailand.

Where to eat at Sairee Beach

When it comes to places to eat at Sairee Beach, you’re spoiled for choice. The walking street along the beach is lined with cafes and restaurants serving up delicious local and international cuisine.

Here are some places that I personally tried and can recommend:

  • For traditional Thai food: Tik Restaurant, Bella Thaifood, Sairee Cottage Restaurant
  • For a healthy breakfast, brunch or lunch: The Factory Cafe (lots of vegan options) & Blue Shark Brunch Cafe
  • For international cuisine: Sandbar Beach Club (trendy European-inspired cafe/restaurant on the beach) & Barracuda Rooftop Restaurant (delicious seafood)
A beach cafe with chairs and small tables on the sand, surrounded by large boulders and overlooking the turquoise sea at Koh Tao
Sandbar Beach Club

In the evenings, you’ll find many street food vendors on the walking street. I recommend buying some Thai pancakes with banana, chocolate and condensed milk from them – one of my all-time favorite Thai street foods!

A map of the main points of interest

On the map below, you’ll find all the hotels, restaurants and points of interest that I mentioned in this blog post. Click on the icon in the top left corner of the map for more details.

I hope this travel guide gave you a good understanding of what to expect when visiting Sairee Beach. 

For more tips and useful information for planning your trip, check out my other Koh Tao blog posts:

Enjoyed reading about Sairee Beach? Pin it!

A Pinterest pin with an image of a palm tree leaning over the sand and a text overlay stating 'Complete guide to Sairee Beach, Koh Tao'.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *