Koh Tao may be a scuba diving mecca, but beneath the guidebook surface there’s an entire subculture of international music, lively art and performance, and impressive nightlife. From beaches to viewpoints, check out the best spots on Koh Tao to find your 5-o-clock somewhere.
Located right on the main stretch of Sairee Beach, Maya is the beautiful afternoon hangout locale that seamlessly becomes a low-key nightlife staple after sunset. By day, chill out in the comfy lounge chairs set up across the beach or hop on a SUP board to paddle off the coast. By the time you return, happy hour drink specials will be in full effect as you watch the sun dip below the sea to the tune of one of Maya’s many visiting international DJs.
This newer venue – complete with an awesome rooftop terrace – is a breezy open-air space connecting the main walking street with the beach. There’s nearly always some special going on, like its Wine Down Wednesdays or Rock N’ Roll Sundays, with a packed lineup of local live music always on deck. Just out front of the venue there’s a daytime juice joint – Living Juices – that morphs into a late night sandwich shop – Courtyard Sandwich Co. – to keep your cravings at bay all day long.
Get away from the main drag on Sairee to check out this Mae Haad nightlife hub that features a great mix of live music and special event nights all week long. From its hotly-attended Latin party nights and rotating house DJs, dance the night away or kick back your feet in their beautiful garden venue.
Beautifully located right on Sairee Beach, this brand new ocean-facing pool bar has got it all. From their gorgeous sunbeds, separate jacuzzi, an on-site Thai kitchen, and amazing DJs on staff to provide all-day tunes through their state-of-the-art sound-system, your afternoon hang will seamlessly turn into a night out to remember.
If you’ve had your fill of Chang and Singha, head over to the island’s only craft beer and cider bar and explore their enormous menu of bottles from all over the world, including a great assortment of local Thai craft beers. The owners are very friendly and knowledgable, happy to recommend your new favourite beer that fits your palate to a tee. They’ve also recently started serving Nitro cold brew coffee all day long to give you that jolt you’re craving, paired with awesome Indian-styled breakfast options from its adjoining kitchen, Shalimar.
If you’d rather get away from the thumping soundsystems of Sairee Beach, wander down to this secluded spot off Sai Nuan beach for a slice of your personal paradise. The standalone bar is beachy to its core – made of thatched wood and bamboo, perfectly open-air but able to provide cover during a rainstorm, so you can watch the storms roll in over the water with your beer firmly in hand.
Enter beyond the bar’s signature VW Kombi out front into the mélange of treehouse structures decked out with local art. From its nightly jam sessions to a general anything-goes vibe, the friendly atmosphere and chilled-out crowd is what Koh Tao Island is all about. Don’t miss the weekly free barbecue each Friday.
While most island bars channel the beach, Natural High is all about the views. Sat atop a beautiful viewpoint over Chalok Village, this open-air treehouse offers panoramic vistas of the south of the island and is perfectly positioned to catch a great breeze all day long. A perfect spot to rest from the daytime heat with a view beers – and a view – or catch a few games of pool in a great atmosphere by night.
While not as much of a bar as a performance, no dive into Koh Tao nightlife is complete without a trip to Queen’s Cabaret. This nightly performance is free – they only ask that you buy a few drinks – and the ladies in drag put on one hell of a fun show that all too often ends up with the audience on stage dancing alongside the queens themselves. Fun and hassle-free – there’s no worry of the scams frequent to ladyboy shows in Bangkok – the show kickstarts any evening out and ends early enough so guests can carry on to the madness of nearby Sairee Beach after dark.
A long-term establishment to Koh Tao nightlife, Fish Bowl has commanded the after-hours circuit for years, offering a gorgeous beach-side location, all-night drink specials, and lots of live music. Stick around till after 10:30pm to take part in its nightly beer pong tournament, or head down to the beach to take in the fire shows just off the doorstep.