Koh Tao is a relatively new discovery in comparison to other tourist destinations in Thailand.
Located in the Gulf of Thailand approximately 70km from the mainland and covering just 21 square kilometers, Koh Tao is a small but distinctive island.
Koh Tao translated means “Turtle Island” (Koh = Island) and (Tao = Turtle.) The Koh Tao legend states, the island got its name from its shape, which resembles a turtle. However, others say the name was given to the island as it used to be a major breeding ground for Sea Turtles.
The island only started to inhabit Thai nationals in the last 100 years or so, and even then it was used primarily as a place of shelter for fisherman from inclement conditions rather than offering a permanent residence.
It was not until 18th June 1899 that His Majesty King Chulalongkorn (Rama V 1868-1910) traveled to Koh Tao for the first time and marked the occasion by creating his own monogram on a boulder near Sairee Beach. Today you will find an impressive 8ft statue of King Chulalongkorn Rama V 1868 – 1910) located on the South of Sairee Beach in his honour.
From 1933 – 1947 the island was used as a political prison. It was in 1947 the prime minister Khun A-Paiwong received a royal pardon to free all political prisoners on the island so they could return to the mainland or neighbouring islands.
After the royal pardon in 1947, Thai nationals began to take residence on Koh Tao, earning a living from farming and trading with local islands such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and the mainland.
Some 30 years later in the 1980’s travelers started to make the journey to Koh Tao in fishing boats. Once they arrived they fell in love with its natural beauty and biodiversity.
Quickly the word spread of this little gem in the Gulf of Thailand and in present day, access to and from the island is much more advanced, with high speed air conditioned catamarans that service the island twice daily.
The island has slowly developed over the years and now provides services such as banks, a post office, atm machines and a hospital.
Throughout its development due to its small size, it has still managed to maintain its rustic, tropical island charm and natural beauty.
Koh Tao, provides unlimited access to some of the most idyllic, peaceful beaches and bays that the Gulf of Thailand has to offer, providing the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind.
You will find a great selection of restaurants serving traditional Thai food, as well as western dishes and a vibrant nightlife scene, ranging from relaxed beach bars to hedonistic all night parties.
Koh Tao has a wide variety of activities to choose from to suit all ages; whether it be for relaxation purposes, to keep fit or to try something new e.g snorkeling, diving, water sports, yoga, cinema, rock climbing or mini golf and bowling, just to name a few.
Tags: History, Koh Tao