The smallest of the three islands in the Koh Samui Archipelago, Koh Tao, isn’t as popular as its larger neighbors in terms of partying and vacationing, but it one of the most popular spots in the world for obtaining your scuba licensing.
The island was, for the most part, abandoned until the 1980s-90s, meaning its infrastructure isn’t quite capable of handling much in the way of a luxury vacation or holiday.
Unless you know where to look.
When we arrived on Koh Tao and were met by Lamai at the pier, we hopped into the back of a pickup truck and were driven past Sairee beach and the roads that ran parallel. We ascended a few steep roads and as we rounded a corner, we saw the gate to The Place.
This was a ridiculously steep hill that started its incline almost immediately (we would workout our leg muscles a few times climbing the adjacent stairs over the next couple days) until we plateaued and were met by a dozen or so employees who clapped at our arrival. We were greeted with hot towels dipped in lemongrass water. Honestly, we were pretty awkward in our reception. Why are people being so kind and hospitable to us, like who are we to deserve such special treatment?
We approached the gate to our villa and saw an entrance sign with our names on it (this was a really nice touch), opened the gate and were met with one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen. All of those hills we climbed put us above the tree canopies and gave us a gorgeous view of the Gulf of Thailand.
We toured around our villa, were given a cellphone preprogramed with a few convenient phone numbers and a giant basket of food and goodies, shown how to use all of the amenities, asked if we needed anything, and left to enjoy our mini life of luxury.
Some of the highlights are straightforward from the pictures, but there were so many extra services that we really appreciated:
📱 The preprogrammed cellphone gave us instant access to Mr. Bear, a local taxi driver with incredible timing and solid rates.
🚲 Free access to bicycles which we never used for some reason that escapes me still.
🤿 Free use of snorkel equipment that we took out on Aow Leuk Bay.
🧺 A laundry service. When you’re traveling more than one to two-ish weeks, these services help you cut down on your packing list. They use line drying as part of their commitment to Save Koh Tao and eco-friendly practices.
The inside had a long, stretching couch with a bagillion comfy pillows to lounge on, a full kitchen along with some food staples including a delicious banana jam that we crushed. The large bed sat elevated from the rest of the floor, enclosed in a mosquito net with some entertainment options (I took a nap to Casino Royale in our comfy, included robes while Rachel was sorting through some things one day. When I woke up, she had passed out too from the comfort.) The best part, however, was the bathroom – the glass ceiling, the stone pathway, and the numerous plants making it look like we were bathing in a tropical jungle rather than a bathroom.
Once we stepped outside the floor length sliding doors, we were met by plenty of lounge, bean bags, and chaise chairs. Seriously, we could have sat on a new chair every day for over a week. There is a bamboo fence around your deck that provides plenty of privacy from the neighboring villas. But the number one feature was the infinity pool that we got to hop in and take in the view. It’s not heated, so the water was fairly cool when we went during shoulder season in October. We also only used it at sunrise or sunset, so the middle of the day may have been better, too.
The Place is currently priced at $450 for two nights (prices went up ฿1000/night after we went), but when you compare that to a stay at a traditional hotel on a beach in the US, you’re looking at a great deal for all of the added luxuries that you get.
Is Koh Tao on your bucket list? Let me know if you’d stay at The Place or if you’d rather find a budget hostel in the comments below.