Koh Tao has been a popular backpacking destination for many years. Travellers from all over the world come to visit the small island, and it’s not difficult to see why: beautiful beaches, panoramic views, incredible food, and undersea diving. It’s a paradise.
But as the saying goes, there is often trouble in paradise. Which is why you’re probably asking, “Well, is Koh Tao safe?” – and we can’t blame you. That is why we have created this guide for staying safe in Koh Tao.
We are going to be covering a huge amount of safety topics. From whether it’s safe to visit Koh Tao in 2020, to if it’s dangerous to travel Koh Tao as a solo traveler – and almost everything in-between.
You may be looking to travel to Koh Tao with your partner, or perhaps you’re visiting as a solo traveler. No matter your concerns, we’ll be addressing all of these issues in our complete Koh Tao safety guide.
How safe is Koh Tao (Our opinion)?
Koh Tao is a small island located in Southern Thailand, popular with backpackers, diving enthusiasts, and holiday-goers.
There’s drugs, theft, corruption, and various tourist scams. But that’s not all – there has been a series of murders and mysterious deaths on the island, labelling it the nickname ‘Death Island’.
Combine that with drunken stupidity, motorbike accidents, and severe weather, then Koh Tao could be more dangerous than you think.
However, the majority of trips to Koh Tao go as planned. At the end of the day, bad things occur in all parts of the world, but overall we have no problem saying that Koh Tao is a safe place to travel.
Now, let’s look at the facts at how safe Koh Tao actually is…
Is Koh Tao Safe To Visit (Facts)?
Since 2014 there have been at least nine deaths or disappearances of European tourists on the island of Koh Tao. The most distressing being the murders of British travelers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller who were brutally killed in 2014.
There have been several other unexplained and suspicious deaths on the island, all of which have been written off as either suicides or accidents. The island is rumored to be corrupt and mafia-run, which is certainly not unique to the island. It’s a known secret that many of the Thai islands are controlled by big powerful families.
Other deaths include 30-year-old Elise Dallemange, who was found dead in the jungle of April 2017 after having been half-eaten by lizards. The death was reported as suicide – but there are conspiracies that it was a coverup, and somebody else was involved. Dimitri Povse, 29 – found hung inside of a bungalow in 2015. Nick Pearson, 25, 2014, was found dead after ‘falling’ from a 50ft drop, police ruled the death as an accident although Nick’s family believe he was murdered. Christina Annesley, 23, who was said to have died from mixing antibiotics with alcohol. However, no toxicology report was administrated. Valentina Novozhyonova, 23, her body was found floating at the bottom of a swimming pool in 2016. Her family also accused the Thai police of a covering it up.
If you dig a little deeper you can also find several other accounts of people who have died on the island or mysteriously disappeared. When faced with the facts it is clear to say that these deaths prove more than just coincidental.
Which begs the question…
Is Koh Tao Safe To Travel Right Now?
When you take into account that Koh Tao receives over 100,000 visits a year, then the odds of something bad happening to you is significantly slim. You are still 1000 times more likely to fall off a motorbike, drown, or get hit by a car than to ever encounter any trouble on the island. Mafia or no mafia, your safety depends on your common sense and ability to stay out of trouble.
Thousands of people visit the island each year and fall in love with the beautiful paradise island. The island is extremely popular for its marine life, making it the scuba diving destination of choice in Thailand. Koh Tao is also home to many white-sandy beaches, amazing viewpoints, delicious foods, and tropical reefs. There are plenty of bars to choose from and happy-hour drinks to get you started. Of course, we all like to get drunk, but just remember that you are still in Thailand!
Is Koh Tao safe for solo travellers?
Travelling alone can be an incredible experience, and it’s something everyone should try at least once.
Like with any destination in the world, Koh Tao isn’t entirely risk-free. Nevertheless, as long as you exercise caution and keep your wits about you, travelling to Koh Tao alone can be very safe.
While Koh Tao is generally safe for solo travellers, visiting anywhere alone comes with its own set of dangers. Here are some travel tips for staying safe in Koh Tao when travelling alone:
- Don’t walk alone at night – a general rule for most places in the world, and Koh Tao is no exception. Avoid walking around in the dark on your own, and always take a taxi wherever possible. Steer clear of dark places and try to stay in busy areas.
- Stay in Guest Houses / Hostels – Travelling alone can become lonely, and it’s sometimes nice to have company. Hostels and guest houses are a great way to meet other travellers.
- Watch your drinks – There have been various reports of travellers having there drinks spiked in bars on the island. Always watch your drinks at all times.
- Trust your gut – if something doesn’t feel right, then that’s a sign to get out there. Always trust your intuition.
- Stay in public – avoid dark alleyways and places where there are no other people. Stay in public areas as much as possible.
Travelling alone can be enjoyable and safe at the same time. The primary thing to remember is to trust your intuition. If you do that, along with keeping your wits about you, you will have a safe trip.
Are Taxis Safe In Koh Tao?
There are no fixed price or metered taxis in Koh Tao, so the price depends on your ability to bargain. They will usually charge on a per-person basis and will try to fill up as many spaces as possible before leaving. If you’re travelling solo or as a couple, you will likely have to spend double the amount if you want to go instantly.
Taxis are safe to ride in Koh Tao, but make sure to agree on a price before entering the vehicle. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay at least a few hundred baht for most destinations on the island.
Koh Tao Travel Insurance
Always make sure to get travel insurance! Even if you’re only going for a short time, you should always take out travel insurance. Take our word, travel insurance can save you thousands of pounds – so make sure to get it before you leave.
We highly recommend using World Nomads, but there are many insurance companies to choose from so make sure to shop around to find the best deal.
10 Top Safety Tips For Travelling Koh Tao
- DON’T TAKE DRUGS – Getting caught with drugs in Thailand is a serious matter and the penalties can be severe. Worse, if you are caught trafficking drugs in Thailand you could even face the death penalty. This is fairly obvious, but do not buy, use, or transport drugs during your visit.
- PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MOSQUITOES – There is dengue fever in Koh Tao so please be careful with the mosquitoes. We recommend using repellant on both your skin and clothing and to use a Mosquito net when sleeping at night.
- ONLY DRINK BOTTLED WATER – Tap water in Thailand is not safe, and you should avoid it by any means. If you have no other alternative, we would suggest boiling the water first.
- BE CAREFUL WHEN HIRING A BIKE – To avoid being scammed, make sure you only hire a bike from someone reputable. A good way to tell is by looking for online reviews or asking hostel owners in the nearby area.
- KEEP YOUR VALUABLES LOCKED UP – Never leave valuables in your room without locking them up first. Most hostels and hotels provide safes where you can keep your valuables secure.
- DO NOT ACCEPT DRINKS FROM STRANGERS – There have been many reports of drink spiking and date rapes, never accept a drink from an unknown stranger.
- KEEP A PHOTOGRAPHED COPY OF YOUR PASSPORT – Ensure having a photographed copy of your passport in case you lose it. We will usually always keep a digital copy on email.
- MAKE SURE YOUR VACCINES ARE UP-TO-DATE – Before visiting Koh Tao, make sure you have all of the relevant vaccines and that they are up-to-date. You can find further information here.
- DON’T CARRY ALL OF YOUR CASH WHEN YOU GO OUT – Only bring a small amount of cash when you go out so if something happens it’s only a small loss. We would advise hiding an emergency stack of money somewhere in your belongings.
- BE CAUTIOUS OF KNOCK-OFF ALCOHOL – People have died from drinking counterfeit alcohol that is contaminated with methanol. If something is too good to be true, that usually means it is.
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