After nearly a week of hard partying on Koh Phanang, it was time to explore further and we'd all heard amazing things about Koh Tao. Koh Tao is kind of like Koh Phanang was around 5-10 years ago, it's the island of the moment, the one every traveller will tell you that you simply MUST go there. That no matter what type of traveller you are, you will surely love it. To an extent, I have to agree that I can't imagine many people going to Koh Tao and finding any serious reasons to hate it. It's a beautiful place full of travellers and holiday makers, but for me it lacked any real culture or Thai feeling. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't disappointed in any way because I had purposefully not gone there looking for that. This just serves as a warning for other travellers to not go with expectations of a real Thai island - go there to party, go there to relax, go there to enjoy the beaches and meet people. I loved my time on the island but you don't go there to experience Thai culture, this is a tiny island with a lot of tourists overpopulating it and if you ask me, it doesn't have long left before it goes the same way as Koh Phi Phi.We arrived by ferry and started trudging up the hill with our bags, desperate to get away from the tuk tuk drivers and hostel touts trying to take our money at the port. We headed towards Sairee Beach which we had heard was home to the best nightspots and beach, we didn't make it very far and snapped up a cheap room for the night at Mr J's. It wasn't great but we made a plan to go straight out minus the bags and find somewhere better for the next day. Three of us bunked in one room and two in the other, but heading out down the beach we decided to move the following morning to SB Cabana which offered three bungalows between five of us, just behind the beach, for just 300bt each across three nights. These were much better and were right in the middle of the main strip which gave us great access to all the best bars and restaurants. On our first night, two of our group stayed in while one got over a cold, but the other three of us decided to head out for dinner and a massage, before we knew it, it was 4am and we were walking back after a lot of cocktails and a lot of fire show limbo - a pretty good start to our time on the island.The next few days passed in a blur of parties and fun with our little gang, I can't fit it all into this post, but one of my highlights had to be the night we all went to the ladyboy show, The Queen's Cabaret, which was hilarious and the best night's entertainment ever. Free entry, but drinks are expensive. It's amazing value and we had a great time singing along to all the songs, the two guys in our group even ended up with a starring role in the show when they were dressed up as ladyboys and took part in the final number. The night didn't stop there and we spent the rest of it partying on the beach with loads of friends we picked up along the way. I'll be honest and say the music wasn't anything incredible and the drinks were average. Although they did sell some pretty tasty buckets that weren't full of red bull which was a revelation for me. But one great thing about the island is how friendly everyone is, something I didn't really find when on Koh Phi Phi, everyone here wants to make friends and party together so you feel really welcome. That alone makes for some amazing nights out.Away from the parties, there's actually lots to do. I didn't do the diving this time because I was told the water was pretty murky and I didn't want to waste my chance but I hope to go back in May. One afternoon, me and one of the guys headed up on a scooter to the viewpoint to check out the island, it was a pretty nerve wracking drive up and really steep, but we made it! Sadly we had chosen a pretty cloudy day so we couldn't appreciate the full beauty of the island, but it was pretty amazing to look out across the bay even if we couldn't see the sunset. Heading down in the dark was a bit hairy but funny, and we were soon down at the beach again. The following day, for our final day as a five-some, we hired a long tail boat, grabbed some beers and snacks, and headed out for a day of swimming, snorkelling and exploring a tiny island called Nang Yuen. It was perfect, the water was crystal clear, the sun was hot, the beer was kept ice cold, and there were loads of fish. Yang Nuen was simply stunning as you can see from the pictures and it was a great hangover cure from the night before. Our final night together was the biggest party yet with lots of buckets, naked fire limbo, splashing around in the sea, dancing and singing at the top of our voices and lots of other hilarious moments. A perfect end to our little gang. After three of the group left, one of the girls and I stayed a few extra days to sunbathe and enjoy the island.
Have you been to Koh Tao - what did you think of the island? Have you seen a ladyboy cabaret - did you have as much fun as we did?