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Although Koh Tao is best known for its scuba diving, there is a thriving subculture of international music, colourful art and performance, and outstanding nightlife beneath the laid-back island surface.
Everything is shared by Thai people. If you see Thai people drinking together, they're probably sharing a beer tower or a bottle of whisky with soda, as well as a table full of food to share. Sharing is the Thai way of life, thus it's advised that you join in and contribute something to the sharing.
Being stingy, loud, or demonstrating a lack of drinking discipline will not win you many Thai friends. Proper behaviour is required when in public.
There is food where there is drink. In contrast to English drinking, Thais have it down pat when it comes to replacing themselves with nourishment so that alcohol will deplete it.
When visiting the pubs on Koh Tao and nearby places, many Thais prefer a more western style of drinking. They frequent Western-style bars, go partying, and enjoy spending time in wine bars.
Sairee Beach is a fantastic spot on Koh Tao where most visitors come to enjoy beautiful sunset views, fire dancing displays, and a cool drink by the water. The beach is dotted with bars and clubs that offer live music, international DJs, movie screenings, and live sporting events to the general public. Every location has an extensive selection of imported wine, beer, and cocktails. The island's famous cocktail, the Sangsom Bucket, made with whiskey and tonic water or energy drink, is a must-try.
No trip to Koh Tao nightlife is complete without a stop at Queen's Cabaret, which is more of a performance than a bar. This nightly performance is free – all they ask is that you buy a couple of drinks – and the drag queens put on a fantastic spectacle that frequently concludes with the crowd dancing alongside the queens on stage. The show is fun and hassle-free – there are no frauds like there are at ladyboy shows in Bangkok – and it starts and ends early enough for people to continue to the mayhem of neighbouring Sairee Beach after dark.
Fish Bowl, a long-standing fixture in Koh Tao nightlife, has dominated the after-hours circuit for years, with a beautiful beachfront location, all-night drink promotions, and plenty of live music. Stay until about 10:30 p.m. for the nightly beer pong tournament, or head down to the beach for the fire shows right outside the door.
Beyond the bar's iconic VW Kombi at the front, there's a smattering of treehouse buildings adorned with local art. The welcoming atmosphere and chilled-out audience are what Koh Tao Island is all about, from its nightly jam sessions to a general anything-goes spirit. On Fridays, don't miss the free weekly BBQ.
Maya, which is directly on the main stretch of Sairee Beach, is a lovely midday hangout that transforms into a low-key nightlife staple after dusk. During the day, relax in the comfortable lounge chairs placed up across the beach or paddle off the coast on a SUP board. By the time you return the happy-hour drink promotions will have kicked in, and you'll be watching the sunset below the sea while listening to one of Maya's numerous visiting international DJs.
The Local is a place where everyone is welcomed with big smiles, chilled beers, live music, and a homely atmosphere. It does daily events including:
This is Koh Tao's only craft beer bar. Serving both draft and bottles.
Its restaurant serves a selection of original Sri Lankan curries, homemade Naans, and also Eastern European cuisine. In addition, daily specials are always available.
Waxx is a new after-party place for underground music open seven days a week as of launch on June 4, 2022.
Doors open at 10 pm and stay open till the early hours of the morning. It plays house, minimal, and techno music.
Location: Bro & Sis bar Maehaad