Koh Tao is unexpected paradise for hiking addicts in Southeast Asia. Recently, I kicked off the Hike Your Heart Out series to highlight some of my favorite island trails, most of which remain hidden gems thanks to the lack of trail maps, marked routes and mentions from guidebooks and travel blogs. I’m excited about creating a resource to help travelers and locals alike to lace up their trainers and wander the island we affectionately call The Rock.
This edition is dedicated to a popular route up to Mango Bay Viewpoint. Technically, this gorgeous vista can be reached by motorbike — and I frequently see tourists attempting it — but please consider going by foot instead, especially if you aren’t an experienced driver, as the road is incredibly steep and poorly paved and accidents are all too frequent. Even if you escape unscathed, your bike is unlikely to, and you won’t like what rental agencies on the island charge you for even the most minor scratch. So, ready to get those glutes going?
Hop out of your hammock and let’s go!
Start Location: Living Juices. Living Juices, located next to Banyan Bar and Koh Tao Crossfit, is easily located on various Koh Tao maps around the island. It’s the perfect place to grab a pre-hike fueling smoothie bowl or a post-hike refreshing juice!
Once you’re ready to go, leave Living Juices and turn right, walking uphill away from the direction of Sairee Beach. You’ll walk past Island Muay Thai, Koh Tao Gym and Fitness, and eventually Tarna Align Resort — keep Tarna Align on your right to follow the main road. Eventually, you’ll crest the hill and find signs for the viewpoint, shown below, on your left. This is where you’ll tun off the main road.
Here, the jungle gets a little more lush and less and less signs of civilization appear. Eventually, you’ll see the following hut, which means you’re almost done ascending. You can grab a water or coconut here, or keep forging up towards the top.
Soon after, you’ll reach a fork in the road — and another place where you can grab a cold drink or a hot snack. This is also where you’ll need to make a decision. To the right, the path leads down towards Mango Bay. I have yet to try this route, as it is a much longer time commitment. To the left, the path leads to two options for enjoying Mango Viewpoint.
A few moments later, you’ll reach a second fork. I’ve taken both paths, each of which leads to similar viewing platforms and bars owned by separate families. Both charge an entry fee, both sell refreshments, and both have bathroom facilities. The difference? In my opinion, the view to the left is better as it is less obstructed, while the atmosphere and bar staff to the right are much nicer and chiller.
So, want to get the perfect photo? Go to the left. Want to hang out, have a fresh coconut and chat with some locals? Go to the right.
The photos above are from the viewpoint to the left of the fork. The photos below are from the viewpoint to the right. From either one, it’s about forty-five minutes back to Living Juices.
And hour and forty five minutes to two hours round trip, not including whatever time you spend admiring the view from the top!
3.5 out of 5. While the hike is long and the incline steep, the route is a relatively easy one to follow and chances of losing the trail are extremely low.
There is currently a 100B entrance fee ($3) to reach either viewpoint, which each sit on private land. While I personally wish they’d make the fee a bit more reasonable — that’s the price of dinner at a decent restaurant on Koh Tao! — it is their land to do with what they wish. They are regularly increasing price, so it may be even higher by the time you read this.
You may also wish to bring extra cash for a fresh coconut or cocktail at the top.
Need a Hiking Buddy?
Check your hostel, ask your dive crew, or check out Hiking on Koh Tao, an open Facebook group where you can ask questions, look for hiking groups, and share your hiking experiences. As you would in an new or unfamiliar setting, avoid hiking alone and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
Other Hikes in This Series
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Have you been hiking on Koh Tao? What’s your favorite route?