Welcome to my newest Koh Tao series! Hiking is one of my favorite things to do on Koh Tao, and I try to hit a trail at least once a week when I’m on the island. While in many ways Koh Tao is a hiker’s paradise, it’s also a secret one — there’s no trail map, routes aren’t marked, and most guidebooks and travel blogs gloss over anything that isn’t diving. I’ll be sharing my favorite routes as I find them in hopes of creating a resource for traveler’s to get out and explore the island on two feet!
Let’s kick things off with a very short but sweet wander — a quick trek up to the island’s Burmese Pagoda. This is a favorite of mine for when I’ve been inside all day, sunset is looming, and I’m looking to get in some quick cardio before nightfall. While the total distance may be meager, the steep incline gives you bang for your step buck, you can knock off some sightseeing at the same time, and a paved trail makes it nearly impossible to wander off course.
Start Location: Grounded Yoga Studio. Grounded, located next to Suksamran Villas, is easily located on Google Maps or on various Koh Tao maps around the island. It’s a good place to park a motorbike, or a very easy stroll from anywhere in Sairee. In fact, this hike would be the perfect warm up or cool down to a yoga class!
To get started, walk uphill in the opposite direction from which you arrived. The incline will gradually become steeper. After about ten minutes, you’ll see Star Villa on the left. Continue and turn left at the sign for the Pagoda.
After five minutes up a flight of small stone steps, you’ll hit the lower temple. There’s some weird signs here to entertain and/or horrify you, depending on your mood.
But don’t stop there, keep moving up! After less than five minutes, you’ll hit the upper temple, seperated from the lower by a paved road where you may find some bikes parked (so yes, technically, you could have driven here, but where’s the fun in that?) Depending on the time of day you might find monks, believers, other travelers, or absolutely no one at all.
When you’re ready to head back, head down to the paved road that separates the upper and lower temples. While you can always come back the same way you came up, I like to use the paved road to return to the starting point. It should take twenty minutes to go down.
Just 40 minutes round trip!
2 out of 5
Remember that this is an active pagoda. Remove shoes when you enter any of the sacred spaces, and it might be a good idea to throw a scarf in your bag in case the temple is in use or you just want to be extra respectful even when no one is watching! This can also be a super buggy area — I recommend sunscreen especially before sunset, when the mosquito go wild.
Need a Hiking Buddy?
Check out Hiking on Koh Tao, an open Facebook group where you can ask questions, look for hiking groups, and share your hiking experiences. It’s not always a very active group, but there are great resources in it and you might find a friend!
Other Hikes in This Series
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Have you been hiking on Koh Tao? What’s your favorite route?