Koh Tao is backpacker haven, but that means things can be a little more expensive here. I am a budget traveler, so I set off to find cheap eats, alcohol, coffee and hostels.
First, let’s start with food
My ultimate favorite restaurant in Koh Tao is Mama’s, which I have proudly been to four times. It is located on the street going up from 7/11, away from the beach. Mama’s is a small storefront with only four tables. Warning: The food will come over very slow and at different times because there is just one lady cooking, Mama.
A few amazing items on the menu are (yes, I have tried every single one). Each of these dishes will run at 50-80 THB:
- Green Cury with Chicken
- Savory Cury with Chicken
- Pad Thai with Chicken
- Sweet & Sour Chicken
- Yellow Noodles with Chicken
If Mama’s is too crowded, two other great places to eat are on either side, 995 Roasted Duck and Pa Loy Thai Food.
If you are looking to stay by the bars, there is a circular wooden bar/table that has Thai food for 70 THB. It is along the road that is parallel to the beach. One awesome plus is you can bring up your own beer to drink while you eat. This food is not as good as the other restaurants, but it is fast and convenient. Pictured is Pad Thai with Chicken (a go to, cheap and delicious meal).
If you’re looking for reasonably priced Western food, Simple Life Restaurant does unlimited Pizza a few nights a week for about 200 THB. On the same street, from 5-7 pm every night Farango has two dishes for 90 THB- pizza and a chicken sandwich. Note: I have not personally been to these last two restaurants, but fellow travelers said they are good.
Now if you’re having some late night munchies… 7/11 is your answer. You can either go inside & grab a toastie. Or right outside to the right when facing 7/11 is the pancake man. He sets up when it gets dark and makes these mouthwatering pancake, egg things. I don’t even know what they are, but they are delicious.
Now to Alcohol…
Pregame/ pre drink/ whatever you want to call it. This is the key to saving money while going out.
As I mentioned in Koh Tao: Pro’s & Con’s the 7/11 is more expensive here. Instead, you should walk up the road in front of 7/11 and across the street from the 995 Roasted Duck, there is a walk up convenient store that sells the big Changs for 55 THB (7/11 has them for 70 THB)
If you want an even cheaper option, pregame with a bottle of Red Cock vodka and sprite. It won’t taste the best, but it’ll get the job done for cheap. You can find this vodka at the wholesale supermarkets around the island or at Tesco’s, if you’re in other parts of Thailand (Koh Tao doesn’t have a Tesco).
Another trick I did here was grabbed a 150 THB bucket from the little pop up stands in the village. You can’t take this into most bars because they sell their own for about 400 THB. But you can take it down to the beach and watch the fire shows. Big beach bars like Lotus and Sunset don’t notice if you bring in outsider’s buckets so just sneak it in there instead of buying tiny 100 THB drinks at their bar. Another option is to split it with friends and drink it while walking to the next bar.
For some reason, breakfast is really expensive in Thailand. I have no idea why, but a good bagel and coffee will cost you around 200 THB. If you’re just craving that Western breakfast (like I was today) head over to Indie Cafe. They have amazing bagel sandwiches and surprisingly decent wifi. Also, you have prime people watching views here.
I also tried Morning View Coffee and Bakery, which is next to 7/11. I ordered an omelette for 90 THB, which in reality was just an egg rolled up. A little disappointing. But their juice is amazing! 40 THB can buy you real mango juice. And 80 THB will buy you the Iced Mocha pictured.
I hope this helped you during your travels in Koh Tao. If you have any questions about my experience here, shoot me a message.