Shops & Services
As with most popular tourism destinations, Koh Tao has definitely changed a lot over the years. Back in the early 2000s we didn’t even have 24hour electricity, and most of the roads you see today were either none existent or simple dirt tracks. There were relatively few shops and services on Koh Tao, and really only the necessities were catered for. Once the island became better known and gained a reputation as the top scuba diving location in Thailand, however, then the island slowly started to develop.
Nowadays the infrastructure is quite different. Electricity is stable, most accommodation providers have ac options as well as fan (back in the day this was not a choice!), and virtually every business you walk into will offer complimentary Wi-Fi. Gone are the days of old school internet café’s, where long-termers would queue up to send their monthly email updates back home!
Shops and services on Koh Tao have grown over time to meet increasing demand. It is possible these days to find almost everything you could need or want for your stay here from a local provider. Whether you are looking for diving equipment, swimwear, books, clothes, souvenirs, jewellery, or even accessories and outfits for a costume party, you can find it all on the island. The amount of western branded goods available has increased significantly too. So if you are one of those people who likes to use a particular soap or shampoo, then chances are you won’t have to go without. Koh Tao also provides a wide array of ancillary services too. So whether you are looking to get your laundry done, rent a scooter, have a massage, seek medical assistance, find somewhere to work out, or organise a wedding, Koh Tao has everything you will need!
While some people are negative about development and change, we see it as a bonus that visitors can still access their favourite creature comforts and enjoy amazing experiences while still enjoying the laid back, tropical vibe that Koh Tao has become famous for. Aside from 7-Eleven and a couple of phone and telecom providers, there are no major chains providing shops and services on Koh Tao. So while it is true there has been much development in recent years, it has not spoiled the charm of the island. Nor does it feel overdeveloped to us, unlike in some over popular Thailand tourist hotspots.
Most shops and services on Koh Tao are open every day, as ‘the weekend’ is not really a thing here. Every afternoon is a Sunday afternoon, and every evening can be a Friday night! If anything, some stores close on a Sunday, but many stay open 7 days a week, even throughout holiday periods.