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Introducing Ko Tao

First there was Ko Samui, then Ko Pha-Ngan; now, the cult of Ko Tao (‘Ko Taoism’ perhaps?) has emerged along Thailand’s crystalline gulf coast. Today, thousands of visitors come to worship the turquoise waters offshore, and quite often they stay. The secret to Ko Tao’s undeniable appeal? Simple: although the island is only 21 sq km, tiny Tao sure knows how to pack it in – there’s something for everyone, and nothing is in moderation. Diving enthusiasts cavort with sharks and rays in a playground of tangled neon coral. Hikers and hermits can re-enact an episode from Lost in the dripping coastal jungles. And when you’re Robinson Crusoe-ed out, hit the pumpin’ bar scene that rages on until dawn.

Many years have passed since the first backpacker came to the scrubby island and planted a flag in the name of self-respecting shoestring travellers everywhere (hello pizza parlours and ladyboy shows), but fret not, there’s still plenty of time to join the tribe. Ko Tao has several years to go before corporate resort owners bulldoze the remaining rustic cottages, and visitors start discussing stockholdings rather than sea creatures spotted on their latest dive.