You will probably take the occasional island getaway from Chiang Mai, so I thought I’d mention Koh Tao.
This is an excerpt from Digital Nomad Escape Plan’s “Dark Parts” section. You can pick up the whole book for free here.
Homicide Island.. Homicisland?
The island has built itself a reputation for being the final destination of many foreigners over the last few decades. My guess –tourism has rubbed some locals the wrong way.
There are so many islands to visit that it’s easy to skip Koh Tao, which is a popular hotspot for scuba diving Europeans because of mainstream travel guides published about the country.
Too many deaths, questionable suicides, or missing persons in the news to call it a coincidence; I won’t step foot there, never have.
It has been alleged time and again in Western media that there’s a handful of villains there who go “Springbreakers” on foreigners because they can, followed by mysterious activity during investigations. No one can say for certain who the culprits are, whether they are locals, or foreigners.
I won’t form any arguments one way or the other because I wasn’t there —and to comply with Thai defamation laws I will not speak negatively of any officials, police, or any political figures.
I won’t endanger my ability to return to such a beautiful country. Thailand is amazing –one bad apple doesn’t mean the whole tree is spoiled. I’ll just link to news sources, and let you make your own observations.
Highly-publicized mysterious deaths I am familiar with are those of David Miller, Hannah Witheridge, and Jean-François Louet. At the time of writing, there’s a missing Russian expat named Valentina Novozhyonova currently making front page news around the globe.
Decide for Yourself
Some will say it’s my loss to not visit Koh Tao, or I am being paranoid –so as with anything in this guide, I leave it to you to decide for yourself. I hope the trolls can humor me on this one as this book is for absolute beginners.
I lived in Bangkok for about a year and I loved it; others might say Koh Tao is safer than Bangkok. Once you’re acclimated to Thailand, you’ll be in a better position to decide for yourself.
I suggest you check out ThaiVisa.com and sign up for the newsletter or pick up the app to see how interesting the Thai media perspective is, where reading between the lines is where you’ll find the meat of any article.
Alternatives to Koh Tao
To help you explore your options I (affiliate) link to hotels below, however there are some really amazing Airbnb options in and around the islands, too.
If it’s cold beer, white sand, and the occasional pick up you’re after I suggest the quiet Koh Lanta. If you’re looking for the best Full Moon Party in Thailand, organize a trip to Koh Pha Ngan (aka Koh Phangan).
I love Thailand, and I love its people. Although as with any travel where you don’t have the “home team advantage” in terms of rights and a legal system you’re familiar with –play safe. And respect the conservative values, customs, and unwritten law of being a classy traveler (ie. don’t fuck on a public beach when there’s other people around).