20 minutes drive to the South of Hua Hin will bring you to Khao Tao, literally translated – the Turtle Hill. Come with us to discover a little more about this place less known by the tourists. Here are some to-dos and some information about how to get there. 🙂
What is Khao Tao?
Khao Tao is a small village located in the South of Hua Hin, around 15 km far so 20 minutes drive. This part tends to be better-known by Thai people themselves and is less popular among foreign tourists. Therefore, you can easily hope to escape from the noise and from the busyness of other cities of Thailand, as mass tourism did not reach this hill yet. It is also possible to realise a day trip there, to go out of Hua Hin and discover a little bit more the surroundings.
Furthermore, it has a lot to offer for new arrivals. Two beaches close by, small fishing village, lakes, restaurants, breathtaking views over the coast … a lot of little treasures that will take your mind away for some days; or some hours.
Funny Fact – Khao Tao got its name from its turtle shaped rock outcrop. Indeed, in Thai “Khao” is “mountain” and “tao” is “turtle”.
Hat Sai Noi and Hat Sat Yai.
There are two beaches located in Khao Tao Village, located on either side of the hillside. The small one is called Hat Sai Noi – translated by Small Sand Beach – and the biggest one is Hat Sai Yai – translated by Big Sand Beach. When talking about both at the same time, it is more common to say “Khao Tao Beach”, although the hillside is forming a natural dividing line between the two beaches.
These two relaxing areas are usually quiet during the week but tend to get busy during the weekends though due to local Thai tourists who come down to the village to enjoy the view and the freshly caught seafood.
Good-to-know – Khao Tao was the first reservoir in Thailand, developed as a Royal Project.
Khao Tao Temple – Wat Tham Temple.
Khao Tao temple is an impressive complex which includes several caves, Buddha statues, shrines, a fishing village, freshwater lakes and beautiful lookouts over the coast. Once again, as Khao Tao in general, this attraction tends to be better known amongst Thai people rather than foreign visitors.
The Wat Tham temple is a mix of Chinese and Thai influencers, with small caves, Buddha carvings and images, as well as other important figures. Even if you are not interested that much about temples, this site offers some spectacular views over the Gulf of Thailand, with Hua Hin insight stretching away to the North.
If you come all the way here, you should make the effort to get on top of the hill to witness the view where the seated Buddha image looks out to the sea. Lower down is also a standing Buddha worth seeing. Although the steps take a little bit of effort, it’s worth it once you get to the top.
What can I do in Khao Tao?
There is a small sheltered bay at Hat Sai Noi with a few restaurants serving both local and western food, including a beach club with swimming pool and a relaxing atmosphere to spend your days or hours in a delightful ambience.
And the biggest attraction there stays the delightful little bay and the beaches where you can just enjoy relaxing moments in these paths that last km away. You can also take a look at the hill itself which is sometimes called “Monkey Mountain” because of the hundreds of monkeys who decided to move there.
Moreover, you can spend some time during the evenings in Khao Takiab where small bars have recently opened up instead of going back to Hua Hin directly. Khao Takiab has located 8 km away from Khao Tao. You can see some of these bars on the map below.
Khao Tao? Koh Tao?
This charming village has to not be confounded with Koh Tao. Koh Tao is an island close to Koh Samui.
Actually, “Khao” means “hill” whereas “Koh” means “island”.
How can I go to Khao Tao?
From Hua Hin.
You can take your own transportation or take a taxi or motorbike to cross the 15 km that separates you from Khao Tao.
There are also Songthaew buses that are by far the cheapest option. The buses are usually driving along the main road there – Phetkasem Road – and dropping you off to Baan Khao Tao Village where you do need to complete your trip by yourself or by taking a motorbike or tuk-tuk to cross the road down to the beach and the temple.
The best option – as the circulation can never be predicted – might be to hire a taxi for a day or for a half-day. Just ask him for a day rate and he will drop you off there and pick you up at the time that suits you the most.