When we were researching lodging on Koh Tao before arrival, we found Sairee Cottages and decided that it sounded like it had the two things we were looking for: inexpensive price and central location.
It’s very easy to get to Sairee Cottages from Mae Hat where the ferry drops you off. With the ocean behind you, you just turn left and walk up into town and then follow the main road that runs parallel to the beach (but not directly next to it). After a 20 minute walk you’ll find Sairee Cottages in the center of Sairee Beach.
They offer a wide range of accommodations, from luxury bungalows on the beach to basic bungalows in the middle of the garden. We stayed in the double fan bungalow for $13 a night.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the somewhat surly staff. We had tried to book a reservation the night before, but had never gotten a solid confirmation. They had room however, and we ended up staying there anyway. We were satisfied with the basic bungalow, having stayed in something similar on Koh Phangan. But keep in mind when I say basic, I mean basic. They don’t even feel the need to give you toilet paper (you’re expected to buy your own-they sell individual rolls at all the markets for about 12 baht). On the other hand, they do give you towels and we had a nice little deck.
The location and the beauty of the grounds make up for the shortcomings though. All the buildings are surrounded by beautiful tropical plants and trees and are all well maintained. Being smack dab in the middle of the beach was great (our bungalow as near the back so it wasn’t loud), as we had lots of options for dining and drinks either way we turned.
They have their own dive school and tour desk that will help you arrange return travel to Bangkok or the other islands, or any tours you would like. They also have a restaurant (breakfast not included) but after one sub-par breakfast there we never ate there again (I recommend the New Heaven Café or Coffee Corner down the road).
We were happy with our stay in Sairee Cottage, and I would recommend it. The one drawback was the bizarrely surly and defensive attitude of the staff, but if you brush it off it’s not a big issue (and you don’t have to deal with them very much if you don’t want to). However, there are many, MANY places to stay on Koh Tao and you could certainly show up with no reservation and find a place to stay after a bit of a wander around. If Sairee Cottages had been unavailable, we would have had no problem finding something similar in a similar price range; but it seems many of the Koh Tao resorts don’t have websites or don’t come up right away on internet searches.