Just as a reminder :
Will You Still Want To Visit Koh Tao?
Merilyne C. Milton
Sep 13 · 9 min read
After a few cases of unsolved murders
Photo from Klook
I have been to a few places in Thailand but not to Koh Tao. Ko Tao or often spelled as Koh Tao is a small island, compared to its neighboring islands — Ko Samui and Ko Pha-ngan — Like most islands in Thailand, Koh Tao is known as a backpacker’s paradise because of its massive beauty (crystal clear beaches, cheaper diving courses, a must-go island for most tourists after attending the Full-Moon party on the next door island, Ko Pha-ngan). Unfortunately, not all that glitters are gold. In this article, I will be covering: About Koh Tao, murders, and survivors.
ABOUT KOH TAO
Like many other islands in South East Asia, islands in Thailand are one of my favorites after the Philippines. Koh Tao is one of the beautiful islands in the Gulf of Thailand which is located in Surat Thani province. Tao means turtle while Ko means Island — so, it is Turtle Island. Its rich marine life makes the beaches around Koh Tao a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving. If you are lucky, you may get the chance to see sea turtles underwater and white baby sharks.
What are other things that you can do in Koh Tao?
(1) Go to several pristine beaches — You won't want to miss the beautiful and breezy beaches in Koh Tao. No chance of escaping anyway, you are on the island already. LoL. When talking about beautiful beaches, there are a lot. Sairee Beach is said to be the busiest and most popular on Koh Tao. If you want to go to a place that is a little laid back and rarely crowded, you can stay in Ao Tanot Bay. You can click here for more information on Koh Tao's beautiful beaches.
(2) Go hiking if you have time — Some people say if you want to capture the best photos, you have to hike. So, go hiking if you want to explore more hidden beauty of Koh Tao from the summit.
Here are few hiking trails for your Koh Tao adventure:
Hiking from Sairee to Fraggle Rock Viewpoint — 1 hour
Hiking Sairee to Lighthouse Bay Koh Tao — 2 hours
Hiking Sairee beach to Laem Thian & Mao Bay — 2 hours
Hiking Mae Haad to Chalok Baan Kao Bay — 2 hours
Hiking Route from Sairee to Tanote Bay — 3 hours
(3) Koh Tao nightlife— If I don’t mention this, then it is not Thailand. We all know that Thailand is a synonym for its nightlife parties. Since Koh Tao is just a small island, don’t expect the clubs are somewhat like in Patong — Phuket. You shouldn’t miss going to Sairee Beach because one of their highlight events at night is the Fire Show which is performed by the fire dancers doing all the dangerous moves with the fires. There are quite a few beaches that have Fire Show. You can enjoy the show while sipping your Margarita at the bar. Click here for more information on Koh Tao nightlife.
(4) Other activities — There are other fun activities that you can do on Koh Tao island; like kayaking, taking a PADI open water diving course just in 3-days, wakeboarding — just to name a few. Please check on here for more.
THE DEATH ISLAND
Photo from YouTube (May their souls rest in peace)
They say Koh Tao belongs to mafia hitmen and anyone that has business on the island has to obey their rules. But the authorities said the mafia thing was a long time ago and they got rid of it — already. (Oh, really?). So, who were the men that hounded Sean McAnna and told him to confess to the police for killing Hannah Witheridge and David Miller? I could accept the fact that bad incidents may happen anywhere but what about incidents that happened mostly to foreigners? Will you call it a coincidence too?
Have you heard of the story that happened to Hannah Witheridge and David Miller last 2014? It was all over the internet — until today. Two Burmese workers were found guilty of the rape and murder of the victims. So, is Koh Tao safe now since the two Burmese have been put behind bars? More and more death cases in Koh Tao and the Thai authorities explained the incidents as “unfortunate accidents or suicides”. Can you imagine this? Did they travel to Thailand — just to commit suicide? Something was not right with the verdicts. The question is— Did Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo kill Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on Sairee Beach? Some sources say they had been framed for the murder. If they are not the ones who should be responsible for the murder— then — Who is/are the real killer(s)?
Here is a list of names of foreigners who were murdered or (because of unfortunate accidents and suicides— as to how the Thai authorities claimed most of the death cases on Koh Tao). Sigh.
Nick Pearson (1/1/2014)
Went to Koh Tao with his parents for a vacation.
Scuba divers found Nick Pearson’s body in the sea after he disappeared following a night out with his family on New Year’s Eve.
Thai police recovered his body [and]the next day, they were told he had fallen 50ft and drowned in an accident.
Hannah Witheridge (15/9/2014) & David Miller (15/9/2014)
Two British — Hannah Witheridge, 23 from Briton, and David Miller, 24, from Jersey, were brutally beaten to death with a wooden hoe in 2014 while on Sairee Beach, as they walked back to their hotel room.
David’s body was found naked with a fractured skull and a deep cut to his neck.
Hannah’s body was also found naked with a disfigured face about 20 meters away.
Hannah was also raped in the attack.
Please click here for more information on the murder.
Hans Peter Suter (8/11/2014)
Koh Tao tourist police said Hans Peter Suter, 44, “had just completed a divemaster scuba course” on Koh Tao (Chiangrai Times, 2014).
Three days before he went missing, a doctor told him not to swim because it could lead to “blindness”,(Chiangrai Times, 2014).
Thai Police said Mr. Suter was “under stress” and “did not have any money” (Chiangrai Times, 2014).
Something was off with the points they reported on the news. I mean, the divemaster scuba course is not cheap — it total costs approximately 41,800 baht, of which the diver will need to pay for few materials required for the divemaster course at 7,900 baht. Even an entry-level diving costs around 2,500 baht — and when the Thai police claimed Mr. Suter had completed the course, so what’s with the “blindness” issue? As an adult at the age of 44, he surely concerns about his financial situation, and the Thai police claimed Mr. Suter “did not have any money” — which wasn’t parallel to his expensive activity on the island. And how did the police know he was “under stress”? Did they talk to him before he died? — Again, the authorities did not clarify the matter.
Dimitri Povse (1/1/2015)
Dimitri Povse, 29, a Frenchman, was found hanged in a bungalow on the island on New Year’s Day 2015 (Bangkok Post, 2017).
Police confirmed it was a suicide — despite his hands being tied behind his back (Bangkok Post, 2017).
Valentina Novozhyonova (15/2/2017)
Valentina Novozhyonova, 23, disappeared from her hostel on Koh Tao (Charlton, Corey, 2017).
Her mobile phone, passport, and camera were in her room when the hostel staff checked her room when she did not show up upon check-out time (Charlton, Corey, 2017).
Has still not been found (nz.herald.co.nz, 2017).
Elise Dallemagne (Found dead on 28 April 2017)
Police have released what is believed to be the final image of a Belgian backpacker who was reportedly found dead half-eaten by lizards on a Thai island (Robinson, Lucy-Pasha, 2017).
The death had been ruled as suicide, with police claiming the woman was found with a rope around her neck (Bangkok, Coconuts 2017).
Bernd Grotsch (17/6/2018)
Bernd’s body was found at his home deep in the jungle in the Mae Haad part of Koh Tao (Rogers, Jon 2018).
[Thai]authorities told the family in Ingolstadt that [Bernd] died of “heart failure” or had been “bitten by a snake” (Rogers, Jon 2018).
[Bernd’s family] claimed they have still not received an autopsy report and [Bernd’s body] was sent against their wishes to the same Bangkok hospital that carried out botched reports on the bodies of two Brits murdered [Hannah Witheridge and David Miller] on the same island in 2014 (Rogers, Jon 2018).
The family claimed the circumstances surrounding [Bernd’s] death and the local police’s refusal to co-operate with them have led them to believe the death is “suspicious”(Rogers, Jon 2018).
Click the names below for more information on the victims:
Ian Jacobs (15/1/2000)
Ben Harrington (30/8/2012)
Christina Annesley (21/1/2015)
Luke Miller (8/1/2016)
Alexandr Bucspun (9/10/2018)
Samyak Choudhary (24/3/2019)
There are also few survivors who have traveled to Koh Tao. You may want to watch the interviews carried out by (Ian Yarwood, an Australian Solicitor) Koh Tao Murders Island and The Telegraph on YouTube channels.
Carla Bartel from Canada (29 July 2013)
Sam Venning from United Kingdom (29 July 2013)
George (not his real name), from Netherlands, was in Koh Tao (26 May 2013)
Sean McAnna, a Scottish, who knew the murdered British backpacker, David Miller, says he was forced to flee the Thai island of Koh Tao after being threatened by local mafias — The Telegraph (2014)
I am a Malaysian and I love to travel, too. One of my missions is to travel to all South East Asia countries (but still having a second thought of East Timor..LOL). I have been to Thailand but not to the southern part of Thailand. And I went to Thailand without knowing a single thing about these murders. My deepest sympathy to the families of those victims. These incidents are a wake-up call for travelers like you and me — knowing that going to other countries, is like going to other people's homes — always maintain well-behaviors.
Always be extra careful in Thailand. A little of past history might help. Did you know that Thailand is the only country in South East Asia that was never been colonized by European power? Maybe this has nothing to do with the murders but if possible, try to avoid having issues with Thai people. Even though if the guy is smaller or shorter, trust me, you have an issue with one guy, 10-guys coming for you. Thai people usually will help their own people — no matter if you are on the right side of the argument or not — They will still think you are wrong.
Thailand is like a paradise when it comes to its islands, and the people are friendly, too. Remember, it is known as The Land of Smiles. I'm in love with it, too — no doubt! Even the sky looks different than the one in Malaysia — okay, that sounds exaggerating, but seriously — all the islands are beautiful in Thailand. If you plan to go to Thailand for your next vacation, please bring along your partner or friends. Or if you are a solo traveler, just join with other travelers that you meet there so that you have company. If you prefer to be alone, just be careful. I mean — extra careful. Always be aware of your surroundings. Try to avoid narrow paths, hidden and dark places that have fewer people passing by — if you are walking alone.
I know Thailand is heaven for party-goers. There is nothing wrong with having fun with friends at a club or bar for your holiday. But please — please don’t get too drunk until you can’t even find your way back to your hotel. Please always look after your belongings — like your passport, smartphone, and your wallet. Always know your limit when you are in other countries.
I have nothing against Thailand. I repeat — I have nothing against Thailand. This article is just a reminder for us. Whenever we go to Thailand or other countries, we should try to live by the norms of the countries —respect their cultures and beliefs.
So, will you still want to consider Koh Tao as your next destination?
If you’re asking if I still want to go to Koh Tao — honestly — I am not sure. Sometimes, even if we don’t do anything bad, we obey all the rules and respect their culture and people — bad things will still happen. With all the tragic and suspicious incidents taking place in Koh Tao, the murder of foreigners is not an unusual phenomenon. With a country known for its corruption, and ‘Thai pride’— the cover-ups are not a new thing either. What do you think? Please share your thoughts.
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