Lessons From the Koh Tao Mafia

JoshLifestyle9 Comments

When living on a small island in the Bay Of Thailand you can hear some pretty crazy shit.

For instance, a couple we met here moved into an apartment right next to Jill's yoga studio. The place they found was a really nice one bedroom apartment, fully decked out with beautiful chic Thai furniture, dark hardwood floors – plus it was in a great location.

The only problem is they got completely ripped off!

They were paying the same as they would back in the UK, and to put things into perspective a little, our monthly rent is equivalent to a week's stay in their apartment.

But here's where the story gets interesting.

They told their landlord they were going to stay for two weeks, but decided they would look elsewhere after paying for a week's worth of rent.

It was then that she [the landlord] snapped and started yelling at our friends, insisting they pay the remaining rent she was owed for the following week.

Our friends told us shit got really real when the landlord mentioned that if they didn't pay, she would send the local Koh Tao Mafia to retrieve the money.

Ummm what?

The Koh Tao Mafia

The Koh Tao mafia are made up of three families, all of whom don't take shit from anybody, especially not the local Westerners who live on the island – also known as the “Farangs”.

It's believed they originally come from the largest island in the region, Koh Samui, where apparently they're even more fearsome and from what I hear – will fuck your shit up if you don't cooperate.

These guys run the show, having a hand in almost every business on the island (we're talking water, electricity, bars, accommodation, hell, even the taxis and water taxis), including those owned by foreigners.

As a business owner if you don't kick up to the mafia, they may just burn your place down (it happened), run you off the island (it also happened) or potentially much worse.

Benefits of being in the Koh Tao mafia:

You live on one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

You get others to do the work for you.

You get paid really well.

You don't take shit from anybody.

You get laid a lot! I assume. I mean, Tony Soprano got laid a lot so I'm only guessing, but….

Downsides of being in the Koh Tao Mafia:

It's a small island so there is nowhere to run.

All your colleagues practice Muay Thai.

You could get shot.

Four Traits The Koh Tao Mafia Has That You Need

Leaving out the downsides of being a Thai Mafioso, I believe there are four characteristics these guys have that any number of us lifestyle business entrepreneurs need in business:

They don't take shit from anybody

And neither should you. Business is for gladiators and standing up for yourself is a prerequisite if you are to battle the fierce competition that lies ahead of you.

They live on a beautiful island and are willing to fight for it

Are you willing to fight for your business and what you truly want in your life?

They get others to do the work for them

The last thing we want is to leave one job for another. Learning how to leverage our profits by hiring others to do the work for us is one of the most important steps out of the nine to five.

They get paid…well

Cutting the bullshit for a second, we all have financial goals we set for ourselves. Even if you're happy right now being a total bum living in SE Asia, eventually we all want to stop thinking about every penny (or bhat) we spend.

Now I'm not condoning the life of a mafioso, but one thing I will say is they know what they want, and they're willing to do anything to make it happen.

Call me crazy, but I respect their willingness, drive and ambition. So much so that whenever I find myself reaching for a Kleenex when something doesn't go my way, I ask myself – “what would the Koh Tao mafia do?”.

They'd put down that Kleenex and kick some ass, that's what they'd do!


  • Natalie

    Thailands the heart of the entourage system (learnt all about it in Anthropogy at Uni). To understand what that means; take the well known safe sex slogan ” How many people are you really sleeping with”.. however in this instance its “How many people are you really going to be screwed by”.
    Be careful who you slight as that shop keeper may have a head of police in his entourage, which means for you, hello Michelle Corbi lifestyle.
    However on the flip side get in good with a Thai and you have an immediate entourage to call on when you’re in need!
    Take no shit yes…make friends with some locals and you wont have to!:))

    • Jill

      preach it girlfriend!

  • Sabrina

    Move over Jesus, WWKTMD – What Would Koh Tao Mafia Do? is taking over!

    • Jill

      hahaha I like that…it’s a way better acronym anyways 😉

  • Daniel

    Great post! Any tips for finding long term accommodation starting December?

  • Ryk Fawcett

    Yeah, good idea. Respect a bunch of amoral inbreds who will kill and intimidate to make money hand over fist at any cost. Also, you should follow this up with an article outlining the virtues of IS, and how even though they may behead people and commit atrocities, they sure know a thing or two about motivating people and keeping order amongst disenfranchised youths.
    I’m sure you’re nice people, not sure when you wrote this article, but right now it seems a little off kilter.

    • Josh Stanton

      Thank Ryk for the reply. We wrote this article a few years back now. I presume you think we respect all the bad things about the Koh Tao mafia? Maybe you didn’t get that most of the article was written in more of a sarcastic tone (being that I’m Australian) and that I don’t seriously have respect for the Koh Tao Mafia.

      Still, I appreciate your passion and enthusiasm on the subject.

      • Ryk Fawcett

        Yes I did get that Josh, you may have noticed I used sarcasm in my post too. It wasn’t a question of whether you really respected the Mafia, I just felt you didn’t really hit the mark with the tone you may have been attempting to achieve, although I appreciate now that you wrote it in 2013 and not after the grisly double murders of September 2014 which upon first glance made it seem particularly insensitive. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  • Carter

    Don’t go to Koh Tao. Cut the money off and don’t go 6 westerns killed in 2 years. Stay away