Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Samui is the biggest islands of the Gulf of Thailand, and the second largest of the country. However it is not really huge and you can go around and visit its most important beaches and touristic atraction point in one day by motorbike or car. Despite of its infraestructure and tourism development, Koh Samui still have wonderful beaches, as charming as other island, as Phuket, has.

In the past, Koh Samui was an island with some fisherman towns and little resort which guested mainly backpakers. But in few decades, it became into one of the most popular and developed touristic destination of the Kingdom of Siam. Nowadays this tropical island offers you everything: all kind of resorts, restaurants, nice beaches and all sort of alternatives for leisure.

ℹ️ Top Things to Do in Koh Samui

Ang Thong National Park

Ang Thong Marine national Park, ThailandAng Thong Marine National Park, (Mu Ko Ang Thong) is a natural reserve park composed by 42 charming small virgin islands where you will find some of the best beaches in Thailand. Building in the islands of the marine parks is forbidden, so its beaches have not become victims of the real estate boom. You can go there by speedboat or boat tours that offer you to visit some islands, do snorkel, and they include meals.

Big Buddha Temple

Big Buddha, Koh SamuiWat Phra Yai temple has a large Buddha statue, 12 meters high. It is located at the eastern end of the north coast, on the small island of Koh Fan which you can visit by walking through a strip of land that starts from the eastern end of Bang Rak Beach. The Buddha itself doesn’t looks impressive, but the place offers nice views and the planes pass you very close.

Wat Plai Laem

Wat Plai Laem temple, Koh Samui, ThailandWat Plai Laem temple is behind Bang Rak beach and is famous among Instagramers. This place is known for its temple, surrounded by a pond full of catfish on which it seems to float, and for the two large statues that flank it. The most popular is a 15-meter tall figure representing the goddess Guanyin, one of the forms taken by the bodhisattva of compassion in Mahayana Buddhism.

Khao Hua Jook Temple

Khao Hua Jook temple, Koh SamuiThis monastery, located on top of a mountain in the north-east of the island, stands out for its large golden chedi that can be seen from a distance, but its most precious object is actually the “footprint of Buddha” that is kept inside the main temple. Here you will enjoy excellent views of the island, Lake Chaweng, and Koh Samui airport. It is a very peaceful and beautiful place, and at the same time, a perfect option to contemplate the sunset.

Enjoy the nice view from a bar

Bar view point, Koh Samui, ThailandBe sure to go to one of the viewpoints around the highest peak of the island. A recommended and not very crowded one is The Giant Summit restaurant, a bar in the middle of the forest with great views, delicious food and good prices. Another alternative is the Jungle Club, a mythical one of Koh Samui. It is a resort with a restaurant and bar where one can go up for a drink. It is much more famous than The Giant Summit, so more visited and more expensive too.

An stroll to a waterfall

Na Muang waterfall KohSamuiIf you want to combine an excursion with fresh water, you can visit one of the small waterfalls on the island. Among the best known you will find Na Muang 1 waterfall; is easy to get there and it has a small natural pool. After a short walk you will find the other, Na Muang 2. Another option, more beautiful but more difficult to access is the Khun Si waterfall, which gives you the opportunity to enjoy the jungle of Koh Samui.

Enjoy the Sunset

Sunset in Koh Samui, ThailandOn the island of Koh Samui there are many places to enjoy a beautiful sunset such as the beaches of the west coast, or from temples such as Big Buddha and Khao Hua Jook. But, if you want to enjoy the sunset with a drink in your hand, we recommend one of the following bars: Air bar at the Inter Continental Hotel, or the Woo Bar at the W Hotel, where you will find five tables surrounded by water and with some nice views of the sea.

Diving

diving in koh pha ngan, thailandKoh Samui is not as good diving destination as Koh Tao or Koh Pha Ngan, but if you only do a sporadic dive and you prefer to stay on an island with the infrastructure and amenities like Koh Samui offers, then this may be the best option for you. Diving tours, which typically include two dives, leave Koh Samui around 09:00 AM and return around 03:00 PM. The best time for diving in the region is between March and October.

🏨 Where to stay in Koh Samui

Best Areas & Beaches in Koh Samui:

Along Koh samui coast you can find a lot of all sort of beaches. The three most popular are Chaweng, Lamai and Bo Phut, spread among the east and the north-east coast, zone where most tourist go and have most of the touristic infraestructure. Instead, the south and west coast has large beaches but less people go there. Although, you need to consider that in the south coast the sea is not deep enough to be good for bath and swimming.

Beach-Map-Koh-Samui

Chaweng

chaweng koh samui iconBest for: ones who loves parties and backpacker.

Accommodation available: Hostels, Cheap Bungalow and 3 to 5 star hotels.

Advantages:
βœ”οΈ Chaweng is the life core of Koh Samui.
βœ”οΈ Despite massive tourism, its beach remain very beautiful.
βœ”οΈ Easy access to everything you could need (less tranquility).
βœ”οΈ It has accomodation for eall budgets.

East Coast

East Coast, Koh Pha NganBest for: traveler who look for some quiet place with good infraestructure.

Accommodation available: Hostels, cheap bungalow and 3 to 5 star resort.

Advantages:
βœ”οΈ It has beaches like: Lamai, Thong Ta Kien (Crystal Bay), Chaweng, Choeng Mon.
βœ”οΈ Lamai beach is a beautiful beach with several low budget option to stay, and more quiet than Chaweng.
βœ”οΈ Chaweng, the main beach of the island, is located in this zone.
βœ”οΈ Thong Ta Bien beach is very good for snorkeling. It mainly has middle price accomodation.
βœ”οΈChoeng Mon beach is very good for family trip.

North Coast

North Coast, Koh Pha NganBest for: travelers who prefer a quiet place.

Accommodation available: Hostels, cheap Bungalow and 3 to 5 star resort

Advantages:
βœ”οΈ Main Beaches: Bang Rak, Bo Phut, Mae Nam, Bang Po.
βœ”οΈ Bang Rak beach is nearby the airport and has accomodation for all budgets.
βœ”οΈ Bo Phut beach is good for swimming and has several bars and restaurants to go.
βœ”οΈ Mae Nam beach is very peaceful, good for swimming and has accomodation for all budgets.
βœ”οΈ Bang Po usually receives very few tourist and has great Thai style seafood restaurants.

West Coast

West Coast Icon, Koh Pha NganBest for: People who look for a quiet place.

Accommodation available: Mainly 3 to 5 star hotels, but has few cheaper options.

Advantages:
βœ”οΈ Main beaches like: Lipa Noi and Taling Ngam.
βœ”οΈ In this area you can enjoy great sunset views.
βœ”οΈ This zone is tranquil and has low urban development.
βœ”οΈ ideal if you want to be outside or far away to urban centres.

South Coast

south coast koh samui iconBest for: People who run away from massive tourism.

Accommodation available: Hostels, Cheap Bungalow and 3 to 4 star hotels.

Advantages:
βœ”οΈ No mass tourism.
βœ”οΈ It is the most quiet place of Koh Samui.
βœ”οΈ It has good seafood restaurants.
βœ”οΈ It has some good snorkeing excursion offers.
βœ”οΈ Despite it is not a good area for swimming, you can enjoy the peaceful and beautiful atmosphere.

πŸ–οΈ Best beaches in Koh Samui

We’ve been to all of them, these are the best:

1️⃣ Chaweng Beach

Chaweng beach is the main town in Koh Samui. It is a White Sand beach with a beautiful turquoise blue sea water. It is the most visited and lively place of the island and here you can find everything to enjoy.

Chaweng beach, Koh Samui

2️⃣ Bo Phut Beach

It is a Beautiful beach, good for swimming, with a large offers of stores, bars and restaurants. Here you can find the Fisherman Village, which every friday becomes the best night market of the island.

Bo Phut beach, Koh Samui, Thailand

3️⃣ Lamai Beach

Lamai is a long and beautiful beach with clear water, is the Second most famous beach in Koh Samui, after Chaweng. Here you can find some rocks that curiously look like male and female genitals.

Lamai beach, Koh Samui

4️⃣ Mae Nam Beach

It is a beautiful beach, peaceful and good for swimming, in the north of the island. It is ideal to stay if you want to escape from the masses and be tranquil in the resort. During the night there is nothing to do.

Mae Nam beach, Koh Samui, Thailand

5️⃣ Choeng Mon Beach

Choeng Mon is a little pretty beach but also very calm (no parties and no massive tourism) place, so it is very suitable for families. In front, you can find the islet of Koh Fan Noi, where you can get by walking when low tide.

Choeng Mon beach, Koh Samui

6️⃣ Siver Beach

Silver beach is a little pretty white sand beach with blue sea water. It is, perhaps, the most idyllic beach of Koh Samui, and it has all the features that you expect from a Thai island beach.

Silver beach, Koh Samui

7️⃣ Lipa Noi Beach

Lila Noi is a beautiful and very quiet beach. Due to its low touristic development, there is no much to do beside swimming, sunbathing and relax. The nearest Town is 6 km away, so is a great place to be far away of everything.

Lipa Noi beach, Koh Samui

8️⃣ Taling Ngam Beach

The lovely Taling Ngam beach is located on the west Side of Koh Samui and it is surrounded by a palm forest. It is a very good point to enjoy the a charming sunset view.

Taling Ngam beach, Koh Samui, Thailand

✈️ Arriving to Koh Samui

From Bangkok, you can get there by combining plane, bus or train with boat:

Plane + boat

➑️ Easiest, fastest but more expensive option: Direct flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui Airport (USM) with Bangkok Airways.
➑️ Cheaper way, but take more time: Flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani. Then take a bus to the pier and a boat to Koh Samui.
➑️ Only Bangkok Airways has flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui. If you fly to Surat Thani you will have more airlines available to choose.

Train and boat

➑️ From Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok, to Ban Song Station in Surat Thani takes 12-14 hours. Ticket prices between 300 and 1600 THB.
➑️ Then take a bus to the pier
➑️ At the pier you can get a ferry: you will be in Koh Pha Ngan in about 2,5 hours.

Bus and boat Station

➑️ From Bangkok, You can take a bus to Surat Thani at Sai Tai Mai bus station or at Khao San Road area, it takes  12-14 hours to get Surat Thani and other 3 hours to get Koh samui.
➑️ Bus-ferry combined ticket price can cost between 700 and 1.000 THB.
➑️ Better to book your ticket in advance, overall during high season.

πŸš‡ Where to go next?

Most common destinations after Koh Samui:

Koh Phangan, the full moon party island

30 minutes ferry

Koh Tao, the backpackers paradise

2h Ferry

Phuket, the World Famous Island

Direct Flight

Bangkok, Back to the Capital

Direct Flight