Koh Samui is an island in Thailand located off the coast of the Kra Isthmus. It’s a popular tourist destination as there are many beautiful beaches, miles of lush mountainous rainforest, and opulent resorts and spas. Day trips are available to nearby Ang Thong National Park for snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and a myriad of other activities. There’s something for everyone in Koh Samui, whether you’re looking for a night of lively entertainment or a more serene evening, dining in an elegant and sophisticated restaurant. The night market vendors offer authentic street food, shopping and a taste of Thai culture.
GETTING TO KOH SAMUI
There are several different ways to get to Koh Samui. The fastest and most convenient is flying; there are 21 flights daily from Bangkok via Bangkok Airways or Thai Airways. You can also fly straight to Koh Samui from Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.
Another way is to fly from Bangkok to nearby Surat Thani and then take a ferry. This is cheaper but will, of course, take longer at least three hours. There are five daily flights from Bangkok to Surat Thani via Air Asia or Nok Air. There’s also a train and a bus that goes to Surat Thani. The bus and ferry combination is the cheapest way. The ferry companies that go to Koh Samui are SeaTran Ferries, Lomprayah Ferries, and Raja Ferries.
BEST TIME TO VISIT KOH SAMUI
The best time of year to visit Koh Samui depends on what your plans entail and whether you will spend most of your time on the island or taking day trips. Your budget is another factor to consider if it’s limited. For the ultimate beach weather, go anywhere from late December to April. May through December is also full of sunshine but there will be more rainy days. October and November are the rainy months.
If you’re planning a trip to the Ang Thong National Park, it is closed in November and the early part of December, dependant on the weather at times. You will get a good deal on hotels during the rainy season but the best deals including good weather can be found during the months of April through June.
Set out on your first day to do a bit of sightseeing. The island doesn’t have public transportation but plenty of taxis and similar modes to get you from point a to b. You can also rent a scooter or car for more freedom. Activities to do in Koh Samui start with a visit to Koh Samui’s temples and will give you a feel for the culture; they also offer stunning views of the landscape. The Big Buddha or Wat Phra Yai is near Bophut and is usually frequented by visitors and vendors selling their wares. A short distance away, you will find the Wat Plai Laem, which is a complex of Buddhist temples and a huge sculpture of a Guanyin. Continue along to Choeng Mon and Mae Nam to check out all the nearby beaches. While passing through Mae Nam Village, stop for lunch at one of the many cafes for fabulous Thai cuisine.
Next stop after lunch is Bophut, where you can still experience the island’s authentic Thai-Chinese atmosphere. There is Fisherman’s Village which is a quaint village near the beach where they still retain the old ways of living and are averse to commercialization, especially that of nightlife. There’s a plaza of restaurants, bars and shops called the Wharf and a night market that operates certain days of the week, to explore and shop before heading back for the night or to one of the best restaurants in Koh Samui.
STREET FOOD TOUR
There are so many restaurants and food vendors, you will never have a problem figuring out where to eat in Koh Samui. There are so many food options including French, European, Mediterranean, American classics like steaks and burgers and European gourmet food like chicken breast with liver pate and Serrano ham with boiled quail eggs. You can get fresh seafood just about anywhere. For a sampling of different tastes, there are many restaurants that serve an awesome Sunday brunch.
ISLAND HOPPING AROUND KOH SAMUI
A must for anyone visiting the island is a day trip to the Ang Thong National Marine Park, which is a collection of small islands. During your island trips from Koh Samui, the best way to get the most out of the trip is with a guided tour, which usually includes lunch, snorkeling gear, admission fees and hotel transfers. You will see picturesque land and ocean scape, tropical forests, monkeys, dolphins, whales and all sorts of marine life; available activities include kayaking, hiking, and diving.
Chaweng is a popular hotspot for just about everything in Koh Samui and the first place that comes up when the question “where to go in Koh Samui” is asked. The beach is one of the best in Thailand and a good place to start your day after recovering from your adventures the day before and grabbing a late breakfast or brunch. Spend the day relaxing on the white sand and turquoise waters and then choose between a spot on the beach for dinner or Chaweng street market, which is known for having every kind of cuisine imaginable at affordable prices.
Chaweng Beach is a very busy and lively area during the day and at night; it is geared towards those who love to party and socialize, and there’s a very popular bar to hang out after your day at the beach.
As you can see, Koh Samui is an idyllic vacation spot for the beach lover, foodies, and those that appreciate the beauty of nature in its most pristine form. There is so much to do, see and experience on the island itself, as well as the day trips; you can choose to make it your only vacation destination. If not, it is accessible from so many different locations and definitely worth a day trip or three.