If you’re looking for the perfect vacation spot, Koh Samui Thailand may be just what you’re looking for. The beaches are pristine and beautiful, there’s a ton of water sports to choose from, and some amazing food options too! There is so much to do in this tropical paradise that it might take more than one trip to get through all the things on your list. I’m going over everything from things to do, how to get around, where to stay and visit and even where to eat! So pack your bags now, because I have everything you need to know about this incredible travel destination right here!
Koh Samui Thailand-About the Island
The island of Koh Samui Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in this country. With visitors from all over the world as well as locals, it is a real melting pot of cultures. There really is something for everyone here. Yoga retreats, vegan restaurants and wellness retreats are in full supply here. Also, there is a great nightlife scene in many different areas of the island. There is also plenty of great restaurants for both the budget-minded traveler all the way up to luxury resorts and restaurants. With a population of around 67,000 people, Koh Samui is definitely a jam packed island with lots to do.
Popular Things to Do In Koh Samui Thailand
- Visit the Big Buddha-Koh Samui is most well known for this shrine of Buddha that is over 12 meters high. There are some surrounding markets to browse after you’ve finished seeing this popular tourist spot.
- Visit Hin Ta and Hin Yai-At the southern tip of Lamai Beach lie the rock formations of Hin Ta and Hin Yai that are famously in the shape of male and female genetalia.
- Spend a Day at the Beach-Koh Samui Thailand is home to over 40 beaches, ranging from very secluded to incredibly touristy.
- Angthong National Marine Park-This national park to the west of the island of Koh Samui is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Thailand.
- Visit Wat Plai Laem-Featuring an 18-arm statue of Guanyin and a big white Buddha, this is a must visit.
- Namuang Waterfall-Very beautiful and popular waterfalls.
- Fisherman’s Village-This old fishing town has a great waterfront walking street with lots of shops and restaurants.
Getting Around the Island
Koh Samui is a fairly large island compared to some of the other islands around Thailand. There is basically one main road that goes all around the entire island, with smaller roads jetting off in smaller directions. I highly recommend either renting a car or a scooter for your stay. A scooter rental is usually cheaper for on average around $6 USD per day. A car rental starts at around $24 per day. If you are comfortable riding a scooter, I suggest getting one. It is a very fun and convenient way of getting around the island. We rented a car during our stay. In hindsight I would’ve preferred the scooter because a car was a bit more difficult to find parking for.
Be warned that if you do opt for a scooter rental that you should have a little experience. Koh Samui streets get very busy and fast paced. So, if you are not as comfortable riding a scooter you will most likely get very easily overwhelmed by the fast paced streets. Always be sure to take necessary precautions when riding the scooters. In just my short trip I saw multiple cases of people being reckless and getting injured from their scooters. Also, pro tip: Always wear closed shoes when riding, not flip flops!
Where to Stay in Koh Samui
Chaweng is a long stretch of beach on the northeast coast of the island. Easily the busiest part of the entire island, this area is well known for being super touristy and having lots of nightlife. The town of Chaweng has the most popular beach on the island as well, with many beach bars. So many tourists everywhere. Because of this, there are countless restaurants, beach bars, and lots of nightlife. So, if you are looking for a very fast paced experience then Chaweng might be for you. The nightlife here can get a bit crazy. So I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for families or anyone looking for some quiet time. Even just walking around Chaweng is very busy and there is always a lot going on.
Lamai is where I personally chose to stay during my trip. While this is also a very popular tourist destination, it feels much less hectic when compared to Chaweng. There is a nice long stretch of beach with many setback restaurants and bars. I found this area to be a bit less intimidating than Chaweng. You’ll find lots of hotels with beachfront access in Lamai. This can sometimes make it a bit tricky to get access to the beach if you aren’t staying at a hotel, but it is still possible. Lamai is also a bit cheaper when compared to it’s big brother Chaweng. My favorite part about Lamai was that it still had plenty to do, while still allowing me to have some peace and quiet when wanted.
Bophut is a large region on the northeast part of Koh Samui. In this area, you will find attractions such as the famous Big Buddha, temples, and many other statues. This is also the area that contains the airport. Also, Bophut has a great shopping complex called Central Samui, with some high end stores along with a local farmers market.
My favorite area of the BoPhut region is the Fisherman’s Village at the very northern part. This old village is a historical part of Koh Samui located directly on the ocean with rustic buildings. Here you will walk along the beach road with countless boutique shops, beautiful oceanfront restaurants, and hotels. The best part of Fisherman’s Village is that it is a walking town. You just park outside of town and the main road is usually just pedestrians with the occasional local on a scooter. Walking the whole length of this beautiful beach town is a great way to spend a day on Koh Samui Thailand.
Nathon Village is a town on the west coast of the Koh Samui Thailand. Best known as a port town, if you arrive or depart from Koh Samui by boat or ferry then this is where you will arrive. When I took my ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan, this is where I went. The majority of offerings in Nathon Village seem to exist only to serve the tourist industry here centered around the ferry. You can find lots of boutique shops, great coffee shops, great restaurants and other convenient services. I definitely recommend giving yourself a little extra time before/after your ferry to allow for a short walking tour around this cute village town.
Where to Eat
Koh Samui Thailand has some of the most incredible food I’ve ever had, just like most of Thailand. You can find many different budgets options for food all over the island. Obviously Thai food is the main cuisine you will find on the island, but there is something for everyone. Depending on your budget, you will find some very high end restaurant options or some mom and pop style small restaurants. This island is very popular for the wellness retreats and vegan restaurants. Check out my guide to the best vegan restaurants in Koh Samui here. There are many of them and they truly are all amazing.
I hope you all enjoyed this travel guide to Koh Samui Thailand. Koh Samui was most definitely one of my favorite areas in all of Thailand. It has a great mix of both a relaxing island with plenty of activities and nightlife. I also thought that the food on Koh Samui was extra special compared to other areas of Thailand. Be sure to check out all of my other Thailand to learn more about this fantastic country.