Koh Samui is the largest of islands in the Gulf of Thailand with daily flight options from Bangkok (50-minutes), a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland and is full of modern amenities, world-class dining, shopping outlets, food markets and pristine coastlines. One can scooter around the island in just over two-hours and at $6 per day rental price it is by far the most fun and most economical option to see the island. The streets are lined with pop-up souvenir shops offering knock-off purses, wallets, shoes and cheap swimsuits, coverups, Koh Samui branded shirts and dresses. The undeveloped core of the island is dense jungle offering waterfall treks, elephant treks and opportunities to explore and discover quiet viewpoints.
Why visit Koh Samui?
- Easily the most accessible island to get to
- Most developed island with Western amenities
- Offers the most activities and tours
Where to stay?
- Chewang Beach: Samui’s most popular spot aka most crowded. Set on the east part of the island, it stretches the full length of Samui. It offers more accommodation options than elsewhere on the island, is nightlife central with bars and restaurants lining every last bit of sand.
- Lamai Beach: The second most-popular beach. Very laid-back compared to the craziness of Chaweng. Street markets offer cheap and delicious meals. We stayed at the Thai House Resort and were very happy with our stay!
- Southwest Samui: The most pristine beaches, calmest waters, amazing sunsets but not so many hotels. The area is remote and doesn’t have the same markets and nightlife opportunities that Chaweng and Lamai offer. It’s beautiful and totally worth going for the day.
- North Samui: Good beaches and views of Koh Phangan. This is where most of the locals live. The flightpath is directly above the beach.
- Another lesser-known gem: Crystal Bay. Set in between Chaweng and Lamai this place is heaven on earth. Only three hotels line the beach with massive boulders and powdered sugar like sand. No sunsets here.
What to do?
- Rent a scooter! Drive around the island
- Hike to waterfalls
- Lounge on the beach and work on your pool-beach-bar rotation.
What we liked:
- The modern amenities
- Warm ocean
- Developed and open roads made it safe to ride a scooter
- Beautiful tropical sunsets on the west coast
- The sand
- Availability of attractions
What we didn’t like:
- It is very crowded and touristy.
- It offers little cultural immersion.
- Lots of dumb tourists
- Items are overpriced
- The size of the island made it difficult to explore beaches other than your own
- The popular beaches don’t get sunsets