This post was last updated on February 19th, 2020 at 08:24 am
Koh Samui is perhaps the best-known island of Thailand. With its 250 square kilometers, it is the third largest island in Thailand. Exactly when the island started to get inhabited is unclear, but 1,500 years ago the first fishermen settled here. Koh Samui was mentioned as Culo Cornam on maps from the Chinese Ming Dynasty. This was later changed to Koh Samui and would have been derived from the Chinese words for “safe haven”.
The Beautiful Koh Samui
Years ago, Backpackers had the upper hand on Koh Samui, but nowadays there are mainly lovers of sun and sea vacations. Not surprising because the island is perfect for a nice relaxing holiday.
If you just want to relax from all the hustle and bustle, we recommend you definitely go to Koh Samui.
Our Experience in Koh Samui
The first time we went to Thailand we also wanted to go to Koh Samui. The stories we heard at the time were not really good, but we advise everyone to go here. You won’t arrive on a pristine island without tourists, but that does not mean that it is not beautiful!
TIP – Rent a scooter to explore the island. Note that some rental companies try to recover damages from tourists who rent the scooter before you. Therefore, always check the scooter for damage before you rent it.
5 Most Beautiful Beaches in Koh Samui
This is a tropical island and it is not surprising that you will find a number of beautiful beaches here. Most beaches are easily accessible. Incidentally, it does not matter very much which beach you are on because with a scooter you can pretty quickly drive across the island in search of other beautiful places. But what are the most beautiful beaches on Koh Samui? We have listed them for you.
1. Chaweng Beach
This is the most popular beach on Koh Samui. The reason for this? It is easy to reach and incredibly beautiful. In the afternoon you can scuba dive on the beach with beautiful scenery. And in the evening when the sun sets, only then does Chaweng show its true nature.
Chaweng Beach is the perfect location on Koh Samui to go out at night. Unfortunately, due to its popularity, the average room rate has also risen somewhat in recent years.
TIP – Stay at least one evening until it gets dark. The starry sky here is beautiful!
2. Bophut Beach
Bophut is actually two places; there’s Bophut Beach, which extends between Big Buddha and Maenam Beach, and the old village of Bpohut. This is perhaps one of the oldest places on the island, a really charming fishing village.
It is slightly quieter here than on Chaweng Beach, but certainly no less beautiful. The nice thing about Bophut is that there is such a chill atmosphere in the village.
TIP – You can have a nice drink here in the evening at one of the bars.
3. Maenam Beach
This is one of the last true backpacker beaches. And that is partly due to the beautiful view of Koh Phangan. Perhaps it is due to the fact that many of the resorts are at the end of the beach, so you still have a degree of privacy here.
4. Lipa Noi Beach
If you come to Koh Samui by car (yes, it’s possible), Lipa Noi is probably the best option for you. This is due to the presence of the pier where car ferries can dock. It is a beautiful beach with white sand. Unfortunately, there is no coral reef so there’s not much reason to scuba dive or snorkel here.
TIP – This is an ideal beach for families (quiet and calm water).
5. Lamai Beach
Lamai Beach is the second largest resort area (after Chaweng). It is quieter and less crowded than in Chaweng, but you will still find a lot of accommodations, eateries, and shops there as well as a number of spas and tourist sites to explore.
After Chaweng Beach you will find the most travelers here.
8 Fun things to Do in Koh Samui
If you are in Koh Samui you will see that the island has more to offer than modern resorts and beaches. You can visit and do various fun things on the island. Below we’ve listed a number of sights and activities.
1. Visit the Nam Tok Na Muang Waterfall
Being 30-meters high, this is the highest waterfall on the island. It is located in the middle of the island, about 12 kilometers from Na Thon. The waterfall is at its best in the rainy season when the surroundings are lush and green and the water comes down with great force.
The waterfall can be a bit disappointing during the dry season, but it is still a nice day out. There’s also the Na Muang 2 and the Nam Tok Want Saotong. These are waterfalls in the area, slightly smaller.
TIP – Entry to the waterfall is free!
2. Go to Hin Ta and Hin Yai Beach
If you Google “Koh Samui”, chances are that you will come across a photo of Hin Ta and Hin Yai. They are a number of fascinating rock formations along the south coast of the island. They were discovered by the locals a few years ago.
With a little empathy, you can see why these rocks are so famous. They are also called grandpa (Ta) and grandma (Yai). That’s because they take the form of male and female genitals!
3. Visit the Wat Phra Yai
In the north of the island on a small island, you will find the Wat Phra Yai. This temple was built in 1972 and is characterized by the 15-meter high Buddha. This large Buddha statue contrasts beautifully with the clear blue sea.
Keep in mind that you should wear suitable clothing when you visit the temple. Entrance is free. You will also find a slightly larger Buddha statue, that of Wat Plai Leam. This Buddha is 18 meters high.
TIP – Entry to this temple is free!
Are you a true temple fanatic? Try visiting the Wat Laem Saw and the Wat Khunaram, 2 more beautiful temples.
4. See a Real Mummy
The body of Samui’s most famous mummified monk – there are several! – Luang Pordaeng can be seen at the Wat Khunaram temple. Luang Pordaeng died 20 years ago and according to his instructions, his body is placed in a specially designed glass cabinet for posterity.
Since then his body remained here, including his sunglasses.
5. Visit Secret Buddha Garden
The Secret Buddha Garden is hidden in the hills in the interior of Koh Samui. You will find an unusual collection of images in a kind of jungle garden. The gardens are a creation of an old fruit farmer, Nim Thongsuk, who started furnishing various statues and temples in his family’s land in 1976.
TIP – There aren’t only statues here, but also beautiful views of the island.
6. Go to Ang Thong National Park
Ang Thong National Marine Park is a beautiful island group of 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand. The area is very impressive with towering limestone mountains, thick jungle, white sandy beaches, beautiful mangroves, waterfalls, and hidden coves and lakes that are all waiting to be explored. It looks a bit like Raja Ampat in Indonesia.
You can see it from Koh Samui. It is a protected area of more than 100 square kilometers of land and sea, and home to various exotic animals. From Koh Samui, you can book day trips to the park. We highly recommend it!
TIP – Admission costs 300 Baht (US$9.60) per person. A tour will cost you around 1,800 baht (US$58).
7. Various Activities
In addition to relaxing on the beach and riding on your scooter, you can do a number of things here. You can scuba dive and snorkel very well on Koh Samui. There are several diving schools all over the island where you can take lessons. You can also rent snorkel gear at almost all accommodations.
If you are with children, you can go to the two fun water parks on Koh Samui (Aquapark and Coco Splash Waterpark). If you want to recover from diving, snorkeling or the slides, you can also take different yoga classes or go to one of the spas.
You can also follow different cooking courses here. In short, there is plenty to do!
TIP – A PADI Open Water Course costs around 18,000 baht (US$576). Check out Silent Divers for more info. You can rent snorkeling gear at almost every accommodation for around $6 a day.
8. Cross to Koh Tao
Koh Tao – which literally means “Turtle Island” – is perhaps the best scuba diving destination in Thailand. The perfect white sandy beaches of the hilly island are surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
The vibrant coral reefs are home to a wide range of special and colorful tropical sea creatures, including turtles, of course.
TIP – You can read more about this island on our Koh Tao page.
Koh Tao Island, don’t miss it while you’re here anyway!
Where to Stay in Koh Samui
Many of the cheaper accommodations can be found in Bo Phut. A room in Chaweng is more obvious to most, but a bit more expensive. You cannot rent even the simplest rooms for less than US$10. If you still want to stay close to the beach, it is better to go to Lamai, where you will find a great room for US$6 to $11.
In the high season, from July to August and from December to April, prices do rise. In these periods it’s a good idea to make reservations so you won’t be standing in front of a full hotel with all your bags.
TIP – At Booking.com you can easily find and book nice accommodations in advance. You can even cancel and get your money back until 24 hours before your arrival date.
How to Get to Koh Samui
Koh Samui is an island so you can only come here by boat (even coming with a car you will still need to use a ferry) or plane. The boat is the easiest and cheapest option. We have listed a number of options.
To Koh Samui by Plane
The island has its own airport. From Bangkok, there is a flight to the island every 30 minutes. There are also direct flights between Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. We prefer checking Skyscanner to find flights.
To Koh Samui by Boat
The main connection points on the mainland of Thailand are Ao ban Don, Tha Thong, Don Sak, and Chumphon. All boats sail to 3 places on Samui; Na Thon, Mae Nam, and Big Buddha Beach. Boats sail between the mainland and Samui at different prices.
You can opt for speedboats or slower boats. Slow boats often cost no more than 150 Baht (US$4.80). A fast boat can easily cost you 450 Baht (US$14.40).
To Koh Phangan and Koh Tao
Thailand would not be Thailand if you couldn’t sail from Samui to the other popular islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Several boats go to and from these islands every day. You can check prices and departure times at your accommodation. Expect around 200 to 400 Baht (US$6.40 to $12.80).
Book Transportation Tickets Online
An easy way to get your transportation tickets is to use 12GoAsia. On this website you can easily check all prices and routes online and you can buy your tickets. For example, here are the routes and prices if you want to go to Koh Samui from Bangkok.
Best Time to Visit Koh Samui
The best time to visit KoH Samui is from December to March. The winter months bring the coolest days, but also the most tourists. Those who do not mind giving up a certain luxury in the weather can opt for the much quieter rainy period, June to October, or burn away (on deserted beaches, though) in the hot summer months of April and May.
The east coast (Koh Samui) is less bothered by the monsoon than the west coast (Phuket).