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Koh Samui

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Best Time: December to May Read More

Ideal duration: 2-3 days

Nearest Airport: Surat Thani Check Flights

"Samui Island"

Koh Samui Tourism

The second-largest island of Thailand, Ko Samui is a gem of an island in the Koh Samui (or simply Samui) Archipelago which lies in the Gulf of Thailand. Once a hidden secret of only persevering travellers, the island has transformed into one of the most visited tourist destinations of Thailand. Coconut and rubber export along with the ever-growing tourist trade constitute the bulk of the island's source of revenue. From the wealthiest holidaymakers to budget travellers, the island has something to offer for everyone.

Fifty years back, even getting to the centre of the island involved arduous treks through the middle of a thick jungle. Today tourists flock in large numbers for the summers and winters. Head to south Samui if you tend to shy away from crowds. Places like Chewang and Lamai although famous for their nightlife may tend to get overcrowded at peak seasons. Adventure activities are fast becoming popular in Koh Samui, but overall the island is still most popular for its resorts and relaxed beaches. Be sure to try the salted eggs when in town. Also popular is the tropical fruit Rambutan which tourists cannot stop talking about even when they get back to their home countries.

The island looks tranquil with clear blue waters, and white sand beaches surrounded by lush green forests. Whether you love the noisy and happening Chaweng Beach or the lively yet relaxed atmosphere of Lamai Beach or the timeless feel of Bophut's Fisherman's Village or the tropical beach paradise of Maenam, Koh Samui provides a unique experience whatever the purpose of your travel is!

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Things to Do in Koh Samui

The island has a wide array of activities for all kinds of travellers. A few things you can try out are mentioned below.

  • Get a Thai massage.
  • Visit a yoga studio.
  • Visit a spa with your partner to spend your vacation romantically.
  • Visit the Secret Buddha Garden in the hills of Samui.
  • Visit the picturesque Na Muang waterfalls.
  • Visit various temples around the island.
  • Go shopping as the city has famous shopping centres like Central festival Samui, Lamai walking street,
  • Fisherman's Village Walking Street, Chaweng Beach Road Shopping, etc.
  • Take a day trip to Angthong Marine Park, where you can indulge in activities like snorkelling, hiking and boating.
  • Try hiking and trail running as much of Koh Samui is an undeveloped jungle and its tallest peak is 635 metres (2083 feet).
  • Enjoy the nightlife with the best nighttime entertainment options available in the Chaweng area of Samui.

And don't forget about the other things which you would do on a beach snorkelling, diving, etc.

Nightlife in Koh Samui

Don't just stick to Chaweng when it comes to nightlife. Also explore areas like Lamai, Bophut and Maenam. Popular bars in Chaweng are the Ark bar, the Soi Green Mango and the Soi Reggae. If in Lamai, check out the Lamai Central Plaza and Swing Bar. The Emerald Irish Pub is quite popular among tourists in Bophut Beach. Rest assured that you will find something which suits your taste in Koh Samui. Small, hole-in-the-wall kind of setups are also available with live music and cushion-laden mattresses where backpackers can feel more at ease.

Tips While Visiting Koh Samui

1. Taxi Scams

Two types of taxis can be found in Samui - metered taxis and songthaews (pick-up taxis). Before boarding the metered taxis, make sure that the meter is turned on (on distance 0) and never discuss the fare beforehand. Songthaews, on the other hand, are cheaper than metered taxis but have set routes so they might not take you precisely to your destination. Most drivers are also guilty of applying double pricing. Should you feel that you been have been cheated, stay calm, pay the fare, take note of the taxi's number plate and driver's license and report it to the authorities.

2. Dangerous Driving

Thailand consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous places to drive in the world but shows no signs of implementing road safety rules and checks. Due to the increasing number of vehicles, and the tropical maritime climate which, in low season, spoils the road surfacing, the roads are in poor condition. Despite all this, driving in Samui can be very pleasant for experienced drivers. Just ensure you pay more attention while driving and ride your rented motorbike slowly, especially at night.

3. Infamous Jet Ski Scam

One might have heard about the jet ski scams. In this scam, after you enjoy 15 to minutes in the sea and return to the shore, the owner of the jet ski claims that you've damaged his vehicle and you are liable to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get it fixed. He threatens to call the police as well. The best way to avoid playing a victim to this is not to rent a jet ski. If you can't resist it, make sure you take as many photos of the vehicle as possible, including close-up shots, before you ride it.

4. Nightlife Hazards

Being vigilant at night is most important in any part of the world to avoid troubles. Only carry the cash you need for that night and better not to get into any arguments with anyone.

5. Creepy Crawlies

Since Ko Samui is a tropical island, chances are there that some unwelcome guests like centipede, scorpion, or cobra may enter your room. To avoid this, keep your windows and doors closed, and, if you keep your shoes outside, double-check inside them before putting them on. Carry a good mosquito repellent as mosquitoes are also plentiful in Samui.

Daily Budget for Koh Samui

2000 - 3000 THB for the party lover and beer guzzler would be enough but if you prefer more of a laidback holiday with jsut walks on the beach, swims in the ocean and food from roadside vendors then 1500 THB would be enough too.

Shopping in Koh Samui

Apart from Chaweng and Lamai, Nathon is fast emerging as shopping central in Koh Samui. Imitation products can be found galore in such places. Local vendors may haggle and you will have to drive a hard bargain to get a good price. Head to Nathon if you want cheap items and Chewang if you want more swanky shops.

Exchanging Money in Koh Samui

The exchange rate is better at the mainland than at the islands. We recommend you get your currency exchanged at Bangkok or another major city before coming to Koh Samui.

Koh Samui Customs

Long dresses may be impractical due to the hot and sticky humid air. The general dress code of Koh Samui is casual as it is an island town.Follow general Thai customs of greeting and learn a few Thai phrases for common expressions like please and thank you. You should be good to go. Tipping is not expected in Thailand but it is okay to show your appreciation for extremely good service.

History of Koh Samui

Even though there were hardly any tourists in the island even 50 years back, Koh Samui has always been in the world' s eye. Popular from the time when Chinese merchatns visited for trade and named it Pulo Cornam on the map, Koh Samui has fast become a haven for tourists from around the world. The origin of the name Samui is a mystery still while the word Koh in Thai means island.

Here is a brief timeline of Ko-Samui's history -

  • Historians discover that Ko Samui was inhabited 15 centuries ago.

  • Ko Samui, earlier called under the name Pulo Cornam appears on Chinese maps dating back to 1687.

  • In the late 1800s, sailors, fishers and sea traders from China and Malaysia rediscover the island. Impressed by the beauty and abundance of the island, the seamen stay on the island.

  • Foreigners make the island their home influenced by the fertile soil, pleasant climate, calm seas and plenty of fish. They also bring Buddhism, which is the main religion of the island, along with a small Muslim population.

  • Tourism didn't exist on the island before the 1940s, and only a brave traveller could reach the island. A six-hour night boat journey was the only option to get from mainland Thailand to Ko Samui.

  • To move around the island, one would either walk or use boats as there were neither any roads nor any vehicles on Ko Samui.

  • Owing to the fertile soil and growing tourists, the settlements on the island increased, and soon became an excellent place to live and work. Variety of fruits, rubber plantations and coconut exports attracted more visitors to start new ventures in Ko Samui, and Ko Samui soon played a significant role in Thailand's economy.

  • The mountainous topography of the island made the transportation and running of heavy machinery arduous and retarded the growth of infrastructure on the island. As the task was treacherous, the road construction project never took off.

  • In 1967, the leader of the island Khun Dilok Suthiklom petitioned the Thai government for assistance in improving the island's infrastructure. After the government's approval, the road construction began, and despite all the hurdles, hundreds of labourers pressed on. 

  • Finally, in 1973, the project emerged triumphant after having built a 52 km long and 2-metre wide road circumnavigating the island! Expansion of the roads to accommodate more traffic happened gradually.

  • Somewhere in the mid-1970s, beach lovers discovered this hidden gem and started visiting the pristine paradise of Ko Samui. They slept on the beach, in little hammocks or simple bungalows until the islanders saw this as a business opportunity and built simple guesthouses, restaurants, and other services for the foreigners. 

  • Through the rest of the 1970s and 1980s, the island became a popular tropical island getaway, amongst people looking out for a real escape. Fruit and coconut exports to Thailand grew exponentially.

  • In 1980, the Government of Thailand gave the go-ahead for a project to develop and promote the island as a tourism destination. Quickly Ko Samui became a favourite destination for both Thai nationals and foreign tourists.

  •  Though very popular, it was quite a daunting task to get to Ko Samui, until Bangkok Air themselves funded the first ever international airport on the island in 1989. This airport is still in use and is the most charming tropical airports in the world.

  • With the new airport, the island saw an influx of visitors, and a large number of hotels, restaurants, dive shops and cafes popped up.

  • The island continued to grow as one of Thailand's best tourist destinations through the 2000s. Currently, the island has a permanent population of over 63,000 people and a hotel occupancy rate of 73% for its 17,479 hotel rooms, with the number still expanding.

Currency in Koh Samui

Major cards are accepted in almost all restaurants, bars and hotels. Carry a sufficient amount of the Thai Baht with you as local market vendors may not accept other currencies.

Religion of Koh Samui

Buddhism is the main religion in Koh Samui

Language of Koh Samui

Thai is the local language in Koh Samui. English may be spoken by local vendors but do not expect so. Resorts and more upscale places ensure they hrie english speaking staff so language should not be a barrier there. Carry a dictionary with you always in case you get into a sticky spot somewhere.

Restaurants and Local Food in Koh Samui

With several world-class restaurants serving both traditional Thai food and trendy fusion creations, Ko Samui has become a culinary destination. Being an island, visitors can feast on delicious seafood. Please note that Thais consider vegetarian food to be anything which doesn't have 'visible' pieces of meat hidden items like fish sauce and pork stock might spring up on you out of nowhere. One should note that most traditional dishes are generally served with sticky rice.

Here is the list of some top-rated restaurants on the island -

1. The Boudoir, Maenam

With magnificent interiors featuring swirling silks, scintillating satins, luxurious textiles, and oriental lanterns, The Boudoir provides one a splendid dining experience. Mainly serving French cuisine, you'll also find cheeses, meats, foie gras and even escargots – and excellent and cheap house wine.

2. Tree Tops, Chaweng

Tree Tops, located in Anantara Lawana in north Chaweng, is one of the top-rated and busiest restaurants of Ko Samui. The place serves red meats, seafood and Thai cuisine – all up to highest standards and is a must-visit place for a fine-dining enthusiast. The area has only eight tables with each table an individual' treehouse', providing a distinct dining experience. Make sure you book in advance as the place is always crowded. 

3. Dining on the Rocks, Six Senses Hideaway

Sitting on the top of the high-end Six Senses Samui Resort, this restaurant is built on rocks hosting a vast wooden terrace as well as an open-sided dining room, both overlooking the sea. The place serves both regional and international cuisine, which can be paired up with wine. With 270° view of the ocean, this place is a treat to all the six senses as the name says.

4. 2 Fishes Samui, Bophut

Love Italian food? Then you must head to 2 Fishes Samui located in the heart of Bophut's Fisherman's Village. You get to savour the freshest local seafood prepared by the talented Chef Leandra Panza who has over 25 years of experience in quoted Italian restaurants in various cities. 'Grilled king prawns with hot garlic oil, chilli and lemon' and 'Steamed Red snapper fillet with sautéed kale and hot garlic dressing, olive oil parsley and aged red wine vinegar' are a few of the must-try dishes.

A few places which serve excellent Thai food like the world-famous tom yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup) to pad thai (fried noodles) to the lesser-known Kua Kling (dry curry from southern Thailand) are Saffron (part of Banyan Tree Samui resort, Lamai), Kob Thai (Lamai), Khaw Glong Thai Restaurant (Chaweng) and Farmer Restaurant (Maenam).

Here are a few recommendations for Indians who are looking out of pure vegan hotels: Curry Pot Indian Restaurant (Chaweng Beach road), The Art Club (next to Koh Samui Hospital), Pure Vegan Heaven (Lamai), Jay Tamachad and Wild Tribe.


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FAQs on Koh Samui

What is the best way to reach Koh samui?

Koh Samui is an island so the only way to reach is by boat or flight.
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What are the places near Koh samui?

The top places near to Koh samui are Surat thani which is 86 km from Koh samui, Krabi which is located 199 km from Koh samui, Phuket which is located 253 km from Koh samui, Pattaya which is located 391 km from Koh samui, Phi phi islands which is located 237 km from Koh samui

What is not so good about Koh samui?

  • There is heavy traffic at rush hours
  • The most popular places can be crowded during high seasons

What are the things to do in Koh samui?

The top things to do in Koh samui are Wat Phra Yai, Ang Thong National Marine Park, Wat Khunaram, Na Muang Waterfall, Hin Ta & Hin Ya Rocks, Wat Plai Laem . You can see all the places to visit in Koh samui here

What is the best time to visit Koh samui?

The best time to visit Koh Samui is from the end of December to April. Though there is not much variation in temperature there are high chances of rain throughout the year which is why Koh Samui is the most pleasant during these months.

The weather is mostly dry and warm, and it is the best time to visit the beaches. The average temperature through the year varies from 26-27 degree Celsius but can cross 30 degrees during the hot summer months of May and June. October to late December is when the tropical rain lashes down on the island and is regarded as the wettest months of the year. The wet months are not the best time for scuba diving or bathing, but there are plenty of activities that you can take recourse to.
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What are the top hotels in Koh samui?

There are 1579 in Koh samui which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Koh samui are Whispering Palms Bophut, Samui Green Valley Resort, Baan Bon Khao, Villa Skyfall, Baan Leelawadee, Baan Hinyai. You can see all the hotels in Koh samui here

How much does a package cost for Koh samui?

The packages for Koh samui start at INR 13887 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here

What is famous about Koh samui?

  • One gets excellent island-hopping opportunities to Ang Thong Park, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
  • Tourists have plenty of leisure and sporting activities to make their trip memorable.
  • One can find a superb choice of dining and nightlife entertainment options all around the island.
  • The island has a wide range of hotel for all the price slabs.
  • The weather is pleasant year-round and never gets too cold nor too hot.

What is the local food in Koh samui?

With several world-class restaurants serving both traditional Thai food and trendy fusion creations, Ko Samui has become a culinary destination. Being an island, visitors can feast on delicious seafood. Please note that Thais consider vegetarian food to be anything which doesn't have 'visible' pieces of meat hidden items like fish sauce and pork stock might spring up on you out of nowhere. One should note that most traditional dishes are generally served with sticky rice.

Here is the list of some top-rated restaurants on the island -

1. The Boudoir, Maenam

With magnificent interiors featuring swirling silks, scintillating satins, luxurious textiles, and oriental lanterns, The Boudoir provides one a splendid dining experience. Mainly serving French cuisine, you'll also find cheeses, meats, foie gras and even escargots – and excellent and cheap house wine.

2. Tree Tops, Chaweng

Tree Tops, located in Anantara Lawana in north Chaweng, is one of the top-rated and busiest restaurants of Ko Samui. The place serves red meats, seafood and Thai cuisine – all up to highest standards and is a must-visit place for a fine-dining enthusiast. The area has only eight tables with each table an individual' treehouse', providing a distinct dining experience. Make sure you book in advance as the place is always crowded. 

3. Dining on the Rocks, Six Senses Hideaway

Sitting on the top of the high-end Six Senses Samui Resort, this restaurant is built on rocks hosting a vast wooden terrace as well as an open-sided dining room, both overlooking the sea. The place serves both regional and international cuisine, which can be paired up with wine. With 270° view of the ocean, this place is a treat to all the six senses as the name says.

4. 2 Fishes Samui, Bophut

Love Italian food? Then you must head to 2 Fishes Samui located in the heart of Bophut's Fisherman's Village. You get to savour the freshest local seafood prepared by the talented Chef Leandra Panza who has over 25 years of experience in quoted Italian restaurants in various cities. 'Grilled king prawns with hot garlic oil, chilli and lemon' and 'Steamed Red snapper fillet with sautéed kale and hot garlic dressing, olive oil parsley and aged red wine vinegar' are a few of the must-try dishes.

A few places which serve excellent Thai food like the world-famous tom yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup) to pad thai (fried noodles) to the lesser-known Kua Kling (dry curry from southern Thailand) are Saffron (part of Banyan Tree Samui resort, Lamai), Kob Thai (Lamai), Khaw Glong Thai Restaurant (Chaweng) and Farmer Restaurant (Maenam).

Here are a few recommendations for Indians who are looking out of pure vegan hotels: Curry Pot Indian Restaurant (Chaweng Beach road), The Art Club (next to Koh Samui Hospital), Pure Vegan Heaven (Lamai), Jay Tamachad and Wild Tribe.


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