KOH SAMUI TRAVEL GUIDE 2023
About Koh Samui
Welcome to Koh Samui! Whether you have come to laze around on its beaches, dive its reefs, trek in the interior or dance till dawn at one of its legendary beach parties, you are sure to find satisfaction on the island.
Samui has long been a cosmopolitan melting pot and continues to attract visitors young and old from all corners of the globe. Accommodation varies from backpacker bungalows to 5 star resorts.
Whatever you are looking for, it will be available somewhere on Samui island. Similarly, dining options range from roadside noodle stands to gourmet Thai and Western cuisine of the highest standard.
Koh Samui offers an impressive range of locations and activities to the visitor, and some good quality roads make travelling to the different beaches and attractions an easy and enjoyable option.
Whether it's five star luxury services or a simple natural setting you seek, a trip around the island is sure to reveal some interesting, beautiful and sometimes surprising local colour.
Although Thailand's third largest island, Samui is just 21 kilometres at its widest point, and 25 kilometres at its longest.
The interior of the island is predominantly covered with coconut plantation, but the higher points remain covered in lush green forest, studded with elegant silver grey granite boulders.
The permieter of the island offers dozens of beautiful beaches and bays, from the white sands of Chaweng and Lamai to the rugged boulders of Bang Po.
Best Time To Go Koh Samui
The sun will be shining in July, and the temperature rising, making it the perfect time to cool off with a spot of diving, snorkelling or kayaking in the azure blue sea.
Local diving instructor, Richie Lopez gives you the lowdown on what to expect if you take the plunge in our Watersports and Diving section. If you are more nautically minded, then Cap'n'Squall gives us his regular report from the local sailing scene in the same section.
Thailand Spa - Samui Healthy Living Guide
Currently at the forefront of Thailand's spa boom, Samui offers a diverse range of high-class treatments in some of the world's most picturesque locations.
Our Healthy Island Living section guides you through the best that's available to help you escape the crowds and improve your kharma.
Real Estate In Koh Samui
The island's other boom industry is undoubtedly the real estate market. A growing number of visitors are seeing investment in property on Samui as the most convenient way of returning to paradise on a regular basis.
Any reputable developer or broker will be happy to discuss the various options in detail.
There are a number of ways to get and from Samui, from the convenient and frequent direct flights, to the laid back train and ferry.
Your first view of the island will either be the beautiful tropical airport or the palm-fringed beaches and rustic Asian villages. However you get there, you will be glad you did.
Chaweng is the longest and most developed of Samui's beaches. The soft white sands attract thousands of visitors all year round and there is a vast choice of accommodation and food both on the beach and all along the main shopping street just behind it.
Chaweng is the resort capital of the Island which gives the area an international flavour and means that much of the best shopping and entertainment is also to be found here. There are stalls and shops selling every kind of gift and souvenir plus innumerable bars, clubs and restaurants.
Even the big fast food chains have outlets in Chaweng, so anyone who stays or visits the place certainly won't be lacking the comforts of home. Those really desperate for a bit of western consumer culture head for the main island road where a brand new Tesco Lotus Hypermarket can cater for their every need.
Lamai is Chaweng's smaller sister, another fine white sand beach with good swimming and lush tropical scenery all around but slightly less developed in terms of the big international resorts and chains.
There are more mid-range and oudget choices here as well as a large number of resident foreigners who came to Samui years ago and never quite managed to leave. Lamai has the same type of long shopping and entertainment strip as Chaweng and the nightlife can certainly be just as lively as the number of bars, clubs and restaurants is increasing all the time.
The food market in Lamai is also an attraction with stalls serving up authentic local dishes and some excellent fresh seafood.
Big Buddha Beach (Bang Rak)
Big Buddha beach, so ed after the famous golden statue that sits proudly at its southern tip, is one of Samui's calmer beaches. Many people prefer to stay here as an alternative to the busy tourist beaches and it's proximity to the airport makes it a popular first and last stop on trips to all or the three local islands.
The long sweep of beach enjoys tranquil waters all year round and there are several modest but comfortable laid back resorts with good beachside restaurants.
Local entertainment mainly consists of a couple of beach bars and the regular Sunday live music festival at Secret Garden resort, but it's stilfonly 1 5 minutes to Chaweng for those who want a big night out.
Once a simple fishing village, Bophut has since been transformed into a fashionable centre for shopping and dining, as well as an elegant and peaceful place to stay. Many of original wooden fisherman's houses have been converted into smart restaurants and boutiques and there are several quality resorts along the beach as well as some budget accommodation.
The French and Italian influence is strong around this part of the island and this certainly affects the ambience of the town, which is an interesting blend of local Thai, Chinese and Southern European styles. There's also a wilder side to Bophut, with several bars quite capable of livening things up on a busy night.
Maenam is another beautiful stretch of wide beach on the Island's North coast facing Koh Phangan. It has long been a popular destination for budget travellers but recently has started to attract a more salubrious clientele, thanks mainly to the presence of the impressive, top class Santiburi Dusit Resort and some expensive residential developments.
This is another area popular with foreign residents and both the main road and village have an increasing number of good restaurants and shops selling everything from Indian incense to home baked bread. Maenam has a very relaxed, quiet feel to it, some good value food and accommodation and truly wonderful views.
Not far South of Lamai is Hua Thanon fishing village, a working Muslim settlement with seafood restaurants, a fresh food market and a small harbour where brightly coloured local fishing boats dock to unload their catch of the day.
A stroll through the daily lives of these hard working local people provides a living insight into what Samui was like before the tourists came, and there's also a high chance that you will spy one of your future meals lying in one of the fisherman's hand woven nets.
This area to the south of the island is perhaps Koh Samui's most unspoilt. The beaches aren't as wide as on the other side of the island, but the waters are clear, the scenery beautiful and the peace is quiet complete.
There are a handful of modest bungalow operations, as well as an impressive and luxurious Le Royal Meridien Resort on a small hill overlooking the southern bays. This is definitely the place to get away from it all and after the short 23km drive from downtown Chaweng it's easy to imagine you've made a trip to another island completely.
Nathon is the main port town for passenger ferries and cargo boats arriving from and leaving for the mainland and it is also Koh Samui's administrative capital.
Once the largest town on the island, Nathon is still perhaps the most Thai of the larger centres and as well as the shops and offices, it boasts some interesting old wooden architecture ana a large fresh food market.
The shopping here is also good, and often cheaper than on the big tourist beaches. There are also banks, government buildings and a large post and telecom office opposite the main pier.
Nathon has some local flavour and it can be a fascinating experience to sit in one of the restaurants on the road overlooking the port and watch the bustle and variety of local life drift by.