Koh Samui is the original Thai island lying on the east coast of Thailand in the Gulf of Thailand. It is Thailand's second-largest island after Phuket. Koh Samui is quite famous for its picture postcard beaches that are some of the best anywhere in the world, and coconut groves and dense mountainous rainforest, plus luxury resorts and posh spas. so it attracts all kinds of travelers, from the very low budget backpackers renting small beach huts to the millionaires who take their annual vacation or spend their weekends at one of the super international five star exclusive resorts or villas on one of the tranquil, soft and white sandy beach paradises. With plenty of parties, Lamai and Chaweng are two busiest beaches. Except the beautiful beaches, Koh Samui also has lots of other attractions to keep you busy when you enjoy your holiday there: The Big Buddha Temple is the landmark where you can see a 12-metre tall golden big Buddha statue; the most picturesque (With plenty of parties, Lamai and Chaweng are two busiest beaches.) Na Muang waterfalls; the timeless feel of Bophut's Fisherman's Village; or you can go to join the Full Moon Party in the nearby Koh Phangan by boat. Koh Samui is quite unique among Thailand islands and there is now something for almost every taste. There is a domestic airport with regular flights to and from so travelling to Koh Samui is very relatively easy. It is the idyllic tropical island paradise.
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The best time to visit Koh Samui
Before going to Koh Samui, you should check the weather carefully. It has great weather from late December to April, little rain, and lots of sunshine. The wettest season, from September to mid-December, when good beach weather can be hardly found, it often marked by heavy rains and tropical storms. From May to August, there is still plenty of sun but you will get some brief showers in the afternoon or night. The hottest months are from March to May, which makes the winter (mid-December to March) as the peak travel season.
Best time to save money
Visiting Koh Samui during the rainy season from September to November, you will certainly great deals on travelling and hotels. However, you will have chance to meet heavy rains and storms during the days you are supposed to be there. June comparatively an ideal season: perfectly dry and with daytime temperature around 32 degrees centigrade and it is just right before tourists arriving in droves: from July to August. It is a better mix of good weather and prices. June is hot and humid but very sunny and not a lot of tourists.
Best time for snorkeling, scuba diving, and day trips to Angthong Marine Park
Actually, Koh Samui is not famous for snorkeling or scuba diving but the nearby Koh Tao is. The best time for diving on Koh Tao is anytime except November and early December with March, April, and May the best months to see huge whale sharks.
Kayaking trips to Angthong Marine Park are one of the highlights of day trips from Koh Samui and the best time is from late December to September. The park is closed from November to early December every year.
High season, shoulder season and low season
Late December, January, July and August are high seasons, great beach weather, sunny, hot but not crazily hot like April and May. You will meet some rain but it usually passes quickly.
February and March are two driest and sunniest months in Koh Samui. It is great time for beach. Together with April, May, June, September and early December, there are shoulder seasons.
October and November mark the low seasons as they are two rainiest months of the year when you are still possible meet some sunshine days.
How to get to Koh Samui
There are numerous ways to go to Koh Samui. It can be a flight, a train ferry or a bus. it All depends on your time, ability, and of course your budget.
The fastest and easiest way to get to Koh Samui is by flight. The island has its own international airport with direct flight from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. As the airport was built by Bangkok Airways, the price for a flight ticket is a little bit expensive, because they preserve a monopoly, with only a few exceptions.
Relatively, the flights from Bangkok are cheaper if you book early. Bangkok Airlines has around 19 flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui and Thai Airways has 2 every day.
By air + ferry
If you want to fly even cheaper, you can choose to fly from Bangkok to Surat Thani which is the nearest city on the mainland of Thailand to Koh Samui. Airlines like Thai Lion Air, AirAsia and Nok Air fly to the city from Bangkok with airfares being far more affordable than flying to Samui. The flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani takes about 70 minutes. The airport of Surat Thani is around 30 km west of Surat Thani town. You can book an all-in “fly and ferry” ticket through Air Asia or Nok Air including a minibus transfer to the pier. If you want to stay overnight in Surat Thani after your arrival, and, this option is made even more convenient if you add a hotel pickup to your ticket so that you do not have to worry about your transport to Donsak Pier. UME Travel can arrange all of above for you to make your trip more convenient.
By train + ferry
Thailand has one of the best meter-gauge rail systems in the world and travel by train is easily and it is the best way to get around and see the country in real. It is safe, cheap, comfortable, environmentally friendly and it tends to arrive roughly on time. The trains take between 8.5 hours and 12 hours depending on the train. It is a special Thai experience which makes your journey more interesting and enjoyable. It is the best way to travel by train + ferry to Koh Samui. The overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani is fun and enjoyable. The ticket is cheap and it takes no more time out of your vocation than by air and it is a lot of fun with a special experience. On your arrival at Surat Thani railways station, you will easily find shuttle buses which take you to the Donsak ferry terminal 60 km east of Surat Thani. It takes 1.5 hours from the station to the pier by bus. The station is not in the downtown of the city and the location is at Phun Phin 14 km from the center of the city. The bus is included in the fare of the train + ferry. Ferries sail every hour from Don Sak to Ko Samui which takes about 1.5 hours.
Overnight sleepers are highly recommended and should be booked at least 7 days in advance, but the sooner the better in high season.
By bus + ferry
Bus + ferry from Bangkok to Koh Samui is the cheapest combination. But if you can, we recommend you to take a train. It will be funny, easier and less of a hassle.
If you are in a hurry or cannot book a train ticket, well, bus is one of the choice. As with bus travel, you can depart Bangkok almost immediately without any reservation in advance. After 10-12 hours riding on bus, you will arrive at Doksak ferry terminal in Surat Thani, from where you can take a 1.5 hours’ boat ride to Koh Samui.
There are 2 types of buses that travel from Bangkok to Koh Samui. The public buses leave from Sai Tai Mai terminal in the south of Bangkok are considered the best, cheapest and most reliable ones. You can choose among VIP, air conditioned, and non-air-conditioned buses. The VIP and AC buses provide toilets, reserved seating, and they are clean and modern. There are also private buses that depart from Khao San Road in Bangkok which are only used by tourists. They are typically small, cramped and rife with theft. They do not have a fixed departure time and they leave only when they are full or nearly full. We really do not recommend this kind of bus. The only convenience of it is if you are staying at or near Khao San Road.
Featured Beaches in Koh Samui
Hopefully, our guide of beaches below will give you some ideas of choosing where to stay during your trip in Koh Samui.
Chaweng is one of the main tourist hot spot beach destinations and most of activities happen here. It is one of the pretties and the busiest beach with a 7km long powdery white sand. The people stay in Chaweng tends to be younger as lots of popular beach bars, restaurants can be found in this area, although there are some large resorts in the area. Except the quite early morning, the beach is always busy with full of people swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying a variety of watersports. It is not a quiet beach in the island, however, everything you could desire is within a few meters of you sunbed –from snacks and cold drinks to massages, making it a great option for lazing away the day in comfort. Ark Bar there is very popular there if you are looking for a good place for a party. However, if you are looking for some peace and tranquil, we recommend you skip Chaweng and choose some quieter beaches instead.
Lamai Beach is the second most popular and busiest beach of Koh Samui. It is located in the south of Chaweng Beach about half an hour by car. The famous rocks – "Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks" are located at the very end of Lamai Beach. The beach is quite quieter than Chaweng Beach with a more affordable range of accommodations. Visitors can go for a quiet stroll or swim leisurely in the sea without any hassles during the day time. However, when the night falls, the town of Lamai comes alive. You will find lots of bars next to the night market in Lamai with local girls dancing, right beside people who are eating and drinking. People like this kind of nightlife can enjoy themselves in Lamai, however, we do not recommend for those traveling with families especially with kids.
Bo Phut Beach
Bo Phut Beach, a 2km long beach, 20-minute drive from the airport, is a quiet beach in Koh Samui. It is the home to the famous traditional fisherman’s village. It is a peaceful beach where you can enjoy the tranquility of Koh Samui. There are also plenty of boutique resorts, restaurants and watersports activities. From here, you can find boat tours to Angthong Marine Park, wakeboarding, jet ski and flyboard rentals. It is a place for adventure. You can also find a place to swim and relax, although the sand is yellowish, the beach is still lovely. The beach attracts crowd who prefer quiet and peace compared to busy beaches as Lamai and Chaweng.
Far from tourist attractions, Lipa Noi is quiet, serene, which is the ideal place for those seeking seclusion. It is about 1-hour drive from the airport. The popular Nikki Beach resort is located in the area. There are some small local restaurants here, but they are limited. The beach faces the west, which means sunsets here are rather fantastic. While the white powdery sandy shores of Chaweng are a lot more aesthetically, Lipa Noi is different and it is more suitable for families or couples who would like a few days of seclusion and relaxation.
The 5km stretch of yellowish sand Maenam Beach is a quiet and secluded beach with around 30-minute drive from the airport. It is a good balance for those seeking a beautiful beach with a variety of restaurants. This sleepy area is also mixed with both affordable beach bungalows, as well as some 5 star villas and resorts and it has a lot of suitable swimming areas. You will also find a few hammocks strung to the trees providing shade for beach goers. It provides a feel of laid back island. If you are looking for some places convenient and quiet, Maenam Beach is right beach you are looking for.
Thong Krut Beach
Thong Krut Beach is located in the southwest of Koh Samui which is far from the airport in the northeast. It is a great place of for getting away because of its quiet and unassuming. This beach has some rocky patches so it is not an ideal beach for swimming. However, when the tide goes down in the afternoon, this beach is one of the most picturesque places on the island. A number of good restaurants in the town are worthy visiting. Hemingway's on the beach is one of the best.
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Best things to do in Koh Samui
Take a day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park
Take a boat trip to the beautiful Ang Thong Marine Park is a must when you are staying in Koh Samui. We believe the best way to the park is chartering a private high-speed boat and taking an VIP tour to the park. If you come to Koh Samui because of the famous full moon party in Koh Pha Ngan, please book the tour with UME the day after the full moon party, otherwise you will meet crowds. In the park, you will enjoy a full day kayaking through caves, snorkeling, and you can climb up to the famous viewpoint showing you the emerald colored lake and the small islands like stars scattering around the marine park. If you are looking for an enjoyable and awoid crowds, you can book a private tour with UME which we highly recommend. Be sure to bring swimwear, sunblock, tower and some bottles of water.
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Waterfalls hunting in Koh Samui
Maybe you have spent a good time by the beach, you want something more in the Koh Samui. One thing we recommend is exploring the waterfalls in the island. Namuang waterfalls are worthy of visiting. Namuang waterfalls 1 and 2 are located 12km Southeast of Nathon Bay. Namuang 2 is regarded as the most impressive waterfall towering at a height of 80m. Another less impressive but very peaceful with very little visitors is Wang Sao Thong falls. Hin Lad waterfalls are also worthy of spending time to chase. At the bottom of the waterfalls was a large pool of water where you could cool off and even swim in it. It takes around a 45-minute trekking up to the waterfalls. The path is relatively easy and really worth it because after your trekking you will reached the completely empty and pristine waterfalls.
Go beach hopping
Around Koh Samui, there are a variety of beaches and coves, all within reach by motorbike and we have listed so many beaches above which we hope it can help you choose the beach you really like. Chaweng and Lamai are the beautiful main beaches which are always very busy. You can go to the other beaches to get some peace and quiet if you are looking for relaxation and rest. Lipa Noi is a sleepy beauty we high recommend and the other secluded beaches are Bophut Beach (fisherman's village), Mae Nam Beach and Thong Krut sandbar.
Watch the sunset by Rock Bar
For those who would like some chilled out beach vibes, the Rock Bar located right next to Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks is a wonderful choice. The bar is perched on a rock with various steps and ladders making it even more cool and atmospheric. When the perfect time – sunset comes, you can sit down on the top of rocky area and enjoy the fantastic sunset over the sea peacefully.
The Big Buddha
The 12-metre seated Buddha statue was built in 1972 is the one of the most popular attractions in Koh Samui. The golden Buddha is known as Wat Phra Yai siting majestically on a small rocky island off the island’s north-eastern corner. It connects with the main island by a causeway. The Big Buddha temple can be seen at a distance of several kilometers. It is always the first landmark people see when reaching Koh Samui by air. The Big Buddha’s posture is a symbol of steadfastness, purity and enlightenment. There is a staircase with a colorful striking dragon design leading up to the platform where the Big Buddha sits. You will see the local Buddhist devotees coming here every day and making offering of flowers, light incense and fruits at the base of the statue. It is very interesting to observe these graceful religious rituals at any time of day, in the meanwhile the platform offers excellent beach and sea views. At night, the Big Buddha is bathed in the golden glow of spotlights which makes an exotic and holy sight. Like other temples in Thailand, the Big Buddha temple also serves as a major center for cultural festivals. During the Songkran festival and the festival of Loy Kratong, the temple becomes crowded with people merit and enjoying the entertainment and other celebrations. The beach near the temple commonly known as Big Buddha Beach. There are many hotels, guesthouse, and plenty of places to eat and shop along its sandy shoreline.
Fishman's village Samui
Fisherman's Village of Koh Samui belongs to Bophut, with a series of rustic-style buildings including boutique stores, a small selection of hotels and trendy restaurants lining the narrow beach road. The village becomes walking street market every Friday evening which attracts a large number of shoppers from all over the island for the amazing variety of wares and the lively atmosphere.
This old part of Bophut Beach was once home to a thriving fishing community. Nowadays, the fishermen have moved and the main pier has also collapsed, fortunately, the old wooden houses remain. The narrow alleys run among the houses, giving the village a charming old look and feel and there are a couple of the entrances to the village have arches. A number of the restaurants on the beach side are open at the back, providing marvelous views across the sea towards Koh Phangan. Many of them have tables spreading out onto the sand of the beach. Enjoy the amazing views while tasting the delicious food, you will feel everything is so wonderful.
Take a trip to Koh Tao for scuba diving
Koh Tao means 'Turtle Island'. It is paradise for scuba diving in Thailand which is only 55km to the north of Koh Samui. Taking a day trip to Koh Tao will satisfy your dreams of scuba diving and many visitors come here to obtain an Open Water Diver qualification through examination. This dramatic colorful sea area is home to colorful sea creatures, including turtles, reef sharks, stingrays, barracudas and, if you are lucky, you will meet whale sharks. There are a number of diving shops selling daily trips and training courses, particularly in Mae Haad. The popular dive sites include the underwater sculptures of Ocean Utopia, Lighthous Bay, Chumphon Pinnacles, Japanese Gardens and so no. As a matter of fact, any place along the Koh Tao coast is an ideal spot for snorkeling. Other activities you can take part in in the island including sailing, rock climbing, abseiling, cliff jumping, kayaking, fishing, wakeboarding, hiking and mountain biking.
Hin Ta and Hin Yai, Lamai Beach
Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks is the main attraction in Koh Samui located in between Lamai and Hua Thanon. They are known as the Grandfather and Grandmother rocks as there are shaped as male and female genitalia and there is an entire fairy tale about them. It will be quite hilarious when you see people take selfies with these oddly shaped rocks.
As one of Koh Samui's most popular attractions, every taxi driver knows how to take you there, or you can arrange a day trip around the island with UME travel.