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15 best things to do on Koh Samui, Thailand

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Koh Samui is located in the Southern Gulf of Thailand. This Thai island offers an incredible amount of possibilities for travelers who want to spend their vacation on a Thai island. Because the island is quite large compared to many other islands – a whopping 247 km² there is something for everyone. What to do on Koh Samui? In this extensive island guide you can read about the 15 best things to do on Koh Samui. We also share useful tips on the best time to travel, how to get to the island and practical information for a great vacation in Thailand.

On the map below you can find all beaches, hotels and attractions on Koh Samui mentioned in this article.

Chaweng Beach

Chaweng Beach is the place to be if you just missed the Full Moon Party on Koh Panghan and still want to party. You’ll find the most bars, beach parties and music here. Not really our favorite place on the island, but for party-people definitely the place to be! Keep in mind that it can be difficult to fall asleep if you sleep near Chaweng Beach. The music goes on until the wee hours of the morning.

Koh Samui

Lamai Beach

Lamai Beach is also a lively and busy place on the island. After Chaweng Beach, this is the most popular spot for partygoers and you’ll find plenty of entertainment here as well. However, the beach is slightly quieter and there is also less noise in the evening. Perfect for anyone looking for fun, but also wants to be able to sleep in!

Lamai Beach

Chaweng Noi Beach

Chaweng Noi is located between the busy Chaweng Beach and the slightly less busy Lamai Beach. You will find mainly a number of resorts from which you can use Chaweng Noi Beach.

Chrystal Bay Beach

Chrystal Bay Beach is located in the bay of Thong Takien and you will find here one of the most beautiful and quiet beaches of Koh Samui. Another advantage of Chrystal Bay? It’s perfect for snorkeling!

Taling Ngam Beach

Taling Ngam Beach located on the west coast of the island is not really a beach, but it offers great views over the surrounding islands.

Taling Ngam Beach
Taling Ngam Beach Koh Samui
Taling Ngam Beach

Thong Krut Beach

This beach, located in the south of Samui is mainly a very nice place to look out over the surrounding islands and to chill out. You can’t swim very well here, but you will find abandoned, old boats that are very photogenic and you can enjoy swinging in one of the tree swings.

Thong Krut Beach Koh Samui
Thong Krut Beach

Visit Wat Plai Laem

Wat Plai Laem is one of the most famous temples on Koh Samui. Although the gigantic Buddha statues are somewhat hysterical, it is very beautiful to see. You will find several temples, a huge Buddha with eighteen arms and a large laughing Buddha. A nice fact: The entrance to Wat Plai Laem is free! Wat Plai Laem is without a doubt one of the most popular Koh Samui sights

Wat Plai Laem Koh Samui
Wat Plai Laem
Wat Plai Laem
Wat Plai Laem Koh Samui

Another famous attraction on the island that you can not miss is the Big Buddha of twelve meters high in the north of the island. Again, admission is free.

Big Buddha Koh Samui

Wat Khiri Wongkaram

Another temple worth visiting is Wat Khiri Wongkaram. From the outside Wat Kiri Wongkaram looks like an ordinary temple, but inside you will find something very special, namely a mummified monk. Yes, really! As far as I am concerned, one of the most special Koh Samui sights

Wat Kiri Wongkaram Koh Samui
Wat Kiri Wongkaram Koh samui

Old fishing boats on the deserted Thong Krut Beach

In the south of the island, near the harbor you will find Thong Krut Beach. Not really a swimming beach, but you will find two old, abandoned fishing boats that are very photogenic!

Thong Krut Beach
Thong Krut Beach

Fisherman’s Village

Located in the north of the island you will find Fisherman’s Village. A place that used to be the fishing village of the island, but now converted into a tourist attraction. You will find souvenir stores and cozy bars and restaurants. You can also enjoy a beautiful view over the sea and see expensive yachts sailing by. Not really authentic, but fun to take a look. In addition, there is a lively night market every Friday night.

Excursion to Koh Tan

Koh Tan is one of the islands off the coast of Koh Samui. You can book a tour, but it is also possible to take a taxi-boat. You will find a mangrove forest here which allows you to take a beautiful walk. But beware: It’s not very easy!

Delicious food at the night markets

Crazy about good food and street food? Then be sure to visit one of the night markets. You’ll find more than enough – good – Western restaurant, but also more than enough fine local restaurants. For those who want to be a bit in between and eat in a touristy place, but also like to eat local, the night markets on Koh Samui are the perfect place. In Lamai you will find a lovely market, but also on Chaweng you will find a food court and the Chaweng Walking Street with night market. On Friday night you can go to Fisherman’s Village for a cozy night market. Enjoy.

Street food Thailand
Night Market Koh Samui
Night market Thailand Koh Samui

Discover the most beautiful waterfalls

In the interior of Koh Samui you will find a number of waterfalls where you can go to cool off. However, keep in mind that there are no real waterfalls during the dry season. Waterfalls worth visiting are Hin Lat waterfall and Na Muang 1 and 2 waterfalls .

Visit a Muay Thai match

Koh Samui boasts the largest Muay Thai boxing stadium in Southern Thailand and this does not go unnoticed. Almost every night, on Chaweng, there is a match that is – exaggeratedly – highly advertised. Tickets can be bought at the door, but keep in mind that it’s not cheap. Often you pay for a ticket 1000 – or even 2000 – baht per person. There are also regular competitions next to the night market in Lamai. For this you pay 500 baht or you buy a drink at one of the bars. The last options is obviously the cheapest.

Muay Thai on Koh Samui

Staying on Koh Samui

On the island you have many different options for sleeping. The beaches Chaweng and Lamai are the most suitable for backpackers and you’ll find the cheapest options here. Here, but also on other beaches like the west coast and Chaweng Noi you will find the more luxurious resorts. Below are a number of fine accommodations on the island:

The best time to travel to Koh Samui

Koh Samui is great to visit all year round, but the finest months are April through August. Although a large part of these months falls in the middle of the rainy season, this should not scare you off. Often the rainy season means a heavy downpour once a day – often at the end of the day – but there are also many dry and sunny days. Keep in mind that it is very busy during our summer months (July and August) and around Christmas and New Year. And with very busy I mean really busy!

Koh Samui

Flying from Bangkok to Koh Samui or Surat Thani

The easiest and fastest way to get to the island is to fly from Bangkok to the airport located on the island. This airport is one of the reasons it is so busy on the island during the western vacation months. Another option is to fly to the airport in Surat Thani, located on the mainland of Thailand. This we did and for this we paid only €27 per person! From here we booked a combi-ticket for the bus and boat to Koh Samui. For this we paid 400 baht per person for the slow boat. There are faster options from the airport, but of course you will pay more.

Thai Lion

From Bangkok to Koh Samui by night train or bus

A cheaper and more adventurous way is to take the night train from Bangkok (Hua Lamphong station) to Surat Thani from where you can continue your journey by bus and boat to Koh Samui. This way you will arrive on Samui early in the morning.

Book train tickets in Thailand via 12GoAsia.

From Koh Tao or Koh Panghan to Koh Samui

A trip to Koh Samui is perfect to combine with a visit to “neighboring islands” Koh Panghan and Koh Tao. Although you can also visit the former by means of a day trip, it is of course more fun to stay overnight on all the islands. From Koh Panghan and Koh Tao several boats leave every day for Koh Samui. Prices start at 300 baht per person for a one-way trip.

Boot naar Koh Samui

From the west coast to Koh Samui

Also from the west coast of Thailand, think of Krabi and Koh Lanta, Koh Samui is easily reached in a day. At every office you can buy combi-tickets for the bus (often a minivan) and the boat. Prices for these start at 700 baht per person.

Transportation on Koh Samui

Koh Samui is big, very big, which often made us feel like we were on an island. There is no public transport, but there are cabs and pick-ups everywhere that can drop you off. Keep in mind that the prices are not comparable with cab prices in Bangkok. For a short ride from Chaweng Noi to Chaweng Beach you pay 100 baht per person and in the evening even more! A cheaper – and more fun – option is to rent a scooter yourself to explore the island. You can rent a scooter for 150-200 baht per day at a small office or your hotel.

What do you think are the best Koh Samui sights?