Koh Samui: Getting there & Things to do
About Koh Samui
Koh Samui - also called the "Coconut Island" - is located in the Gulf of Thailand in the southeastern province of Surat Thani. It is, with its 254 km², the third largest island of Thailand after Phuket and Koh Chang. Many beautiful beaches all around the island make Koh Samui one of the most popular holiday islands in Thailand. What makes Koh Samui so popular is also the fact that it has to offer something for every kind of traveler and every budget. You can stay in bamboo bungalows directly at the beach but also splurge yourself in a luxury hotel that offers everything you can imagine.
How to get to Koh Samui
From Bangkok, there are several ways to get to Koh Samui. The most convenient and fastest way would be by flying from Bangkok to Koh Samui as there is a domestic and international airport on the island. It's one of Asia's most beautiful airports by the way. Another possibility would be flying to Surat Thani or Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south mainland. From there you will have to take a bus to the Don Sak pier from where you can choose between different boat and ferry companies. You can book the bus + boat tickets directly at the Surat Thani airport or easily online here. The fastest company is Lomprayah and the boat drive from the mainland to Nathon, Koh Samui takes slightly more than 1 hour.
A cheaper way is going by bus or train from Bangkok to Surat Thani town or Chumphon. At the train station of Surat Thani you can also book tickets to Koh Samui, however it's more convenient to book it online here. In many tourist offices in Bangkok you can book combined bus + boat tickets, too. The journey by bus takes between 12 and 15 hours.
If you're already on the neighboring islands Koh Phangan or Koh Tao, you can simply book a boat ticket and leave from one of the piers. There are several piers on Koh Samui where you can arrive, most likely it will be in the north of the island. Once on Koh Samui, you can take a taxi (Songthaew) or motorbike taxi to any place on the island or rent a scooter straightaway. Also, you can use the Lomprayah minivan service that will bring you to any place on the island for a good price.
Things to do on Koh Samui
1. Discover Koh Samui's beaches
There's many beaches on Koh Samui and the most popular one is surely Chaweng Beach. This is also the main tourist area of the island. Chaweng Beach is a very long beach with white fine sand and turquoise water and you can have a nice swim there. Also some water sports are possible.
If Chaweng Beaech is too busy for you, you could visit some of the other beaches that are more calm. There are dozens of beaches on Koh Samui and the choice is all up to you. How about a visit to Lamai Beach in the east, Ban Tai in the north or Taling Ngam on the west coast? One of the most beautiful beaches of Koh Samui is also the Silver Beach, also known as Crystal Bay.
2. Visit some of the temples
The most famous temple of Koh Samui is without doubt the Big Buddha. The Thai name is Wat Pra Yai. You can see the huge golden Buddha statue already from the far when approaching Koh Samui by airplane. It's the landmark of Koh Samui and definitely a must for first time visitors. The next big highlight is just a few minutes drive away: Wat Plai Laem with the big happy Buddha and the Kuan Yin statue.
But there are even many more temples to visit on Koh Samui such as Wat Khunaram with the mummified monk, the Wat Samret, Wat Sila Ngu or the Plai Laem Pagoda in the south. Make sure to visit at least one of them during your stay.
3. Enjoy the markets and walking streets
What would a Thai holiday destination be without a market? And Koh Samui has plenty of them! No matter if fresh market, night market or Walking Street: Koh Samui has them all in almost every town and tourist place. Most of the markets you can find in Chaweng, Maenam, Bophut and Lamai. Don't miss the Walking Streets (for example in Lamai every Sunday) as they are the best place for shopping and trying some delicious Thai food or snacks. Often there's even some great entertaining and shows.
4. Enjoy the stunning viewpoints
The Khao Pom is with 635 meters the highest point of Koh Samui and offers a spectacular view from the summit. There is also a temple with a large standing Buddha statue. From the terrace you can have a great view and the hard way to get up there is totally worth it.
Beside the Khao Pom viewpoint, there are even many more spectacular places on Koh Samui with great views. How about enjoying a drink in the Jungle Club in Chaweng Noi? There's a bar, a restaurant, bungalows and even an infinity pool. It's still an insiders' tip so make sure to visit this awesome place. For the higher budget there's also the W Retreat in Maenam with a stunning view on Koh Phangan.
5. Visit the Tarnim Magic Garden
The Tarnim Magic Garden, also known as the Secret Buddha Garden, is located on a hill in the middle of Samui and is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the island. There is a large garden in the jungle, which is decorated with numerous statues. Buddhas, snakes, birds or other mystical creatures are scattered throughout the garden. Don't miss!
6. Explore the island by scooter
Rent a scooter and explore Koh Samui on your own. It's so much fun to drive around the island. But safety first: Always wear a helmet and drive slowly and mindfully. There might be traffic in some areas of Koh Samui, especially on the ring road that leads around the island.
7. Visit Koh Samui's waterfalls
There are several waterfalls on Koh Samui but the most famous ones are the 2 Namuang Waterfalls. Don't miss them if you want to experience a true jungle adventure. In one of the waterfalls you will even find a large natural pool where you can swim in the fresh water.
8. Enjoy a Muay Thai night
If you're into sports or you don't know what to do on a rainy evening, visit the famous Phetch Buncha stadium in Chaweng and enjoy a Muay Thai tournament. It's very entertaining and a great opportunity to see how the Thai people love this sport. There are even Muay Thai fighters from all over the world. Apart from that, there's more Muay Thai stadiums all over the island, for example in Lamai.
9. Do a day trip to the amazing Ang Thong National Park
Ang Thong Marine National Park is located off the coast of Koh Samui and is a popular destination for a day trip. It's literally a trip to paradise! You can snorkel there and see many colorful fish, but the highlight is certainly the blue lagoon. Also, there are some picturesque beaches, a fisherman's village and beautiful rock formations to see in the national park. The prices for a tour to Ang Thong are between 1700-1800 Baht (not including national park fee) and you can book this tour everywhere on Koh Samui.
10. Go partying
In the Chaweng area, especially in the Soi Green Mango, there's many party opportunities for having a great night. Enjoy a beer in one of the numerous bars or watch the fire show directly at the beach at Ark Bar. Later the evening you can move to the famous Green Mango club and dance until late night.
11. Visit the Grandmother and Grandfather Rock
This is another famous landmark of Koh Samui, located in south Lamai. These 2 rocks with the Thai name Hin Ta and Hin Yai have the shape of human genitals and are even a place of worshipping for locals. They believe a visit to the rocks will increase fertility. Especially the male rock is a famous photo motif for tourists and you also shouldn't miss it.
12. Explore Koh Samui with a 4x4 vehicle
This is a great alternative if you don't want to explore the island on your own by scooter. This tour covers some of the most important sights of Koh Samui: Grandmother and Grandfather Rock, Namuang Safari Park with the Namuang Waterfalls, Wat Khunaram with the mummified monk and the Tarnim Magic Garden. The most adventurous and thrilling part is the drive to the mountains of Koh Samui with breathtaking views.
13. Visit Koh Matsum and Koh Tan
Koh Samui can get very busy, especially in the high season. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle you could do a day-trip to the 2 islands located south of Koh Samui. There's some nice snorkeling at Koh Tan and you can even see little rays and barracudas if you're lucky. If you want and have the budget, you could even stay on Koh Matsum in the The Treasure resort. But even for just one or half a day it's great to enjoy the beautiful turquoise waters of Koh Matsum.
Book tickets to Koh Samui
You can easily book boat tickets to Koh Samui online but also buy them directly at the airport of Surat Thani or in one of the numerous travel agencies in the tourist areas in Bangkok and the south. Book cheap tickets to Koh Samui here. If you want to know about departure and arrival times of the major tour providers like Lomprayah, Seatran, Songserm or Raja Ferry, kindly check our time table.
Where to travel next?
Popular routes from Koh Samui are to neighboring islands Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Many travelers do what they call "Island hopping". It's ideal to start from Koh Samui to work your way up north via Koh Phangan and Koh Tao to Bangkok. Other popular routes from Koh Samui lead to the West coast of Thailand like to Krabi, Koh Phi Phi or Phuket. The closest airport is located on Koh Samui, if you prefer a cheaper option, you can fly via Surat Thani airport.
Photos: Home is where your Bag is