Koh Samui, Thailand: when to go and what to see

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Located in southern Thailand, about 700km from noisy Bangkok, Koh Samui is the third largest island in the country, sought after all year round for its white beaches and relaxation, but also for the hinterland made up of rainforests, green and lush, and for the rather lively nightlife.

Once inhabited by fishing communities, and then by hippies who arrived in the sixties, today the island is at the center of Thai tourism having developed and equipped with adequate infrastructure, including shopping malls, luxury hotels and even a small airport that allows daily connections with the capital. Despite this, however, the central areas of Koh Samui were not involved in the urban development process and there, still today, the jungle dominates unchallenged.


  1. Travel informed: useful information
  2. When to go? Info on climate and best time
  3. Where it is
  4. How to get there and how to get around
  5. What to see: beaches and places of interest
  6. What to do: info, excursions and tours
  7. Prices and costs of a holiday
  8. User questions and comments

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 62.500 inhabitants
  • Airport: Samui Airport
  • Languages: Thai
  • Local currency: Bath (€ 1,00 = 34,37 bath)
  • Weather: tropical monsoon
  • Entry requirements: passport
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    When to go? Info on climate and best time

    • Weather: Koh Samui has a tropical monsoon climate. This means that the average monthly maximum temperatures are around 29 ° in January up to 33 ° in May. The lows instead vary from 23 ° in December to 26 ° in April. The rainy season reaches its peak in November, as opposed to February which is the driest month.
    • Best time: end of January - April
    • Period to avoid: October-December (monsoon period)
    • Advice: In Thailand, despite the high humidity that attenuates the sensation of heat, it is very easy to get a heat stroke or feel dehydrated: for this reason, it is always better to have a bottle of water behind just in case and to remember to drink regularly. Also consider that the months between December and March, or those of the dry season, are characterized by a light refreshing breeze: this is the ideal period for lovers of water sports such as windsurfing, very popular on the island's beaches.

    Where it is

    Koh Samui is the most important of the many islands that make up the Mu Koh Samui archipelago, in Southern Thailand, 35km north-east of the coastal town of Surat Thani, to which the island is connected by frequent ferries. To the west of Koh Samui, 42 smaller islets form the Ang Thong National Marine Park, essential for the protection of many species of local fauna and flora.

    How to get there and how to get around

    1. By sea from Surat Thani: 4 different ferry companies depart (Songserm, Lomprayah, Seatran, Raja Ferry) which offer cumulative tickets that also include bus / transfers to reach the various boarding terminals starting from the airport, train station or even from the city center. The night run is particularly recommended, starting at 22:00 from Surat Thani and arriving at 4:00 in Koh Samui. Prices range between 500 and 1000 bath (between € 14,00 and € 29,00).
    2. By plane from Bangkok: the island has a small airport called Samui Airport and connected to the capital by Bangkok Airways or Thai Airways flights lasting about an hour. Return flights starting from € 200,00.

    Once landed it is recommended to reach the hotel by taxi. For a ride of about 20 minutes for 2 people + 2 suitcases you spend a standard amount of 500 Thai baht (about € 14,00). For the movements within the islandinstead, you can rent a scooter for about 250 bath per day (about € 7,00). Many hotels offer two-wheeler rentals directly, so you won't have to look for other companies to turn to.

    What to see: beaches and places of interest

    Koh Samui boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, easily accessible thanks to the road that runs along the entire perimeter of the island. Some of them are pristine, with very few tourists and very suggestive natural sceneries, while others, such as Chaweng beach and Lamai beach, are very popular especially by water sports and snorkeling lovers, attracted by the summer and the depths full of wonders .

    On the island, however, the beaches are not the only attraction present: there are in fact no shortage waterfalls hidden in the green, as well as two large boulders with a rather curious shape.

    1 - Chaweng Beach

    Located on the east coast of Koh Samui, Chaweng Beach is one of the most popular, with fine white sand and emerald water. It is more than 5km long and, in its surroundings, you will surely find a high concentration of bars, pubs, restaurants and discos that enliven the island after sunset. For this reason, if you are the quieter type looking for relaxation, I suggest you opt for another accommodation.

    • Chaweng is located not far from the airport, so you can reach it in a few minutes by taxi / scooter - Get directions
    • Information: free beach

    2 - Lamai Beach, Hin Ta and Hin Yai

    Not far from Chaweng, Lamai beach is the second busiest on Koh Samui and presents itself crescent-shaped edged with palm trees and from a high rocky promontory on the north side. To the south, however, at the end of Lamai, there are the two famous granite rocks, Hin Ta and Hin Yai, so popular due to theincredible resemblance to the male and female genitals respectively. Formed over millions of years, they are one of the most photographed and curious attractions on the island.

    • Lamai is about minutes from Chaweng Beach - Get directions
    • Information: free beach

    3 - Mea Nam beach

    The turquoise and shallow water makes Mea Nam beach ideal for families with small children, but also for those who want to enjoy the sea in absolute tranquility. However, Mea Nam is not visited exclusively for its coastline: here there is in fact a typical Thai village with wooden houses and alleys surrounded by vegetation, as well as small traditional massage centers.

    • by scooter, it only takes 10 minutes to reach Mea Nam from Chaweng (west of Bophut) - Get directions
    • Information: free beach

    4 - Bophut Beach

    Bophut is far from the most chaotic places on the island and its bay presents the bathing area to the west, while to the east there is a picturesque fishing village, consisting of Chinese-style houses and shops mixed with more modern buildings. The family atmosphere of the place, its almost Mediterranean liveliness and the exquisite dishes based on local fish make it one of the most beautiful corners of Koh Samui, to visit both day and evening.

    • from Chaweng to Bophut takes you just under a quarter of an hour by car / scooter, heading north - Get directions
    • Information: free beach

    5 - Na Muang waterfalls

    As we said, in Koh Samui not only the areas near the sea are interesting, but also the hinterland will certainly reserve you some nice surprises. The Na Muang Waterfalls, in the southwestern part of the island, create one among trees and roots natural swimming pool. Be careful when bathing, though: the water hides sharp stones beneath its surface, therefore it is better to have the rubber shoes that are usually used to go on the rocks.

    • between the towns of Hua Thanon and Nathon, in the south-west of the island. Accessible from main road 4169 - Get directions
    • Information: free and open access

    What to do: info, excursions and tours

    Koh Samui is a very beautiful island and things to see beyond the main beaches are certainly not in short supply. Many of these, including the Big Buddha statue (nothing exceptional when compared to other Thai temples, but it can be a pleasant alternative to days at sea) or the Na Muang waterfalls, you can reach them in total autonomy, but there are also organized excursions that will take you to discover the surroundings of the island.

    • Ang Thong National Marine Park excursion: The Ang Thong Marine Park consists of 42 mountainous islets that offer the opportunity to come into close contact with unique specimens of flora and fauna in the world. Among the many species present here, otters and fish eagles often accompany the boats of tourists visiting the park
      Discover the tour: Angthong Marine Park: Big boat tour from Samui
    • Snorkeling excursion: From Koh Samui there are numerous excursions dedicated to snorkelers, with catamaran excursions and equipment included, where you can snorkel and / or dive in dream waters.
      Discover the tour: Koh Samui: Snorkeling and Kayaking by speedboat
    • Jungle Safari: Adrenaline-fueled experiences reaching the most beautiful viewpoints of Koh Samui by jeep!
      Discover the tour: Ko Samui: 4x4 jungle safari with lunch included

    What to do in the evening: info on nightlife

    Koh Samui in the evening is a very busy island, above all around Chaweng and Lamai, where in addition to the usual pubs and clubs, fun beach parties are organized. If your vacation falls during the full moon, you will have the opportunity to participate in the Full Moon Party, a large party that attracts hundreds of people every month to the nearby island of Koh Phangan.

    Here are the main clubs and clubs in Koh Samui:

    1. Reggae pub: Chaweng Beach - get directions
      average prices € 2,00 / 3,00 per cocktail
    2. Green Mango Club: Soi Green Mango, Chaweng - get directions
      average prices € 2,00 / 3,00 per cocktail
    3. Chill Inn Beach Cafe: Moo 1, Maret - get directions
      average prices € 2,00 per cocktail

    What to do if it rains

    For those on holiday in Koh Samui, a rainy day could seem like a disaster. But in reality nothing prevents you from having fun away from the beaches ... Here are some recommended activities when it rains:

    1. Shop at the Central Festival: Located in the heart of Chaweng, between the lake and the beach, Central Festival Samui is a huge complex of restaurants, shops and arcades offering a wide range of options to spend pleasant moments avoiding the rain. Get directions
    2. Enjoy a nice massage in a specialized center: Spa treatments and massages are a pleasant and relaxing way to forget the rain while on vacation in Samui. On the island of Samui there is a wide choice of spas and spas, you just have to go to the one closest to you.
    3. Have fun at the shooting range: Shooting a few shots is a good way to relax when you are troubled by bad weather, and Samui Shooting Sport is the place to do it. Located on Samui Ring's Road, just a few hundred meters from Tesco Lotus, this modern shooting range offers an impressive arsenal: from small .22 calibers to war rifles such as Kalashnikovs. Get directions
    4. Visit the Samui Butterfly Garden: Located in the southwestern part of the island, Samui Butterfly Garden is a family attraction that allows you to discover butterflies and other insects in their natural habitat. Set in a large, well-kept outdoor garden covered in nets, the butterfly area is truly a lovely place. Get directions

    Prices and costs of a holiday

    Although international tourism is establishing itself year after year, prices on the island of Koh Samui are relatively low, especially with regard to accommodation (excluding 5-star hotels) and eating out. Keep in mind that the most expensive areas of the island are obviously Chaweng and Lamai, the most popular, while as you move away from these two centers the prices drop significantly.

    The flights, on the other hand, are by no means low cost.
    Alternatively, you can always opt to reach the island by sea from Surat Thani: certainly less comfortable than a direct flight from Bangkok, but also less expensive.
    Finally, I suggest you avoid taxis except in case of extreme necessity: paradoxically, here they have higher rates than in Bangkok and, if you plan to make many trips within a day, they are not the best solution.

    • hotel and b & b from € 12,00 per room -
    • Flights Rome - Koh Samui: starting from € 545,87 -
    • Flights Bangkok - Koh Samui: starting from € 221,55 -

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