Updated July 2018
If you have read my other Thailand posts you will know how much I love Thailand and Koh Samui is no exception. I have visited three times now on quite different trips. Once on a backpacker holiday with my best friend when we were 19 and once more recently for a relaxing beach holidays to unwind.
Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island and possibly gets a bit of a bad reputation because of it. It is also the neighbour to Koh Phangan so tends to go hand and hand with the party island. However Koh Samui is also a high end travellers dream with some of the most amazing beaches and resorts in the world. There really is something here for everyone.
If you want to know more about the weather and other tips for Koh Samui check out the lonely planet website as they have some great advice.
Airport – Having an airport is likely what has made Koh Samui so popular. You can fly direct into here from Singapore and then also from a range of places in Thailand and South East Asia for pretty cheap prices. This is the easiest way to get here. It is a lot more expensive to fly here than Phuket but believe me it is worth the extra cash.
Ferry – Another really popular way to get to Koh Samui is by ferry. You can ferry from neighbouring islands Koh Phanghan and Koh Tao and then also to the mainland Surat Thani. I would recommend using Lomprayah if you need to get a ferry, they are quick, reliable and offer transfers all over Thailand.
WHERE TO STAY
Chaweng – If you are in Koh Samui to party I recommend staying in Chaweng. This is where the majority of the backpackers are and the bars and clubs are here also. The beach at Chaweng is also really nice making it a pretty dam good option. We stayed at Ark Bar when we were doing our backpacking trip and it is a really great option if you want a mix of party and relaxation. Avoid Chaweng if you do not like crowds.
Lamai – This is the second largest beach in Samui after Chaweng and it is only about a 15 minute drive away so still close to the action. This is a good spot if you want some atmosphere but want to try and get away from the masses of people in Chaweng.
I would highly recommend staying at The Kala which is perfectly situated between Chaweng and Lamai. The accommodation is really beautiful, up on top of a cliff with amazing views. It is quiet and clean and the perfect spot to relax.
Bophut Beach – Awesome spot where I stayed on most recent trip with my family and cannot believe I have not stayed here before. It is much much smaller than Chaweng and Lamai however there is still a good mix of relaxing and things to do. This area is mostly known for the fisherman village markets and up until this trip I did not think there was much more to it. However if I head back again I would likely stay here. I would recommend the Hansar Samui Resort if you want a higher end resort and a really relaxing holiday.
WHAT TO DO
Rent scooters – But be careful about it. The best way to see Koh Samui is to hire scooters or a car. This way you can see the entire island and all the beaches that are not as crowded as the ones that people usually stay at. Make sure you have some insurance from back home if you are going to get scooters and wear helmets at all times. I saw at least an accident a day the last time we visited and one of our friends broke his collarbone falling off one. A car is a good option if you have not driven a scooter before. You can scooter the entire island in one day and we used ours everyday. This was amazing as we got to see all the little beaches Samui has to offer and stop at some more local places along the way. Thai Moto have good priced scooters and run a good service where you can pay a bond instead of giving over your passport. You can find them at: 159/47 Moo 2 บ่อผุด Amphoe Ko Samui, Chang Wat Surat Thani 84320, Thailand
Nikki Beach – If you are feeling fancy take a trip to Nikki Beach club. Great place to spend the day drinking cocktails and eating beside the pool/beach. They also have a DJ going most of the day which makes for a good atmosphere. The day we went we did not book and got in ok but might be best to reserve a bed, surcharge applies.
Coral Cove – Cute beach just beside The Kala hotel. This beach is a little bit hidden but you should seek it out and spend your days there. We sure did. The water is deep and it is a quiet little spot with one restaurant for when you are feeling hungry or thirsty for a Chang. Google Coral Cove Chalet and you will find it.
Crystal Cove – Another great beach to visit just before you get to Lamai. Drive down the driveway for Crystal cove resort, there is parking there for cars and scooters. Really pretty beach but there are a few rocks here and it is quite shallow so you have to walk out quite far. Couple of good food spots down here on the beach too.
Big Buddha – Great to visit to have a cultural experience while you are in Samui. It is quite beautiful and provides a good trip. I did not visit a second time when back most recently but it is worth visiting at least once.
Green Mango – The bar/club you cannot miss in Samui. Pretty wild outdoor club right in the centre of Chaweng. Don’t miss this spot if you are in Samui to party. Prepare for a hangover too….
Fisherman village markets – Located in Bophut these a good markets that happen on a Thursday night and when we were there again on a Monday but maybe just double check with your accommodation. There is a mix of thai knick knacks and then fake knock off clothes and bags. The food here is the real reason I went and was not let down.
Coco tams – Best beach bar to spend an evening. This place has all the vibes. A game room upstairs. Beer pong and pool downstairs in the out door bar. Fire dancers. DJ’s some nights. Swing up bar. Bean bags on the beach. Ok you get it, but just go.
WHERE TO EAT
Mr Crab – My favourite spot, we ate here most days. It is so cheap I cannot even explain. The food is delicious, it is authentic and everything is brought out to your super quick so you can enjoy the rest of your day/evening. Do not come here if you love fine dining. 157/19 หมู 2 Tambon Bo Put, Amphoe Ko Samui, Chang Wat Surat Thani 84320, Thailand
Khaw Glong Too Thai – We ate here once after finding it on tripadvisor and would recommend it highly. Really delicious food. There are two locations both in Chaweng so be sure to check them out!
Brown Sugar – This spot is in Lamai and we found it towards the end of the trip. Big portions, super cheap and pretty tasty. This is on the main road, back from the beach.
Jungle Beach – If you park up for the day on Lamai beach on some loungers I would recommend Jungle beach over the others because of the food. The others are ok as well but this one is just a bit better which makes the day all the more enjoyable.
The Orchid – Best massaman curry I think I ate in Thailand and overall really good food. They also have happy hour cocktails so it is a good place to stop. On the main road of Chaweng.
Le Karma Sutra – Bophut beach. Chill spot, good place for lunch of breakfast. We had thai but there is also italian on the menu. Good view from upstairs. The interior fit out is quite modern and gives quite a bali vibe.
Coco tams x peppina – This is the restaurant that is linked to coco tams bar. The food is italian and it is amazing. Pizzas are some of the best ones I have eaten. This place is hard to miss and has a really awesome vibe no matter where you choose to sit. Do not leave this off your list.
Had Bang Po – A tiny beachside restaurant that I read about online. It is known for its seafood and the food was really yum. Head here if you want a quiet meal in a very classic thai setting right on the beach. It is on the ring road on the way to maenam.
Link – Good food, nice modern setting right on the beach. Have a massive menu with every cuisine you can think of. Quite big portions so don’t over order like we did. Bophut beach.
2 fishes – Bophut beach and a bit more of a fine dining experience for those who like that. More expensive than your normal koh samui spot but the food was outstanding and 100% worth it. Must visit.
Cafe 69 – Thai food with a twist. This spot is on the ring road before you enter into the fishermans village area. From the outside you will not think much at all but the food is stand out. Green chicken pie – AMAZING. Tofu papaya salad rolls, fried chicken – the list goes on. Put aside your thoughts of the fluffy rugs and leopard print and give it a try.