Koh Samui Travel Guide

Take me to the beach

With its seemingly endless white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, palm trees, and overwater bungalows, Koh Samui, in the Gulf of Thailand, embodies the perfect holiday image.
What used to be a small fishing community, is now a dream escape from the burdens and worries. Surrounded by divine natural beauty, you’ll be able to relax, unwind and get all the pampering.
However, the charm of the old living still remains. This ensures you get the best of both worlds in Thailand’s second largest island. Somehow, it’s different. Even the weather doesn’t follow the rest of the country. During the usual wet season, from April to September, the island stays relatively dry and gets its share of rain from October to December. The driest season, and therefore the best time to visit, is through January and March.
And you can bring your family too! The island’s life is very family friendly, so you’ll be able to enjoy a pleasant time off with your loved ones. Even the smallest ones will have a great time and keep themselves busy.

Traditional fishing longtail boat at Angthong national marine park near Koh Samui, Thailand

This short and helpful guide will present you some of the fun things to see and do when visiting this wonderful island.

What to see and do in Koh Samui

Pay a visit to Big Buddha Temple

If you arrive by air, look closely, as the golden statue is most likely the first thing you’re going to see. It was built in 1972 and is one of the island’s main attractions. Set on Koh Faan, a small rocky island, the Buddha waits for its visitors. It’s seated in the Mara posture, which represents purity, steadfastness, and enlightenment.

Ang Thong Marine National Park

The many islets that form the national park are so remarkable they inspired Alex Garland’s classic novel The Cult. Steep limestone cliffs, warm waters, and many hidden lagoons promise a paradise on Earth. Just make sure you visit anytime from February to March as this is the best time to fully enjoy in their lush beauty. Park is usually closed during November and December as the monsoon causes big, crushing waves.

Wat Khunaram

This beautiful temple has a special resident who’s been drawing tourists’ attention since around 1973. It was then when the mummified monk was displayed seating in the meditation position, wearing orange robes and sunglasses. Since the body is so well-preserved it’s probably not suitable for the faint-hearted.

Secret Buddha Garden

Despite its remote and hard to access location, this privately held park is very popular among tourists. A durian farmer started with it once he retired and it reflects his respect for Thai Buddhism. The garden, also known as Magic or Heaven’s garden, features many sculptures of Buddhas, angels, different animals, and even the tomb of the founder himself in beautiful jungle surroundings.

Hin-Ta & Hin-Yai

Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks - Koh Samui, Thailand

For a bit of a laugh, visit the notorious rocks, known also Grandfather and Grandmother rocks. The stone formations resemble genitalia and will surely provide some giggles.

Let’s get the party started

When the sun sinks under the horizon and stars lit up in the sky, the joyful nightlife begins. Koh Samui’s parties are well known, especially those in the most popular towns of Chaweng and Lamai. In fact, the island is said to have the best parties and most impressive nightlife in all of Thailand, besides Phuket. If you like rave-like parties, then you’ll surely enjoy Koh Samui’s spin-off of Koh Phangan’s Full Moon Party- Black Moon & Escape Party.

Typical travel costs

Accommodation

You can get a room or a bungalow for backpackers from 12 USD. Mid-range hotels charge from around 44 USD to 90 USD per night. High-end hotels and lush resorts on beachfronts are more expensive. If you want to enjoy in a privacy of your own high-end villa expect to pay around 440 USD per night.

Food

Food options on the island are great and will make everyone happy. You can eat for less than 2 USD at an inexpensive roadside cafe, while a three-course meal for two at the mid-range restaurant will cost you around 20 USD. Domestic beer is cheaper than imported- and also stronger! Prices for alcohol depend on the place. Having a drink in the resort will cost you more than buying it at a supermarket. Water and sodas aren’t too expensive, and a cup of coffee or cappuccino costs between 3 to 3.50 USD.

Transportation

If you worry that getting around the island might be complicated, fear no more. The island provides a decent range of transport options. As it is not too big, renting a bicycle or an electric bike might be a good idea. Don’t expect to find any tuk-tuks here, and there’s also no formalized bus service. Still, the public transport will get you to the majority of desired destinations. One way ticket for local transport costs around 1.50 USD. If you want to explore hard to get to beaches, renting a car is best.

Sights

Bird eye view of Angthong national marine park, koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand

Prices for sport activities vary- expect to pay around 90 USD for a zip-line adventure while renting a kayak for an hour will cost you 6 USD. Fees for other landmarks, such as The Buddha garden, are small and reasonable. If you decide to take a tour with an agency, make sure to compare different places and their prices. Another great option to save some money is to look up some special deals on Groupon-like websites.

Pictures of Koh Samui

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