Ko Samui, a rolling, jungle-covered island on Thailand’s Gulf coast, is a fairly glitzy destination. Outlines by some of the best beaches in Thailand, Samui tends to attract folks on Thailand honeymoons or one- to two-week holidays who are looking for easy relaxation and good times.The island tends to be more expensive than some of its neighbors — Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao definitely cater to a more budget-minded group of travelers — but it’s still possible to visit Samui with a tight wallet.
Where to stay on Ko Samui
You have plenty of options, though the island tends to cater to holidayers not on a tight budget. Ko Samui is the place to rent a private villa, stay at a private resort, or enjoy a plush hotel. Remember that prices in Thailand are much lower than in the West or in Australia, so fairly luxurious digs might be in your budget, especially if you’re only traveling for one or two weeks. (Use our widget below to search for hotels and resorts on the island.)
The busiest beach is Hat Chaweng, which is also the center of Ko Samui’s nightlife. Even if you don’t sleep here, you’ll likely find yourself there for a meal or a muay thai boxing match.
Other spots with a lot of accommodation options include Hat Lamai and Big Buddha beach.
Getting around Ko Samui
Unfortunately, getting around Ko Samui can be a bit tough, if only because taxi drivers drive a hard bargain. The problem is one of supply and demand: competition is fierce, so drivers can drive the prices up. Your best bet is to try not to let it bother you too much; instead of arguing and losing face, bargain down a bit and remind yourself that transportation is still cheap compared to home!
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Available transport includes motorbikes, songtoews, and tuk-tuks. You can rent motorbikes on the island, but be very careful on the steep and winding roads.
What do to on Ko Samui
There’s a thumping nighlife scene on Hat Chaweng and, to a lesser degree, Hat Lamai. Night clubs and plenty of girl bars line the streets, as well as swanky cocktail bars and Irish pubs. Ladyboy cabaret shows are on tap in the evenings as well.
But there’s plenty to do besides drink. Water activities are abundant: para-sailing, kite surfing, jet skiing, and snorkeling are all readily available. Several waterfalls on the the island make great day trips if you tire of the beach, and Big Buddha temple is a respite from the island’s action.
Your options for spas are practically limitless, so consider pampering yourself for a day. You can also take a cooking class or play around of minigolf.
How to get to Ko Samui
We have a detailed post on getting to Ko Samui from Bangkok here. In general, the island is very easy to reach due to its popularity. An awesome international airport services plenty of domestic flights, making it easy to get to Samui from not only Bangkok, but Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Trat (for Ko Chang). If you fly in or out of Samui, you’ll be treated to views of the island’s clear water, white sand beaches, and jungle green interior. It is truly a stunning sight.
Ko Samui is also close to the rail line; the nearest station is in Surat Thani, which has constant bus and taxi links to the port. If you’re taking the train and book through a travel agent in Bangkok, you can likely book your bus and ferry all in one package.
Surat Thani is also well-linked to the bus network throughout Thailand. As always, be very wary of buses that travel to and from Bangkok’s Khao San Road — theft on these buses is notorious. There are also direct bus links to Krabi and Phuket.
[Photo credit: Nitram75, Flickr]