Koh Samui, often known as Ko Samui, is a distinctive island off the east coast in the Gulf of Thailand. It is the second largest island in Thailand comprising 11 main beaches with charming bays, lagoons, hills and characteristic rocky outcrops.
- Recently Updated: April 2022
With an area of 228.7 square kilometers, Samui island is the second biggest after one of Asia’s favorite islands; Phuket in the Andaman Seas.
What I like about Koh Samui is that you can explore the whole island on your own without getting lost. There is only a main ring road running along the coastline.
It take about 45 minutes by jeep or motorbike to complete the loop. All the inner streets, lanes and tracks leading to your resort are displayed clearly with signboards.
The islands and beaches encompassing the National Park are accessible to foreign visitors. If you like a day trip to tranquil and post-card perfect beaches, there are boats charters from Koh Samui.
Basic accommodations like bungalows and camping can only be booked via the Park’s website.
When To Visit Koh Samui
Koh Samui is best to visit from November to February which is considered the dry season.
This time is also the super peak season whereby cost of accommodations starts to soar.
Favorite month for Italian to visit Ko Samui is on August where most of the accommodations are fully book.
So for me, I like to visit Samui around April to July where the weather is sunny and less crowded.
This is the low season with pretty less tourist arrivals and flights cost accommodations are affordable.
Koh Samui Weather
Weather Forecast: The Gulf of Thailand has few primary phases. You should expect sunny weather from December to February (dry season), with little rain and breezy winds that helps to keep you cool indoors as well as outdoors.
Due to the breezy and sunny weather, seaports activities are great at this time. March to May, you will notice a constant rise in temperature averaging at 32°C.
June and July have beautiful sunshine with short downpours creating the perfect beach picture postcard scenario.
“Always booked your rental jeep with leading booking sites for insurance coverage incase of breakdowns and accidents.
Some local shops providing rental vehicles will offer you a cheaper rental price. But insurance are sometimes not in proper order”.
How To Reach Koh Samui From Bangkok
Depending on your trip, and stay on the island, there are diversity of ways to travel from Bangkok to Koh Samui. If you’re short on time, take a domestic flight from Bangkok directly to Koh Samui with Bangkok Air.
Cheaper Option – International tourists travelling into Bangkok can fly to mainland Surathani via Thailand’s domestic airport and catch the express ferry across to Samui.
You can book online for Surathani Airport + Van + Ferry transfer package on 12go.asia which is pretty reliable for Asia travel.
This route is popular for European tourists because of costly airfare on Bangkok Air (Bangkok – Samui – Bangkok flight route).
Renting a jeep is the best option but ensure the vehicle is covered with insurance. Motorbike is not a good option if you consume alcohol.
In fact, you can rent a vehicle upon arrival at the ferry jetty in Nathon (Samui) and drive to your hotel or resort. Only 1 ring road direct to all beachside towns and price is cheaper here.
For accommodations, I suggest that you book ahead especially on peak season for your convenience. Check out the leading hotel booking websites below for good deals.
The best beaches I would recommend…
Best For Sunset View: Thong Krut Beach, near Baan Taling Ngam where most of the private villas and resorts on a hillslope offering breathtaking sea view and nearby islands.
A peaceful fishing village with shallow waters and muddy sea bottom, not recommended for swimming but totally spectacular sunset where you can escape the crowd.
Best For Swimming: Silver Beach is a small lagoon but wide enough to accommodate visitors who likes strolling along it’s fine sand shoreline.
The sand is powdery, light and doesn’t burn your feet which is super perfect for tanning. The waters are clean and suitable for swimming.
The best beach for activities I would suggest….
Best For Beach Activities: Chaweng beach is the heartbeat of the island for it’s diverse activities catering to the younger visitors with nightlife, beach entertainment and anything under the sun.
Samui island can be categorized into 2 different groups of tourists. Central Chaweng is the most popular beach and are preferred by younger crowd while Lamai beach is more favored with the older set.
Is Koh Samui Worth Visiting?
Bophut is one of the last beachside towns on Koh Samui where you can still feel the island’s laid-back vibe. Also known as the Fisherman’s Village and famous for sunset vibes and seafood.
The 2km long strip is a quaint village on the east side of Samui island where nightlife have been strongly discouraged. Most of the beach activities at night are low key.
The crescent shape bay with sandy beach flanked by swaying coconut palms, small restaurants and beach-side bars are perfectly tune for couples and family vacations.
The waters are clean and calm which is great for swimming and sun-tanning. There are certainly no pole-dancing girly bars here. Best vacation spots for couples to spend some quality time together.
The beachside town is 15 minutes from the airport and takes almost the same time to travel to Chaweng beach by cars or motorbikes. It’s also the main pier for ferry departure to Koh Phangan.
- Bophut is the best beach area to stay if you want to experience the fame monthly Koh Phangan Full Moon Party. Speedboats operates almost hourly making return trips easy and fast.
- At the western end of the Fisherman’s Village, you can rent jet ski which is less expensive than in Phuket.
- Try Go-carting for some fun. The track is located on the main road. Just ask any locals for direction.
- There are massage and manicure by the beach, cooking class or get a cool Tatoo at reasonable price.
Best Vacation Spots For Older Couples
Lamai beach is located on the east side of Samui island stretching 4km with sandy shoreline and deep waters. This beach town is the preferred vacation spot for older couples.
The water is at the deepest in Lamai beach where all the main activities are. If you love open water swimming, this is the perfect beach location for you.
Lamai is approximately 6 km of long winding, uphill and downhill ride from Chaweng beach. It’s a chill-out vacation spot to laze around and it’s super low-key as well.
Great for older couples to just relax on most of the quite beaches cut off by huge rocks. The beach is punctuated with rocky outcrops so some of the bungalows and resorts are cut off from each other.
There are a number of girly bars located along the town strip, affordable restaurants, food market and shops selling clothes and souvenirs.
There also are a handful of cafes and restaurants on the strip that opens early. One of those that I go for early breakfast is Will Wait Bakery & Restaurant, where you can get affordable freshly baked pastries and breakfast set.
Take a diving course at one of those Padi license Dive School.
Gyms are available on the strip. The most affordable gyms in Samui island.
Visit Lamai beach walking street on Sundays for a large range of food stalls, live music and children activities.
Koh Samui Or Koh Phangan
Open year round and thanks to its distinct island topography that fits all types of visitors including female solo travelers. Koh Phangan is only 30 minutes ferry ride direct from Bophut.
Fame for its monthly Full Moon party, the island is also a hotspot for Yoga retreats. At yogaretreat-kohphangan near Haad Rin, programs such and detox and fasting are popular with visitors from 3 to 14 days. Its founders and teachers are all long term stayers.
The best Koh Phangan beaches I would recommend….
- Bottle Beach: For its sun-kiss white sand and clear turquoise color waters.
- Hat Sadet: Rows of beachfront coconut trees makes this beach picture-perfect. Super relaxing and great tanning spots as well.
- Secret Beach: Every holiday beach destinations has its own sunset view to chill out and this beach has one of the best in South East Asia.
Things to know about Full Moon party…
There are full moon party at Bali, Koh Toch in Cambodia and other top beach destinations but Koh Phangan takes the cake.
Phangan full moon party stretches almost the entire 2km of Haad Rin beach with more than 10 bars and clubs participating with top local and International guest DJs.
This 24 hours non-stop full moon party event starts as early as in the evening until the next day. The music, dancing and boozing never stop flowing till late.
The best months to experience this spectacular full moon party are on peak season (November-February) where you will find thousands of tourists and locals partying together on Haad Rin beach.
Most popular drink is the “bucket”. A combination of alcohol of choice with ice, coke and Red Bull pack into a silver bucket. Most resorts in Phangan are fully booked at this time and requires 3-7 days of pre-booking.
- It is unsafe to pass out or sleep on the beach.
- Ensure your accommodations are nearby incase you need to “crash out” of the party.
- There are tons of resorts and bungalows nearby to stay.
- Suggest not to book your accommodations that is too far away although there are taxis plying from the party to your resort.
Snorkeling & Diving
Koh Tao, sometimes known as “turtle island,” is one of the most well-known and inexpensive destinations in the world to learn to scuba dive.
This is the smallest of the three islands, yet it offers a lot of lovely idyllic beaches.
There are a variety of interesting and colorful fish species including turtles thriving in the coral reefs garden. Whale sharks and Manta Rays are regular visitors to this island.
Mango Bay is one of the best beach getaways from Koh Samui because of its awesome snorkeling location. If you want to escape the high season, Koh Tao can be visited all year round.
There are high-speed catamaran ferry service from Koh Samui to Koh Tao leaving from the Paralan Pier at Maenam and arriving at Mae Haad Pier on the west coast of Koh Tao.
Because of the distance traveled from Bangkok or other tourist locations around Thailand, it is not appropriate for a short vacation. I hope this guide for couples and family vacations on Koh Samui top beaches and islands will assist in planning your picture perfect trip.
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