Choosing Thailand for a tropical getaway is easy for anybody worldwide, due to the abundance of natural beauty, its array of beaches, luscious forests, scope for both water and land-based activities and well-developed tourist infrastructure. With all the famous beach resorts vying for the tourist’s attention, Koh Samui stands out for its serenity, virgin beaches, and forests.
Some time back, Koh Samui used to be the favorite destination for tourists looking for calm and quiet sunny beaches. Even with no advertisements and proper tourist facilities, the place had a steady flow of tourists. In those days, the rooms used to cost just 150 baht and many used to stay back for a longer duration than they had originally planned for.
Now the developmental activities taking place in Koh Samui have changed the place to some extent. Still, most old-timers agree that Samui is a peaceful place suitable for a laid-back vacation.
In 1999, efforts were made to improve the island’s infrastructure, by developing wider roads with sidewalks and a drainage system. Those who have seen Samui before this period will find it difficult to believe that a small island can change so fast.
Some areas of the island like the southern parts are still left untouched. Tourists looking for tranquility and solitude of unspoiled nature can rent a Jeep or a scooter and explore the southern coasts. The sleepy villages filled with friendly people, vast forests and warm beaches are sure to make your holiday memorable.
Reaching Koh Samui is easy with daily flights operating from Bangkok, Phuket, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Other transportation options include taking the train, bus or a boat.
If you are planning to rent a bike to drive around the island, please use extreme caution and be wary that this is the most dangerous activity on the island. Most of the accidents that occur on Samui are due to inexperienced motorbike drivers. For more tips and instructions for a safe drive, refer to TAKS Guide Booklet.
Beach and water safety
Many tourists, especially on their first holiday to Thailand, fall prey to heat stroke and severe sunburns. This happens due to over enthusiasm and poor judgment. Using a good sun block and restricting your time in the sun will save you from this problem. Choose a shady place, if you are planning to fall asleep.
Swimming in the sea alone is not recommended. Venture out alone only if you are a very good and strong swimmer. Do not swim after drinking alcohol.
The beaches here, especially the ones at Chaweng, are dangerous during the months of January to April. Rip currents appear suddenly on some days and take away a few lives each year. Many hotels display warning flags for the benefit of tourists to warn them of danger. If red flags are displayed, exercise extreme caution while going out for a swim or do not swim at all.
Food and Beverages Hygiene
All over Thailand bottled drinking water is served in restaurants and even small eateries. In the case of eating food, try to avoid eating raw vegetables. Eating hot, well-cooked meals is the only way to eliminate the chances of stomach infection.
Even after all your efforts, if you fall sick, be sure to visit a local Hospital to solve immediate problems.
The warm, friendly and relaxed atmosphere of Samui is perfect for an enjoyable nightlife. The place is much safer than most of the regular tourist spots. However, Samui has its share of petty criminals, who are seen generally during late nights, when everyone’s guard is down after a few drinks. A little bit of caution and common sense is enough to escape from being victimized.
Most of the time, lone tourists are approached by attractive and friendly strangers, offering rides. Do not look at the pros and cons of the arrangement – just refuse to go.
In bars and clubs, attractive friendly strangers approach mostly men who find it difficult to resist the temptation. These people demand payment for the company by the end of the evening. Some among these even have criminal backgrounds, so be careful, if you are taking them back to your hotel. Keep your valuables at the hotel safe-deposit box to avoid incidences of cheating.
Women tourists must exercise restraint and refuse to accept the invitation of attractive strangers to walk the beaches at night.
Avoid Bodily Harm
Drunken brawls do happen at nights when all concerned have consumed a few drinks. Refrain from arguments with individuals or groups, even when you feel you have been wronged. The best option in these sorts of situations is to stay calm and call the Tourist Police. They are there to help you in sticky situations.
Climate and Weather
The weather and seasons of Koh Samui are different from those of other well-known parts of Thailand like Phuket.
From January to September, it is usually sunny and bright with occasional short spells of rain. Long-lasting rains occur from October to December. During this period, the sea gets rough at times with poor visibility. Those engaging in water-sports should take adequate precautions at this time.
Currency notes are in denominations 1000 baht (grey), 500 baht (purple), 100 baht (red), 50 baht (blue), and 20 baht (green). Coins are in denominations of 10 baht (gold), 5 baht (silver), and 1 baht (silver).
All Banks and exchange booths authorized by banks have money exchange counters where all major currencies can be converted to Thai Baht (THB). The rates may vary slightly in different banks and exchange booths, but not vastly. One thing to remember while transacting at these places is to remember to count the change given to you and check via smartphone for the most recent exchange rate.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
ATMs or cash machines are found all over Koh Samui. Though some ATMs do not accept credit cards. To be on the safer side, look out for VISA and MASTERCARD signs. ATMs are not totally dependable, as they frequently go out of order or run out of cash.
Traveler’s Check and Credit Card
Traveler’s checks are the best and safest way to carry money while traveling. They command better rates than even cash but invite a handling fee of 13 baht per check. Cashing of traveler’s checks can be done at many locations and is quite easy. For proof of identification, you will be required to produce your passport.
Credit cards are accepted in most exchange booths. The list of credit cards accepted in these booths will be displayed prominently in their windows. Only VISA and MASTERCARD are accepted by most businesses who accept credit cards. They levy a handling fee of 5% of the transaction amount. To report loss / theft of credit card, contact (02) 273 0020 (American Express) or (02) 299 1990 (MasterCard / Visa).
Banks and Wire Transfer
There are banks in Nathon and Chaweng for transactions requiring a bank teller. The working hours are Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 3.30pm.
You can wire transfer money directly from your home country to a bank in Koh Samui. It may take anywhere between two to five days for the transaction and the charges will be $40 per transaction.
This is the fastest and easiest way to send money. The money will be ready for collection in twenty minutes from the time it was sent. It can be collected through an agent present at the Bangkok Metropolitan Bank, Nathon. However, their handling charges are too steep for small amounts. As the charges are low for bigger amounts, it is the best option for transferring huge amounts.
Visa & Passports
For full information regarding your Thai Visa, please visit the official Embassy of Thailand’s website www.thaiembassy.com.
You will be charged 500 Baht for every day you overstay of your initial visa limits in Thailand.
The island has several hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies to handle minor and major illnesses and injuries. However, if you have a major accident or have a major medical condition, you will have to travel to fully equipped Hospital like Bangkok Hospital located in the Chaweng area.
There has been no case of any serious contagious disease in Koh Samui in the recent past. Avoid unsafe sex to eliminate chances of contracting hepatitis and other STDs. In the rare case of a wild dog-bite, consult a doctor immediately.
|Bandon International Hospital||Bophut||077 245 236|
|Bangkok Hospital Samui||Chaweng||077 429 500 or 1719|
|Ko Samui Hospital (Government)||Nathon||077 913 200|
|Samui International Hospital||Chaweng||077 230 049|
|Thai International Hospital||Chaweng||077 245 722|
|Baan Luck Fun Dental Clinic||Chaweng||086 470 4247|
|Samui Dental Home Clinic||Chaweng||077 426939|
|Smileworks Dental Clinic (Dr. Jimmy)||Chaweng||0 77 447 519|
Hotels & Resorts
With several hundreds of Hotels and Resorts available in Koh Samui, it can be overwhelming to find the right one for you. So let’s make choosing between them as easy as possible. Start by asking yourself two simple questions regarding your trip.
What do you want out of Koh Samui?
Different Koh Samui accommodations are available throughout the island but to narrow your options you should figure what kind of activities you wish to do. If you are looking to spend most of your time on the beach, we would recommend staying in the less crowded and more isolated areas with gorgeous beaches, like Lipa Noi and Taling Ngam.
Various Koh Samui hotels and resorts usually offer the same activities that can be booked through guest relations. Though depending on your location it can be a longer trip to get to where you want to go. For example, if you want to do some serious shopping but you are staying in Nathon, it could take up to an hour to get the big shopping centers in Bophut and Chaweng.
Though if you are looking to have a good time, party, have some drinks and meet some new people, Chaweng would be your go to place. Resorts like Nora Buri and the Impiana are great options to enjoy the amazing beaches by day and party by night.
If you are traveling with your family, I would consider family resorts like the Sheraton or Rocky’s Boutique Resort. They both have been more popular options for big and small families alike. Though if you are traveling with that special someone, you may want to have a more intimate time while on vacation. Romantic accommodation options like the Silavadee Resort or SALA Samui Resort both offer anniversary and honeymoon retreats for sentimental moments.
What is your budget?
Probably the most important factor in deciding your next accommodation on Koh Samui. If you are on a budget and would prefer cheap accommodation, areas like Maenam, Chaweng, and Bophut would be your best bet.
Maenam usually has local accommodations and backpacking options available to travelers looking to avoid breaking their budget. Bophut also has great options, such as Clay Samui Luxury Villas which is finely-appointed 5-bedroom villa in Koh Samui.
While Chaweng is home to luxury resorts, boutique hotels, budget hotels, and hostels available to those looking for either cheap or premium accommodations. Chaweng is definitely worth a look for anyone planning on staying in luxury accommodation or just to backpack.
However, if money is not an issue, Koh Samui is home to numerous 5 Star Hotels. Luxury hotels like W Retreat, Vana Belle, and Six Senses have long been recognized as some of the best possible accommodations available. Other resorts like the Four Seasons, Tongsai Bay, Banyan Tree, and Conrad Koh Samui have all received Tripadvisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards.
Making Your Final Decision
When you have answered these two simple questions, you will be able to narrow your options for an easy selection of hotels, resorts, and hostels. Always consider what you want out of your trip and what your estimated budget will look like. These are building blocks for determining the best possible selection for your lifestyle. Please read our detailed Hotel & Resort table below for a better look at the different choices available on Koh Samui.
Best Places to Stay in Koh Samui
Renting the right Villa during your holiday is suppose to memorable and special, though things can go wrong very quickly. Thankfully, we will be discussing the ins and outs of renting Villas in Koh Samui and how to avoid future conflict.
Carefully Consider Your Location
With so many spectacular holiday villas available throughout Koh Samui can allure many expats to jump into renting without considering the location. Just like choosing a hotel or resort, plan out what you want out your vacation. Do research into what activities you want to do and base your location around that. Making sure you are staying in the right location is essential to your transportation around Koh Samui. Especially if you are traveling with your friends or family, make sure to agree on the location first and base your decision not only the location but the everybody’s needs to medical care, culture, food, and activities.
Think About Your Lifestyle
If you are wanting to stay in a luxury villa, Koh Samui has plenty to offer. Many villas even include a private pool, though it is known to be more expensive. Beachfront villas are commonly requested by travelers looking to have the full experience on Koh Samui. Just be cautious when choosing your villa, as it can be located very close to the beach and can sometimes be too loud in the morning and afternoon when tourists are playing along the beach. Luxury villa rentals are best when there are on private property, so you can enjoy quiet relaxation. Private villas are also great for parties, as you will not have to worry about disturbing the public.
It is always important to compare properties during the dates you are available for renting. If you have a favorite website to choose from, make sure to double check other prices before booking anything. You might be pleasantly surprised that other websites may offer better locations, prices, and availability than your favorite site. Once you have decided on what villa is right for your lifestyle, comparing the prices between them will narrow your options even further.
Double Check the Details
Once you find your ideal holiday home, make sure to extensively read through all of the services and amenities they offer. Make to ask questions as many questions as possible regarding your villa. Are bedding and towels included? Are the bathrooms public or private? Does the kitchen come with any necessary utensils? Is there a laundry service? Does the villa come with air conditioning and if so, how many? These are just some of the questions you should be asking to make sure your ideal villa has everything you need while renting.
Always Speak With the Agency
If you find your vacation home online, never book anything until you speak with someone in personal or a representative of the agency or owner. Get the specifics of where the villas are located on Google Maps and what previous renters have said online. Read the small print and ensure that there is no hidden agreements or fees that you will have to deal with at the end of your rental agreement. Doing this will prevent unwanted complications in the future while renting. The best way to avoid this is by asking for the rental agreement before leaving via email, so you may read over all the specifics to ensure there are no problems.
Activities & Sports
There are various interesting activities and sports that will keep you entertained during your stay in Koh Samui. Water sports lovers have the privilege to enjoy windsurfing as well as diving. However, for those who do not wish to get wet, there are other interesting land activities such as quad biking, rock climbing, and exploring the jungle through a fully guided safari.
This is a popular sport in Thailand because of the beautiful features found here including colorful fish, exotic corals and great facilities. Some of the interesting species you might encounter while scuba diving includes sea cows, manta rays, giant barracudas and even sharks.
Most visitors travel to Thailand not only to explore this region but also to learn how to dive. That is because there are various favorable diving locations found here, as well as world-class instructors who are equipped with everything you need to learn about diving. Moreover, you also need to understand that most diving schools that are found here are part of reputed organization such as PADI that issue international accepted certificates.
Thailand is also considered to be convenient for diving throughout the year since the diving season in the Andaman Sea starts from the month of October to April as for the Gulf of Thailand, the season starts from May and ends in September.
Samui is also an ideal destination for sailing because of the warm waters and various islands found in this region. Furthermore, most of the time the sea is calm and the blowing breeze is favorable for sailing. Another reason why visitors enjoy boat trips is because of the many beaches and warm waters that are filled with corals and colorful fish. Catamarans and Dinghies are also available for tourists on the Samui Ocean.
The perfect time to go for sailing is during the southwest monsoon season, which starts from the beginning of May and ends at the end of October. At this time the region experiences moderate winds with a clear sky. However, you also need to acknowledge that during this particular season, the temperature may be high, which causes the place to be extremely hot. Sailing experts who wish to test their skills can do so during the northeast monsoon season when howling winds and rains causes the waves to rise high up to eight feet.
However, from the beginning of the year to April tourists can enjoy cruising as well as other water sports activity and snorkeling.
Elephant Trekking Activity
Elephant trekking is considered to be the best way to enjoy a tour of the interior of the forest. Elephant trekking gives you the privilege of seeing other creatures at close range. Furthermore, you do not have to worry about scaring the animals away since elephant trekking does not emit a lot of sound like an engine on a tour vehicle.
Jungle trekking is exciting as you ride on the back of an elephant. This activity takes place at the Chaweng entrance and also at the waterfalls of Na Muang one and two. Regular trips last for approximately thirty minutes and long rides are also arranged upon request.
Canoeing And Kayaking
Kayaking tours are usually organized by the travel agencies of Angthong Marine National Park. This is an excellent way to explore the caves. During the visit, the trip organizer also provides meals for the visitors.
Thai Boxing Also Known As Muay Thai
Muay Thai is often considered to be the world’s deadliest martial art and is very popular in Koh Samui and the rest of Thailand. The major events in Samui are hosted at Chaweng Stadium on Monday and Friday nights. However, during the high season, events are also held on Sunday nights.
The event usually lasts for about three hours and starts at 9 pm. However, before the main fights begin, minor fights take place up to 10 pm before the main fight start. During this event, you can expect to hear traditional Thai music and live commentary of the fights that are taking place.
Those who participate as fighters are foreign fighting professionals and the locals who are experienced in entertaining the crowd. To watch this live event, you are required to pay an entry fee. As a spectator of the bout, you can choose to seat in stands or at the ringside table.
While in Thailand, you also have the privilege of playing golf at professional golf courses. There is also a driving range for mini golf which is located near the exit point of Chaweng which connects to Bophut. What makes this place favorable for most golfers who come here is the fact that all the equipment needed is available here together with golf professionals who are always ready to train you. A restaurant is also located on the premises where you can enjoy a variety of foods.
The Samui Go Kart is considered to be suitable for both beginners and professionals. Before the ride starts, basic instructions and a helmet are given to participants to make the experience enjoyable and safe. The track usually opens at 9 am and closes at 9 pm. The Go kart speed limits are from forty kilometers per hour to a hundred kilometers per hour. The track is located off the main road of West Bophut.
The best way to get a glimpse of the beautiful landscapes found in Koh Samui is on horseback. This organized tour gives you the opportunity to cover the beaches as well as the Samui’s forests. The horses are well trained, well behaved and calm which makes the trip more enjoyable for the visitors. All the equipment needed for the tour are offered by the Ranch, and you do not necessary have to carry anything for this activity.
Another interesting way to enjoy the outdoors of Samui is mountain biking. If you plan to participate in this activity during your stay, you can either choose to buy a bike or hire one from the locals. For those who like mountain bike racing, you can race around the island which will take about four to five hours to cover the area. However, it is advisable that you do this during the day since it will be easy for you to find your way back before the night falls.
Another ideal area for this kind of activity is Maenam Valley. The Terrain goes up and down through the farms and the coconut groves. Furthermore, it is advisable that you carry a compass which will help you find your way in case you get lost.
Visitors who are interested in taking a more challenging route can make their way through the sloppy road to Wanorn Waterfall. Even though some parts of the roads are not bad, some sections are worse making it difficult to stay on course. The loose rocks, slippery mud, and steep climb makes it challenging for the riders.
Quad Biking And 3D Paintball
There are also various fun activities that have been put in place for children such as playing warfare at 3D paintball, which is located in the hills above Maenam. However, visitors are required to pay for pellets while the organizers provide the paintball guns at no extra cost. BB guns which are shaped like the M16 and Kalashnikov are also available for children for free. Here, children have the opportunity to enjoy grand sounding games such as Capture the Flag, Cops vs. Robbers, Village Attack and Transfer the President.
Besides gaming activities that are held here, the venue is also used by adults for driving quad bikes.
Visitors can also train how to shoot or improve their shooting skills at the Samui shooting range, which is supervised by professional trainers. Some of the guns that you can try out here are assault guns and pistols. Samui shooting ranges are located throughout Koh Samui and can be found on the side of the road with a big target sign found on the front.
Samui has three fitness centers which are Lamai Gym, World Gym, and the Second Club Gym. Lamai Gym is equipped with bodybuilding equipment and is also known to offer lessons in Thai boxing. The second Club has the latest training equipment, and you can train under the supervision of a professional instructor.
Tattoo parlors are also available in Samui. However, it is advisable that you consider the health standards when making your pick. Sun City Tattoos located in Chaweng is well-known for its professionalism and hygienic conditions. Popular choices by tourists usually include traditional bamboo and tribal tattoos.
|Absolute Sanctuary & Yoga Center||077 601 190|
|Calypso Diving||077 422 437|
|Canopy adventure||077 414 150|
|Chaweng Thai Boxing Stadium||077 413 504|
|Crazy Golf||081 895 7276|
|Island Organics Thai Cooking Class||089 731 6814|
|Island Safari Tour||077 425 563|
|Major Safari Tour||077 415 549|
|Planet Scuba||077 413 050|
|Samui Aquarium & Tiger Zoo||077 424 017|
|Samui Butterfly Garden||077 424 020|
|Samui Crocodile Farm||077 239 002|
|Samui Go-Kart||077 425 097|
|Samui Shooting Range||077 962 488|
|Samui Snake Farm||077 423 247|
|Santiburi Samui Country Club||077 421 700|
|TK Tour||081 895 1178|
The main ring road area has many tourist attractions. To visit all or most of them in one go, you may go for one of the Island Tours offered by many travel agencies. Another option is to rent a Jeep or a motorbike and visit the chosen locations.
In Koh Samui, the sun and the sea are persuasive enough to hold you at the beach itself. However, the island has so many other things to offer, which can be discovered only if you venture out of the beach.
Buddhists form the majority of the population. While some of them are devout Buddhists, others follow the religious practices to a lesser extent. But whatever extent their devoutness is, the temples remain the cultural focus of each village.
The tourists visit these Wats for their beautiful architecture, to see the religious practices and the everyday life of the monks. However, neither the devotees nor the monks are disturbed by the flow of inquisitive tourists to the Wats.
Samui is home to two Wats, where mummified bodies of monks are displayed. Some of the Wats are bigger and grander than others are.
The tourists should take care to dress appropriately while visiting a Wat. The footwear should be removed before entering the temple premises. While kneeling or sitting, care should be taken to point the foot away from the Buddha image and other worshippers.
The free tourist maps available have the major Wats of Samui marked out in them.
Waterfalls are aplenty on this beautiful tropical island. You can either watch them from a distance or take a plunge. If you are planning for the later, nonskid footwear is most essential. Those who have difficulty climbing mountain pathways are advised to be content by visiting Na Muang 1.
The volume of water in each waterfall varies vastly according to the season and amount of recent rainfall. October to December is the wettest, while March to September is the driest.
Na Muang 1
This waterfall, located on the southwest tip of the island, is the easiest to visit. You can drive very close to the spot. There is a vast pool at the foot of the falls and it is quite safe to take a dip in this.
Na Muang 2
This is the most picturesque waterfall of Samui. You can reach this by following the concrete road extending to the south of Na Muang 1 (Route 4169). The final lap of the road is a rocky climb, which takes about 10 minutes.
Hin Lad Waterfall
This waterfall is located inside the forest and to reach the spot, you should walk 2 km through the forest. The bathing pools at the foot of the falls are very inviting. To reach here, travel to the eastern end of Route 4172. The falls lie two kilometers to the south of Nathon.
Hin Ta & Hin Yai
These are also known as the ‘Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks’. The artistic temperament of Mother Nature is displayed through these creations. The two rock formations resemble exactly the male and female genitalia. They are perched atop a rocky mount overlooking the sea.
This is an art gallery located high in the mountains amidst dense forests. Nim Thongsuk created this at the ripe old age of 77. He created this ‘Heaven’s Garden’ to lure tourists to visit the region and enjoy the mountains and forests.
Khun Nim was a pioneer in farming practices and he is credited with the development of Durian farming technique. Using this, the island’s farmers are able to produce the famous Durian fruit in abundance and export it to other countries.
The sculptures of ‘Heaven’s Garden’ were inspired by Buddhist scriptures. With the help of assistants, he sculpted the figures on the riverbed at the mountaintop. Until his death at the age of 91, he was engrossed in this activity.
Some of the figures are easy to identify, while others are too small or too intricate. Moreover, you have to concentrate on balancing yourself on the slippery slopes. Prepare to spend lots of time here. Also, take nonskid shoes.
Heaven’s Garden is included in many guided tours.
Monks are venerated in Thailand and the mummified remains of two monks are kept at Wat Kiri Wongkaram and Wat Khunaram. These monks had died 20-30 years back. Buddhist devotees visit these temples to pay their respects.
Engravings of four footprints of Lord Buddha are kept in a hilltop temple. As there are no signboards to direct the tourists to this temple, getting there itself is an adventure. In Route 4170, 2km to the west of the turnoff leading to Butterfly Garden, you will see a concrete slope on the left-hand side. Climb the 160-odd steps to the temple. The panoramic views from the top make the climb worthwhile.
Secret Hall of Buddhas
This is located at Wat Sumret, an ancient temple with a white marble Buddha, believed to be at least hundred years old. The temple has a valuable collection of Buddha images. The room displaying the images is kept locked up. A monk will open it on request.
As with any Buddhist temple, take care to dress and behave appropriately. The temple is situated west of Hua Thanon, off Route 4169 Ring Road. Take the second concrete road on the left and go forward 200 m to reach the temple.
Angthong National Marine Park
Samui Snake Farm
The forested hills of Samui are home to a great many species of snakes. The King Cobra is the star attraction with its capability to kill human beings within half an hour of being bitten. At this snake farm, all the species are presented to the visitors during the two shows daily. The capable trainers present daring stunts to thrill the spectators. This place lies on the southwest of Ring Road 4170.
This is a beautiful enclosed garden with many species of colorful butterflies. It is located on the southeast corner of the island, opposite to the Central Samui Village Resort.
This is a harmless tussle between two male water buffaloes. This show is staged in various parts of the island and banners proclaiming the imminent fight will be displayed all over the place.
The preparations of the fight are more important than the fight itself and are immensely enjoyed by the local crowd. The buffaloes are let loose in the field and they lock horns after some glowering and pawing the ground. The first buffalo to stop fighting and turn and run away is declared the loser. There are many wagerers among the spectators.
Samui Aquarium & Tiger Zoo
This is located close to the Butterfly Garden at Laem Set beach. The aquarium has a good collection of marine creatures. These are displayed in tanks in a darkened tunnel. The Zoo has a few Bengal tigers, cubs, and leopards.
Naga Pearl Farm
This pearl farm located in Koh Matsum, four kilometers to the south of Koh Samui, is worth visiting. Here you can see first-hand how the pearls are cultured. To reach this farm, you have to take a 20-minute boat ride from Ban Thong Krut. The world’s largest pearl, now displayed at the Mikimoto Pearl Museum in Japan was cultured in this farm in 1987.
Beaches and Areas
Bang Kao Beach
Bang Kao lies on the southwest tip of Koh Samui, which is the least developed part of the island. A few resorts lie scattered sparsely across the beach area. For tranquility-seeking tourists, this is the right place to be.
The beach surroundings are neat and clean. As the beach is not on the usual tourist circuit, it is normally uncrowded. You can have the sand and the sea for yourselves. The 2km beach has flat sand along the water edge and soft, fine and white powdered sand all over.
The beach is ideal for beach games, though it is pretty hot throughout the year. During daytime, it is safer to stay close to the palms surrounding the beach. Evenings see people stretched out on the sand and enjoying the sunset. The beach is quite famous for the beautiful sunset view.
The water is warm all year round. It is perfect for swimming and other water-based activities.
There are few old bungalows and private restaurants in the beach area. The tourist attractions in the area include Tiger Zoo and Samui Aquarium. A visit to the Tiger Zoo is nothing less than a torture, with the tiger cubs doped to offer photo-ops to tourists. The Butterfly Garden is worth visiting. It has a great many varieties of the winged creatures in a well-maintained enclosure.
One of the mysteries of Koh Samui is in Bang Kao. The remains of a mummified monk, who died 30 years ago, are displayed at the vaults of Wat Khunaram. This is open for public only for a short duration of time. It remains a mystery how the body stays without any decay.
Bang Po Beach
Bang Po Beach lies at the northwest tip of Koh Samui, between the towns of Maenam and Nathon. As the beach is located at a distance from the regular tourist areas, it is quiet and peaceful. This beach is the haunt of local youths and fishing enthusiasts.
The 4km beach offers fantastic views of Koh Phangan, which lies to the north. The beach with its soft, white sands is unusually very clean. The sea is warm all through the year with soft waves lapping the shores making pleasant background music for the beach activities. The palm trees lining the beach area gives adequate protection from the sun.
The calm water and mellow breeze make it the perfect location for sailing throughout the year. The presence of shallow coral reefs near the beach and crystal clear water provide snorkeling opportunities.
Many health clinics and schools are coming up in and around the beach area. Those interested in long-drawn detoxification programs and holistic healing can have a look around. Some of the best schools are located here.
The main road runs very close to the sea and this has resulted in the sprouting of a number of seafood restaurants in the area, which serve fresh fish cooked in various ways. These restaurants are willing to cook your catch with your own recipe.
Big Buddha Beach
This beach lies in the Gulf of Thailand near the north end of Koh Samui. The beach is officially known as Bang Rak. It got the popular name from the 12m tall Buddha statue on top of the hill at Koh Farn at the west end of the beach.
A causeway connects the island with the mainland and this has lead to the development of the beach area. There are restaurants, cafés, souvenir shops and even shops selling casual wear. A huge temple and a school are also located in this area. The temple is a major tourist attraction.
The beach is 3kms long with the Buddha statue in the west end and the rocky formations in the east end. The main road runs parallel to the beach. This beach is the nearest one from the Koh Samui airport, which is just a few kilometers away.
Chaweng beach, which is close by is the center of nightlife in Koh Samui. Here in Big Buddha, you can enjoy the tranquility while being assured of the presence of the boisterous crowd of nearby Chaweng.
The clean beach with fine sand is ideal for families. The water is shallow and waves not very harsh, which makes it safe for children. Swimming and other beach activities are the favorites among the crowd here.
The limited nightlife here includes live music offered by the various restaurants and bars in the beach area. The Sunday Music Festival at Secret Garden Resort at the east end of the beach is very popular with locals and tourists and attracts hundreds of music lovers. Since the venue is the beach itself, it can accommodate the big crowds with ease.
Developmental activities are happening along the other side of the main road and more accommodation facilities may come up in the near future.
Big Buddha beach can be accessed by water from its sister islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Ferry and speedboat services run regular trips to these two islands and some even up to the mainland.
Bophut Beach comprises of two parts – The Fisherman’s Village at the east end of the bay and the Bophut beach, which runs from the village to the west end. The village is home to average to high-end restaurants, bars, cafés, and boutiques. The beach area has a row of luxury resorts with a few budget guesthouses still holding ground. For budget bungalows, nearby Maenam is a better option.
The Fisherman’s Village has an old-world charm with the wooden shops lining the streets. This area is frequented by Koh Samui’s expats, which is evident in the above-average prices. However, their presence has its advantages as well. There is less of vulgarity and cheap activities going on in the beach area unlike other beaches of Koh Samui. This is more of a family-friendly beach.
The beach is ideal for many water-based activities, as the water is calm and the beach area clean. Though the village is named Fisherman’s Village, no fishing opportunities are available. The only way to see fish here is at the restaurants served on a plate. The beach near the village is not good and is not recommended for swimming.
Chaweng is the most beautiful and well-known beach of the island. The white powdered sand, crystalline water, and coconut palm fringed beach is perfect for a dream holiday.
You get to enjoy the tranquility only until seven in the morning. As the beach area gets lit up by the sunlight, hordes of vendors and massagers flood the beach. The place will be flooded with deck chairs and jet-skis. It will be a complete mess with lots of noise and hustle-bustle. If you like to spend your vacation among the clutter and clatter, then this is the right place for you.
Chaweng has a wide range of accommodation to suit all pockets, though more are available for the middle-budget travelers. 1500-4000 baht rooms are the most common here, aimed at those coming in package tours. Some are there for as low as 500 baht. Spending above 4000 baht is also not that difficult here.
Petty criminals are becoming a menace in Chaweng, like most other places. While going out for the day, secure the doors and windows of your room properly. At night, even when you are inside, do not keep your important items and bags near the window. The thieves are crafty enough to use hooked poles to drag bags through windows. Many rooms have open-air bathrooms, which is an easy way in for thieves. Make sure that the bathroom doors have locks and keep it locked when not in use. In spite of all your precautions, if you wake up at night and see a robber in your room, stay calm and still. Do not make eye contact with the thief or try to prevent theft. Many a robbery had turned violent when victims struggle.
The developmental activities at Chaweng beach are continuing at its own pace with five-star hotels, fast food outlets, and international restaurants, sprouting all over the place. The beach area has an array of clubs, bars, massage parlors, girlie bars, CD/DVD shops, tailors and other establishments luring tourists to spend their fresh baht notes in bulk. The fake shoe shops are dime a dozen with faux Nike and Adidas.
Due to the unscientific and improperly planned developments in the area, even a short spell of rain will flood the main road. Cutting down of island’s trees has resulted in the draining of rich topsoil from inland towards the sea. This settles down in the road to flood the place.
In spite of all its problems, Chaweng has a lot to offer to the tourists that are not available for them back home. Here you can acquire the perfect tan. The clubs here are the right place to meet friendly strangers, who are willing to accompany you to your room. While here, enjoy it to the fullest!
Chaweng Noi Beach
This beach is a part of the famous Chaweng beach, lying to its south around a promontory. Chaweng Noi means Little Chaweng.
The beach is beautiful with fine white sand and aquamarine waters. Coral reefs are located close to the land with two small islands near it. This makes it the perfect destination for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking.
The north end of the beach is rather isolated, but the middle portion is crowded with tourists and vendors selling a variety of items. Anything from fruits, beverages, ice cream and local delicacies are sold in the beach area itself. The shops lining the beach sell handicrafts and souvenirs.
The beach used to be dirty but the developers have taken it upon themselves to keep it clean to attract more tourists. Mostly young tourists and families come here.
The beach has to be accessed through hotels, as there are no beach roads. On normal days, the beach is not crowded, however during peak season it has more people coming. The water is clean and warm – perfect for water activities.
Lying parallel to the beach is a row of shops, restaurants, fast food counters, bars, souvenir shops and convenience stores. This is the main shopping center of Koh Samui.
Choeng Mon Beach
Choeng Mon beach is located at the northeast corner of the island, among an array of small bays. Private land developers own most of these bays. Choeng Mon is one of the last remaining public beaches in the area. It is popular among tourists for its secluded location and presence of tourist resorts and bungalows.
Choeng Mon is a beautiful beach suitable for just idling around as well as water activities. There are shaded portions covering most of the beach area, but during the daytime, it resembles an oven. Sunscreen is most important thing to remember on this beach.
There is a small island, Koh Farn Noi, located just offshore. It is a perfect destination for kayaking.
The beach offers accommodation for middle to high-end travelers. There are limited facilities for budget travelers and backpackers. The hotels and resorts provide good food to their guests. Near Choeng Mon Buri Hotel, there is a cluster of restaurants and bars. For a wider selection, you should travel to Chaweng or Bophut.
Though Choeng Mon beach is close to other beaches, transport facilities are not very convenient and frequent. As the taxis are expensive, the options left for tourists are hiring cars or motorbikes.
Coral Cove Bay
This bay is located on the eastern coast of the island between Chaweng and Lamai. The rock-filled coastal line of the bay is one of the most spectacular ones in the island. The cliffs dotting the coast offer picturesque views of the bay and the sea.
As the bay is not very famous, those who come here are pleasantly surprised to find quiet and isolated but beautiful small beaches. The clean and warm water is ideal for all water activities like swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
The bay is a short 5-minute drive from Chaweng and Lamai beaches. However, this is more secluded than peaceful than the crowded Chaweng beach. There are picturesque rock formations at either end of the beach. The coconut trees, which are present in plenty all over Samui is here as well.
Hua Thanon offers some luxury accommodation, but the sea there is too shallow for swimming.
Hua Thanon, a village lying at the end of the road on the southern coast, is inhabited by Muslim fishermen. The only attractions of the place are the local market and the restaurants serving fresh seafood. A visit to the village will introduce you to the authentic village life.
For seafood aficionados, Hua Thanon is paradise on earth – fresh mouth-watering seafood at affordable prices. Kor Lae boats of fishermen are worth seeing. These boats and the charming village give the tourists many photo ops.
Songthaews are the best modes of transport in Samui. Pay them 150 to 200 baht and they will take you to all the nooks and crannies of the island.
Hua Thanon is located just beyond Hin Tin and Hin Yai. There are a few budget resorts for the backpacking crowd.
Laem Set is located on the south coast of Koh Samui. As the sea here is too shallow, it is not suitable for swimming. The rock formations on the beach and the coconut palms swaying in the breeze make it picture perfect.
The area has few commercial establishments and nightlife. This is the main attraction for many tourists coming here. Once here, you are completely cut off from the world, which is difficult to achieve nowadays. If you run out of any essentials, you have either of these options – drive 20 minutes to Lamai or 40 minutes to Chaweng.
The major attractions of Laem Set are the Butterfly Garden, the Tiger Zoo, and the Samui Aquarium. The Butterfly Garden is beautiful with lush greenery and colorful butterflies. The Aquarium has a huge collection of marine creatures like turtles, sharks, catfishes and other varieties of fishes. Visitors are allowed to feed the giant turtles here.
The two swimming seasons of Laem Set are from October to April and April to October. During the period from October to April, the tide is high and sea rough throughout. Due to this, small pieces of corals are washed ashore, which may hurt the feet. Use of plastic shoes is recommended to avoid this. Help yourself to the pair of your choice from the ‘Dive Shop’ and keep them with you for the duration of your stay.
During the April-October season, the tide is low and the sea is calm. You can see the ocean bed near the rocks.
There are coral reefs present very close to the beach. The distance between the corals and the beach can be covered by snorkeling or pedaling using a pedal boat. Remember not to anchor the pedal boat near the corals. Pedal boats are available in the ‘Dive Shop’ here and they will give you adequate instructions.
The beach area is normally very safe. But do not venture out far into the channel, which leads to the deep-sea past the reef without checking the day’s warnings.
Laem Set has good accommodation facilities for the high-end crowd. A few hotels, boutique resorts, excellent spas and good restaurants are located near the waterfalls, amongst the verdant landscapes. The soft sand of the beach is perfect during late afternoons for enjoying a cocktail.
Lamai beach is located to the south of Chaweng beach, with a few bays lying in-between. While in Chaweng, everything from the sand and water to the facilities is great, in Lamai, the beaches are phenomenal. The sand is almost pure white, the restaurants and bars are amazing enough, and the nightlife entertainment is fun.
Here you will find budget resorts and guesthouses. The beach is usually not crowded. If this is what you are looking for, Lamai is the right place for you.
The beach is divided into three sections – the north, central and south sections. The north section extends from the promontory to Sand Sea Resort. Another reason for its seclusion is that during low tide, this portion of the beach is prone to mudflats. Also, the storm water draining from inland makes the seawater along this stretch very dirty.
In the central and southern sections, the water is cleaner. Here jet skiing is very popular. The central stretch is more developed of the two.
The restaurants and entertainment facilities on the beach road have a nice feel to it, unlike some parts of Chaweng. This is mostly due to the presence of dozens of sleazy girlie bars in the Chaweng area. You can avoid all these by sticking to the beach itself, which has most of the good restaurants. The food here is fresh and tasty and the price is fairly less expensive than Chaweng.
If you want to enjoy a beach vacation without spending a lot of money, Lamai is a good choice. However, here you should be content just to laze around the beach. However, if you are looking forward to water sports and a variety of restaurants and other facilities, Chaweng or Bophut are better choices.
This beach lies on the west coast of Koh Samui. Uncrowded beach and crystal clear water are the main attractions here. It is perfect for a laid-back holiday. The sunset views are excellent. The main car ferry pier of Koh Samui is located nearby, which makes it the first choice of people driving to the island from the mainland.
The shallow beach here is sandy without any rocks or corals. This makes it the perfect place for children. If you go beyond 100m, the seabed gets deep all of a sudden.
The isolated beach is an attraction for many tourists, who seek out places where they are not disturbed during holidays. Due to this, many visitors come here every year for their annual vacation. The tourists here are generally families and older tourists, who are happy just to laze around the beach. Pensioners form a sizeable percentage of the tourists.
For moving around, you have to find your own means, as public transport is absent here. Either rent a car or strike a bargain with a taxi driver. Shopping is almost non-existent in Lipa Noi. For your supplies, prepare to drive to Nathon, which is located about 5km away.
The resorts of Lipa Noi are owned by private citizens, who are bent on keeping the natural charm of the place, at the same time providing first-class facilities to the visitors who are used to high standards of living. Among these, the Lipa Lovely Resort is the most popular. The attached restaurant is equally famous. Samui’s well-known spa,
Samui Dharma Healing Centre is located in Lipa Noi.
Lipa Noi doesn’t have any nightlife to speak of. The demography of the visitors suits this. Lazing on the beach and driving through the coconut plantations are the best activities of the place.
Along the beach side, there are a few local restaurants serving Thai delicacies. They also have entertainments like Thai dancing and acrobatics. Massages are offered right on the beach in the many salas. The shallow calm water allows swimming and other water sports all through the year.
Paradise Park Farm is located close to Lipa Noi. It is home to many species of animals and birds. There is an admission fee and it is inclusive of the pool facilities inside. A Thai restaurant is located within the premises.
Lipa Noi is more of a residential area than a tourist one. Due to this, the number of people seen on the beach is less and it offers privacy to tourists staying in bungalows.
The Tongyang beach has soft white sand with coconut plantations extending on both sides as far as eyes can see. It is a great place to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Mae Nam Beach
This is one of the hidden treasures of Koh Samui. It is located on the north coast of the island. For years, tourist guides have under-rated this delightful beach, in spite of its natural beauty and excellent facilities.
The best part of Maenam is its long stretch of yellow sand, which takes 2-3 hours to walk. The water is calm and shallow for a long way into the sea. This makes it a preferred destination for families with young children.
The beach road lies a bit away from the beach itself, which keeps the noise pollution away. The beach hosts night parties occasionally, but not every night as in the case of many other beaches. Hence, those who want to enjoy the solitude of the place are happy with an isolated wild night thrown in. Though recently Mae Nam has received a huge increase in tourists during certain seasons. Be sure to check your unique location before booking.
The beach offers great views of Koh Phangan. The sunset views from the east end of Maenam are exceptionally spectacular.
Most of the accommodations here are aimed at budget travelers, with a few luxury resorts in between.
Nathon is the major port of Samui, located on its northwest coast. The express and night ferries from Surat Thani arrive here with tourists, on the way to other beaches and islands in the Gulf of Thailand.
With the main car-ferry of Koh Samui located close by, Nathon is an obvious choice for tourists driving from the mainland. The presence of white powdery sand and the absence of rocks and coral make it the perfect choice for tourists with children. While the shallow water is another great factor.
There are a few spacious bungalows for accommodating the tourists. Big John Seafood is the most popular of them with an attached restaurant worth visiting. Some luxury villas along the beachfront are also offered for rent.
The Samui Dharma Healing Center located here is famous for the intense fasting treatments.
The beach area doesn’t have anything else other than the beautiful beach itself. Tourists who come here are families and older people who are happy to enjoy the tranquility of the place, away from the maddening crowds. Driving through the coconut plantations is one of the favorite pastimes of the tourists.
In spite of the presence of shops, restaurants and other obvious tourist activities, Nathon still retains its village atmosphere. The Chinese wooden shop-houses and cafés are the reminders of the past.
This area lies on the northeastern tip of Samui. Koh Samui International Airport is just 5 minutes away.
Here you will find all ranges of accommodation from budget to luxury hotels and resorts, with a few private villas also in the fray. The quiet atmosphere attracts tourists, as the place is a short 10-minute drive from the busy Chaweng, which is loaded with shopping and entertainment centers.
You can buy essential items from the few local shops here. A little further, but still within walking distance is located the famous Big Buddha and the Plai Laem temple. There are a few restaurants and bars close to this. Choeng Mon beach is also 5-minutes drive away from the beach.
The Plai Laem area has a selection of Thai restaurants and bars on the beach and along the road. For a better dining experience, you may visit the restaurants in the hotels and resorts. Samui’s best 5-star restaurant is attached to one of the resorts in this area.
Thai massage is offered on the beach itself and in many places along the road. These are comparatively inexpensive. The luxury spas and retreats located here also pamper the tourists with many treatments.
The 2km beach has soft white sand and calm warm water. The presence of coral reefs close by makes it ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Koh Som is located across the beach and is reachable by swimming or kayaking. Due to shallow water, there are no motorboats or jet skis operating in the beach. Their absence is a blessing for those engaged in other beach activities, as the beach will be quiet and peaceful. It is a great place for sunbathing and reading.
This beach lies on the west coast of Koh Samui, just to the south of Nathon Town. As the area is not as developed as other parts of Samui, it offers a rustic experience to the tourists. Taling Ngam is most famous for the sunset views with Angthong Marine National Park in the foreground.
The accommodation needs of the tourists are met by the assortment of hotels and resorts in the area. There are many international restaurants to cater to the tourist’s needs. The most famous among the hotels is the Le Meridien Baan Taling Ngam, which is located on the beachfront itself.
At the small fishing village located close by, new restaurants are sprouting to cater to the visitors.
The adjacent Lipa Noi attracts tourists with its unspoiled and uncrowded beaches. You need not stay here to enjoy the beaches. A day trip is sufficient to enjoy this remote beach. The main beach activities include swimming and sunbathing.
This beach located on the south coast of Samui offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Thailand. The beach area is devoid of shops and nightlife is conspicuous by its absence. For these, you should drive 20 minutes to Lamai or 30 minutes to Chaweng.
The beach offers wonderful opportunities for snorkeling and diving. In spite of the tourist influx, Thong Krut Bay has a village-like atmosphere. On the beach, there are wooden restaurants on stilts serving drinks to tourists. The yellow-tiled pagoda located on the way to Bang Kao beach is a good place to take some pictures.
As you walk along the road, you can see old-fashioned Thai homes and small shops selling essentials to the locals. The old people running these shops are ever smiling and very friendly. When you are here, it looks as if the place has not changed a bit for centuries.
Chaweng is the entertainment hub of Koh Samui. There are innumerable restaurants, bars, world-class discos, live music, cabarets and rock pubs. By dusk, these places come alive and you can pub-hop the entire night. Both locals and tourists are found in these places.
In Samui, being a safe place, it is easy to let your hair down and get into the party mood. There are no restrictions on nightlife here. This helps the tourists to enjoy the facilities to the fullest. However, Samui has its share of petty criminals, like any other place in the world. Even though the chances of you being victimized are rare, it is better to be cautious. A little commonsense and caution, is enough to avoid them. They are mostly present during late night parties and try to win you with their warm personalities and friendly smile.
You will find many friendly people present at the bars and discos who are difficult to resist, especially for men. They will be willing to keep you company for the entire night, but will expect payment in return. Most of these people are harmless, but there are a few among them with criminal intentions. If you take them back to your room, be careful about your valuables.
If you walk alone on the road at night, friendly strangers may appear offering you ride. Just refuse to go with them, as it is not a safe proposition. Women tourists should not accept invitations from strangers to walk with them on the beach at night.
The bars and clubs of Samui are not like the ones at Pattaya and Bangkok. The ambiance and facilities of each place here vary so much from others. Though they are different from the bigger cities, these also offer excellent entertainment and excitement to the tourists.
There are open-bars, where people start with idle talk for some time. Later they will have rocking parties, which are immensely enjoyed by the tourists.
The Jazz Junction, located on Chaweng Beach Road, is a nice place to while away your time and to meet new friends. They serve cool cocktails and very good music. The bar is styled like a Thai house and is open from 4pm to 2am.
The Club has a soothing atmosphere with candlelights and excellent music. For some entertainment, visit Christy’s Cabaret, which has a local style of cabaret.
Green Mango is the most popular discotheque in Samui. They start playing latest disco music from 10 pm and lasts until small hours. The dance floor here is usually crowded, but they also have tables set in the open space a little farther away from the dance floor.
Baan Samui Resort & Bar is popular for reggae music, as the name suggests. They have a live band to entertain the crowds. They have two different Reggae bands that play every other day.
Ark Bar is a world famous for its live DJs with a live fire show with multiple bars available. People come from all over the world to party here for a good night. Be cautious of people offering you drugs or if you see others who are doing them. As there are police and security everywhere and can land in deep trouble with the authorities.
Festivals & Events
Songkran or Thai New Year
If you like New Year parties, Thailand is the place to be, to enjoy it three times a year. One according to the Gregorian calendar on January 1, another with the Chinese during February and the third on April 13, which is celebrated for centuries as Thai New year or Songkran, according to the Thai solar calendar.
The word ‘Songkran’ originated from the Sanskrit language. Even the celebration has its Indian influence. In Thailand, Songkran is the time to be spent with families. All establishments find it difficult to carry on with their regular work due to a depleted workforce, as the majority of the staff will be on holiday.
This is the time for spring-cleaning – homes are cleaned thoroughly and sacred images and altars washed. Elaborate sumptuous meals are the highlight of this festival.
Family members scattered all over the world come back to their places of birth to be with their families during this festival. This is the time to renew ties, to bond and to update each other on their activities.
The ” Wai Khon Gaa ” ceremony is one of the most profound rituals conducted during Songkran. During this ceremony, the entire neighborhood gathers to pour water over the hands of the two senior most members of the community. This signifies giving and taking blessing for the coming year.
Samui has a majority of migrants from other provinces. Due to this, ancient ceremonies are missing in the Songkran festivities here. The most popular ritual during Songkran in Samui is “Sat Nam”. This is a jovial ritual in which large quantities of chilled water is poured on unsuspecting passersby.
The children are armed with water guns, buckets, hoses and other means of spraying ice-cold water. The victims are not supposed to protest or get angry; they should accept the attack in good humor. Police officers are spared by the water-shooters. On this day, it is common to see people behind the counter, working in emergency services like banks, wearing wet clothes.
Though nobody knows the origins of this water-throwing ritual, it is good to get soaked in chilled water during the hottest period of the year. The locals find maximum joy in soaking complete strangers, even tourists. With the rising temperatures, the temper tends to get bad. This festival helps to cool down the atmosphere and minds of the people. You can either join the fun or shut yourself inside your room.
Loy Krathong or the Light Festival
This one of the most awaited and beautiful festivals of Thailand. All the waterways including rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and even hotel swimming pools are filled with floating lamps during the evening of November 14.
Thailand’s neighbors celebrate this festival as well and it falls on the full moon day of the 12th lunar month. In Thailand, the best celebrations are said to be in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai and Chiang Mai.
The origins of the festival can be traced back to 800 years in Sukhothai province. The stone inscriptions there describe the festival in detail. When the city was restored, the Light Festival gained prominence and has remained as an attraction ever since.
This festival is very colorful, as people wear colorful clothes and use multi-hued flowers to decorate. You can see them with floats all over the place. These floats are often shaped like flowers. As the floats are swept downstream, boys often swim to retrieve them to collect the coins kept in them and re-release them into the river.
The meaning of this ritual is explained thus – the floats are released into the flowing stream to carry the owner’s misfortunes with them. Thai people believe that by doing this, they can get rid of their misfortunes and sins for the past year. Lovers predict their future together if their krathongs meet as they flow downstream and continue to remain together until they disappear into the darkness. Some believe that this festival is to pay penance to Goddess Mae Khongkha, the Mother of Water.
The psychologists of the West compare it to the story of Moses in Bulrushes. They say that it symbolizes the egg’s journey from the ovary down the fallopian tube for conception. Whether you believe in this explanation or not, the festival is a treat for the eyes and should not be missed.
New Year’s Day
On January first, the International New Year Day, people offer food to monks either at temples or at government-designated sites. In Bangkok, Phramaane ground and lawns of district offices are earmarked for this purpose.
Thai people use this day to make merit and to offer best wishes to loved ones. Earlier, people used to seek blessings from elders on New Year Day. Now, due to western influence, this is the occasion for greeting cards and gifts.
Traditional New Year Celebration
Also known as ‘Trut’ celebration, this festival marks the end of the old year and the beginning of the New Year, according to the lunar calendar adopted from the Indians. This celebration was started during Sukhothai period and lasted till the times of King Rama V. Later it was merged with the Songkran festival. Now Trut is celebrated separately only in a few villages.
Like in most Thai festivals, this is the occasion to make merit and offer food to monks in temples. People visit temples to listen to sermons. Basically, all these are done to ensure that the New Year is a prosperous one.
Sart festival has its origins in India. The word itself is derived from the Indian word for autumn. It comes at the end of tenth lunar month. In India, this is the harvesting time and an occasion to rejoice. Earlier this was a Brahminic festival, but now it is celebrated by the Buddhists in Wats. People make merit and offer food to monks.
However, this is not the harvesting time in Thailand. However, farmers plant a sticky variety of rice to reap during this period to make “khow mow” or flat rice. This is used in making Krayasart, a dessert that is similar to granola bar with peanuts. Other rice-based sweets are also made during the festival and offered to monks before being eaten by people.
This festival is celebrated to encourage rice farming and to spread its importance among people of the country. This ceremony kick-starts the plowing season. The ceremony comprises of plowing of a small piece of land on the Phramaane Ground near the Grand Palace by Phraya Raek Na or the Farming Lord. Food is offered to cows. It is believed that better the array of foods, better will be the year’s rainfall and harvest.
This ceremony falls during early may. Now, the Phraya Raek Na is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture. The ceremony is important enough to be attended by many Thai and foreign officials. The farmers who attend the function often try to collect the sown rice seeds from the field. They think that these seeds are sacred and if sown in their own fields along with normal seeds will bring in good harvest.
Constitution Day Celebration
King Rama VII approved the First Constitution of Thailand on the 10th of December in 1932. To commemorate this occasion, the 10th of December is celebrated as Constitution day.
This is the anniversary of King Bhumibol’s accession to the throne. On the 5th of May, HM the King will make merit to monks at the Grand Palace and pay homage to the past kings of the Chakri Dynasty.
His Majesty’s Birthday
Also celebrated as Thai National Day, this falls on the 5th of December.
Her Majesty’s Birthday
Thai people join their majesties in celebrating this occasion on the 12th of August. Their Majesties the King and the Queen make merit according to the traditions. Special programs are organized and people participate enthusiastically to show their love and affection for their Majesties.
Festivals & Public Holidays
|Date||Month||Festivals & Public Holidays|
|1||January||New Year's Day
Celebrations marking the start of Gregorian New Year
The second Saturday of January every year is earmarked as children’s day. Most places allow huge discounts for children.
Schools are closed for the day as a tribute to teachers.
|11||February||Makha Buchaa Day (Public Holiday)
This day commemorate the occasion when 1250 disciples of Lord Buddha came to hear his preaching. This day falls on the full moon day of the third lunar month.
|28||February||Chinese New Year|
|2||April||HRH the Princess's Birthday|
|6||April||Chakri Day (Public Holiday)
This day commemorates King Rama I, the first of the Chakri kings
Celebrated during April 13-15; this is the Thai New Year Day. The preparation for this festival involves cleaning homes and washing the Buddha images. People respect elders by pouring water over their hands. Spraying chilled water on unsuspecting people is the highlight of the festival.
|1||May||National Labor Day
Most offices and factories remain closed for the day.
|5||May||Coronation Day (Public Holiday)
An occasion to commemorate the coronation of Their Majesties the King and Queen in 1946.
A government-sponsored ceremony to mark the start of the rice-planting season.
|17||May||Visakha Bucha Day (Public Holiday)
Celebrated on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, this is the most important date on the Buddhist religious calendar. It celebrates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. Teachers from schools take part in a candle-lit procession around the main chapel of the local temple. They carry flowers, three incense sticks and a lighted candle and walk around the chapel three times in clockwise direction. Later they listen to a sermon by a monk.
|19||July||Khao Phansa Day
This is a Buddhist holiday.
|28||July||HRH the Crown Prince's Birthday|
|12||August||HM the Queen's Birthday (Public Holiday)
This day is also celebrated as the Mother’s Day.
|23||October||Chulalongkorn Day (Public Holiday)
This is the day in memory of King Rama V, who helped in Thailand’s progress as a modern nation. He abolished slavery, constructed railway lines, established post and telegraphic services and created the ministerial system.
The most beautiful of Thai festivals, it is held on the full-moon day of the 12th lunar month. During the festival, candle-lit krathongs are floated into water as an offering to Mother Water. People apologize for polluting the water and promise to mend their ways.
|5||December||HM The King's Birthday (Public Holiday)
It is also celebrated as Father’s Day.
|10||December||Constitution Day (Public Holiday)
An occasion to commemorate the start of the constitutional monarchy in1932.
|31||December||New Year's Eve
This celebration marks the end of the old year and welcomes the new year.
Whenever you think about your dream house, you can’t help but include the details such as the neighborhood, the weather, and the facilities for recreation. Each of us has a vision of an ideal home in mind and there are people who are lucky enough to realize that vision. If you are thinking about taking a long, long break or you are planning to move to Thailand to shake things up for you and explore new ventures, a destination to pick is Koh Samui. Real estate in Koh Samui is at its peak, a proof that there are a lot of people who are availing of properties whether for themselves or as an investment.
So, why is it fun to live in Koh Samui?
- The weather is sunny most times of the year. Many people have had enough of the icy weather and are thinking of living in a place where the sun is up and about practically everyday. Those with health conditions also find that the tropical weather of Samui is very soothing to them and alleviates their pain.
- The beaches are so beautiful. Another reason why the real estate in Koh Samui is going very well is that there are a lot of people who dream of living in a place at or near the beach. There is something therapeutic and so relaxing about waking up to the cooling summer breeze and the thought of being able to lie on the sandy shore for as long as you like.
- The properties in Koh Samui are very impressive. Some of the most luxurious living spaces you will ever see are on the island. Real estate in Koh Samui is highly competitive and so the developers fight amongst themselves trying to come up with more gorgeous properties for the people to live in. In Koh Samui, a luxury villa on top of a hill that features the most fascinating panorama can be yours.
- The people are very friendly. Thai hospitality is known all over the world and no matter where you are on the island, you will find people smiling at you and greeting you. Their warmth is truly refreshing.
- You will find it very hard to get bored in Samui. The island is a home to some of the most exciting activities. For the daring ones, they can try surfing, kitesurfing, game fishing, snorkeling, and paragliding. For the laidback ones, there’s golf and cruising. In Koh Samui you go on a hiking trip or check out the animals in the wild. If you’re feeling lazy, you can spend a few hours at the spa to recharge. If you need some retail therapy you can go shopping in some of the island’s notable shopping centers and night market. You can also learn to cook Thai or check out some of the island’s bars.
Real estate in Koh Samui is becoming stronger and stronger. If you want to have a vacation home on the island, speak to a local realtor below and pave the way to living the life that you want.
|Real Estate Company||Telephone|
|CB Richard Ellis||077 430 737|
|Century 21 Zazen Properties||077 425 570|
|Horizon Homes||077 417 005|
|Kalara||077 246 100|
|Samui Villas & Homes||077 430 326|
Koh Samui is world renowned for its unique restaurant diversity throughout the island. From romantic dining to fine dining, Eating on Samui is the ultimate restaurant guide. No matter what you desire, we will give you the best restaurants available on Koh Samui.
Traditional Thai, Indian, & Japanese Restaurants
Being that Koh Samui lies within the Southern Region of Thailand, Samui has a wide variety of authentic Thai cuisine not only from the south but all over Thailand. Thai restaurants are the most common choice on Samui, though you will able to eat other cultural delicacies. There are plenty Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants throughout Samui. Many nationals from India and Bangladesh have migrated to Samui to share their local heritage with not only Thai people but tourists from all around the world. Every restaurant has a slight twist and offers signature chef recommendations for those looking to try something new but tasty. While Japanese restaurants feature traditional Japanese cuisines such as sushi, sashimi, ramen, and much more great dishes.
Italian, French, & Mediterranean Restaurants
Probably the most popular international choice among foreigners on Koh Samui. Among all of the European cuisines available, a few Italian restaurants are purely genuine as far authenticity. Marzano Pizzeria is definitely on that list, making all of their pizzas with Italy’s original Napolitano style. While the French-Mediterranean restaurants feature exquisite menu items and excellent wine pairings. You can even enjoy a romantic beach dinner under the stars at The Dining Room located at Rocky’s Boutique Resort. There are so many options for European food it can be overwhelming, so try to explore the ones that interest you!
An interesting east meets west concept that has recently has become very popular. Combining a fusion of Thai cuisine and other European cuisines together with a special chemistry to create a new before tried dish. Artistically acclaimed fusions restaurants like 9Gems is making a statement not only with their food and drinks but with their architecture as well. Bring together many different elements to convey something exhilarating yet new.
International Thai & Seafood Restaurants
Most of the international seafood restaurants are in Chaweng as they import fresh seafood from neighboring countries. Beyond the Sea is an amazing restaurant reputable for its fresh tasting seafood and even winning Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Award in 2014. While other international seafood restaurants, like Ocean Pier, can arrange private dining on the beach. A sure way to impress the one you love with a tantalizing dinner and a spectacular view.
Being that Koh Samui is recognized as a culinary hotspot for travelers worldwide, it is no surprise that so many tourists choose Koh Samui as their vacation getaway. From trendy fusion cuisines to authentic Thai cuisines, the options here are truly endless. Venture out and discover what you love throughout the island. Even the small local Thai restaurants are waiting for you to indulge in. For our top recommendations please take a look at the table we have included below to ensure that you will find an instant favorite!
|9Gems||Chaweng||Fusion||077 256 125|
|Dining on the Rocks||Choeng Mon||Fusion||077 245 678|
|Drink Gallery||Chaweng||Fusion||077 422 299|
|SALA Restaurant||Choeng Mon||Fusion||077 245 888|
|Stacked||Chaweng||Fusion||077 915 222|
|The Page||Chaweng||Fusion||077 422 767-8|
|BEYOND THE SEA||Laem Set||Thai & International||077 913 888|
|Chef Chom’s||Choeng Mon||Thai & International||077 245 480|
|Hard Rock Cafe||Chaweng||Thai & International||077 901 208-9|
|Jahn at Conrad||Taling Ngam||Thai & International||077 915 888|
|Kiree||Chaweng Noi||Thai & International||077 915 555|
|Krua Bophut||Bophut||Thai & International||077 430 030|
|Long Talay||Chaweng Noi||Thai & International||077 422 020|
|Ocean Pier||Lamai||Thai & International||077 960 888|
|OceanKiss||Chaweng||Thai & International||077 960 333|
|Poppies||Chaweng||Thai & International||077 422 419|
|Saffron||Lamai||Thai & International||077 915 333|
|Moon||Lamai||Thai & International||077 960 555|
|Tamarind||Chaweng Noi||Thai & International||077 448 994|
|The Farmer||Maenam||Thai & International||077 447 222|
|The Height||Lamai||Thai & International||077 960 555|
|The Larder||Chaweng||Thai & International||077 601 259|
|Dr Frogs||Chaweng Noi||Italian, French & Mediterranean||077 448 505|
|Full Moon Char Grill||Bophut||Italian, French & Mediterranean||077 428 300-9|
|H Bistro||Bophut||Italian, French & Mediterranean||077 245 511|
|Olivio||Chaweng||Italian, French & Mediterranean||077 231 500|
|Marzano Pizzeria||Chaweng||Italian, French & Mediterranean||077 231 546-9|
|Prego||Chaweng||Italian, French & Mediterranean||077 300 306, 077 300 317|
|Red Snapper||Chaweng||Italian, French & Mediterranean||077 300 500|
|The Cliff||Lamai||Italian, French & Mediterranean||077 448 508|
|The Dining Room||Lamai||Italian, French & Mediterranean||077 233 020|
|Noori India||Chaweng||Indian||086 740 7873|
|NAMU||Bophut||Japanese||077 915 999|
What you can buy in Samui?
Chaweng, Nathon, Lamai, and Maenam are the main shopping centers of Koh Samui. Daytime shoppers prefer the wide array of shops of Nathon, while Chaweng Central Festival is popular for daytime and nighttime shopping.
The products sold in Samui shops are mostly made in mainland Thailand and brought here for sales purposes. Due to this, the prices may be higher for some items than in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, but will definitively be less than the price in your own country.
The items produced locally are Thai handicrafts and jewelry. Tailoring is quite cheap on the island.
Some of the most sought –after items by tourists are silk, silver, brassware, woodcarvings and handicrafts.
- Silk – Thailand is home to varieties of silk, weaved and dyed using various techniques and styles in different regions. The people of the Laos origin of the southern Thailand are famous for their Mut Mee and Khit silk. This is usually used to make Phasin or tubular skirts. Thai Muslims of the south combine traditional weaving pattern with Japanese silk to produce Pum Riang silk. From Nakhon Si Thammarat comes the well-known Yok Nakhon cotton. Batiks and Patae skirts are made colorful by the influence of Malay designs.
- Gems & Jewelry – Thailand is blessed with natural deposits of rubies, sapphires, zircon, onyx, jade and opal. This combined with the talented jewelry cutters and designers make Thailand a good place to buy jewelry. There are jewelry pieces available in various price ranges to suit all pockets.The beautifully displayed jewelry in the shop windows will attract the most unenthusiastic buyer. Nobody leaves Thailand without buying a gemstone or a pearl. The island has an excellent lapidary, while the set pieces and semi-precious stones come from Bangkok.The South is famous for its pearls and it comes in various sizes and colors. From the rare South Seas pearl to cultured pearl and Mobe pearl, they are available in shades of cream, black and pink. Imitation pearls, made from the ground pearl dust using a secret formula, are also a favorite among tourists.
- Tailoring – Chaweng and Nathon are famous for their tailors, who make custom-made clothes. They will stitch according to your design or from the photographs provided. Satisfaction is guaranteed for the customer. All ranges of materials are available for stitching your dream dress – from Thai silk to imported linen, blended wool to printed cotton.
- Gold – In Thailand, gold is used mostly in temples and palaces. It is used to enhance the beauty of Buddha images by using gold and leaves to decorate these images. Gold is also used in royal insignia, jewelry, and decorations.
- Lacquerware, Silverware, Nilonware, Pewterware – Lacquerware is made by repeatedly coating bamboo or wood with lacquer and then hand painting it with intricate designs. The articles usually have contrast colors like black and gold or yellow and green on a reddish brown background.The Northern Thailand is famous for its unique method of making articles in silver like boxes, bowls, flower vases, cutlery, and cigarette cases. The skilled artisans emboss complex patterns on the surface of these objects. Nilonware or khrueang thom is a craft practiced in Southern Thailand for hundreds of years. It involves embossing designs on the surface of the objects, which is later made smooth by filling the vacant crevices with a metal alloy. The finished product is usually in black and gold. Nakhon Si Thammarat is the center of Nilonware. Pewterware is made from an alloy of tin and lead. While the finished product will be smooth and silky to touch. Pewterware comes in the form of beakers, goblets, and decorative figurines.
Due to the fact that most of the products sold in Samui come from Bangkok or other places, the selection and prices were not attractive enough for the tourists to venture out shopping. Nowadays, this scene is changing.
In Chaweng, the prices are higher than Nathon, but the variety of products makes it worthwhile. From clothing to CD/DVDs and shoes to watches, you can buy everything here. However, you should bargain hard for a fair price. There are international branded shops, which sell their products at much reduced rates here.
Lamai being a smaller place doesn’t have as many shops and products as Chaweng. The prices are lower than Chaweng. There are some unusual shops here with unique products, perfect to buy as souvenirs and as gifts for friends back home.
Bophut is well known for its furniture shops. The Fisherman’s Village has good souvenir gift shops.
Maenam being a residential area doesn’t have many shops. It has a few furniture shops lying between its restaurants and cafés, which sell oriental style wooden furniture. They even help you with the shipping at reasonable rates.
Nathon, being Samui’s administrative capital, is the shopping destination of locals. The prices are low and the products in plenty, but not as much as in Chaweng. The two main roads in Nathon are its major shopping centers. Nathon has good souvenir shops filled with local products, that are ideal as gifts to take back home.
|Big C Supercenter||077 960 733|
|Central Festival Samui||077 962 777|
|Chandra||077 422 311|
|Oriental Living||077 247 675|
|Nature Art Gallery||077 422 594|
|Samui Lapidary||077 247 845-6|
|Tesco Lotus Chaweng||077 236 568|
Getting to Koh Samui
From Bangkok, all modes of transportation are available to Koh Samui directly. When you are traveling by bus or by train, it will be only up to Surat Thai province. From there, connecting ferries will take you to Koh Samui.
Bangkok Airways operate daily flights to Koh Samui. For more details, visit Bangkok Airways web site www.bangkokair.com
Overnight trains run between Bangkok and Surat Thani, which is very comfortable. The fare is slightly higher than bus fares. The upper berths cost less than the lower ones. In first-class compartments, private cabins for two are available.
For more details on trains, call 1690, 02-2237010, 02-2237020 or visit the website www.railway.co.th.
From Surat Thani, ferries leave for Koh Samui from Donsak pier. These ferries are just passenger boats and not luxury boats, but the trip will be fascinating if you can stay awake during the journey. The ferry passes numerous small picturesque islands on the way. Be wary of friendly fellow passengers who offer to take you to great resorts in Samui for reduced rates. Some of them are in fact genuine, but it is better not to pay any attention to them.
From Bangkok, VIP buses ply to Koh Samui from both Khao San Road and the New Southern Bus Terminal at Boromrat Chonnani Road. These buses are more comfortable to travel than air-conditioned buses. Tickets are easily available through travel agencies in Bangkok. Most probably, the ferry fare is also included in the bus ticket. Remember to confirm this, while purchasing the bus ticket.
New Southern Bus Terminal telephone: 02-4345557,
Getting around Koh Samui
Rent a motorbike
This is the cheapest and most popular way to get around the island at your own leisure. However, be aware that the local drivers do not obey traffic rules and this may lead to avoidable accidents. The problem is compounded by the fact that many tourists are also driving for the first time. If you are a competent driver and stay alert, there is no need to panic. Most of the accidents involving tourists happen due to lack of judgment. Before venturing out on the motorbike, please do read the safety tips given in the TAKS Guide Booklet.
Rent a Car
Cars are rented out to tourists by local shops, travel agencies and a few international car rental companies. Renting Jeeps are more popular on the island. This is a very good way to visit all the tourist attractions on the island at your convenience and even go off-roading.
Some car rentals have all-terrain vehicles, which let you explore the mountains and the forests of Samui. This provides you ample opportunity to test your skills and in addition offer you some of the best views of the island, which are impossible to see otherwise.
Reputed car rentals provide insurance coverage for the cars, but some of them do not do so. Remember to check the insurance papers while renting the car.
Taxi is the most convenient option, as you need not bother about driving, routes or insurance. However, its main drawback is that it is very expensive. If you can strike up a deal with a taxi driver for reasonable rates, there is nothing better than that. Most of the taxis charge more during peak seasons and at nights.
Songthaews or the local red taxis are another option for transportation. Their charges vary vastly during high season and during night hours. Tourists often complain about their charges, service and behavior. The authorities are trying to address this problem and make it smoother for the tourists.
To be able to get married in a foreign place is a treat in itself. More and more weddings these days happen overseas and if you just gotten engaged and are thinking of getting married in another country, this section is for you. One of the best places for a wedding is Koh Samui in Thailand. This is one of Thailand’s largest islands and is now an ever becoming popular wedding hub. It is such an exciting place that is known for its luxury hotels and resorts and very beautiful beaches. The tropical climate is among the things that lure couples to get married here. The sun is up and smiling practically all year long. Plus, there are tons of things to do on the island as well.
The good news is that there are quite a good number of Koh Samui wedding venues available for you. Here are some of the wedding venues Koh Samui has.
Hotels and Resorts
For a really small to medium sized Koh Samui weddings, hotels and resorts are commonly chosen as wedding venues. These places often have their own wedding packages available for couples. Depending on your budget, you should be able to easily find a good place for your ceremony. There are affordable and mid-priced hotels for those who are on a tight budget. There are also very extravagant hotels and resorts for those who want a grand wedding venue.
When it comes to Koh Samui wedding venues, some other options include private villas. There are plenty of really nice villas for rent all throughout the island. They come in different sizes and designs. They also have a variety of strengths. Some are beach front villas while others are garden view or sea view villas. Like the case with hotels and resorts, the choice will be influenced by the budget and your personal preference.
Villas for Koh Samui weddings often have a special place for a ceremony and have enough rooms to accommodate a specific number of people. They all share common features too such as a swimming pool, a BBQ area, and an outdoor sala. A lot of Koh Samui weddings these days are held at luxury villas
An important decision you’ll have to make when you plan your big day is the theme of the ceremony. Some wedding companies have pre-decided wedding packages that you can pick from. Others offer customized wedding services. With the latter, you can decide which details you’d want to include and what details you’d want to omit. You can even make the ceremony according to your desired theme. It all depends on the wedding service company. In thinking of ways of making a Koh Samui wedding venue feel more tropical, here are some ideas.
- Have a luau style reception. Luaus or BBQ parties with Hawaiian influence are great options for tropical weddings. In this kind of wedding reception, guests will be served skewers, grilled vegetables, and basically something you’d eat on a campfire. If you are having a luau, you can ask your guests to dress for the occasion too. Floral sarongs and shirts, with fragrant leis as accents are good ideas.
- Choose your wedding colors wisely. The theme of the wedding can be made more pronounced with your choice of colors. Pineapple yellow, bright hibiscus red, and turquoise are great colors that are associated with the tropics. The same is true for tangerine, bright green, and khaki.
- Provide tropical inspired giveaways. Wide brimmed straw hats and straw fans will be very much appreciated by your guests, especially since the weather is warm. Or if you want, you can prepare a basket filled with bright colored flip flops so your guests can change and be able to walk comfortably on the sand after the ceremony.
- Get married on the shoreline. Koh Samui weddings can be made more tropical by saying your “I do” at the beach.
- Give sea-inspired accessories for your bridesmaids. It doesn’t have to be an antique pearl necklace. You can go with starfish hair clips, sea shell bracelets and anklets, and leis.
- Be creative on the reception. Ditch the plate and serve dishes on banana leaf and woven plates. Guests will surely love the novelty. This is also a good way to childproof those plates.
- Surround your wedding ceremony and reception with fragrant Thai flowers. There is nothing more tropical than tropical flowers. While you are in Thailand, use them to your advantage. Use orchids, pikake, and jasmine to scent the air and add lovely blooms on your wedding.
- Ditch the clingy shoes. Being married at the beach is a good excuse to alter the usual wedding dress code. So ditch those shoes and get one of those barefoot jewels to make your feet look lovely. Or if you want you can get married wearing a hot pink flip flop.
- Incorporate treasures of the sea on your wedding accents. You can place cute sand dollars or mini starfish on your table cards, bouquets, and even on your tables’ centerpieces.
- Exercise your palate and everyone else’s too. Most Koh Samui wedding venues are too distinctly Thai. To emphasize this, serve authentic Thai cuisines on your wedding reception. Thai cuisine has very unique flavors that are pleasing to the taste buds. Instead of serving the usual pastas and what not, try to enliven your party with specially made local dishes. Include some Pla Ngun as well, which is a Chinese derived sticky dessert that is shaped like a fish and is believed to bring luck and fortune to the newly weds. Among the dishes that you can serve are pork curry, grilled chicken, spicy pork Thai salad, and some tofu soup. Your guests will surely love the idea of tasting local dishes on your special day.
Koh Samui wedding venues should be booked early. As soon as possible, talk to your wedding planner about wedding venue options so you can make the reservations ahead and not worry about the venue later.