Planning a trip to Thailand and wondering if you should go to Koh Samui? We’re here to break it down for you! This massive island on the Gulf Coast attracts travelers year after year for its beaches, fun outdoor activities, and close proximity to other tropical Thai islands. Join us as we cover the best things to do in Koh Samui, how to get there on the ferry, and the pros and cons of visiting.
How to Get to Koh Samui Thailand
One good thing about Koh Samui is that it’s super easy to get to from all over Thailand! Ferries leave all day from Donsak Pier on the mainland so you will have no problems getting there.
Due to it being the closest of the Gulf Island to the mainland, it only takes about one hour by fast ferry. The ferries and speed boats also run from the nearby islands which we will discuss more later. Companies like Lomprayah provide bus and boat combo tickets to take you the entire way there.
Not up for a boat ride? There is also an international airport in Koh Samui Thailand! Regular flights go from Bangkok and Phuket and are usually pretty inexpensive.
Understanding the Different Areas of Koh Samui
Koh Samui is one of the largest islands in Thailand as it’s only 2nd in size to Phuket. This means there are plenty of different areas to stay in, all with their own unique features. Most of the best hotels are along the beautiful coastline. However, you’ll see there are some inland gems to discover on your trip to Koh Samui in Thailand. Below are some of the most popular towns to check out around the island.
North Koh Samui
- Maenam Beach
- Bang Po
- Fishermans Village
- Choeng Mon
- Bangrak Beach
East Koh Samui
West Koh Samui
- Taling Ngam
- Lipa Noi
- Nathon Pier
Where to Stay on Koh Samui Thailand
Ultra Luxury – Conrad Koh Samui – Private villas overlook Aow Thai Beach for the ultimate luxury getaway! Each villa has a 30ft private pool and the resort is near some of Koh Samui’s best attractions.
Fun Vacation – Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort – Located on Bophut Beach and close to Fishermans Village, the Anantara is the perfect stay for couples. Enjoy the spa and pool area while also having a scenic view from your balcony.
Beachfront – Banana Fan Sea Resort – Set right on the gorgeous Cheweng Beach, this resort is an amazing place to base yourself from Koh Samui. Relax on the beach all day or use the kayaks and SUP to get out on the water.
Boutique Hotel – Rocky’s Boutique Resort – If you’re looking for something truly unique, check out this beautiful boutique resort! Enjoy the spa and pool area or use the free shuttle service to Lamai Beach.
Hostel Stay – Samui Backpacker Hotel – This fun hostel has both private rooms and dorms. It’s also right next to the pier where you can take a boat to Koh Phangan for the famous full moon parties!
Pros About Koh Samui Thailand
Massive Island: As we mentioned earlier, Koh Samui is huge! Thailand’s 2nd largest island is filled with beach towns, restaurants, and all the shopping you can handle. This can be a big-time positive if you like to bounce around to different places and explore.
Every Budget: One more thing we loved about Koh Samui is that there is truly somewhere to stay for every travel style and budget. Whether you prefer a luxury villa on the beach or a hostel in the main party area, Koh Samui has what you’re looking for!
Outdoor Activities: As you’ll see in our things to do in Koh Samui section, this island has an abundance of great outdoor activities! They range from waterfall hikes to parasailing and snorkeling/scuba diving.
Family Friendly: Koh Samui is known as one of the best islands for families in Thailand. The many resorts and fun activities we mentioned above are also ideal for kids. We saw so many families enjoying their time on Koh Samui.
Cons of Koh Samui Thailand
It’s Massive: Unfortunately, for some travelers, Koh Samui’s size may be a negative! Due to it being so large there are very few places you can walk on the island. That means you’ll likely need to rent a motorbike or hire a driver.
Very Westernized: You’ll see that since it’s one of the most popular Thai islands Koh Samui is very westernized. We felt as if we always had to hunt out good local meals instead of them being regularly available like the pizza and British pubs.
It’s a Party Island: Make no mistake, even though Koh Samui is family-friendly, it’s got its fair share of party animals, too! Specifically, in the areas of Chaweng Beach and Lamai, you will see a wild bar scene that gets even louder at night. Still, Koh Samui is big enough that you can avoid these areas if you’re not into it.
Not the Best Beaches: Maybe we’re being picky here but after seeing the quality of the beaches on the other islands we weren’t so impressed with Koh Samui. Even on Thailand’s largest island Phuket, the beaches seemed far nicer!
6 Fun Things to Do in Koh Samui
1. Big Buddha: Big Buddha is the #1 landmark of Koh Samui Thailand and can be seen if you’re flying into the airport. Climb the steps up to this sacred monument at the Phra Yai Temple Complex
2. Beach Hop: There is said to be over 40 beaches on the island of Koh Samui! Explore on your own and find everything from long sandy beaches to secluded coves.
3. Fishermen’s Village: Don’t let the name fool you! This is one of the most popular and upscale areas with luxury hotels, nice restaurants, and happening beach bars.
4. Waterfalls: Heading inland and seeing the waterfalls is a must on Koh Samui Thailand. Don’t miss out on the stunning Na Mueang Waterfall.
5. Night Markets: There are night markets that pop up all over the island and especially on the weekends. Here you’ll find some great street food, clothing, and arts and crafts. Make sure to check out our post about our 40 favorite Thai dishes!
6. Day Trip to Ang Thong Marine Park: One of the best things to do in Koh Samui actually lies right off the coast! Take a boat tour of the 42 islands that make up Ang Thong Marine Park.
Koh Samui Ferry to More Amazing Islands
Another reason people go to Koh Samui Thailand is its close proximity to 2 other incredible islands. In fact, it serves as the jumping-off point to the rest of the popular Gulf Islands!
Koh Phangan is known for its beaches and Full Moon Party which draws in travelers from around the world. While Koh Tao has a rustic backpacker vibe and some of the best diving and snorkeling spots in Southeast Asia.
You can easily take the Koh Samui ferry to both of these unique islands. On our recent trip, we started at the furthest one (Koh Tao) and worked our way back towards the mainland ending in Koh Samui.
Is Koh Samui Thailand Worth Visiting?
Well, that all depends on what kind of vacation you’re looking for! If you enjoy larger islands with lots of activities and nightlife then it might be for you. However, if you’re looking for something more relaxed and low-key maybe spend more time on the smaller islands like Koh Lanta Thailand.
To be honest, it wasn’t our favorite place we’ve been to in Thailand. Still, there really are so many people that fall in love with it. If it’s sounding like a vacation spot you’d enjoy then make sure to check it out for yourself!
Have any questions on the Koh Samui ferry or want to share your own favorite things to do in Koh Samui Thailand? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
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THAILAND TRAVEL PLANNING
Transportation: While traveling through Thailand 12Go is where we find all our ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Phuket! You can find everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and 5-hour island tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.