Complete Guide to Koh Samui

Koh Samui is the second largest island in Thailand, found to the south east of the mainland in the Gulf of Thailand.

It’s very popular with western tourists and honeymooners who come here for the sublime sunshine, sandy palm fringed beaches, superb cuisine, spa and party culture, and chilled out atmosphere.

Once a fishing community, Koh Samui is still deep rooted in Thai culture, but offers a very cosmopolitan twist that makes this an undeniably unique and luxurious destination that is sure to seduce you — whatever your budget.

Let’s find out more…

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Koh Samui Weather

With pleasant temperatures averaging 28 degrees Celsius all year round, there is never really a bad time to visit this tropical monsoon island.

There are three distinct seasons on Koh Samui — dry, rainy, and hot — all of which have their own unique appeal.

The dry season lasts from December through to February, when the island benefits from slightly cooler, less humid with temperatures of around 27°C and very little rain. This is the most popular time to visit the island, so expect more crowds and higher prices.

koh samui weather

Following on from the dry season, the hot season between March and the end of August sees scorching temperatures soaring high into the 30s with plenty of sizzling sunshine and occasional rain showers to give a little respite. This is also a popular time to come to Koh Samui — as long as you can stand the heat.

The rainy season from September to November remains warm with average temperatures of 27°C, but considerably more rainfall, and the weather can be unpredictable.

That said, rain storms tend to last only an hour or two and can be quite refreshing, and because this is a less popular period with tourists it means that the island is quieter and it’s possible to get some real bargains on accommodation.

Bangkok to Koh Samui

There are various options for making the 700 kilometre journey from Bangkok to Koh Samui, but the fastest by far is to fly.

Direct flights leave regularly throughout the day from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, but prices can be steep (minimum price is about 3,500 THB), so it’s worth considering the cheaper alternatives.

An ‘island transfer’ ticket from Air Asia or Nok Air is much cheaper than a direct flight to Samui International Airport (around 3,000 THB), but at 6 hours the journey is a little longer than a 1 hour direct flight.

bangkok to koh samui

Flights arrive at Chumpon, Surat Thani or Nakhon Si Thammarat airports on the mainland, from where the ticket covers a transfer by bus to the nearby pier, from where a ferry will be waiting to take you across to the island of Koh Samui.

A combined train/bus/ferry ticket is even cheaper (about 1,000 THB), but the journey time is increased to 9 – 12 hours on the train.

Trains depart from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station throughout the day, with the night sleeper trains being the most popular.

On arrival at Surat Thani train station, the combined ticket covers your bus and ferry transfers to Koh Samui.

Similarly cheap, the picturesque journey by bus is a good option, and combination tickets that include ferry transfers cost between 800 to 1,500 THB depending on the class of bus.

Both night and day buses set off from various Bangkok locations and the journey takes an average of 12 hours excluding transfer time.

Things to do in Koh Samui

Wat Phra Yai

koh samui thailand

By Abrget47j (CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

Big and brassy, the impressive Golden Buddha at Wat Phra Yai temple can be seen from the air as you approach Koh Samui airport.

Sitting in a half lotus on a small rocky island named Koh Farn off the north east coast of the island and connected to mainland Koh Samui via a causeway, the 12 metre high buddha image is lit up at night providing a spectacular sight.

The temple complex itself features a staircase decorated with mythical naga snakes and a meditation centre, plus there are souvenir stands and fortune tellers on the grounds nearby who will predict your future for a small fee.

Wat Plai Laem

things to do in Koh Samui

By Gunther Dihlmann (CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

Just across from the big Buddha a few hundred metres inland from Bang Rak Beach is Chinese/Thai temple Wat Plai Laem.

This is a working temple boasting incredible statues including a huge 15 metre tall representation of Guanyin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, her 18 arms raised to the heavens, and a grinning image of Budai, the fat Chinese ‘laughing Buddha’.

These immense statues are situated at either end of temple’s magnificent Thai style ordination hall, which seems to float suspended above a large lotus pond filled with fat catfish which reflects the temple in all its glory.

Exploring the grounds, you will find various colourful statues of other deities, and some good examples of traditional-meets-contemporary Thai architecture.

Secret Buddha Garden

Magic place 💫#secretbuddhagarden #kohsamui #spiritual

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Mysterious and otherworldly, the Secret Buddha Garden (also known as the Magic Garden) lies concealed high in the jungle covered hills to the north-west of Lamai Beach atop the peak of the Tar Nim Waterfall.

Created in 1977 by a local fruit farmer, small streams and waterfalls wind their way through this incredible landscaped garden which is dotted with charismatic stone statues of animals, gods and people.

Getting here is tricky, and it’s best to come with a tour or by 4×4.

However the views from the garden and along the way are nothing short of spectacular, and it is a highlight of any visit to Koh Samui.

Ang Thong National Marine Park

an thong national marine park

By Vincent (public domain)

It’s difficult to translate the breathtaking beauty of the Ang Thong National Marine Park into words.

Made up of a string of more than 40 tiny paradise islands, this national park is abundant in animal, plant and marine life owing to the incredible crystal waters with coral reefs, imposing jagged limestone cliffs, glittering sandy coves, lush tropical jungle, and dreamy azure lagoons.

Covering 102 kilometres, Ang Thong National Marine Park is a protected area, and as such visits here are strictly regulated.

The best way to visit the park is to join an organised day boat tour which hops from one heavenly location to the next, where you can then sunbathe, snorkel, hike and explore to your heart’s content.

Fisherman’s Village

Known for its mix of Chinese and Thai culture, the quaint fisherman’s village at Bophut on the north coast of Koh Samui was once home to Chinese settlers and Thai natives who settled here to make the most of the ocean’s bounty fishing off the shores of beautiful Bophut beach.

Traditional wooden houses and shops line the streets here, and the charm of the village has been attracting expats for decades.

Tourism is now the main occupation here, and the village now boasts quirky boutiques, a plethora of fantastic restaurants and bars, and posh hotels.

Every Friday there is an excellent evening market, and it’s an incredible spot to snaffle Thai and international street food, pick up handicrafts and souvenirs, and take in free live music and dance performances.

Thong Takian (Silver Beach)

koh samui beaches

By Koudkeu (CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

At only 250 metres long, Thong Takhian beach (also known as Silver Beach) may be small, but it is the perfect slice of beach paradise.

Although the beachfront is the location of a few luxury hotels, restaurants and bars, this stunning sandy bay on the east coast of Koh Samui remains relatively uncrowded and tranquil, and it’s a great destination for sea kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing, or a Thai massage underneath the shade of the leafy coconut palms.

Na Muang Waterfall

koh samui waterfall

By Maksim Sundukov (CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

A magnificent double cascade of tumbling water set amongst lush tropical foliage, Na Muang Waterfall is the most stunning waterfall on the island of Koh Samui.

Situated at the end of a path at the heart of the island not far from the Na Muang Safari Park, a 30 minute trek will take you to the highest point of the falls, which gush down the purple hued rocks from a height of 30 metres into the large pool below.

This is a favourite beauty spot and popular with tourist and locals who come here to admire the marvellous surroundings and take a dip in the cool waters.

Cooking Classes

cooking school koh samui

Outstanding cuisine is one of the best reasons for coming to Thailand, and the Thais really love to cook and share their culinary skills.

A great way to learn more about Thai food is to take part in a cooking class, so you can recreate the delicious dishes when you return home.

Koh Samui is home to many cookery schools, and one of the best is Ying’s Thai Cooking Class in Maret to the south east of the island. Small groups of students get the benefit of fun and friendly chef Ying’s traditional family style Thai cooking. Ying takes students on a tour of the local market and shares how the herbs and spices grow in her dad’s garden. This is followed by a class on how to prepare and cook four different typical Thai dishes. Courses are taught in English, last a full day (morning to late afternoon) and cost 2,400 THB per person.


Want some thrills and spills on the sea? Koh Samui is the ideal location for water sports.

There are many water sports schools and tour operators on the coast, who offer a wide range of activities.

Dive and snorkel to explore incredible marine life on coral reefs, zoom along the sparkling water on a jet ski or explore secret coves and hidden caves by sea kayak, float above the waves parasailing or kite surfing, or even jet pack or jetboard for an exhilarating experience.

Hin Ta and Hin Yai

koh samui hotels

Amusingly named for their appearance similar to wrinkly male and female genitalia, Hin Ta (Grandpa) and Hin Yai (Grandma) are two of many curious rock formations on Koh Samui’s south east coast between Lamai and Hua Thanon.

There are a few different local legends to explain away these formations, the most popular being the story of an elderly couple who, having decided that their son should marry took to the sea to find him a bride, only to be shipwrecked in a storm and their bodies washed ashore and turned to stone.

Luang Pordaeng at Wat Khunaram

Another of Koh Samui’s stranger tourist attractions, the temple of Wat Khunaram to the West of Hua Thanon on the south east coast is home to a rather macabre resident — the mummified remains of monk Luang Pordaen.

Luang famously possessed incredible meditation skills, and was in a state of deep meditation when he passed away at the age of 79.

It is possible that his body did not decompose due to the fact that he mostly abstained from eating or drinking, or perhaps it is simply due to his meditation technique.

His mummified remains are kept on display in a glass cabinet inside the temple.

Pink Elephant Samui Water Park

Whizzing down the whopping 12 metre tall speed Twister slide at Pink Elephant Samui Water Park is amazing fun for all ages.

Situated near Maenam Beach in the north of the island, this entertaining water world is enough to bring out the inner child in anyone, with numerous other slides including a Super Bowl slide, sea water wave pool and a crazy spiral slide.

For adults who just want to chill out while the kids run riot, there’s an adults only jacuzzi area with bar service where you can relax and unwind.

A restaurant and two beach bars can also be found on site.

Koh Samui Hotels

Conrad Koh Samui

conrad koh samui

Positioned on a secluded hill on the southwest tip of the island in between the shimmering cerulean sea and lush rainforests, the exclusive 5 star Conrad Koh Samui is an award winning resort boasting a collection of luxury villas with panoramic views, en suite rain showers and baths, state of the art in-room technology, and private pools.

The rampling resort sprawls over 25 acres, and benefits from a spa where guests can indulge in luxurious, holistic therapies on private secluded decks overlooking the Gulf of Thailand.

There is a well equipped on site fitness centre where you can hone your strength, and yoga classes are available on the beachside deck.

An impressive array of five restaurants and bars offer contemporary Thai and pan-Asian cuisine, Mediterranean delicacies, a poolside bar and grill, an elegant cocktail lounge, private wine cellar, and in-villa BBQ.

  • Infinity pool
  • Private pools
  • Fitness centre
  • Spa and wellness centre
  • Multiple dining options
  • Bar
  • Private beach

hotels in koh samui

SALA Samui Choengmon Beach Resort

hotels in koh samui

Located beachfront on Choeng Mon beach on the northeast corner of Koh Samui, 5 star SALA Samui Choengmon Beach Resort is a true luxury resort with over 80 metres of pristine beachfront and two oceanfront swimming pools.

Villas and suites feature private swimming pools, balconies or terraces, en suite open air bathrooms with rain showers and oversized baths, LCD TV 32”, home entertainment system and complimentary WiFi.

The resort’s spa is an oasis of beauty, calm and peace nestled in a lush landscape only steps from the beach, with a choice of private air conditioned treatment rooms or open-air massage salas floating over a beautiful lotus pond.

The award winning beachfront restaurants present international, southern Italian and Thai culinary delights using only the finest ingredients, and the beach bar is the perfect place to watch the sun go down whilst sipping on a cocktail.

Complimentary resort activities include yoga, sea kayaking, and paddle boarding.

  • Choice of restaurants
  • Bar
  • Two outdoor swimming pools
  • Private pools
  • Spa and wellness centre
  • Fitness centre

hotels in koh samui

The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui

koh samui weather

The 5 star Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui is a sanctuary of luxury nestling in a private sun-kissed white sand bay, next to the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

A shady coconut grove hosts 175 private villas and suites, each benefitting from soothing contemporary interiors with panoramic ocean or garden views.

Spacious villas offer private pools and terraces, en suite bathrooms, and the latest in-room entertainment systems.

Dining at the Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui is a sensory experience, with restaurants serving up innovative Asian and Western creations, plus freshly caught seafood and grilled specialties complemented by a superb selection of fine wines.

Cocktails can be enjoyed at the spectacular One Rai bar with fabulous views out across the sea. Relax and unwind at the spa with holistic and rejuvenating spa programmes inspired by the therapeutic properties of natural local ingredients and time honoured Thai healing practices.

  • Beachfront location
  • Swimming pool
  • Private pools
  • Choice of restaurants
  • Bar
  • Spa and wellness centre
  • Fitness centre

hotels in koh samui

Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui

where to stay in koh samui

Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is the perfect place to discover the idyllic island paradise of Koh Samui.

Just a short walk from the white sand beaches, this 5 star resort offers a taste of perfection with luxury private hillside villas shaded by swaying coconut palms and with wonderful ocean vistas.

Decorated in a southern Thai style with warm teak wood furnishings and art works by local artists, the stylish villas have private infinity pools, lavish outdoor bathrooms, large wood terraces, flat screen TVs ad complimentary high speed WiFi.

The Secret Garden Spa draws on the wisdom of ancient Thai traditions to bring guests a range of treatments to heal body and being. Yoga and Tai Chi classes are free of charge.

Guests can experience a gourmet paradise at the resort’s restaurants where fresh fish and exotic herbs are used to create refined Mediterranean, Thai, and Mexican dishes.

The three chic bars offer a bounty of choreographed cocktails, fine wines, and a vast selection of rum in the Rum Vault.

  • Tropical hillside location
  • Swimming pool
  • Private pools and terraces
  • Multiple restaurants
  • Choice of bars
  • Spa and wellness centre
  • Fitness centre
  • Private beach

hotels in koh samui

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