Koh Samui is an island located in the Gulf of Thailand, on the east coast of Southern Thailand. Koh Samui is the third biggest island in Thailand and the largest in an archipelago of more than 80 islands that includes the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a park featuring limestone pinnacles covered with rainforest and turquoise waters around them.
Koh Samui is one of the most popular destinations to visit in Thailand. The island has wonderful nature, beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear seas, stunning viewpoints, beautiful temples, and various tourist activities like scuba diving, cooking courses and others.
Beaches in Koh Samui
There are many beautiful beaches in Koh Samui. There are busy and lively beaches offering various activities and quieter beaches that are ideal for relaxation.
Chaweng, 5 km long beach in the northeast corner of Koh Samui, is the largest and most lively beach on the island, with a wide range of accommodation, activities, restaurants and busy nightlife. Chaweng is by far the most popular beach on the island and a bustling beach town which is the place to go for shopping, dining and partying. This fine white sand beach leads into a beautifully clear sea and is lined with numerous resorts surrounded by palm trees.
Lamai is the second in popularity beach and resort town south of Chaweng. This beach is a bit more laidback but offers a similar feel, as there are plenty of good dining, entertainment and accommodation options as well as active nightlife on Lamai Beach.
Mae Nam is a chilled out and beautiful beach on the northern coast of Koh Samui. Facing Koh Phangan, Mae Nam Beach is a great place for relaxing and taking it easy on a nice beach. A long stretch of impressive white sandy beach, calm waters and terrific views of surroundings make Mae Nam a perfect place for people who want to get away from everything.
Bophut is a laid-back palm-fringed beach on the northern coast of Koh Samui known for its Fisherman's Village which boasts well-preserved old Thai-Chinese shop-houses. This stunning 2 km long beach is a good choice if you want to stay on the beach which isn’t too busy or too quiet.
Bang Rak is a north-eastern beach, also known as Big Buddha Beach. There’s a huge golden Buddha at the end of the beach, giving the name to it. The beach is quiet but close to everything – nightlife of Chaweng, shopping of Fisherman’s Village, Koh Samui Airport and the ferry to Haad Rin on Koh Phangan.
Bang Po is a rarely visited beach in the north-western corner of Koh Samui. The beach stretches for about 4 km, offering nice views of Koh Phangan.
Lipa Noi is a great and underrated beach south of Nathon, the administrative centre of the island. The beach offers spectacular sunsets.
Nathon is the main port and administrative centre of Koh Samui. Even if it’s not that attractive for tourists, Nathon still can be a great place to visit, especially for shopping. The main ferry pier, connecting the island with Donsak pier on the mainland as well as Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, is located here.
Attractions in Koh Samui
Koh Samui can be used as a base for exploring the Ang Thong National Marine Park and the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. The Park and the islands are just a speed boat or ferry trip away from Koh Samui.
Ang Thong National Marine Park
Taking a boat to Ang Thong National Marine Park is a perfect day trip. This fascinating archipelago of 42 islands is located northwest of Koh Samui. When kayaking or sailing around the Ang Thong National Marine Park you can enjoy a breath-taking panorama of the surrounding limestone islands covered with jungle and their white sandy beaches.
Koh Phangan is an island off the northern coast of Koh Samui. The island is known for its world famous full moon parties, white sand beaches and coconut trees. If you like crazy beach parties, you should join the crowd of 20,000 partygoers on the white sand of Haad Rin's Sunrise Beach under the full moon. Otherwise you can visit one of many nice beaches and secluded beaches of Koh Phangan.
Koh Tao is located further north from Koh Phangan. The island’s natural underwater beauty, its kaleidoscopic coral reefs and abundant marine life in clear waters makes Koh Tao an unforgettable destination for divers. The island is one of the best places in the world to learn diving.
Temples of Koh Samui
The most important temple in the island is Wat Phra Yai, home of Big Buddha - 12 meter tall seated golden Buddha image. Another remarkable temple in Koh Samui is Wat Khunaram - temple famous for the 20-year-old mummified monk in meditation position kept on display here.
Nightlife in Koh Samui
The most active nightlife and biggest beach parties are taking place at Chaweng.
Soi Green Mango is the centre of Koh Samui’s nightlife with a few nightclubs, beer bars and couple of go-go bars.
You will find a number of cabarets in Koh Samui, near the Centara Grand Beach Resort on Chaweng Beach. Most of them are ladyboy cabarets that can be a fun form of entertainment.
Most probably you will notice 'girls' handing out flyers on the main street of Chaweng and trying to drag you to come and enjoy their show.
Where to Stay in Koh Samui
Koh Samui is one of the most popular destinations to visit in Thailand and a wide variety of places to stay on the island is one of the reasons for that. If you like activities and entertainment, you should stay at Chaweng Beach or Lamai Beach. If you want to stay on the beach which isn’t too busy or too quiet, you should opt for Bophut Beach or Bang Rak Beach. If you want the atmosphere to be quiet and relaxing you should stay at Mae Nam Beach, Bang Po Beach or Lipa Noi Beach.
How to get to Koh Samui?
Ferries to Koh Samui
Buses to Koh Samui
For reaching Koh Samui, you need to take a bus to Chumphon or Surat Thani. There are regular bus services from Bangkok Southern (Sai Tai Mai) Bus Terminal to both Chumphon or Surat Thani. Buying a combined bus and ferry ticket usually a good option.
Trains to Koh Samui
Chumphon and Surat Thani can also be reached by train. Southern Line trains leaving Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station stop at Chumphon and Surat Thani. It is possible to buy a combined train-bus-ferry ticket.
Flights to Koh Samui
The island has its own airport - Koh Samui Airport (USM). But this airport is private and low cost airlines don't fly here making direct flights to Koh Samui quite pricy.
There are two other airports that can be used for travelling to Koh Samui - Surat Thani Airport (URT) and Chumphon Airport (CJM). There are plenty of domestic flights serving these airports so you will never be short of options when combining your flight with a ferry trip to Koh Samui. Airlines offer combined flight-bus-ferry ticket but buying a bus-ferry ticket at the airport usually is the cheapest option.
Weather in Koh Samui
From January to March you can expect good weather in Koh Samui, with little if any rain, and refreshing winds helping to keep temperatures more moderate. From March, temperature starts to rise, usually reaching peak levels in April and May.
In May and June a little rain is expected, usually in the form of an hour-long afternoon shower, clearing the way for more blue skies and bright sunshine. In September the monsoon is expected, bringing plenty of rainfall and a rise in humidity. Rainfall usually peaks between October and November.
For the best time to visit the island check our Koh Samui weather ratings chart.
You are planning to continue your trip up north or to visit island on the West Coast after visiting Koh Samui? Check when is the best time to visit Thailand's other destinations and choose destination with the best possible weather conditions.