Koh Samui, Thailand Travel Guide: Top Things to Do and See in Koh Samui
Koh Samui, lovingly referred to as “Samui Island” is a true tropical paradise. The island is famously frequented by people celebrating their honeymoons, is great for family holidays and provides the perfect backdrop for backpackers. Koh Samui has something for everyone.
Chaweng Beach - Is one of the busiest beaches on the island. Conveniently located on and around many established accommodation and nightlife spots, Chaweng is best suited to travellers who want to experience the island life without scarifying too much of western comforts.
Lamai Beach - Is the second-largest resort and beach area in Samui. Naturally a quieter beach, Lamai beach is where many locals and ex-pats frequent for a true “laidback” vibe. With a variety of cheap and cheerful restaurants and spa treatments available on the beach front, defiantly check this beach out if you want to avoid all the tourists.
Bophut Beach - Is an area where the majority of people come to shop and relax. A modern beach with French decor influences, it’s buildings and shops surround the beach front whilst the famous Bophut Fishermans Village provides all the essentials you need to have a great day and evening with live entertainment and plenty of restaurants all lined along the beach.
Maenam Beach - Is primary known as the “backpacker beach” and is frequented by digital nomads and backpack travellers. Maenam beach is catered towards this type of travellers and therefore accommodation in and around the beach reflect the pricing and overall atmosphere. However don’t let this put you off - Maenam beach is the perfect little getaway if you want to truly escape, with fan bungalows lined along the beach and with limited technology devices and ports available, this beach can you offer you your own private getaway.
Choeng Mon Beach - Is one of the best established beaches that cater to a higher price point in terms of accommodation, dining and spa resorts all located close by. A popular spot for honeymoons, weddings and activities, Choeng Mon beach boasts three to five star in-house resorts and is the perfect location for quality on demand services and total privacy with no tourists or top attractions to distract you.
Lipa Noi Beach - Is the main port to enter Koh Samui if you want to drive around the island or prefer to take the boat to arrive to the island instead of a plane. This beach is the only one in Samui that is dominated by stones, pebbles and very shallow waters. The beach and area overall is very secluded and is best suited to travellers who want to rent a private villa nearby.
Places To Visit
There are plenty of things to see and do on in Koh Samui, yet many opt to relax and Samui provides the opportunity for just that. The main attractions on the island are as follows:
Big Buddha - One of the most famous landmarks in Samui, the Big Buddha sits on top of a mountain overlooking the island and can be seen from several kilometres away. This iconic landmark is home to a temple where monks resides within the temple as well as some friendly dogs and cats. There is a strip of local shops that house trinkets and little mementoes to buy to signify your trip. The best time to head to the Big Buddha is first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds and get the best photos.
Bophut Fisherman’s Village - A walking street market happens every Friday at Fisherman’s Village which attracts tourists alike with loud music, shop fronts spill onto the street and alley ways to walk down with locals entice you to buy and try clothes on. The market tends to be a place that attracts families and older couples so you will notice many of the shop vendors cater to this hoping to get some baht. The best advantage to walking the village is that you get to walk, see and dine on the beach providing picturesque views and a memory you won't forget.
Hin Ta and Hin Yai - Perhaps one of the most odd attraction to see in Samui from first glance but the Hin Ta and His Yai rocks situated on the south coast of Samui is a respected space on the island and has many myths and legends attached to them. The rocks are known as Grandpa (Ta) and Grandma (Yai) and are a representation of male and female genitalia. Their appearance gives mixed emotions to the crowds who visit yet much to the unusual setting, this historic tourist attraction should be visited if only just once.
Wat Plai Laem - Wat Plai Laem is a Buddhist temple located in Koh Samui's north-east coast of Samui. Wat Plai Laem temple hosts Guanyin and the Buddha, statues that showcase Koh Samui's ever present and strong Thai-Chinese heritage. Wat Plai Laem provides your the opportunity to learn a little more about Thai culture as well as witness the locals praying.
Bike Rental - The most fun way to get around the island is by bike and there are plenty of bike rentals for hire for a little as 500 baht a day. Most bike rental shops will ask for some sort of id and a deposit, if you are renting for longer than a day always air on the side of caution; never give your passport as a form of id and always get a written contract or acknowledgment of the lease of the bike. Many bike shops in Samui are laid back but always make sure to be safe rather than sorry and test drive the bike first to make sure you are comfortable riding it - for example will you get an automatic or manual bike? Always make sure that you take pictures or a video of the bike before you drive away so you have evidence of the condition of the bike so when you bring it back the owner cannot accuse you of damaging the bike.
Animal Cruelty - Elephant & Tiger Shows - There are two “attractions” on the island that are catered to tourists for elephant rides and tiger shows. Do not support these traders or shows. The animals within these establishments are badly treated and are often chained, hungry and suffering from cruelty for which the staff regularly beat the animals and they wont hesitate to do this in front of you. These shows and rides are very detrimental to not only the animals but to you, if you pay to see these shows you are saying to the Thai businesses owners that it is ok to continue this demand for tourists.
Boat / Tour Guides - There are many tour shops around the island which offer tour guides and boat trips yet it is best to avoid these shops as the price points are extremely expensive and it is all up to chance on the day. For example a private boat ride to see pink dolphins is £500 however the dolphins are very rare to see and you will still have to pay the full amount for the trip regardless if you see them or not. The best way to see the attractions is by renting a bike or car and driving to the attractions or hiring a local guide direct from your hotel. You still will be paying an inflated price for this guide but they are more trustworthy.
Best Times To Visit - If you are on your honeymoon and want some peace whilst enjoying the island the best time to visit is in low season October to November time however do be careful as it is technically the winter period during this time so expect rain on days. For families and backpack holidays the best time to visit for all things sun and fun is the shoulder season between February to September.