Koh Samui was one of my favourite islands in Thailand (along with Koh Tao). What I love the most about it is its diversity. It is more than just a party island (much like what Koh Phi Phi is) or scuba diving/snorkeling hotspot (much like what Koh Tao is). It’s big enough to be able to enjoy the island life of being on the beach, but also be able to explore a bit more inland and get a better feel of local life on the island. Out of all of the islands that we stayed on, Koh Samui was the only one where we were able to experience local Thai life away for the touristy areas. The others really did feel like one big tourist hotspot.
With the island being quite big, there is a lot to get up to and loads to explore. We spent three nights on Koh Samui, and managed to get around a fair bit.
Here is my list of the top 10 things to do on Koh Samui.
1. Hire a scooter
The easiest way to get around the island is to hire your own scooter (or 4×4 if you’re up for it). It gives you so much flexibility to travel around where ever you want, and explore at your own pace. It’s also much cheaper than using Tuk Tuk’s or taxi’s to take you from place to place.
When planning your route, make sure to travel along the coastline of the island to get the best views. Be warned about the hills though, they do sneak up on you every now and then so just be ready to put foot to get over the hill.
2. Beach hop
There are so many beaches around the island. Spend a day hopping between a few (this is where it helps to have your own scooter). Just drive along the coastline and lookout for beach signs (they aren’t always so easy to spot, so be imaginative in what you think they may look like).
Some of the main beaches to visit include Chaweng, Coral Cove (we loved this beach!) and Lamai – these ones will most likely be full, so be sure to look out for the smaller ones too.
3. Visit Angthong National Marine Park
Book a day trip to visit Angthong National Marine Park. The part is made up of 42 islands, the park is a protected area of more than 100 square kilometres of land and sea.
There are many different day trips from Koh Samui to the park that include snorkeling, hiking, kayaking and island exploring. You can also spend the night on one of the islands in a bungalow – I wish we had done this!
4. Visit the Secret Buddha Garden
The Secret Buddha garden is located at the top of the hill in the middle of Koh Samui. It is the most beautifully peaceful garden filled with statues and temples surrounded by the jungle. You can either join a tour that will include the garden as one of the stops or you can venture up on your own (a scooter will make it the top!). Read more about our experience in the garden.
5. Visit the waterfalls
If you’re going to visit the Secret Buddha Garden then make sure to also stop at the waterfalls along the way, including the Na Muang Waterfall.
6. Get a Thai massage
Okay, you can get these all over Thailand, but you might as well get one while you’re here. Get your relax on with a Thai massage!
7. Visit Big Buddha
Stop by the Big Buddha, it’s a great sight to see and there are also some great views from the top.
8. Eat and shop at Chaweng Walking Street
We stayed along Chaweng Beach and were excited to find the Chaweng Walking Street that opened up each evening. There are loads of food stalls, serving a variety of dishes including both Thai and Western foods, as well as a few market stalls selling clothes, jewelry and other trinkets. It’s not quite a local food market as it is more tourist skewed, but its still cheaper than the restaurants and all of the food we had there was delicious.
9. Party on the beach
The Chaweng beach is alive at night. There are quite a few bars all with their own entertainment (usually involving fire dancers) along the beach, so you’re able to hop around until you find your spot for the night. There are also guys walking up and down the beaches selling the Chinese Lanterns (DON’T BUY THESE! They pollute the ocean) and fireworks.
Chaweng Beach is also a great spot to watch the planes taking off from the Koh Samui airport, find the right spot on the beach to have the planes fly right over you as they take off – it’s an amazing feeling.
10. Enjoy a romantic dinner on the beach
There are loads of hotels along the beach, all with their own restaurants right on the beach. They all have very romantic setups for couples to enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach.
If your budget doesn’t quite extend to fancy hotel dinners, then go get some dinner from the market and find a quiet spot on the beach to enjoy – it’ll be just as romantic :).
Photos by Michael Langer.