Just like its neighbours, Koh Samui is surrounded by stunning, white-sand beaches and endless activities. This makes the island an extremely popular destination, attracting a wide audience, from budget backpackers to wealthy holidaymakers.
Koh Samui is also a popular island due to the abundance of things to do here! You can spend your days living it up as a beach bum, exploring the jungle and underwater worlds or immersing yourself in the Thai culture.
Don’t have time to read the whole article? Here are some of the top activities to do whilst on Koh Samui:
Keep on reading if you want to find out everything you can do during your stay on Koh Samui!
New to Koh Samui? Our compact Koh Samui guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Koh Samui!
#1 Diving, snorkelling, kayaking…the list of watersport activities goes on
You can’t stop dreaming of exploring that warm, tropical sea? Neither can we, and Koh Samui definitely doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its sea-based activities.
Kayaking, diving, and snorkelling are among the most popular activities, with SUP, jet skiing and sailing close on their heels.
Diving on Koh Samui
If you want to take your adventures to new depths, you will find countless diving companies on the island where you can embark on a PADI course. The water around Koh Samui is teeming with vibrant marine life and evolving underwater landscapes. With visibility between 3-30 metres, it’s a great diving and snorkelling spot.
PRO TIP: While Koh Samui offers amazing diving sites, it can’t beat the neighbouring island of Koh Tao. Check out our island guide of Koh Tao to see why it is often called Thailand’s mecca for diving.
#2 Explore Koh Samui’s best beaches
It’s no surprise that Koh Samui is so popular when it has 50 km of coastline that’s dotted with over 40 picturesque and powdery white-sand beaches.
Most beaches offer a range of accommodation, from resorts oozing with luxury, to cheap and cheerful bungalows, no matter which one you pick.
Chaweng Beach (northeast of Koh Samui)
It’s not a coincidence that the most popular resort area on Koh Samui also has one of the most idyllic beaches on the island.
The delicate white sands making up Chaweng beach are encased by rocky headlines and bordered by picture-perfect palm trees.
Exploring the offshore reef gives you the perfect opportunity to work up an appetite that you can then satisfy at one of the many restaurants and beach bars lining the beach.
Taling Ngam (westcoast of Koh Samui)
If you’re looking for tranquility and seclusion from your trip to Koh Samui, then you’ve pretty much found it in Taling Ngam beach.
The beach offers a front row, intimate showing of the glorious sunset each night as the sun retires for the day. Even better, the backdrop to this stunning spectacle is Ang Thong Marine Park. Now that’s got to take some beating!
With the nearest sizable town, Nathon, a 20-30 minute drive away you’ll get to experience peace and seclusion which is fast becoming scarce in this world.
Bang Por (southwest of Koh Samui)
Bang Por holds the crown for the longest stretch of sand on the island, reaching an impressive 11 km of uninterrupted pristine sand.
This beach adds a tropical touch to your visit, creating an off the beaten track vibe whilst still providing a reasonable selection of restaurants and bars. The seafood is a real winner here!
Only 5-10 minutes away from the less sleepy village of Maenam and capital town of Nathon, Bang Por is a great beach to add into your day trip plans.
#3 Take a boat trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park
This park is a protected archipelago of 42 islands featuring limestone mountains, lush jungles, white-sand beaches, waterfalls, and hidden lakes. It’s almost too much to fit in a sentence, let alone a day.
One of the highlights of this 100 square meters marine park is Ko Mae Ko Island, where you’ll find the Emerald Lake. An enchanting mint blue lagoon that looks just unreal and is also strictly off limits for anyone wanting to take a swim in the lake. We promise just admiring this natural beauty is enough!
How to book a tour to Ang Thong
You can book the Ang thong National Park Day Tour from Koh Samui for only 945 THB ($29.55) and 475 THB ($14.85) for children. This also includes a light breakfast and a buffet lunch. You’ll definitely be hungry after all the swimming and exploring during the boat tour.
Camping at Ang Thong National Park Day
If you feel like just spending the day at Ang Thong Marine Park isn’t enough, you can also book a boat trip that includes overnight camping in one of the few basic bungalows or tents at Ko Wua Talap. Just be aware that you’ll need to book this in advance as the number of bungalows and tents are very limited!
There’s nothing better than waking up to the sound of the birds chirping and the waves crashing rhythmically on the beach.
Ang Thong National Marine Park Fee
Whichever tour company you book with, bear in mind that the park entrance fee of 300 THB (150 THB for children) isn’t included in the initial price.
#4 Take a walk back in time at the Fisherman’s Village
Sometimes there’s nothing better strolling through foreign streets, absorbing the sights and sounds of a new and exciting place. Fisherman’s Village is definitely a place you can stroll for hours without even realising!
While you can visit any day of the week, Friday night is a must. The street is closed to all vehicles and becomes a bustling Walking Street lined with shops, restaurants, bars and all things Koh Samui has to offer.
While many of the fisherman no longer live in the village, they bring their daily catch to the restaurants here, making it the perfect place to sample the freshest seafood.
#5 Head to Wat Phra Yai to see Koh Samui’s Big Buddha
Situated just off the northeast coast, on a little island connected to Koh Samui is the famous Big Buddha.
The sight is much more than just a photo opportunity. Take the time to admire the hours of work now reflected in the delicate and intricate detail of the statue. Standing at 12 metres tall it’s difficult to not be awestruck by this spectacular Buddha made from gold.
Reminder: Do keep in mind that this is a religious site, so act and dress respectfully. A great rule of thumb for most temples in Thailand is for both sexes to have their shoulders and knees covered.
#6 Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Koh Samui
Wat Plai Laem is a modern working Buddhist temple that cleverly replicates centuries old art techniques. It features a 18-arm statue of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion alongside a large white Chinese Buddha. The extravagant and vibrant details create a sight you can’t miss.
Both are surrounded by a lake teeming with fish thoughtlessly going about their days. If you like, in return for making a small donation to the temple, you are given a bag of food to feed the fish.
#7 Visit some questionably shaped rocks – Hin Ta and Hin Yai
Also known as Grandpa and Grandma rock, it’s not the name that has made these rocks famous.
You can’t help but notice that these strangely shaped rocks closely resemble male and female genitalia. It’s hard to not let out that childish giggle when admiring these natural phenomena.
We shouldn’t be surprised, it is Thailand afterall.
However, there’s more! According to folklore, the rocks were formed after a couple’s boat was flipped during a storm. Unable to swim, they both sadly died and were transformed into the rocks on Koh Samui.
#8 Wander through the world of waterfalls at Nu Muang
There’s definitely something magical about waterfalls, and Koh Samui is one place that’s not short on one of Mother Nature’s best creations.
Taking the top spot for most picturesque has to be the Na Muang falls. Even better, you get double the fun as there’s not one, but two waterfalls to explore here.
The first wall of water cascading from the jungle is no more than 100 metres from the car park – Na Muang Waterfall 1. The first one can get a little busy, so it’s definitely worth the extra 20-30 minute walk to reach Na Maung 2.
Something we all love to hear is that the park featuring the waterfalls is free. There’s also a selection of small vendors selling food and drink for when you fancy a break from your exploration.
#9 Sneak off to the Secret Buddha Garden
Cocooned by the lush tropical jungle, at the centre of Koh Samui you’ll find the Secret Buddha Garden.
This peaceful oasis began in 1976 when an old Samui fruit farmer began filling his land with various statues and temples depicting animals, humans and deities. A huge accomplishment and wonderful creation, Khun Nim continued his work until the respectable age of 91!
Accessibility to the location isn’t great. The steep and bumpy road makes for a difficult journey for most vehicles unless you’re in a 4 wheeled drive. However, once you reach the top, the panoramic views of Koh Samui reward any traveller determined enough to make the drive.
#10 Join in the festivities and annual traditions of Koh Samui
Koh Samui hosts plenty of annual festivals including the Samui Regatta, Songkran (water festival) and a Full Moon Party.
The Samui Regatta usually occurs in May and is the biggest regatta of its kind in all of Asia and attracts visitors from all over the world. During this event, yachts race across the turquoise sea, utilising the power of the wind.
Like lots of other places in Thailand, Koh Samui also takes part in Songkran which celebrates the new year by throwing water on each other. This symbolises the ridding of any bad luck as the new year begins. It’s virtually impossible to avoid getting wet, so as they say – if you can’t beat them, join them
Not what you would expect 9,000 km away from Germany, but Koh Samui has been celebrating Oktoberfest since 2004. Now hosted at Nikki Beach Resort, the festival delights visitors with lederhosen, bratwursts and a flood load of beer!
Potentially helping to make you feel better about drinking your body weight in beer, the festival is used to raise money to buy equipment for local schools and other good causes.
Check out how to get to Koh Samui from other destinations in Thailand!
Palm Coco Mantra - Budget Friendly
Located on a hill, Palm Coco Mantra offers amazing sea views from your private balcony and room. The spectacular views continue at the swimming pool which also overlooks the beach. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a drink from a poolside bar.
Definitely try the onsite restaurant serving delicious Western and Thai food. This hotel is the perfect getaway for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation, without having to break the bank!
- Swimming pool
- Stunning sea views
- On-site restaurant & bar
- Extremely clean and luxurious hotel
Private rooms start from $28 per night.
Three Trees Samui Resort - Mid Range
Three Trees Samui Resort is located right on Lamai Beach. You can eat, drink and swim only metres from the beach and sparkling ocean. Or you can enjoy the view from your private balcony. The location is perfect!
One of the best things about the resort is that they offer free kayaks, paddle boards and snorkelling gear to explore the waters. The staff are incredible and make you feel right at home.
- Seconds from the beach
- Free watersports
- Amazing staff
- Private balcony
Private rooms start from $31 per night.
Baan Boom Boxes - Mid Range
Baan Boom Boxes is an eco-friendly resort offering a unique stay in Koh Samui. If you want to experience a different side of the island, head to this jungle retreat. Every room has its own rooftop balcony offering spectacular views of the island’s nature. Some of them even have a bathtub on the roof!
The family who own the resort are conscious of their impact on the environment so the resort uses solar panels and reused materials to create the rooms. It’s truly a special place to visit.
- Family run and amazing hospitality
- Surrounded by nature
- Bathtub on a private rooftop terrace
Private rooms start from $35 per night.
Viva Vacation Resort - Treating Yourself
Steps away from Lipa Beach, Viva Vacation Resort offers Thai-style villas set within tropical gardens. And the villas are HUGE! Everyone has its own living room, bedroom and some of the biggest bathrooms that have bathrooms which come with a view!
Outside of the luxurious villas, you’ll find a gorgeous swimming pool, a fully-stocked bar and a section of the beach for the resort. This is the place to relax!
- Stunning and huge villages
- The best bathrooms on the island
- Beautiful swimming pool
- Steps from the beach
Villas start from $64 per night.
Centara Reserve Samui - Treating Yourself
There are several luxury resorts to choose from on Koh Samui, but Centara Reserve Samui is up there with the best. This is the kind of place where you don’t have to lift a finger — some of the villas even come with your own host to help you with anything.
You’ll find multiple dreamy beachfront pools, with some of the villas having private pools too. A stay here kind of feels like a dream, it’s so beautiful and perfect!
- An incredible luxury resort
- Exceptional villas
- Beachfront pools
- Some rooms come with a personal host
Deluxe suites start from $230 per night.
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Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.