Exploring Koh Samui Where to Stay How to get around How to get to Koh Samui
Should you visit Koh Samui?
Koh Samui is Thailand’s second-largest island (Phuket takes the crown) and is situated in the Gulf of Thailand alongside Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Just like it’s 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.
Unsurprisingly, Koh Samui is also one of the more developed islands in Thailand and even has its own airport, Samui Airport (USM).
Don’t be deterred by the development and higher prices though, the island still has much to offer with its amazing sights and beaches!
Also read: Top 10 Things to Do in Koh Samui
Where to stay on Koh Samui
The island is a bit like a genie, it can grant whatever you desire, whether it be a luxury resort or a budget bungalow.
With a mixture of accommodation in most locations the choice of where to stay really is yours.
Location #1: Chaweng – the place with great shopping, restaurants and nightlife
First up is Chaweng Beach. Situated in the northeast corner of the island, it’s close to Samui Airport, making it super accessible.
Once you’ve reached Chaweng you don’t really ever have to leave!
Being the most developed area on the island, it has everything you’ll need, from a huge shopping complex, lively bars to restaurants catering to every taste.
We also couldn’t go without mentioning the 7 km long fine white sand beach which despite being popular still manages to preserve a tranquil and relaxing feel.
Location #2: Lamai Beach – it has pretty much everything you need
If hordes of humans in one place aren’t your thing, then Lamai Beach could be a good substitute for you.
It still captures the upbeat vibe of its northerly neighbour, Chaweng, but on a smaller scale. The area still offers plenty of entertainment, with all your necessary conveniences nearby.
You’ll easily find ways to occupy your nights in one of the many beachside bars or restaurants offering great dining.
Location #3: Bophut – the best of the new and the old
Bophut, on the north coast, is a brilliant blend of the old and the new, giving you a glimpse into the history of the island.
This fisherman’s village has taken on a cosmopolitan feel due to the boutique shops and chic restaurants. The 2 km beach is split with the east side hosting a scattering of cheaper hotels whilst the west features those 5-star luxury resorts most of us can only dream of.
How to get around Koh Samui
Due to how developed Koh Samui is, it’s probably one of the easiest islands to travel around. You will find taxis, songthaews, motorbikes, and even ride sharing apps such as Grab or Navigo.
Songthaews are pick-up style trucks with benches in the back which are able to fit between 8-10 people. These essentially act as Koh Samui’s bus service.
Koh Samui has a main ring road that covers 51 km and goes through most major best towns with the exception of Choeng Mon. This makes them a great option to get around the island.
To use a Songthaew all you have to do is hail one down from the side of the road and check that it’s going to your intended destination. Once you’re near where you want to be, you simply ring the bell inside or ask the driver to stop. Pay the driver and enjoy your day!
You’ll find taxis almost everywhere across Koh Samui, just roaming the streets waiting for their next passenger.
Unlike other Thai islands, ride sharing apps like Grab are available. We highly recommend using a ride sharing app first before a conventional taxi as prices can sometimes be up to 30% cheaper!
Renting a motorbike or car
You can also rent a car or a motorbike and drive yourself around the island, but be sure to have your international driver’s license with you and be aware of the local road laws.
A motorbike at 250 THB ($7)–300 THB ($8.50)/day is significantly cheaper than a car at around 800 THB ($23)/day depending on the car, but you certainly compromise on comfort.
How to get to Koh Samui
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Bangkok||1hr 10min-15.5 hours||from 760 THB ($21.50)||Bangkok to Koh Samui|
|Koh Phangan||30-90 minutes||from 205 THB ($5.50)||Koh Phangan to Koh Samui|
|Koh Samui Airport||15 minutes-1 hour||from 100 THB ($2.80)||Koh Samui Airport to Koh Samui|
|Koh Tao||1hr 30m||from 625 THB ($18)||Koh Tao to Koh Samui|
Our favourite places to stay in Koh Samui
If you’re looking for a fun and social atmosphere, this is the perfect hostel! On-site swimming pool, bar and lounge area for socializing with other travelers. Extremely close to the beach, restaurants, bars and all amenities. The hostel offers very comfortable beds and is extremely clean. The hostel staff is very friendly and will assist with arranging tours and forward travel plans.
- Swimming pool
- Social atmosphere
- Comfortable beds
Single bunk starts at $9 per night
The Rock Hostel
If you’re traveling alone but prefer a little more luxury and a quiet place then The Rock Hostel is a perfect choice. This hostel offers private beach access with lounge chairs, a swimming pool, and stunning sea views. The location is perfect, the hostel is quiet and relaxing and the staff is amazing. Treat yourself to a few days of luxury and relaxation here.
- Private beach
- Swimming pool
- Excellent location
- Extremely clean and comfortable
Single bunk starts at $15
Aforetime Beach House
This adults-only beach house located in Taling Ngam Beach comes with countless recommendations. The beds are extremely comfortable, the hostel is very clean and a small breakfast of fruit with bread and jam is provided daily. There is an on-site bar, lounge and bbq area and the beach is right next door. The host is known to be exceptionally friendly, even taking guests on tours or dropping them off at the pier on departure day.
- Extremely helpful staff
- Breakfast included
- Very comfortable beds
- Beach nearby
Single room starts at $20 per night
Palm Coco Mantra
Located on a hill, this hotel offers amazing sea views from your private balcony and room. The outdoor pool is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a drink from the on-site bar. The restaurant offers a variety of western and Thai food to choose from. This hotel is the perfect getaway for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Swimming pool
- Stunning sea views
- On-site restaurant & bar
- Extremely clean, luxury hotel
Private rooms start at $33
Pico Beach Bungalows
These beautiful beachfront bungalows, located at the Bophut area of Koh Samui, are an absolute luxury! Relish in the privacy these bungalows offer while still being just steps from the beach. There is an on-site swimming pool, bar, beachfront restaurant and a lovely terrace for guests to enjoy. Soak up the luxury, stunning views and comforts this resort has to offer.
- Swimming pool
- On-site bar and restaurant
- Private bungalow
Private bungalows start at $46
About the author(s)
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.
We are sorry that this post didn't meet your expectations.
Your feedback is very valueable to us
What was missing in this post? (TIP: If you want us to reply to your feedback, you can leave your email in this text box.)