Koh Samui beach view

The Ultimate Koh Samui Travel Guide

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How to get there | Secret Escapes

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

Chaweng Beach at Koh Samui
Swim, Dine, repeat! At Chaweng Beach you won’t be bored for a second

First up is Chaweng beach. Situated in the northeast corner of the island, it’s close to the 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 7km 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

Lamai Beach coast on Koh Samui
Crystal clear waters at the more peaceful Lamai Beach

If hordes of humans in one place aren’t your thing, then Lamai 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

Fisherman Village near Bophut beach, Koh Samui
Tourist strolling along the main street of Bophut, also known as the Fisherman’s Village

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 2km 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 the island 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.

Songthaew

Inside of Songthaew in Thailand
Inside seating of a Songthaew

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 51km 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!

Taxi

Grab Taxi in Thailand
Getting around Koh Samui by Grab Taxi

You’ll find taxis almost everywhere across the island, 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

Motorbike on Koh Samui
Travellers driving a motorbike on the urban parts of Koh Samui

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 250-300 THB/day is significantly cheaper than a car at around 800 THB/day depending on the car, but you certainly compromise on comfort.

How to get to Koh Samui?

Leaving fromDurationPrices fromSee details
Bangkok1hr 15mins-18.5 hours760 THB-2,650 THB ($25-$87)Bangkok to Koh Samui
Koh Phangan30mins220 THB ($7.50)Koh Phangan to Koh Samui
Koh Samui Airport15mins-1hr100 THB-1,000 THB ($3.30-$33)Koh Samui Airport to Koh Samui
Koh Tao2hrs550 THB ($18)Koh Tao to Koh Samui
  Hotel

Our favourite places to stay in Koh Samui


UBOX Hostel

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
  • Bar 
  • Social atmosphere
  • Comfortable beds

Single bunk starts at $9 per night 

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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

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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

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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 

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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. 

  • Beachfront
  • Swimming pool
  • On-site bar and restaurant
  • Private bungalow 

Private bungalows start at $46 

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