Should you visit Koh Samui?
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 ($6.50)–300 THB ($8.00)/day is significantly cheaper than a car at around 800 THB ($22.00)/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 ($21.00)||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 ($2.70)||Koh Samui Airport to Koh Samui|
|Koh Tao||1hr 30m||from 625 THB ($17.00)||Koh Tao to Koh Samui|
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 a number of 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 actually 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.