Ko Samui is so big, we've split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Ko Samui as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don't know where to start? Read an overview of Ko Samui's different areas.
Ko Samui is packed with things to do — so many that it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re on your first visit here. To help out those who are planning a trip, here’s our selection of must-do activities.
Get on the water
There’s no better way to see an island than from the water. Samui has several boat tour companies, ranging from cheap longtail boat trips, to luxury sailing boats. Explore the Ang Thong National Marine Park, circumnavigate the island, or visit the Five Islands. The Gulf of Thailand’s waters are also calm, so you’re not likely to get seasick. And if you are on a very tight budget, there’s always a kayak for 200 baht per hour to rent. Stand-up paddle-boarding has also become popular.
Get in the water
The islands surrounding Samui offer great diving opportunities, particularly near Ko Tao. Several dive operators do day trips to the best dive spots. If you prefer to snorkel, take a longtail boat trip to Ko Tan and Ko Matsum off Tong Krut in the south of the island.
A great way to remember your island experience is learning to cook the local cuisine. By far the best cooking school on the island is SITCA (Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts). This is a hands-on cooking class, and ingredients and methods are explained in detail.
Get to the beach
Whether it’s a busy, festive beach you’re after, or seclusion to enjoy your book alone under a palm tree, you’ll find it on Samui. Sometimes a mix of the two is good. Spend a day on Chaweng, people-watching, sipping cocktails and listening to DJs, and then head to the southern or western shores for the quiet beaches away from the crowds. We’ve covered the island’s beaches before.
Tour some temples
If you’ve been to other areas of Thailand you may be disappointed in Samui’s temples, but several are well worth a visit. Remember to dress respectfully.
Get a massage
Whether you can afford a pampering session at a five-star resort’s spa or just a 250 baht massage at a beach sala, you should give a Thai massage a whirl while you’re on the island. You’ll soon be forfeiting an extra cocktail or two in lieu of another beach massage — they’re addictive.
Samui is small enough to explore by yourself, with relatively decent roads, yet big enough to offer some interesting sights if you’re willing to get happily lost. (Though you can’t really get lost as it’s an island — just keep going and you’ll end up back where you started, right?) Hire a jeep or a scooter for the day (wear your helmet), glance at a map, pack sunscreen and a rain poncho– you can have four seasons in a day here — and just explore. Don’t be afraid to venture down a dirt path; the locals are friendly and there’s nowhere dangerous. This is how you’ll discover your own favourite secluded beach, local restaurant or beach bar.
By Rosanne Turner
Last updated on 6th March, 2015.