Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Ko Samui.
Thailand is known for its beautiful beaches, and Ko Samui is one of the reasons this is so. Being one of Thailand's most popular tourist destinations though, Samui's beaches are no longer as secluded as those of smaller islands. But never fear: some beautiful stretches of sand can still be found with a little help, some busy, some not so much. ... Read more about The best beach on Ko Samui .
Located on the island's northwest coast, Nathon is Ko Samui's administrative and business centre along with its primary ferry port. A bustling, typical mid-sized Thai town, visitors are most likely to find themselves here on a transit basis, for a spot of shopping, or, in the past, to perhaps to visit the immigration office (which has now moved to Mae Nam) – it does not otherwise offer much in ... Read more about Nathon .
Laid-back Bang Po Beach stretches for some five kilometres along the northwest coast and is a favourite of expats and retirees. While many travellers miss this part of the island altogether, those looking for something different will find low-key places to stay along with some of the best seafood on Samui. ... Read more about Bang Po Beach .
Most of the vast Mae Nam Beach has a sleepy atmosphere that may even remind old-timers of what Samui was like decades ago and the location keeps busier parts of the island within relatively easy striking distance: families and backpackers have long appreciated this balance of serenity and convenience. ... Read more about Mae Nam Beach .
Arguably Ko Samui’s quintessential beach, Haad Bophut has good swimming, great views and an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and bars (not the seedy kind) in the Fisherman’s Village – even if you don’t stay here, factor in a trip here at some ... Read more about Bophut Beach .
Bang Rak Beach is often commonly referred to as Big Buddha Beach thanks to the gigantic, impossible-to-miss seated Buddha statue overlooking Wat Phra Yai at the eastern extreme of the beach. ... Read more about Bang Rak Beach .
Basically encompassing the northeast corner of Ko Samui, Plai Laem and Choeng Mon wrap around roughly two kilometres of beachfront on Samui's northeast corner, with Plai Laem running up the west coast of the peninsula from Bang Rak and the Big Buddha followed by a series of small bays dotted across the northern coast, and then finishing with Choeng Mon and Ko Fan Noi running down the east. ... Read more about Plai Laem, Thongson and Choeng Mon Beach .
Haad Chaweng boasts marvellous powder-white sand accompanied by a tacky scene in the heavily developed tourist town that backs the beach. Covering a long stretch of the east coast, the area hosts seething nightlife along with stacks of restaurants and accommodation, including some of Samui’s largest resorts. Love it or hate it, Chaweng is the centre of the ... Read more about Chaweng Beach .
Travelling from Chaweng Noi southwards, you'll pass by a couple of smaller bays before arriving in Lamai proper, in order from north to south, you'll hit Coral Cove first, followed by Thong Ta Kien, which is also known as Crystal Bay. Of the two, we prefer Thong Ta Kien and with clear waters, beautiful sand and enough shade, it makes for a great daytrip destination, or, if it fits within your ... Read more about Thong Ta Kien .
Lamai Beach, on Samui's southeast coast, is the island's second most popular after Chaweng and when you're on the sand, as with Chaweng, this is truly a beautiful beach with fine sand and crystal waters hemmed in by boulder-strewn headlands at each end. ... Read more about Lamai Beach .
Samui's south coast, from Na Tien and Laem Set in the east through to Thong Krut in the west, is about as low-key as Ko Samui gets. Long sweeping white to grey sandy beaches with shallow waters – often mud flats at low tide – are interrupted by the occasional fishing port anchorage, midrange resorts and private residences. ... Read more about Natien, Laem Set, Bang Kao and Thong Krut .
Like the northeastern corner of Samui, north-south running Taling Ngam has long been associated with upmarket and self-contained luxury hotels, but a scattering of more affordable places to stay lie around here, allowing not just the loaded to appreciate some fabulous outlooks from a sleepy corner of ... Read more about Taling Ngam Beach .
Running roughly south to north from Taling Ngam to Nathon, beautiful Lipa Noi has to be one of the most underrated beaches on Ko Samui, with calm crystal waters and a fine, yellow to white sand backing onto coconut plantations and a smattering of places to ... Read more about Lipa Noi .
With Ko Samui’s beautiful beaches and generally calm waters, there is a lot more to do than just lay on the beach. Samui offers opportunities to try kayaking, kiteboarding, stand-up paddling, jetski-ing and sailing (among other water sports) and here’s a round up of how and where to check them ... Read more about Water sports on Ko Samui .
The 42 islands of Ang Thong National Marine Park stretch like a jewelled necklace of limestone cliffs, coral reefs and white-sand beaches to the west of Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. Stunning natural scenery, both above water and below, draws large numbers of daytrippers along with a handful of travellers willing to rough it for a chance to get to know the chain of islands better. ... Read more about The Ang Thong Islands .
Lying off the southwest coast of Ko Samui, out from the small fishing port of Thong Krut, sits the island of Ko Taen. Despite its proximity to Samui, this is an island the world has just about forgotten and if you were ever in need of a holiday from a holiday, this is the ... Read more about Ko Taen .
Forty-eight hours is not enough time on an island as diverse as Ko Samui; nor is it enough considering how much time or money you'll likely need to spend on getting here. This itinerary aims to either act as a guide for those popping over from Ko Pha Ngan to check out the island, or as a taster for those looking to explore before deciding where to spend longer on the ... Read more about A weekend on Ko Samui .
If you only visit one temple on Ko Samui, make it Wat Plai Laem. The active Buddhist temple boasts several eye-grabbing statues on either side of an ordination hall that appears to float above a pond filled with fish. ... Read more about Wat Plai Laem .
Wat Phra Yai, better known as the Big Buddha, is an iconic Ko Samui image. Located on route 4171 at the end of Bang Rak, as one rounds the bend to Plai Laem, this huge statue is glimmering gold and visible from kilometres ... Read more about Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai) .
A big red head – that’s what you see towering above the old houses when driving along the ring road in Hua Thanon, just south of Lamai. So what is it? In 2014, prominent islanders of Chinese descent organised the construction of a massive image of Guan Yu, a Chinese general who lived some 1,800 years ago and is now revered as a god of war. ... Read more about Guan Yu Shrine .
So you've arrived for the first time ever and you're wondering, what are the must-do activities on Ko Samui? Well, aside from laying on the beach and having a bit of a swim, there are a few other activities that are well worth doing. Some are well known, others less so, but, in our opinion, these are all worth sticking on your short ... Read more about Must-do activities on Samui .
If you’ve topped up your tan and had your fill of sand and surf, consider what there is to do away from the beaches of Ko Samui. Here are a few ... Read more about Off beach activities on Ko Samui .
After spending your days on the beach, why not go out to watch fighters gracefully kick the crap out of each other at Ko Samui’s muay Thai stadiums? If you like what you see, you could even settle into a training centre to learn this ancient Thai martial art for yourself as Samui boasts several muay Thai options for both spectators and fighters. Samui’s muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) scene ... Read more about Muay Thai on Ko Samui .
Yoga studios on Ko Samui welcome short-term visitors, allowing holiday-makers the opportunity to carry on with their yoga routines from back home or to get involved for the first-time if they’re looking to do something different while away. There are also several detox and wellness retreats on the island, offering yoga as part of their ... Read more about Where to do yoga on Ko Samui .
While the touristy areas of Ko Samui can be known for their partying, the island is no slouch when it comes to helping people recover from too much partying, or improving their inner wellbeing thanks to a number of wellness and detox centres dotted around the ... Read more about Detox programmes .
Shopping on Ko Samui As far as shopping goes, Samui certainly ain't no Paris, but if you're in the market for simple gifts for friends and family, or just a few new T-shirts for yourself, then you'll be able to get your shopping done here. Those looking for more upmarket boutique style places should head straight to Fisherman's Village in Bophut which has easily the most comprehensive range of ... Read more about Shopping on Ko Samui .
The Samui Prison Project (SPP) was set up by local legal firm, PKN Legal & Business Consultancy, to work with groups raising money to help prisoners in the Women’s Unit at the Ko Samui District Prison. The aim is to assist the prison in its own efforts to provide rehabilitation for female offenders through education, training and community ... Read more about The Samui Prison Project .
Spark! (that’s with the !) is a group of volunteer circus performers who try to add a little sparkle to the lives of disadvantaged children in refugee camps, migrant schools, hospitals and orphanages along the Thai-Burmese border. More than 200,000 refugees are based in camps along the border, with a large proportion of them being ... Read more about Spark! Circus .
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.