Photo: Afternoon light on Big Buddha Beach.

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.

Things to see and do

Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Ko Samui.


The best beach on Ko Samui

Thailand is known for its beautiful beaches, and Ko Samui is no exception. Being one of Thailand's most popular tourist locations, Samui's beaches may no longer be as secluded as those of the smaller islands. For some, this is not a negative; but those still opting for isolation or authenticity need not worry, as this can still be found with a little ... Read more about The best beach on Ko Samui .

The Virgin Coast, Taling Ngam, Ko Samui

Many feel that Ko Samui has become too developed, and in part, that may be true. Luckily it’s possible to escape the crowds and discover the Samui of yesterday only a 45-minute drive from popular Chaweng beach. The unspoilt southwest is known as the Virgin Coast; from the ring road, turn off at Route 4170 either coming from Nathon, or going clockwise, just past Hua Thanon. Follow the signs to ... Read more about The Virgin Coast, Taling Ngam, Ko Samui .

The best places to watch sunset on Ko Samui

My house is perfectly positioned to appreciate Samui’s sunsets, and it seems as though each night — insert your favourite deity here, perhaps the Goddess Ra — tries to outdo her sunset creation from the previous evening. Sometimes they are a pretty pastel pink with soft wispy clouds looking like cotton candy. Other evenings present a dramatic show with towering cumulonimbus clouds ... Read more about The best places to watch sunset on Ko Samui .

Deck chairs on Samui’s beaches

One of the great things about Ko Samui is that deck chairs and sun-loungers are free to use at most resorts and beachfront restaurants — with the understanding you’ll buy drinks and perhaps snacks from the provider — making beach chilling sessions cheap and easy. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to read your book for the day, or a bit of music and cocktail action, you’re sure to ... Read more about Deck chairs on Samui’s beaches .

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Viewpoints on Ko Samui
Across the island

The most popular is Secret Garden, a large sculpture garden off the airforce road towards the centre of the island. Built by a fourth generation Samui native who died a few years ago, the sculptures are based on the Buddhist scriptures and are certainly worth taking a peek at. The big selling point here though, are the stunning views. The garden is included in many of the ‘safari island tours', ... Read more about Viewpoints on Ko Samui .

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Day trips

Thong Krut

There’s not a lot in Thong Krut but that’s not a bad thing; anyone who complains that Samui has become too developed and commercialised need only head down to Thong Krut for a day to appreciate the quieter side of island ... Read more about Thong Krut .

Exploring Samui

Exploring Ko Samui’s beaches, towns and interior makes for uncovering quite a few out-of-the-ordinary sights. Here we showcase a selection of the type of things you might see while tripping around — go on, snap more than the usual holiday pictures while you’re ... Read more about Exploring Samui .

Thailand’s Ang Thong National Marine Park

Ang Thong (Golden Bowl) National Marine Park is located north and west of Ko Samui, and is within sight of Samui on clear days. The park, which includes 42 islands and limestone massifs, was once a hide out for pirates but these days gets patrolled by the Thai ... Read more about Thailand’s Ang Thong National Marine Park .

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Boat trips

Circumnavigating Ko Samui by boat

Viewing Ko Samui from the sea offers quite a different perspective from traipsing around the island on foot. We recently did a trip around the island, in a clockwise direction, starting from Fisherman’s Village, where old Chinese shophouses are neighbour to modern apartments, and boutique hotels are interspersed with beach ... Read more about Circumnavigating Ko Samui by boat .

Ko Samui’s Five Islands, Ko Tan and Ko Matsum

Ko Samui is neighbour to a few small islands in the southwest: the Five Islands, known in Thai as Ko Si Ko Ha, which means Four Islands-Five Islands — one island is hidden behind another — plus Ko Tan and Ko ... Read more about Ko Samui’s Five Islands, Ko Tan and Ko Matsum .

Samui Ocean Sports
T: (081) 940 1999

Seeing the sights around Ko Samui powered by only the wind in your boat’s sails, rather than a noisy engine, can be truly rewarding. Sure, a speedboat can get you around much more quickly, but this lacks the romance and adventure of sailing in the breeze and savouring the view along the ... Read more about Samui Ocean Sports .

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Na Muang One Waterfall

Na Muang One Waterfall at Baan Thurian, about 10 kilometres south of Nathon, is a popular tourist attraction on Ko Samui that can easily be reached by vehicle. The turnoff is well signposted along the 4169 Ring Road, and from the parking lot, it’s only a walk of a few hundred metres to get ... Read more about Na Muang One Waterfall .

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Guan Yu Shrine

A big red head. That’s what you see poking through the top of a building when driving along Ko Samui‘s ring road in Hua Thanon, just south of Lamai. So what is it? Virach Pongchababnapa, an islander of Chinese decent, aims to build a 16-metre tall bronze statue of Guan Yu, valued at 20 million baht, that will be a future tourist attraction. Currently, only a dummy of the head is visible, ... Read more about Guan Yu Shrine .

Wat Plai Laem, Ko Samui

Wat Plai Laem may not be the oldest temple on Ko Samui, but it’s probably the most spectacular, and a good place to take children for a bit of Thai culture and a break from the beaches. Although relatively new – it was built in 2004 – it’s constructed in traditional style and methods, so appears much ... Read more about Wat Plai Laem, Ko Samui .

Ko Samui’s Big Buddha

Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai) is an iconic Ko Samui image. Located on the 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 away. Perched atop a platform, it’s much higher above sea level than its own 12-metre height, and the views across the bay towards Ko Som and Ko Pha Ngan are spectacular, making the walk up the ... Read more about Ko Samui’s Big Buddha .

Thai spirit houses and spirit trees

One of the first things travellers to Thailand may notice about their surrounds are the colourful and ornate spirit houses resembling miniature temples that are strategically positioned outside every home, business, school and in public areasOne of the first things travellers to Thailand may notice about their surrounds are the colourful and ornate spirit houses resembling miniature temples that ... Read more about Thai spirit houses and spirit trees .

Temple touring on Ko Samui

Those in search of a spiritual experience on Ko Samui will not be disappointed, as the island offers many temples and religious sites to explore. Each temple offers a unique experience, but all have a sense of serenity. Here we’ve done the legwork for you, and rounded up the most ... Read more about Temple touring on Ko Samui .

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General activities

Coco Splash Waterpark
Lamai Beach, Ko Samui
T: (081) 082 6035

Anyone travelling with young children will know that kids are not content to lie under a coconut palm reading a book, or have endless massages, tour temples or even for that matter just drive around and explore the scenery. Children need entertaining – constantly, so a little compromising is in order during a family ... Read more about Coco Splash Waterpark .

Muay Thai

Muay Thai or Thai kickboxing is Thailand’s national sport and passionately supported by locals, who gather around TVs to cheer their favourites on. The stadiums are also well supported, and Ko Samui is no different; tourists are welcomed to watch fights at the commercial stadiums in Chaweng and ... Read more about Muay Thai .

Must-do activities on Samui

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 ... Read more about Must-do activities on Samui .

Tennis and badminton on Samui

If you enjoy a good game of tennis and can brave the tropical heat, Ko Samui offers several places to play tennis, many of which are floodlit, enabling you to play in the evening when it’s ... Read more about Tennis and badminton on Samui .

Things to do off the beach in Ko 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 Things to do off the beach in Ko Samui .

Samui Go-Kart
101/2 Moo1, Bophut (along the ring road, about 600 metres past the entrance to Fisherman’s Village, when coming from the Chaweng side)
T: (077) 425 097

If you’re after an adrenaline rush and want to let out your inner Lewis Hamilton, then Samui Go-Kart in Bophut is the place to go on Ko Samui. Be prepared to open your wallet wide, as it’s not cheap, but the facilities are what you’d expect for the price. ... Read more about Samui Go-Kart .

Samui Dog and Cat Rescue
T: (077) 413 490

Samui Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation has been improving the lives of Ko Samui’s animals for 13 years, and is a cause well worth supporting. Their main shelter is in Taling Ngam, where homeless animals are housed until a new home can be found for them, and where quarantined animals will go. A second, smaller clinic is located in Chaweng, where locals can bring their animals to be sterilised and ... Read more about Samui Dog and Cat Rescue .

Golf on Ko Samui

Ko Samui has much to offer golf fanatics, whether they are pros, or just looking to whack a few balls for exercise. Those visiting with kids will enjoy the more family-orientated options available. Here’s a round-up of the golf opportunities to be found on the ... Read more about Golf on Ko Samui .

Rainy season indoor activities for families on Ko Samui

With Samui’s rainy season on the doorstep, it’s best to be armed with a few bad weather alternatives — even if they are not exactly authentically Thai — for when the heavens open up. Samui does not have big malls like Phuket, but a few indoor entertainment options offer some family ... Read more about Rainy season indoor activities for families on Ko Samui .

Weddings on Samui

Thinking of a beach wedding? Ko Samui has a selection of professional wedding planners you can turn to for all the organising, and with postcard-view beach backdrops, it makes an ideal wedding ... Read more about Weddings on Samui .

Salsa dancing on Ko Samui

Walking down Plai Laem’s main road and hearing sultry sounds winding through the palms and banana trees, it would be easy to forget the location and imagine you were in Cuba or perhaps Columbia. But no, Ko Samui has quite the active salsa scene – the dancing, not the sauce that is. Here we give you a rundown on where to go with your dancing shoes to get hips a-swaying and skirts ... Read more about Salsa dancing on Ko Samui .

Learning Thai on Ko Samui

Learning a new language is hard enough at the best of times and Thai is so different from English and the Romance languages that for a farang (Westerner), learning Thai can seem a little overwhelming. Anyone wanting to stay in the country for more than a few months however would be wise to pick up a few words, as mime and gesture can only get you so far – I once needed popcorn kernels, and it ... Read more about Learning Thai on Ko Samui .

Stand-up paddling (SUP) on Ko Samui

SUP, or stand up paddling for those not in the know, is the latest water sport activity to hit Samui’s shores. Unlike surfing, what’s great about this pastime is that no waves are required – and let’s face it, for beach bums in search of a wave, Samui features low on the list of where to go in Southeast Asia — Phuket is a better choice in Thailand as far as wave action is ... Read more about Stand-up paddling (SUP) on Ko Samui .

TEFL in Thailand

TEFL is Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This acronym describes the industry, the profession and all the courses you can take to qualify as a teacher. TEFL can be temporary or permanent. Some people do it as a career break, others a gap year as it’s a great way of earning money while travelling and discovering new cultures, and in Southeast Asia and Thailand particularly, this is a way ... Read more about TEFL in Thailand .

Muay Thai training on Ko Samui

Some people like to go on holiday to relax or explore and discover a new place. Others prefer more purpose-orientated holidays: volunteering or perhaps improving a skill such as cooking or writing. One skill that can be honed while holidaying is Thailand is muay Thai — to seriously train for the sport in its land of origin or perhaps to get fit in a focused, supportive environment. Heading to ... Read more about Muay Thai training on Ko Samui .

Samui’s water buffalo: Gentle giants or battering beasts?

Khwai is the Thai word for water buffalo. The water buffalo plays a big part in Thai culture and daily life, and they are a common sight here on Ko Samui. See an open patch of land with grass, and you are sure to find a buffalo tethered to a coconut tree, quietly grazing and watching the world go ... Read more about Samui’s water buffalo: Gentle giants or battering beasts? .

Best of Ko Samui’s Bang Rak

Bang Rak is located on the northern coast of Ko Samui, with Bophut to its west and Plai Laem to its east. The beach area of Bang Rak is also referred to as Big Buddha beach, because of the huge golden statue at the eastern end of the beach, just before Plai Laem. The beach itself has several piers — Big Buddha, Petcherat and Bang Rak — taking passengers to the neighbouring island of Ko ... Read more about Best of Ko Samui’s Bang Rak .

The best of Samui’s Choeng Mon and Plai Laem

Although not far from the main tourist drags, Plai Laem just past Big Buddha is often devoid of tourists who seem oblivious to its existence and quaint charm. Slightly better known is Choeng Mon, which consists of a main beach as well as several intimate coves often only accessible via resorts, or dirt paths that wouldn’t be discovered without some ... Read more about The best of Samui’s Choeng Mon and Plai Laem .

The best of Fisherman’s Village, Ko Samui

In Ko Samui’s Fisherman’s Village, you’ll find old Chinese shophouses that are well preserved, interspersed with tasteful modern buildings to create a real ‘Mediterranean meets the East’ vibe. With some good accommodation choices, delicious food and a range of shopping on offer, it’s a good little destination in its own ... Read more about The best of Fisherman’s Village, Ko Samui .

Outdoor Samui for kids

Besides the obvious choice of endless perfect beaches to visit on Ko Samui, the island offers a slew of daytime activities for families. Here’s a ... Read more about Outdoor Samui for kids .

Staying fit on Ko Samui

Being on holiday on Ko Samui doesn’t mean you have to give up on your exercise routine; you may even find inspiration to start one. Here are some suggestions on how to stay fit — or perhaps get fit — while travelling on the ... Read more about Staying fit on Ko Samui .

Elfe’s World dog and cat refuge, Ko Samui

Elfe’s World is a dog and cat refuge on Ko Samui where Elisabeth Feigl — known as Elfe — takes care of more than 300 dogs, mostly rescued on while being smuggled to Vietnam as part of an illegal international trade in dog ... Read more about Elfe’s World dog and cat refuge, Ko Samui .

Courses on Ko Samui

Rather than a silly souvenir that will lie in the back of the junk cupboard once home, a new skill is a souvenir that might come in more handy. Here are a selection of courses available on Ko Samui that should leave you with something longer lasting and more valuable than a tan — and they make an interesting change from the ... Read more about Courses on Ko Samui .

Above-water water sports, Ko Samui

With Ko Samui’s beautiful beaches and generally calm waters, trying out some sort of water activity is a must. Aside from snorkelling, diving and boating, Ko Samui offers opportunities to try plenty of other water sports, including kayaking, kite-surfing, stand-up paddling, windsurfing, surfing (a little!) and jetski-ing. Here’s a round up of how and where to check them ... Read more about Above-water water sports, Ko Samui .

Samui Football Golf
On the 4171, just after exiting Choeng Mon, in the direction of Chaweng
T: (077) 426 600

Located near the family-friendly beach of Choeng Mon, Samui Football Golf makes for a great family daytrip, or a good outing for a group of competitive friends, too. Exercise routines are often forgotten when on holiday, so this is a way to get the blood flowing without hitting the treadmill, and makes a pleasant alternative to Samui’s beautiful ... Read more about Samui Football Golf .

Swimming pools on Ko Samui

Some of the best-value resorts on Ko Samui are great in most departments, but lacking a swimming pool. Should they be located on a beach, this may not be a problem, but sometimes a splash in a pool, decked with sun loungers and an attentive barman on call, is just what the day needs. Don’t despair if your resort doesn’t have watery relief from the heat; several resorts with swimming pools ... Read more about Swimming pools on Ko Samui .

Making the most of Ko Samui’s coconuts

The coconut tree and its products play a big part of tropical island life and just the image of a coconut palm conjures up thoughts of tropical holidays and palm-fringed beaches. Until recently, coconut production was Ko Samui’s main industry, and is now second only to tourism. Every month, Samui supplies Bangkok with more than 2 million coconuts, harvested from the approximately 3 million ... Read more about Making the most of Ko Samui’s coconuts .

The Samui Prison Project

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 .

Chai Dee Samui
Near Big Buddha temple
T: (088) 451 8117

Part petting farm, part cookery school and part restaurant, Chai Dee is a good spot to bring kids for a pat, play and meal, though you’ll want to be the kind of person who doesn’t mind chickens, dogs or even a pig waiting for scraps at your ... Read more about Chai Dee Samui .

Aquapark Chaweng
In front of Monkey Bay Beach Bar, central Chaweng Beach, Ko Samui
T: (081) 104 5963

Sitting at home on a cold, wet drizzly day while pondering where to pursue adventures abroad, it may seem obvious that you wouldn’t want to go to Cambodia, or Siem Reap, at the height of the rainy season, but actually it’s not nearly as bad as people imagine. In fact, it can be the best time of year to be here, mainly because everyone else has decided to stay away – which means that your ... Read more about Aquapark Chaweng .

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Magic Alambic Rum Distillery
44/5 Moo 3, Namuang, Ko Samui
T: (086) 282 6230

Magic Alambic is a small Ko Samui distillery producing exceptionally good rum in various flavours. Stop by and see how they produce their rhum agricole by distilling fresh, fermented cane juice brought in specifically from a farm in Nakhon Sri ... Read more about Magic Alambic Rum Distillery .

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Cooking classes

The Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts
T: (077) 413 172

Can one ever get bored of sitting on a postcard-perfect beach? To be honest, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’ On a day when you have had just too much sun, or the monsoon rains have set in, what does Samui have to offer when lazing under a coconut tree is not an option? A Thai cooking course of ... Read more about The Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts .

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Massages and spas

Beach massage on Samui

There’s nothing a weary traveller likes more than a good shower and a cheap massage to ease aching muscles from lugging around a heavy backpack. While most people can’t afford daily spa treatments, one of the benefits to travelling to Southeast Asia is that unlike Western backpacker hotspots, here cheap massages are in ... Read more about Beach massage on Samui .

Akiira Spa at New Star Beach Resort, Chaweng Noi
T: (077) 414 500

Akiira Spa is located within New Star Beach Resort & Spa on the hill overlooking Chaweng Noi bay. The resort’s modern, airy feel carries through to the spa, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, orange and yellow hues, and comfortable furnishings. My visit was during torrential rain, so it made a great escape, watching the weather outside from the massage bed through expansive windows as palm and ... Read more about Akiira Spa at New Star Beach Resort, Chaweng Noi .

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Detox programmes

While the touristy areas of Ko Samui can be known for their partying, the island is also popular for its detox retreats. Here are a few to choose from. Kamalaya Wellness ... Read more about Detox programmes .

Where to do yoga 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 several detox and wellness retreats as well on the island, offering yoga as part of their ... Read more about Where to do yoga on Ko Samui .

78 Moo 1, Laan Thong Rd, Fisherman’s Village (On entering Fisherman’s Village main gate, turn left immediately after Namcha Teahouse, and follow the road along 200 metres to Yogarden.)
T: (085) 790 3409

A funky new yoga studio-cum-cafe has opened down a quiet back street of Ko Samui’s cosmopolitan Fisherman’s Village. The village is known for its east-meets-the-Med appeal, where trendy coffee shops bump shoulders with upmarket boutiques, and bars and restaurants trade from old Chinese shophouses. The effect is eclectic and charming, making a perfect location for the equally quirky ... Read more about Yogarden .

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Performing arts

Spark! Circus

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 .

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Where to find books on Samui

Sure, many people now travel with their kindles or iPads, but sometimes there’s nothing better than paging through a real book while swinging in a hammock. Most resorts on Ko Samui have a book-exchange shelf, where, as the name suggests, you can grab a new book and add one you’re finished with, based on an honesty system. But if your resort only has books in other languages or none of the ... Read more about Where to find books on Samui .

Bophut shopping, Ko Samui

Travelling from Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village towards Mae Nam, near Peace Resort & Spa, you’ll see a modern strip of shops and coffee houses that are worth a poke ... Read more about Bophut shopping, Ko Samui .

Souvenir shopping on Ko Samui

We have all done it. Far in the back of a cupboard lies a box of corny oh-my-word-what-was-I-thinking souvenirs from past holidays. Some things feel so right in the heat of the moment and we end up buying useless junk that is not a true reminder of our adventures away. Here’s a suggested list to make the most of souvenir hunting on Ko Samui, to avoid adding to that growing pile of white ... Read more about Souvenir shopping on Ko Samui .

Shopping at Ko Samui’s Fisherman’s Village

Thailand’s known for its cheap clothes shopping, brand-name knock-offs and haggling to get already low-priced items at a steal. This, however, usually means sweating it out in an overcrowded market; anyone who has been to Bangkok’s Pratunam Market will know that the usually fun-filled day of shopping can turn into torture as temperatures soar in the covered, cramped maze of stalls. On Ko ... Read more about Shopping at Ko Samui’s Fisherman’s Village .

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Festivals and events

Bird-singing competitions, Ko Samui

Driving around Samui, you’ll often see men on scooters steering with one hand and carrying a covered birdcage in the other hand. Inside the cage is a prized possession – a red-whiskered bulbul, used in traditional Thai bird-singing ... Read more about Bird-singing competitions, Ko Samui .

Lunar New Year on Ko Samui

In 2013, Lunar New Year — Chinese New Year to the Chinese — falls on Sunday, February 10, and ushers in the Year of the Snake. Celebrations can last for about 15 days in areas with large Chinese communities, including Ko Samui, with festivities beginning on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar, and ending with the Lantern Festival, on the 15th day of the first ... Read more about Lunar New Year on Ko Samui .

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Ko Samui? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

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