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KO SAMUI – Thailand’s Upscale Island Beach Holiday Destination

Ko Samui, TH
29°
Ko Samui, TH
84°
overcast clouds
75% humidity
wind: 16m/s SW
H 84 • L 84

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Samui Island was once famed for its sweet and creamy coconut. The tropical island then drew backpackers for its sun-drenched beaches along the lines of swaying coconut plants, budget stilt huts, cheap beer, warm seawater, fire juggling, and beach parties. From a backpackers’ haven, Ko Samui has grown up to be increasingly sophisticated. It has reinvented itself as a world-class luxurious island holiday destination with high-end beach hotels and resorts.

There’s no wrong way to experience Ko Samui.

For a romantic escape, honeymooners and lovebirds can find themselves in the plunge pool of a luxurious private beachfront villa. Foodies and partygoers run from gourmet restaurants to luxury beach clubs and thriving nightlife spots. Parents can relax and enjoy their spa while leaving their kids in their chosen family-friendly hotels with childcare, splash pools, and western foods.

Sunset cruises, scuba diving, sea kayaking, and snorkeling are just a few ways to experience the best Ko Samui has to offer. With first-class spas, wellness centers, and yoga studios, Samui is also the best place to recharge, seek inspiration, and balance body, mind, and soul.

Overall, Ko Samui is ideal for those who want the joy of a tropical island beach holiday in style. Whether you’re sun-seeking, dozing in a hammock, feasting on world-class cuisine, partying on a beach, or discovering wellness in a pampering spa—Ko Samui has it covered.

Getting There

AIR

Bangkok Airways operates daily flights between Samui Airport and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (65 minutes). The airline also flies directly from Samui to Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and other Southeast Asia cities.

Other airlines also operate flights from Bangkok to Surat Thani and Chumphon provinces, where visitors can take a short ferry ride to Ko Samui.

BOAT

Via a transition in Chumphon province, Lomprayah offers a combined bus/high-speed ferry service from Bangkok to Ko Samui. The boat stops at Ko Nang Yuan, Ko Tao, and Ko Pha Ngan on its way to Ko Samui.

In Surat Thani, ferries depart to Ko Samui from local piers in Don Sak and Ao Ban Don.

Getting Around

Songthaew pick-up trucks and motorcycle taxis are popular for hopping around Samui’s beaches. A small number of taxis are available at a flat rate.

8 Tropical Beaches in Ko Samui

A dream holiday for you might be a people-watching beach, a pristine beach to stroll, or a calm stretch of sand with family-friendly resorts. With different beaches dotted around Ko Samui, there are more than enough options to suit every desire.

Chaweng Beach

Stretching three kilometers, Ko Samui’s busiest beach is nestled on the eastern coast and adorned with sparkling white sand and swaying coconut trees. Chaweng is the perfect place to alternate between napping, swimming, and people-watching. The famous beach has hotels, restaurants, and nightlife spots fitting every taste. When you need a break from the sun and sands, shop at Central Festival shopping mall, take a Thai cooking class, or soothe your soul in spa treatments.

Lamai Beach

Marked by the natural granite boulder rock formations of Hin Ta and Hin Yai on its southern end, Samui’s second-largest beach is simply stunning. Powdery white sand, tranquil resorts, spa retreats, and water sports are all at Lamai Beach. With its super clear waters and white-sand shores, visitors from all over the world come to enjoy the calm water or partake in beach activities: sunbathing, surfing, volleyball, parasailing, and watching the sunrise. Lamai Beach also boasts a great nightlife with bars, restaurants, and a night market on Friday night.

Bo Phut Beach

Set on Ko Samui’s Northern part, Bo Phut is a beach village. The three-kilometer long strip of thick vanilla-white sand was once home to local fishers. People used to come here for the catch of the day and all types of fish. Now they come for delicious seafood and shopping sprees. The old shophouses transformed into charming boutiques, bars, and restaurants. With a mix of the old and new, the Sino-Thai shophouse, a walking street on Friday, and stylish boutique shops with a Mediterranean vibe, Bo Phut is a popular destination after dark.

Maenam Beach

A long, thin stretch of thick yellowish sand and clear water makes Maenam an excellent beach for long strolls around sunset. It has a good stop for a drink and splendid views of Ko Phangan. Unlike Bo Phut Beach, its bustling neighbor to the east, Maenam Beach is peaceful. Most of the beachfront resorts are packed together at the end of long, wandering pathways, offering a strong sense of privacy.

Choeng Mon Bay

With the arrival of The Ritz Carlton at Choeng Mon, this small yet beautiful bay of sands and unusual rock formations is Ko Samui’s high-end beach. The wide, sandy beach attracts visitors with its stylish and luxury villas and resorts, pretty landscape panoramas, and strings of activities to keep you busy and happy. Try your hand at snorkeling around a rock formation or taking a kayak adventure to an islet before sitting down at a beachfront restaurant to enjoy a barefoot lunch.

Lipa Noi Beach

Lipa Noi Beach - Shutterstock

Tucked away on the western coast, Lipa Noi Beach is the best beach for kids. The young ones can enjoy building sandcastles, hop on a wave back to shore after swimming, or feeding a snack to a curious seagull. The beach has fine golden sand, and the water is crystalline, calm, and shallow for up to 100 meters out. Apart from Nikki Beach Club and local restaurants, Lipa Noi Beach is tranquil and remote.

Taling Ngam Beach

Taling Ngam - Shutterstock

With a made-for-Instagram sunset and stunning ocean view, Taling Ngam is one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. Imagine a long stretch of silky, powder-white sand hemmed by emerald-green seawater and a thick curtain of swaying coconut trees. Considered an opulent strip, Taling Ngam is home to many luxury hotels and resorts. When it comes to a high-end break on a tranquil beach in Samui, Taling Ngam Beach is hard to beat.

Bang Por Beach

The favored beach of young travelers and backpackers to Samui sits just north of the island. The 11-kilometer-long chill beach is beautiful with golden sands and walls of coconut trees. Rustic, laid-back, and less developed than others, Bang Por lures young travelers for a tropical vibe, bars, restaurants, and beachfront budget accommodations. Bang Po Seafood, a cute beachfront seafood shack, lets you enjoy delicious Thai seafood with a cold beer in your hand while digging your toes into the sand.

10 Best Things to Do in Ko Samui

Ko Samui is vast with many things to see and do, beaches to explore, and diving sites to marvel at. The list of what to do in Samui could run longer than your time in this tropical paradise. Here’s the list of the crème de la crème of what Samui has to offer.

Explore Ang Thong National Marine Park

Ang Thong - Shutterstock

Ang Thong National Marine Park is an aquatic wonderland 40 minutes by boat from Samui Island. The national marine park boasts a pristine archipelago of 42 islands. With high limestone mountains, deserted beaches, lush mangroves, waterfalls, and small bays, you can spend a full day hiking, sea kayaking, and snorkeling. Many tour operators in Ko Samui offer an all-inclusive day trip to the natural marine park.

Chill Out At The Fisherman’s Village

Once a thriving fishing village with Chinese shophouses, the beach village in Bo Phut has transformed into a hip and happening area with shopping streets, boutique hotels, and dining scenes. Many old wooden shophouses were revamped into chic bars and charming restaurants, making the Fisherman’s Village a popular destination after dark. On a Friday night, visitors flock to the seaside venue for street foods, crafts, and a lively atmosphere. Visit Coco Tam’s, a chic beach bar, and loosen up your mind with a drink in your hand and sand between your toes.

Explore Underwater Scenery

About 70 kilometers from Ko Samui lie Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan—two small islands with fantastic diving sites. Ko Nang Yuan has stunning reefs and prolific marine life close to shore that snorkelers that swimmers can reach. Besides that, there are more than ten dive sites around Ko Tao, all with spectacular reefs and vibrant marine creatures. A whale shark, the world’s largest fish, is a regular visitor around diving spots. The amount of diving shops in Samui ensures tailored diving experiences.

Tee Off in the Tropical Paradise

If you’re looking to tee off above breathtaking views of the Gulf of Thailand, Santiburi Samui Golf Country Club is the place to swap beach slippers for golf shoes. This championship golf course spreads around hilly terrain and coconut-swaying slopes before sweeping down towards the ocean. You will finish up on the 18th hole looking out over a stunning coastal paradise across Maenam Beach. The luxurious golf club is available with a sea-view restaurant, driver range, putting green, caddies, golf equipment, and more.

Enjoy Sailing and Seafaring Adventure

The island draws sailing enthusiasts for turquoise seas and stunning underwater scenery to the annual Samui Regatta. A private trip on a prestigious yacht to Ko Phangan or Ko Tao is popular. Your skipper will let you discover the beautiful deserted beaches, hidden coves, and snorkel sites before watching the sunset from the deck. You could leave Ko Samui for a week with a yacht or catamaran equipped with bedrooms and kitchen, and enjoy a seafaring adventure around 50 islands. Boat booking websites such as Nowboat.com and Viator.com offer options for sailing in Samui. They connect would-be seafarers with the sailing yacht and crew.

Your holiday in Ko Samui is not complete without a holistic spa break. Samui has long held its place as one of the premium spa destinations in the world. There are many spas and wellness centers in Samui, and most high-end destination spas are in luxury resorts. At the Spa Village in the Ritz Carlton Ko Samui, you can strip down for a Songkran Shower and Coconut Scrub before having a 90-minute Coconut Flow Massage. Many day spas such as Tamarind Springs Forest Spa can also boost your wellbeing for a reasonable price.

Go Kitesurfing

Samui hosted its first-ever KTA Hydrofoil Series for Asia and Oceania in 2018. The tropical island draws kitesurfers and thrill-seekers with their wet suits to its coastline. The kitesurfing community settles along Nathon Beach on Samui’s western coast, where surfing is good from July to September. Kite Boarding Asia runs different classes (one to three days) for the newbies and the enthusiasts who want to get out on the water. From January to April, kitesurfers move to Maenam Beach to catch the wind.

Seek Serenity and Strength on a Yoga Mat

Ko Samui is a beautiful island with its greenery, stunning beaches, and blue water. For decades, the island has served as a world-renowned yoga retreat destination, drawing yoga instructors and enthusiasts to seek serenity and strength. To find balance, Samahita Retreat has participants spend the morning strolling along the beach and taking a dip in crystal-clear seawater before taking authentic yoga class and meditation. From a simple yoga hut to a luxury wellness center, Samui offers short-term visitors an opportunity to carry on with their yoga routines or try it for the first time.

Learn to Fight Like a Pro

Every Sunday and Thursday night, tourists flock into Samui International Muay Thai Stadium in Chaweng for an intense and authentic Muay Thai kickboxing fight. For those who want to learn Muay Thai, Ko Samui is home to many Thai boxing training centers. All boxing camps provide a space with fighting rings and exercise equipment for training. Most of them have basic accommodation for a fighter. Lamai Muay Thai Camp on Lamai Beach offers top-class training for beginners, advanced and professional boxers.

Cool Off in Na Muang Waterfalls

Na Muang Waterfalls - Shutterstock

About 12 kilometers from Nathon Bay, Na Muang waterfalls let you swap swimming in the ocean for dipping in a natural freshwater pool. Jump into a refreshing swimming hole after watching the water flow off a towering cliff and down into the green pool. Na Muang waterfalls are free to visit, easily accessible, and within 100 meters of the parking lot. An entire day could be spent at the falls swimming, exploring, hiking, and picnicking. Opening hours for the waterfalls is from 9am to 5.30pm.

FOOD

Coconut, Fish, and Spices

Samui Island is in the heart of the tropics. The island enjoys a wide supply of ingredients for cooking tasty food in different traditions and styles. Fish and shellfish are fresh, while rainforest spices and herbs are plentiful on the island and beyond. The area is also home to the country’s best coconut milk, a sweet and creamy agent that blends smoothly in much-loved Thai dishes.

With local herbs, spices like turmeric, bird’s eye chili, peppercorns, kaffir lime, lemongrass, galangal, and lime, local food in Samui is spicier and more aromatic than its centrally located counterparts. A bowl of kai tom khamin (free-range chicken in turmeric soup) is hearty and warm, while tom kha kai (chicken in galangal and coconut soup) is silky and delicate.

Massaman curry, a famous Thai dish with a Persian connection, should be on your must-eat list. For a nice and easy breakfast, khao tom thalay (seafood congee with ginger slices on top) is a perfect choice. The recipe comes, in part, from Chinese seafarers who made it to Samui Island over 100 years ago.

5 Best Thai Restaurants on Ko Samui

If you’re looking for the best Thai food experience in Ko Samui, make a trip to these five restaurants. Some places are sophisticated and elegant dining restaurants, while others are unassuming shacks with excellent food.

Supattra Thai Dining
Supattra Thai Dining is the kind of restaurant you wish you had in your neighborhood. Surrounded by mangrove and tropical plants, Supattra is in a wooden house in Big Buddha Beach (or Bangrak) neighborhood. This charmer is all about the freshest local fish and shellfish available—all carefully selected and cooked by owner-and-chef Supattra. For an appetizer, you can have a delicious dish yum thalay (seaweed salad with coconut), then wash it down with Riesling. Her Australian, free-range lamb massaman curry has a gentle coconut flavor punctuated by crunchy peanuts. Supattra also has a fantastic wine list to accompany your dining experience.
Hours: 6pm-10pm

Sabienglae
One of the long-standing authentic southern food heroes, Sabienglae restaurant earned loyal and devoted fans at its original branch in Lamai Beach. Their signature dish, kaeng kua hed lup (sea anemone curry with Piper Sarmentosum leaves), lives up to the hype with a spicy and creamy flavor. Another famous dish is kung yai tod sod makham (pan-fried large shrimp in sweet and sour tamarind sauce). The view is as good as the food with the restaurant sitting over a beautiful beach. Two branches of Sabienglae are also in Chaweng and Bophut beaches.
Hours: 10am-10pm

Bang Po Seafood (Ta Kho)
Along Maenam Beach, Bang Po Seafood restaurant has been a fresh-fish and sea-view destination for at least 20 years. Founded by Ta Kho, a local food expert in Ko Samui, the small seaside shack draws in foodies with authentic and tasty Samui food. Some signature dishes include raw sea urchin roe, baby octopus, coconut, and turmeric. Try pungent (but pleasant) koei jee (a sheet of roasted shrimp paste and crab meat served on a coconut shell), then mellow it down with cold beer. Some other dishes are pla kapong tod nam pla (deep-fried snapper with fish sauce) and tom yam tha lay (spicy seafood soup).
Hours: 12pm – 12am

Jahn
Jahn restaurant at the Conrad Ko Samui Hotel offers an exceptional dining experience with a breathtaking ocean view. Get your table before the sunset, then appreciate the beauty of the Earth with a pre-dinner cocktail. Inspired by haute cuisine, Jahn takes Thai food to the next level with remarkable tastes and presentations. Appetizers include the heart of palm salad with chili dressing and curry croquette. Your choice for the main dish ranges from exploring to adventure themes—think Roasted Quail with Stir-fried Water Mimosa and Barracuda Green Curry.
Hours: 7pm-11pm

Haad Bang Po Restaurant
Tucked away in the sleepy western corner of Maenam Beach, this unassuming shack of seafood had been Samui’s best-kept secret for decades. Frequent visitors and locals kept this place their hidden gem until Travel+Leisure magazine found and crowned it the “Best Seafood Restaurant Around the World.” Moo, the owner who has over 20-year experience working as a chef in high-end hotels, runs this lively little shack with tables and plastic chairs in the sand. It offers classic local seafood dishes like khai jiao hor mok (spicy omelet with seafood) and wai kua (octopus in dried curry).
Hours: 10am-10pm

5 Best Beach Clubs and Bars on Samui Island

Samui Island, a tropical party paradise, implores a euphoric vibe to its outings. From St. Tropez-style to the shack of beer on the beach, find your perfect place to burn up the dance floor in Ko Samui.

WOOBAR
Bo Phut Beach
Part of the stylish W Retreat Ko Samui, Woobar features a large outdoor deck with a swimming pool. Relaxing lounge music, a rooftop bar, nice and cozy loungers, a dramatic twilight sky, and awe-inspiring drinks have made Woobar the best place to be from 5 o’clock onward. After dark, Woobar lights up with live DJ beats and custom concoctions. Tonic Bar offers creative sake tonics along with health-inspired refreshments and snacks. Woobar charges entrance fees ($31 per person), a price redeemable for food and beverages.

ARK BAR BEACH CLUB
Chaweng Beach
Nestled along Ko Samui’s most happening beach, Ark Bar Beach Club is a charming beachside resort that chills out during the day with daybeds positioned around the party pool. The calm vibe turns upbeat when smoothies are swapped for beer and cocktails as international DJs play house music from 2pm. Ark Bar Beach Club hosts an energetic beach party every night, featuring live music, DJs, and fireworks.

NIKKI BEACH SAMUI
Lipa Noi Beach
When Nikki Beach opens its doors to guests on Lipa Noi Beach, this Miami-style club resort shakes up the sleepy beach. It is a classy and fun party destination with chill music, a gourmet restaurant, entertainment, fashion, film, and art. During the day, Nikki Beach Samui offers spa and yoga sessions and sun loungers to bask in a tropical sun. Later on, Champagne is popped and poured as speakers crank up deep house music. Wild cheers and barefoot dancing follow.

SEEN BEACH CLUB SAMUI
Chaweng Beach
Seen Beach Club Samui is a posh, fashionable, retro-chic resort on Chaweng Beach. It brings an endless party with relaxing music, free-flowing drinks, and lots of food. While the sun is up, Samui’s soothing sounds accompany sea kayaking or stand up paddling on the hip beach. The mood then turns to blissed-out beats as the day progresses. At night the tempo heats up with chilled oysters, sushi, and pizza, along with your choice of cocktails, champagnes, top-shelf spirits, and wines. Seen Beach Club Samui throws a party every Sunday night. It is always packed with fashion-forward partygoers.

COCO TAM’S
Bo Phut Beach
A beach shack, laid-back vibe, ice-cold beer, beanbags, and sand between your toes have made Coco Tam’s the most popular beach bar in the Fisherman’s Village. Located right on the sand and underneath the crowns of coconut at Bo Phut Beach, Coco Tam’s is a restaurant, beach bar, and happening night spot all rolled into one. During the day, the crowds flock to Coco Tam’s for good food. As the day winds down, you can grab a drink from the well-stocked bar, lay on a bean bag, and watch the waves roll in against a beautiful sky.

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