Koh Samui Travel Guide | #10 great Koh Samui activities

When you think of Thailand you probably think of white sand beaches, perfect blue water, palm trees, and great food. Koh Samui is such an island where you will certainly find this. Koh Samui is a large island with plenty to see and to do. Koh Samui often is seen by others as an island where you only find large resorts, but this isn’t totally true. There is a small part which is very touristic, but outside this small part, there is a lot of beautiful nature to be found. We have been on Koh Samui for 6 days and can tell you all the things to do at Koh Samui in this Koh Samui travel guide. We give you personal advice plus tips which you normally don’t read. We will tell you which beaches you should visit, where you should eat and many more. Believe us, this Koh Samui travel guide deviates from the standard advice. As a result, you will experience Koh Samui as a unique island!

Koh Samui beach view

How do you get to Koh Samui?

If you follow our Thailand itinerary you will travel from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui. To travel to Koh Samui you must first travel to Surat Thani. Surat Thani is the gateway to the south of Thailand, including Koh Samui. From Surat Thani, you can take a ferry to Koh Samui. It is possible to take a direct flight from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui, however, we do not recommend this as it is very expensive.

Chiang Mai to Koh Samui: book a flight to Surat Thani (advice use Skyscanner) and take the ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Samui. A bus ride is strongly discouraged because it takes too long.

Bangkok to Koh Samui: you can choose to fly from Bangkok to Surat Thani or use a (night) bus. We recommend using the night bus because this will saves you accommodation costs and you travel while sleeping, which means you have more time during the day.

Tip: You can easily buy a ticket via 12go.asia.

Tip: Depending on what time you arrive in Surat Thani, you can travel straight to Koh Samui. If you arrive in Surat Thani around midnight, we recommend staying in Surat Thani. The next morning you can take the first ferry to Koh Samui. We stayed in B Boutique Residence and recommend it.

Koh Samui boat

Why should you visit Koh Samui?

Koh Samui is the largest island in the Gulf of Thailand which is ideal for all types of travelers. This is the biggest advantage of Koh Samui. Nowadays you see many travelers visiting Koh Samui that aren’t typical backpacker, which isn’t any problem. However this does not mean that it is not fun for other types of travelers, it is even a great destination for backpackers, you only need to know where and what you need to do in Koh Samui. Therefore we wrote this Koh Samui travel guide. If you follow our itinerary through Thailand Koh Samui is a great destination after the busy days in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Doubting were you should travel to Koh Samui, Koh Tao or Koh Phangan?

Koh Samui vs Koh Tao

Where Koh Samui is the largest island that has always something to offer for every type of traveler, Koh Tao is the smallest island that mainly attracts travelers who want to do diving. If you want to do diving you should go to Koh Tao and not Koh Samui or Koh Phangan. However, if you want to visit a diverse island with beautiful beaches and fun activities in and around the island, Koh Samui is recommended. You will certainly not get bored in Koh Samui.

Koh Samui vs koh phangan

Koh Samui vs Koh Phangan is similar. However, the difference is simple: Koh Phangan is more for the party travelers and Koh Samui for all types of travelers. So if you want crazy parties you should travel to Koh Phangan. If you want to visit an island which has a lot to offer we recommend Koh Samui. If you choose Koh Samui you will never be wrong.

#10 Best Things to do at Koh Samui

Because Koh Samui is a large island and has a lot to offer for all types of travelers, a lot of things can be done at Koh Samui. Koh Samui has more to offer than just sun, sea, and sand. Below you can read the things to do at Koh Samui. The order of this Koh Samui activities list also indicates what are the best things to do at Koh Samui.

We recommend staying for at least 4 days at Koh Samui. This gives you enough time to do fun things from this list, explore the island and relax.

#1 Rent a scooter

The best thing to do at Koh Samui is to rent a scooter. If you don’t rent a scooter, you will stay the whole trip at one place and can’t discover anything on the island. The beauty of the island can be found where it isn’t touristic. Every day we drove hours with the scooter and discovered new places every time. For almost all activities below, you need a scooter to get there. The north, south, south-west, and central part of Koh Samui are the best routes to drive to.

Tip: Ask at the accommodation where you are staying what the best place is to rent a scooter. We rented a scooter at our accommodation and recommend doing this because you are dealing with the same company.

Koh Samui scooter

#2 Discover the many beaches

There are a lot of beaches in Koh Samui, each with its pros and cons. The three beaches below are very popular, each for its own reason. We ourselves aren’t big fans of these beaches, because it is very busy and we prefer to discover the beaches that are still rough and don’t need to share with many others. If you don’t want to rent a scooter and/or are traveling with a family, we recommend going to these three beaches. Because it is difficult to visit the other beaches without a scooter.

  • Chaweng Beach: This is the most beautiful beach, the downside is that this is the most popular beach on Koh Samui. It is especially beautiful late in the evening when the sunsets. This beach is perfect for families.
  • Lamai Beach: a beautiful beach that looks like Chaweng beach. It is a bit quieter, but it is still very busy compared to the beaches you see below.
  • Lipa Noi Beach: if you are looking for a child-friendly beach you should go to Lipa Noi Beach. Many meters can be played by children in the water without the risk that it is too deep.

The beaches below are perfect to discover with a scooter. Besides the fact that the beaches themselves are awesome, the route itself with the scooter is also really great. It is always a surprise what you will encounter during your rides. Make sure to stop somewhere if it is fun to view.

We recommend the following 6 beaches for travelers who want to discover Koh Samui with a scooter and want to see places that aren’t visited by many other travelers.

  • Bang Kao Beach: a beach in the south of Koh Samui where you really don’t see anyone. When we were there we didn’t saw anyone else, which was great. Also, the ride to this beach is breathtaking. If you continue your journey you need to drive down towards the west to arrive eventually at Pang Ka Beach.
  • Bang Ka Beach: a beautiful beach in a bay. It is recommended to climb up the mountain where you have a beautiful view over the sea and the island.
  • Taling Ngam Beach: a beach with the jungle in the background. This beach is perfect to watch the sunrise. Probably you don’t see anyone else.
  • Laem Yai Beach to Baan Tai Beach: Between the north-west and north of Koh Samui there are a couple of beaches (Laem Yai Beach to Baan Tai Beach) that are incredibly beautiful to visit. These beaches are very quiet and great to drive around with your scooter.
  • Mae Nam beach: a backpacker’s favorite beach, because it is very quiet and you have a beautiful view of Koh Phangan.
  • Bo Phut Beach: can be found in the north of the island. It is close to a fishing village which is very nice to visit. Well worth a visit.

Tip: don’t visit all the beaches in one day and divide this over the days. It is recommended to drive south for one day and discover the north the other day.

Koh Samui beach

#3 Pay a visit to Modern Thai Art Gallery

Do you find art interesting? Are you particularly interested in paintings? At the Modern Thai Art Gallery, you can see how local artists create truly beautiful paintings. If you want to have a special painting and at the same time is a souvenir you can buy a painting. We bought a painting of an elephant and are really happy with it. We bought it Lamai, the shop is located close to MacDonald’s. When purchasing the product, you can have the product shipped to your home address for an additional cost (very useful for people who are traveling for a couple of months) or you can carry the painting in a tube. You can take this with you on the plane without any problems, we speak from experience😊. Prices are around $72-$180 depending on the size.

#4 Discover Ang Thong National Park

Ang Thong National Marine Park is a group of 42 islands. It is highly recommended to visit this national park because the surroundings are beautiful. Large limestone mountains, a jungle, white beaches, unique mangroves, waterfalls, and unique bays can all be seen in this national park. It’s a great day trip from Koh Samui. We recommend the tour below because it isn’t that expensive compared to other tours. With other tours, you quickly pay $97 to $180. These are private tours or tours with a speedboat. It’s better to save the money and do other fun things with it. If you would like to do a private tour, we recommend this private tour.

Ang Thong National Marine Park daytrip | $34 per person

#5 Relax during a massage

After all the activities it would be great if you can relax during your trip. Besides the beaches and the island itself, taking a massage is of course a moment of ultimate relaxation. There are a lot of massage salons in Koh Samui. Before you enter it is wise to first look inside and see if it is clean. It is also advisable to request some information in advance.

#6 Behold the Nam Tak Na Muang waterfall

With a height of 30 meters, this is the highest waterfall on Koh Samui. The waterfall is located in the middle of the island and is easily accessible. The waterfall is most beautiful during the rainy season, the water then comes down at great speed and the environment is at its greenest. During the dry season, this waterfall is disappointing, but it remains a nice place to visit. It is free to visit Nam Tak Na Muang waterfall.

Koh Samui waterfall

#7 Visit the temples

In the north of Koh Samui is a small island with a temple called Wat Phra Yai on it. The special thing about this temple is that it has a 15 meter Buddha. Definitely worth a visit when you driving. Keep in mind that you must wear appropriate clothing to enter.

Tip: In addition to this temple, Wat Laem Saw and Wat Khunaram are also recommended to visit.

Koh Samui temple

#8 Admire the sunset

One of the best things to do at Koh Samui is to enjoy the sunrise and sunset. There are so many places to witness these beautiful moments.

The best place to see the sunrises are Taling Ngam Beach and Bang Ka Beach. The viewpoint at Bang Ka Beach is recommended.

The sunset can be best seen at the viewpoints of Hin Ta and Hin Yai.

Tip: buy a drink and a snack and drive with your scooter to the different places, enjoy!

#9 Cooking in the jungle

If you would like to learn more about the cuisine of Thailand, taking a cooking class is a must. In Koh Samui, you can take a cooking class in a special place: in the jungle. From 14:00 till 18:30 you prepare 4 dishes. Before you start cooking, you will receive a tour of the garden where they explain everything about the products that you will use during the class.

Highly recommended, because this cooking class focuses on the traditional preparation of Thai dishes. Transport is included.

Half day cooking class jungle kitchen | $76 per person

#10 Visit a Muay Thai match

In Koh Samui, you can see a lot of training centers where people practice Muay Thai. If you are in Thailand and you want to know more about this national sport, a visit to a match is definitely recommended. You can do this at Samui International Muay Thai Stadium. Matches can be seen here every Thursday and Sunday at 9:30 PM.

Where to eat in Koh Samui?

In Koh Samui, there are a lot of good restaurants, but there are also a few that aren’t that great. In our experience, the simpler the restaurant looks, the better the food. This may sound crazy, but it really is.

The best restaurants can be found in the middle of the island where few tourists come. It is very simple, drive with your scooter around and when you see a local selling street food you need to stop and give it a try. In Thailand you can eat street food without any problems, you don’t have to be afraid of this.

Breakfast is good at Four Seasons Resort, you can order homemade yogurt with granola. For lunch we recommend Had Bang Po seafood, here you can enjoy your lunch on the beach. Another recommendation is The Jungle Club which has the best view while eating. For dinner, you have the choice between Thai and non-Thai food. If you want to eat non-Thai food, we recommend Stacked, here you can order delicious burgers. However, if you want to eat Thai you just go to the local restaurants and enjoy your meal with the locals.

Where to stay in Koh Samui?

To choose your perfect overnight stay, you must first determine for yourself which part of Koh Samui you want to stay.

  • Lamai: pleasantly busy, but not as busy as some other places. Beautiful beach that is not so overcrowded.
  • Mae Nam: nice place and one of the few places where you still get a real backpacking feeling.
  • Bo Phut: beautiful place in the north where you spend the night near a fisherman’s drop.
  • Chaweng: the most beautiful part but also the busy part. Is very touristy.

Lamai

Rocky’s Boutique Resort

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Price per night from:
$ 79 double room

Lamai Wanta Beach Resort

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Price per night from:
$ 38 double room

Mae nam

Coco Palm Beach Resort

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Price per night from:
$ 17 double room

Adarin Beach Resort

Koh Samui v6

Price per night from:
$ 20 double room

Bo Phut

Hotel Ibis Samui Bophut

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Price per night from:
$ 34 double room

The Waterfront Boutique Hotel & Cafe

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Price per night from:
$ 57 double room

Chaweng

The Briza Beach Resort

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Price per night from:
$ 53 double room

Montien House

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Price per night from:
$ 29 double room

Next destination

Hopefully, you enjoyed our article and it helps you have a great time in Koh Samui. If you follow our Thailand itinerary, the next destination is Khao Sok National Park. In our guide we tell you everything you need to know about Khao Sok National Park.

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