Koh Samui is the first choice for most when planning a Thai island escape. Backpackers make a beeline for it in search of Thai nightlife that isn’t quite as wild as Koh Phangan’s full moon parties; families come for a laid-back beach holiday with plenty of options for shopping; and for honeymooners, it’s the perfect size for a selection of beautiful resorts with fine dining options and amazing sunsets. You could easily spend day after day doing nothing more than devouring amazing Thai food and sinking your feet into dazzling white sand to the easy pace of island life.
Chaweng, Lamai & Bo Phut
Most resorts are found on the east coast, meaning you’re rarely more than 20 minutes away from the island’s points of interest. Chaweng is the busiest beach resort and stretches over three miles of glorious white sand – the longest beach on Koh Samui. Towards the centre, you could people watch day and night as visitors swim and bathe and bars come alive. Lying just ten minutes to the south of Chaweng, Lamai is Koh Samui’s second largest beach and is slightly smaller and quieter than its famed northern neighbour. By comparison, Lamai is considered somewhat sleepy, especially in quieter seasons. This makes it the perfect place to sit out at one of the many picturesque beachfront restaurants that offer a romantic moonlit dinner on the seashore. Choose a resort on the quieter northern shores – for example, in Bo Phut – and you’re just a 20-minute ride south to lively Chaweng or Lamai. Known as ‘fisherman’s village’, the centre of Bo Phut is home to restaurants, boutiques and the ‘walking street’ – a pedestrianised street lined with market stalls every Friday night. Bo Phut is quieter than Chaweng and Lamai and the mile-long beach is a firm favourite with families thanks to the shallow waters and abundance of shade.
With swoon-worthy scenery and world-class spas, Koh Samui is one of the best places for a wellness holiday. If you like the sound of a yoga retreat complete with lots of massages or a fitness holiday where you can sweat it out with Muay Thai boxing classes, we’ve got a selection of packages in partnership with Wellbeing Escapes to help you detox, tone up or unwind.
Where is Koh Samui?
Koh Samui is an island in the Gulf of Thailand just off the mainland’s east coast. It’s around 435 miles south of Bangkok, reachable by just over an hour's flight. To neighbouring Koh Phangan, it's between 20 minutes to an hour by ferry or speedboat. As it’s on the east of the mainland, Koh Samui experiences a tropical climate that differs to most of the country at certain times of the year. Take a look at our best time to visit guide to find out when to make the most of Koh Samui’s warmest weather.
GMT +7 hours
Thai. English is widely spoken at beach resorts.
• We recommend that the expiry date of your UK or Irish passport is at least six months later than your anticipated arrival date back in the UK.
• You only need a visa if you’re staying longer than 30 days (29 nights), and you can get one from the Thai Embassy.
Theravada Buddhism. Minority religions include Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism.
• Thais revere their royal family, so never express disregard for it.
• Outward expressions of anger are regarded as crude and boorish.
• Each Buddha image - large or small, ruined or not - is considered sacred. Never climb onto one to take a photograph or do anything that might show lack of respect.
• Public displays of affection between couples are frowned upon. Westernised Thai couples may hold hands but that’s as far as it goes in polite society.
• It is considered rude to point your foot at a person or object.
No vaccinations are compulsory but some are recommended. For more detailed and up-to-date information, contact your GP or a specialised vaccination centre.
Tip porters and hotel staff if you’re happy with their service. If a service charge isn’t added to your restaurant bill, tip 10-15%.
• Dress neatly in all temples and religious shrines - cover your arms and legs and never go shirtless or in shorts, hot-pants or other scanty attire.
• Take off your shoes when entering private Thai homes, chapels that house Buddhist images, and mosques.