Koh Samui: The Complete Island Travel Guide163
BY Professor Bear

Koh Samui: The Complete Island Travel Guide

Famed for its wild nightlife and even wilder natural beauty, Koh Samui is Thailand’s third-largest island, set 80 km from the mainland town of Surat Thani 🧐 

It’s a major tourist destination in the high season but calms down during the rest of the year, leaving resident expats to enjoy the weather, the beaches, and all the island has to offer. 

Please take your time to read my comprehensive Koh Samui guide so you can find out everything about the island’s history, culture, and atmosphere 👓


Koh Samui Overview

Koh Samui is a magic mix of past, present, and hoped-for future, from top-class restaurants in luxury spa resorts through packed, rowdy bars and beaches to isolated villages and tiny bays offering seclusion and serenity along with a genuine welcome from local people 🧐 Its beauty may be compromised in places. However, in others, it’s still intact and will always be. 

Chaweng and Lamai beaches are party central, with endless, noisy nightlife spurred on by alcohol and loud music, but they’re only two sandy strands on an island with a very long coastline. This Koh Samui guide will point you toward the best places of interest on the island 📜 On the northwest tip is secluded Laem Yai, with equally un-crowded Mae Nam and quiet Choeng Mon on the northern coast. The island's interior is lovely, boasting lakes, rivers, waterfalls, lush jungles, and wildlife. 

For those looking to stay, a variety of homes, from condos to villas, are found in the quieter areas and close to the two main beaches. The coastal ring road makes getting around relatively straightforward, and property prices represent good value for money 🎓 Regular ferries connect the island with the mainland. 


Koh Samui Population

Over 62,000 people live on the island, with the vast majority involved in its tourist industry, serving 1.5 million visitors a year 👓. The island's development and a massive increase in its population over the last 50 years run parallel to its development as a tourist hub. 


Koh Samui History

No comprehensive Koh Samui guide would be complete without talking about the history of Koh Samui. From the 5th century until 1970, Koh Samui was a remote agricultural outpost in the Gulf of Thailand supporting an isolated, independent community of farmers, fishermen, and their families 🧐 There was little communication with the outside world and no roads, with cross-island journeys involving treks through the central region’s mountainous jungles. Coconuts and rubber were the only sources of income until the islanders’ world changed with the arrival of the first backpackers. 

The word spread fast, with the island quickly becoming the hippy destination of a lifetime. The seal was set on the island’s future as a holiday paradise for strangers from unfamiliar cultures. Economic success followed fast, but so did changes to the traditional environment and the ancient culture of the island peoples 🎓 With the change came a conflict between the islanders, incomers from the mainland cashing in on tourism, and foreigners from far-off lands. 

Nowadays, anything goes, but part of the island’s unique heritage is gone forever, replaced by economic success and hordes of temporary visitors. Even so, Koh Samui in the off-season is still a tropical paradise 💯


The Bear Travel  Quick Trivia!

Koh Samui is the third-largest island in Thailand and the second most popular after Phuket. It first appeared on Chinese maps in 1687 and was named Pulo Cornamand has been inhabited for 1500 years. 


Koh Samui Food Guide

Our Koh Samui guide covers all bases if you want to know more about the island’s dining scene. Southern Thai food is unique to the region and gives exciting alternatives to the cuisine of the rest of the country 🧐. It’s the gastronomy of contrasts, with influences and flavors from many sources, including India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Middle East. Islamic dishes are expected, with marinated chicken, saffron rice, and the famous massaman curries, all popular staples. 

Fresh seafood is everyone’s favorite, with fish curries such as keang luang strongly flavored with the garlicky Sato bean 📜 As befits an ever-popular holiday island, the tourist hubs on Koh Samui have a good choice of fast foods, international eateries, street foods, and recently-opened upscale diners in newly-built luxury hotels. 


Koh Samui Transport Guide

Koh Samui’s airport is the most convenient port of arrival on the island and was built as a private facility by low-cost carrier Bangkok Airways 🧐 The airline offers regular flights from Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok), Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Thai Airways flies to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang. 

Ground transportation to Chaweng and other beach destinations is by minibus, licensed taxi, or hotel shuttle 📎 Traveling to and around the island’s coastal resorts by ferry or boat is an attractive option, with ferries from Surat Thani on the mainland taking under two hours. 

Getting around the island by taxi involves negotiating a fare, as drivers are reluctant to use their meters even though they are licensed to provide a public taxi service 👓 Half the quoted amount is as good as it gets. 

The converted pick-up truck songthaews run around the beaches and resort areas and across the island’s interior, and for longer journeys, the price should also be subject to negotiation. Motorcycles and bicycles can be purchased or rented, and self-drive gives the best access to anywhere on the island 💯 


Koh Samui Weather and Climate

Tropical islands display tropical weather patterns, and Koh Samui is no exception with its low monsoon climate classification. Warm to hot and humid for much of the year 🧐, Koh Samui is drier than Phuket and Southern Thailand. 

The rainiest month by far is November, with October close behind and the rest of the year seeing regular, brief rain showers of an hour’s duration at most 👓 The dry season falls from February through April, and daytime temperatures peak at around 35°C between April and August. 

When you need to find the best time of the year to visit the island, please take heed of the details in this Koh Samui guide 🎓


Koh Samui Family Attractions

Koh Samui’s quiet beach resorts are perfect for a day out with the family, with soft, white sand, safe bathing, and snorkeling all on offer 🧐 The CocoSplash waterpark on Lamai Beach gives family fun and entertainment sure to keep kids happy, and Bophut’s go-kart track is well worth a visit 👓 

The Samui Snake Farm is fascinating, as are the Butterfly Park, Insect Kingdom, and the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo. A boat trip to a nearby island, such as Koh Phangan, opens up a natural world of wonders as well as deserted beaches and bays 💯


Koh Samui Sports and Leisure Facilities

As with all Thailand’s beach resorts, watersports 🧐 are high on the agenda of energetic things to do in your leisure time. Koh Samui has it all, from sailing, kite-surfing, diving, windsurfing, kayaking, jet-skiing, waterskiing, and more 📜 For land-based fun, elephant trekking, horse riding, mountain biking, trekking, and walking are all here. 

Golf is taken very seriously on Koh Samui, with its beautiful courses that have sea views from the greens 💯 Several gyms, Muay Thai camps, and sports clubs are great for making new friends as well as staying fit, and tennis, badminton, bowling, martial arts, and 📎 fishing expeditions make sure your leisure time is well-spent. 

As you can see from this comprehensive Koh Samui guide 👓 there is so much history and culture attached to this jaw-dropping paradise island. Whether you are here on holiday or live in Koh Samui, this guide will give you some invaluable info to swear by. 



The Bear Travel  Vocabulary Time!

: the state of being private and away from other people

: a privately-owned individual unit within a community of other units

: a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair, is associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs

: the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled

: a place empty of people



Written by
Professor Bear

Hi! I'm Professor Bear, your scholarly travel companion, here to take you on immersive journeys to new places. Join me as I delve into history and provide detailed tours and guides for an unforgettable travel experience of your life.


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