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Koh Samui: Welcome to Thailand’s island paradise

koh samui thailand
Good morning Koh Samui

Koh Samui Thailand

With year-round sunshine, a dazzling array of gorgeous beaches, and a vibrant nightlife, Koh Samui has all of the magical requirements for an unforgettable holiday.

This beautiful island in the Gulf of Thailand offers a lot of breathtaking sights to explore and I have finally selected the best of the best.

Where to stay in Koh Samui

The majority of visitors to Samui will more often than not end up staying in Chaweng or Lamai.

Chaweng is the busiest and largest resort town in Samui and is the center of all attractions regarding dining, shopping and nightlife entertainment.

For the more reserved traveler, you can opt for Lamai which is the perfect destination for those looking for a more peaceful vacation.

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koh samui hotel
My hotel in Lamai

Koh Samui things to do

To find Samui’s unspoiled and undeveloped areas, you will need to get off the beaten track.

The best (and cheapest) way getting around Koh Samui is by renting your own scooter. The roads are mostly very good and you’ll also be able to scout for the best beaches.

This may seem like a daunting idea to most newcomers to Thailand, but it only takes a couple of minutes for you to get the hang of it and feel like a local.

koh samui island
Getting around Koh Samui on a scooter

The natural beauty of Samui can be seen everywhere but the highlight of my trip was the boat tour to Angthong National Marine Park.

Located one hour by speedboat from Koh Samui, Angthong National Marine Park is a pristine archipelago of 42 stunningly beautiful islands.

Day trips to these islands can be arranged from Samui.

The standard itinerary generally first stops at the park’s largest island, Koh Wua Talab, where a climb up the island’s central peak affords panoramic views over the Gulf of Thailand.

koh samui angthong
Amazing view from the top of Koh Wua Talab Island

If you decide to visit Angthong, You’ll thank me later. But be warned that the hike up requires a reasonable amount of effort.

Here are the best places to see in Koh Samui

1. Angthong National Marine Park

This was, of course, my #1 favorite in Koh Samui.

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2. Thongson Bay

One of the least crowded and in my opinion the most beautiful beach in Koh Samui.

3. Fisherman’s Village

If you want to get a true sense of what the island used to be like before the introduction of mass tourism, then head over to the Fisherman’s Village in Bophut.

4. Lamai Viewpoint

The Lamai viewpoint offers great photo opportunities if you are looking for a beautiful view of Lamai and Chaweng.

Koh Samui lamai viewpoint
Lamai viewpoint

5. The West Coast

Jump on your scooter and ride from Maenam in the north to Thong Krut in the south.

You will see many secluded bays and beaches which are generally very beautiful. On some days you could also have a whole beach to yourself.

Taling Ngam, located 20 minutes south of Nathon Town, is the best place to snorkel in Koh Samui if you’re staying on the west coast.

6. Big Buddha Temple

The best known and most famous of all the landmarks on Samui island is the Big Buddha temple.

This golden statue was built in 1972 and stands an impressive 12 meters tall.

It’s quite over-rated in my opinion, but still worth mentioning as everyone seems to visit it.

How to get to Koh Samui

The quickest and most comfortable way to get from Bangkok to Koh Samui is by flying.

Bangkok Airlines has 19 flights per day and Thai Airways has 2 flights per day.

koh samui airport
Koh Samui airport. Photo: Shutterstock

For a longer and cheaper trip, you can buy a joint (train, bus, and boat) ticket which can be purchased at Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong train station.

You can also buy a ticket at most travel agencies in Bangkok.

The first portion of the journey is an overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Surat Thani which will take around 12 hours.

On arrival at Surat Thani, staff will be waiting for you to board the bus to Donsak Pier which will take around 2 hours.

The third and final part of the journey is the ferry from Donsak Pier to Samui which will take around 2 hours.

donsak pier koh samui
Tourists at Donsak Pier. Photo: Shutterstock

An even cheaper option is traveling with Lomprayah who provide a bus-ferry combo service.

The first portion of the journey is by bus from Bangkok to Surat Thani. (9-10 hours).

After you disembark at Surat Thani there will be another bus taking you to Donsak Pier. (90 minutes)

From Donsak pier, ferries depart to Samui every hour and travel time is about 2 hours.

If you don’t fancy the direct route and looking to break up the journey, I would suggest the following itinerary:

Bangkok – Hua Hin (Train)

Hua Hin – Koh Tao (Bus/Ferry)

Koh Tao – Koh Samui (Ferry)

Can also have a stopover in Koh Phangan before Samui.

Koh Samui – Surat Thani (Ferry/bus)

Surat Thani – Bangkok (Bus/Train)

Island Hopping

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Traveling in Thailand is rather inexpensive, and you will find that many tourists hop from island to island.

Journey times are relatively short and each island offers something uniquely different.

The most popular trips are:

Koh Samui to Koh Phangan: 16 departures per day with the journey time being 45 minutes.

Koh Samui to Koh Tao: 7 departures per day with the journey time being 2 hours.

koh samui ferry
Tourists catching the ferry to Koh Tao. Photo: Shutterstock