Koh Samui

Koh Samui has the uncanny ability to be whatever you need it to be - a family holiday spot; a never ending beach party; or even a romantic getaway for two. A few simple facts, however, remain unchanged: Cheap beer, stunning beaches, and a relaxed atmosphere that instantly renders the outside world forgotten. Each of Koh Samui’s beaches has its own unique offering, so choose carefully. Partygoers will enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and buzzing nightlife of Chaweng, while families seeking a quieter location with plenty of activities on offer should go for Choeng Mon. For the ultimate in seclusion and luxury, it doesn’t get much better than the private beach of Tongsai Bay.

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Area 228.7 km2
Population 62,500
Languages Thai
Book Flights to Koh Samui Book now
Time Zone UTC+7
Currency Thai Baht
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Although the very name Koh Samui might conjure images of street food and casual beach dining, the island is quickly earning a reputation for its fine dining opportunities as well. Restaurants such as Barracuda (Maenam), Full Moon (Bophut) and Latest Recipe (Lamai) have well and truly put Koh Samui on the international culinary map. Best of all, the meals cost a fraction of what they would at comparable western restaurants. Shoestring travellers are also in luck. Dotted along the main streets of Chaweng and Lamai every evening are countless street food vendors, selling dishes such as barbecued chicken kebabs, fried chicken, grilled fish and pad thai. For dessert, it’s hard to go past the coconut ice cream topped with fresh fruit and nuts. There are even a few street vendors selling cocktails if it’s time to party. Traditional Thai cuisine is actually quite hard to come by in Koh Samui, particularly in the more developed areas of Chaweng and Lamai. For the island’s best traditional fare, make the journey over to the more secluded west coast and discover Koh Samui’s hidden gems. Top picks include the Mango Tree and Big John’s Seafood Restaurant. Those wishing to keep the night going with a few drinks after dinner have a plethora of options, ranging from the tacky (but always entertaining) beer bars in central Chaweng, through to the more sophisticated establishments along the beachfront in Bophut. For guaranteed low-key fun, pop in and say hi to the friendly owners at On Street Bar in Chaweng (look for the bright yellow sign).


Like just about any Thai holiday destination, Koh Samui is a great place to fill an empty suitcase without breaking the bank. The biggest bargains can be found in Nathon, the town’s administrative centre. Though not being a tourist spot, the range of products on offer in Nathan isn’t as great as in Chaweng. An afternoon of shopping in Chaweng can really get out of hand fast. A popular and indeed practical way to drop some cash is by buying artwork. Numerous artists have stalls in Chaweng, most of whom sell both original works and copies of famous pieces. Some will even do commissioned pieces such as portraits. The canvasses can be rolled up for easy transportation back home. The multitude of tailors on the island means many travellers to Koh Samui leave with at least one new suit or dress in their suitcase. With so many tailors to choose from, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming they’re all the same, which can easily result in $300 being wasted on a poorly-made, poorly-fitting suit. Keep an ear out for recommendations, or stick to the bigger and better-known shops like Gino’s or Timmy’s.