How many days in Koh Samui is Enough? Well, people can stay for weeks and months on Koh Samui and not become bored of exploring Koh Samui or not find anything new to do. However, most people come for a week to ten days. So, what does a typical Koh Samui itinerary look like? Well, there is no direct answer to that, if you want to fully immerse yourself in Thai culture you can spend months on Samui. However, seven days is probably a minimum to see the bare essentials.
Koh Samui is the largest of the three main Gulf of Thailand islands and is one of Thailand’s and Southeast Asia’s tourist mainstays and is the perfect vacation spot for backpackers and package tourists alike. It was first developed for tourism in the late 70s and early 80s when backpackers discovered the iconic beaches and laidback local lifestyle. Since then it has developed at a pace and is seen as one of the top Thai tourist destinations. It is Thailand’s second-largest island and offers a plethora of activities and sights which bring tourists here in their thousands. Samui is part of three islands on the coast of Surat Thani, from the smallest Koh Tao to the Full Moon Party island of Koh Phangan and then Koh Samui, which is the largest and most populated.
How to get to Koh Samui?
Getting to and from Samui has been made easy in recent years. The airport, handily located near Chaweng and Lamai, is modern and has been bringing in flights from Bangkok for the last 30 years. However, there is limited airport capacity, as you can imagine for an island, and the airlines and tourist authorities have thought through the issue. The island is also accessible via a number of ferries, both from the mainland (Surat Thani) and other nearby islands. There is a daily ferry to and from Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Speedboats will also take you to and from Samui. On Full Moon Party days, transfers to and from Koh Phangan are done by speedboat.
Finally, a recent brainwave from the tourist authorities has linked the mainland transport hub in Surat Thani to Samui. Local airlines (Nok Air and Air Asia) both offer fly/ferry/bus tickets which will take you from Bangkok to your resort of choice with a seamless transfer.
Getting around the island has been made easy in recent years. There are taxis available, mostly plying their trade in and around Chaweng, but available to take you anywhere you want on the island. There’s also songthaews (pick up trucks with benches in the back) which will take you from beach to beach. Minivans will take you across the island and you can also rent your own scooter.
Where to stay in Koh Samui?
Most first-time tourists choose to stay in Chaweng for its ease of availability of everything – there’s even a department store in the heart of Chaweng, a mere few steps from the beach.
The selection of hotels is most broad on Chaweng, all the multinational luxury resorts and hotels are represented, along with boutique Thai hotels. You will find villas with private swimming pools, hotels with palm-lined pools and all manner of luxury at Chaweng’s resorts.
luxury hotel: Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort -SHA Extra Plus This 5-star luxury provides modern Thai-style suites and spacious villas. It has Featuring a first-rate spa, on-site restaurants, and an outdoor infinity pool with sea views
mid-range hotel: Chura Samui This 4-star resort boasts relaxing massage treatments and a white marble infinity pool overlooking Chaweng Beach. This hotel offers free WiFi in all areas.
budget hotel: Montien House – SHA Plus this beautiful beachfront resort offers a large outdoor pool and memorable dinners on the beach. It provides massage services and luxurious accommodation with private terraces.
You can check more the best areas to stay in Koh Tao in the post where to stay in Koh Samui
What are the best things to do in Koh Samui?
Chaweng Beach is the largest and best-known beach in Koh Samui. The white sandy crescent beach is lined by upmarket resorts and hotels, and the long main street is packed with brand-named restaurants and expensive eateries. Here the beach party never really stops, and you will find beachfront restaurants serving food and drink into the small hours.
Chaweng Walking Street and the Chaweng Night Market are within a short walk of the beach and are teeming with life after sunset. There are Muay Thai fights organized nightly, lots of nightlife with bars and clubs, and a general buzz about the place that attracts visitors from all over the world.
Lamai Beach is another popular package tourist destination in the south east corner of Samui. Just down the coast from Chaweng Beach, Lamai is known a more relaxed, quieter version of Chaweng. The beach is slightly shorter than Chaweng, but no less stunning. Its shining white sand and crystal waters are the stuff of picture postcards.
The accommodation on Lamai range from luxury resorts to cheap hostels. The beach is dotted with swanky beach clubs for daytime sipping watching the world go by, and late-night revelry when the night owls come to play. There are food carts selling street Thai food, Thai restaurants, and a busy nightlife to keep travelers busy. This is Samui’s second most popular beach but it has a relaxed vibe.
Bophut Beach, on the northern coast of Samui, is where to head for a seriously quiet time. There’s a string of high-end resorts, offering serious luxury, along the beach. The beach itself is smaller than the other main beaches on Samui and is very shallow.
On Bophut, you will find the fisherman’s village walking street which is packed full of small eateries and food stalls. If you visit a couple of places in a day, you will still not have sampled all that is on offer here in a month.
Bophut Beach is a great location to visit the many other attraction around northern Samui. Wat Phra Yai, or more popularly referred to as Big Buddha Temple, is a Buddhist temple with, yes, a huge Buddha statue sitting at the top of a hill overlooking Bophut. The Buddha is strikingly decked in gold and there are a number of smaller statues surrounding the main structure.
If strenuous activity isn’t in your perfect vacation holiday plans, then perhaps temples and the serenity of the local Chinese and Thai Buddhism will offer you a few days respite. The temple at Wat Plai Laem is maybe worth a visit. It is close to the Big Buddha structure.
Just along the northern coast you will find Maenam Beach. This is certainly the least developed beach on Samui and is where the locals prefer to live. Maenam is a shallow beach that lends itself to watersports. Here you will find speed boats, windsurfers, and a whole host of water activities.
Choeng Mon Beach is another popular destination, located on the north east coast. The beach itself is small, and definitely doesn’t offer the expanse of the more popular beaches on Samui, but it does offer stunning views from the infinity pools dotted along the coast. The nearby islands and ocean views certainly make up for the lack of the white sandy beach.
After you choose your beach and visit all the local attractions, there’s still plenty of Samui to discover. Island tours can be purchased in local tour agencies at each resort beach. There are day trips to local island getaways, there are trips to marine parks and there’s diving and snorkelling in abundance. Ang Thong Marine Park is one of the most sort after – a collection of small islands with looming limestone cliffs and deserted bays and beaches offers travellers stunning photo opportunities. The jewel in the crown is the Emerald Lake, often referred to as the Blue Lagoon, which is a stunning turquoise lake encased totally in one of the marine park’s island
Apart from day trips, there’s also hiking and sightseeing to the natural wonders on offer. Hin Ta and Hin Yai have their stunning, if not a little crude and rude, rock formations. Located on the beach these are popular destinations for Instagram folks to take selfies with the amusing rock formations.
Hiking up in the hills brings many natural wonders. Samui has some spectacular hiking trails and waterfalls. Especially in the rainy season when there is an abundance of water, the waterfalls at Na Muang and Tan Rua offer those typical Thai views. These are the two tallest waterfalls on the island and have gorgeous pools for swimming and refreshing after your long hike.
In the center of the island, you will find all kinds of sights and attractions. There are more temples, most notably Wat Khunaram. Additionally, you will find zip-lining, a zoo and more shopping than you will know what to do with.
So, How many days do you need in Koh Samui?
Many come for a few days, but stay for weeks, months, or even years but seven days is probably a minimum to see the bare essentials. The most beautiful beaches on Samui can be found on the east coast, however, there’s still a lot to see and do outside of those beach resorts. Hiking in the hills, visiting temples and waterfalls, diving for marine life and looking for turtles, Samui really has it all. There are luxury resorts, cheap hostels, expensive fine-dining or cheap street stall in abundance. Transport options to the island have never been better and people are visiting in ever larger numbers.