The beautiful island of Koh Samui is one of the largest islands off the East Coast of Thailand.
It’s located just a 30 minutes boat ride from Koh Phangan which hosts the Full Moon party and it’s the perfect place to check out before or after you party it up on Haad Rin.
However if you’re with a group of friends just wanting to explore or heading to Koh Samui for a romantic getaway you’ll find plenty of things to do!
How to get there:
I flew from Phuket when I went to Koh Samui.
It’s about a 1 hour plane ride away and you can sometimes grab cheap deals through Bangkok Airways or Thai Airways online.You can also fly straight from Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Pattaya, and Krabi with those airlines to get to Koh Samui if you’re holidaying around those areas.
However, there is the option of taking a ferry straight from Phuket.
Rassada Pier is Phuket’s main departure point for ferry trips to the surrounding islands. It’s just a 10 minute drive from the city of Phuket to the ferry terminal, otherwise you can book a bus/ferry packages here and catch a bus from Phuket Town which takes you straight to the terminal.
The ferry to Koh Samui will drop you at Bangrak Pier (Also known as Big Buddha Pier) which is close to the Samui Airport.
But if you’re on a budget, take the bus!
It can save you a nights accommodation as they leave Bangkok around 6pm and arrive at the Dongsak Pier in Surat Thani the next morning. You’ll than have to take a ferry across to the island.
Buy your ferry tickets here.
I didn’t take a bus, but I’ve heard that it’s recommended to book the VIP buses compared to the local ones. Any travel agency will be able to sell you a ticket from 250 to 300 baht for the cheapest local one (on Khao San Road) to 600 baht for a VIP bus which usually has less people, is air conditioned and doesn’t stop every time someone holds their arm out on the side of the road. They do stop however for bathroom breaks and some even have toilets on board.
Your other option is taking the over night train. The ride takes between 8 – 12 hours depending on the type of train you take. They leave from Hualamphong station and you can buy a ‘combination ticket’ which includes your transfer from the railway station to the ferry and also your boat ticket. They’re about 1,148 baht (NZD$48) for a second class cabin.
You can buy train tickets at Hualamphong station otherwise if you want to book in advance, head to http://www.thailandtrainticket.com (note that you e-mail back and forth with the company to arrange the tickets)
If you want to do the over-night train, it’s best to book 5 days in advance as they book up quickly.
When I was in Koh Samui, my friend and I stayed right on the beach at The Chaweng Resort. (Not to be confused with another resort – Chaweng Regent Beach Resort which is much nicer)
I haven’t been since 2013 so it may have changed by now, but the reviews on TripAdvisor are still okay.
It’s situated right in the city center, has free wi-fi and two pools.
We had a really large room for just the two of us. It’s more of a family hotel than a party hotel but they do breakfast daily and as it was right on the beach I remember lounging out on the edge of the resort watching the ocean in the midst of reading my book all day. Heaven! The staff there were very attentive as well 🙂
Right across the road there was a 7-11 and also a little travel store where we went and got our laundry done (Much cheaper than getting it done at the resort) We booked a day tour at the travel place as well. We figured if the store was right across from where we were staying, it’d be harder to scam us because lots of that goes on in Thailand. They’ll take your money when you’ve ‘booked a tour’ and than suddenly have no recollection of it when you turn up.
Thankfully our tour was legit and the next day, a van came and got us from outside our resort for our day tour.
We picked up a few other people who were on the tour also and headed up to Na Muang Waterfall.
The first waterfall we saw was Na Muang 1. It flowed down into a lovely natural pool which from what I remember was really refreshing as it was so hot!
About 30 minutes by foot further uphill was Na Muang 2 which is the smaller one of the waterfall but still just as nice.
Between Na Muang 1 and 2 we explored the Na Muang Safari Park, which had elephant rides as well as a monkey show and other entertainment. First off we did some elephant riding (Which unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of on my computer) then we went to the waterfall and had a swim!
Well I did, and a few other tourists did. If you’re ever overseas as a young white girl, Asians love you! I’m not sure why, but when I’ve gone to Thailand and Bali I’ve had so many Asian families come up and take photos with me. For example when I went to the waterfall and had a swim, my friend and I and an older couple were the only Europeans there so we had many many ‘family photos’ taken together from other tourists. It’s all a bit of a laugh and you do feel very flattered because they gush over your “beautiful white skin and blue eyes”
I can’t quite remember the order in which we did stuff, but we did go and see some tigers!
We also went and saw the Mummy Monk at Wat Khunaram.
It’s a bit of an unusual sight but defiantly worth a look to understand the Thai beliefs and culture. Most Buddhist Thais are very comfortable thinking that the end of their life is the natural order of how things are and view death as an opportunity to be reborn into a better place.
This monk pictured above is called Luong Pordaeng who died in 1973 in a seated meditative position, and ever since – his body has been on display in an upright glass case at the temple. It’s crazy because years later, his body isn’t really decaying. There are other mummy monks on Samui and throughout Thailand, but Loung Pordang is among the most highly revered. As this is a sacred place, you have to dress conservatively by wearing trousers or skirts that cover the knee. Entry is free, but you can make a donation which we did.
Looking back, I do feel very sorry for these Monkeys and I’m not sure if I’d do it again.
We went and watched monkeys run up coconut trees and throw coconuts down for us to drink. All the while on a long rope that their handler attached to them. The monkeys looked very well fed so I do hope they were at least a little bit happy 😦 even if they were chained to a long rope.
After the monkey show, we went and saw some more temples and then were driven to one of the tourist highlights – the famous rocks on Samui’s South Coast.
Hin Ta and Hin Yai are their names – also known as the Grandpa (Ta) and Grandma (Yai) that look like genitalia. Seriously…
The views from the rocks are really nice however!
You can see all across the sea to the nearby islands and a small white-sand beach which you can’t swim in but you can dip your feet in.
The clear waters here are so clear that pretty fishes and other marine life can often be seen from the surface. As it’s one of Koh Samui’s most popular attractions, every taxi driver will know how to get here, or you can arrange to stop here when booking a tour of the island.
We finished off our tour with a lovely early dinner on a beach somewhere (I wish I remembered where!) and then we were dropped off back at our hotel.
Note: The guy who was taking us on this day tour was friendly at the beginning of the trip and then ended up making me really uncomfortable. Thai men are very flirty but this guy went a little overboard. There was even a point in the tour where we went to an aquarium which was dark inside and he walked past and touched my ass. Very unprofessional! He kept saying the whole time he was going to take me out on a date and very obviously took photos of me on his personal phone for half the trip. Looking back, my friend and I should have been much firmer with him and told him it wasn’t okay to do things like that. But us being a bit younger, we just tried laughing it off and avoiding him half of the time. Apart from that, the whole tour was wonderful 🙂 (The below picture is of me and the tour guide + my very forced smile)
We saw most things in Samui, but didn’t get to see the Big Buddha which is actually one of their top attractions.
It’s on the Northern Coast of Samui and probably their most well known landmark.
Inside the surrounding temple are lots of different shrines and other smaller ornate Buddhas. There is also a small market selling a wide range of lucky charms and other souvenirs to check out if you’re ever in Koh Samui!
Koh Samui Advice:
When you decide on where to stay, do your research!
In the Northeast Corner of the island which is closest to the airport is Chaweng Beach (Where we stayed) and it’s the biggest and most lively place on the island. There’s lots of places to shop and party but it gets quite crowded in the high season and noisy when it comes to the early hours.
If you want to stay out of the noise, head down to Lamai which is better suited for families and still has good dining and shopping options.
If you’re on a budget, apparently Maenam is the place to be. More suited towards backpackers and couples, it’s a lot quieter after dark but still has all the options of activities like kite-surfing and football-golfing during the day.
When To Go:
The hottest time of the year is between March and April. With temperatures reaching 30 degrees plus!
From September – November the island see’s a lot of rain. Don’t worry though, like a lot of Thailand it’s more in short bursts than all day down-pours. Not the best time to come if you plan on going diving though as visibility isn’t that good because of rougher seas and wind.
From December – February it’s peak season which means higher hotel prices but slightly cooler temperatures.