Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui it is one of the most popular islands in the country. Chasing a slice of paradise, travelers flock here from all over the world, and the beauty of the island attracts everyone from the budget backpacker to the mega famous Hollywood celebrities.
And while famed for its palm tree edged beaches and crystal clear waters, the list of things to see and do here is both varied and interesting. The island is home to an abundance of natural wonders and man-made attractions, from mummified monks to thundering waterfalls and spectacular Buddhist temples.
We highly recommend spending a week, as you’ll be hard pressed to fit everything into just a few days.
How to Spend 7 Days in Koh Samui
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Get a Thai Massage
A Thai massage is a must – and they’re so cheap you could have one every day.
Chill Out on the Beach
1.5 million tourists visit Koh Samui every year to enjoy the kind of beaches you find on the front of magazines, and Chaweng Beach is a tourist favorite. This is the hub of Koh Samui, and where you’ll find nightlife, as well as plenty of restaurants and bars.
For something quieter, Lamai Beach is a beautiful long stretch perfect for kicking back and relaxing. It’s out of the way, making it perfect for a more peaceful vacation. Similarily, Choeng Mon Beach is on the north-eastern tip of the island, and this area is one of mystical secluded bays, quiet back roads and breaking surf on huge granite rocks.
Thongtakian Beach is a hidden gem not widely known by most visitors. With soft white powdery sand and crystal-clear shallow waters, this beach is absolutely beautiful and unspoiled. The crystal clear waters are more secluded, and snorkeling is some of the best.
With clear blue, warm waters, and amazing marine life, Koh Samui is an extremely popular destination for both experienced divers and those wanting to take a dive course.
Scuba Diving can be found quite easily all over the island. Short, accredited dive courses are readily available and prices are very reasonable compared to most countries.
For those wanting to try diving without investing in Scuba, Snookah Diving is a great alternative (allows you to descend below the surface and explore while your air supply follows along on the surface in a raft, connected to you by an extended breathing line). It’s half the price of a regular scuba diving trip, and generally only slightly more expensive than a snorkeling excursion.
Pro Tip: There are an abundance of other waters sports available on Koh Samui, including snorkelling, fishing, sea kayaking and sailing. Samui’s commitment and growing reputation as a destination for water sports is one of the many reasons why more and more people visit the island each year.
The Fisherman’s Village in Bophut is one of the few traditional places left on Koh Samui. It’s a rare spot which offers a true sense of what the island was before the introduction of mass tourism, fast food chains and international resorts.
Lined with a number of Chinese style old wooden shop houses, boutique shops sell everything from handmade clothes and handicrafts to furniture and footwear. Bophut Plaza in the centre of the fishing village is a great spot to hit up for souvenirs or gifts for friends and family.
Thai Cooking Class
Those in love with Thai food should definitely consider taking a cooking class. Learn how to prepare some of the most tantalizing Thai dishes. Create a full three-course meal with appetiser, main course and dessert with an experienced chef.
Cooking classes allow you to learn about the spices and ingredients absolutely necessary to successfully prepare flavourful Thai dishes. They generally take around two hours, and most offer a recipe booklet as a takeaway at the end.
Ang Thong National Marine Park
If you are visiting the island, do make a note to also visit Anthong Marine National Park. One of Samui’s most famous surrounding attractions, the park is also lined with spectacular and remote beaches, these more off the beaten path.
Dotted with 42 beautiful tiny islands, there are many day trip opportunities from the park. It offers spectacular scenery and beautiful swimming in the crystal clears waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
Full Moon Party
No-one throws a beach party quite like Thailand. If your trip to Koh Samui coincides with the full moon and you define yourself as “young”, you’ll probably want to catch this party.
Happening as you guessed it, on the night of each full moon, Thailand’s Full Moon Party is completely off the charts; an all night beach party which sees up to 40,000 people show up each month.
The party begins at dusk and there are more than a few different bars to dance and party at as you make your way along the beach. The beach explodes into a dancing frenzy as different DJ’s play their mix, drunken backpackers cover their bodies in neon paint, and limbo under kerosene soaked ropes.
Na Muang Waterfalls are a majestic set of two cascades known as Na Muang 1 and Na Muang 2. The first flows into a small pool that you can swim in, and the second is about thirty minutes further uphill, just as stunning.
The falls is about 12 kilometres south-east of Nathon Bay. Park entry is free, and there are many other beautiful spots along the walk to the falls, as well as small food stalls and souvenir huts. This makes for a nice change of scenery from the beach, and an idyllic spot for a swim.
Visit a Buddhist Temple
Koh Samui is bursting with Buddhist temples. You can marvel at stunning architecture, and even pay visit to see a mummified monk!
The most well known is the Big Buddha temple (Wat Phra Yai). Sitting on a little tiny island, this is a 12 meter tall statue of Buddha sitting in the Mara position, made of gold. It’s usually the first thing you spot if you fly into Koh Samui airport. It shows a time when Buddha was rejecting all temptations.
Pro Tip: You should cover your shoulders and knees and make sure that you travel with plenty of water. There are a lot of steps and it gets extremely hot, even when it’s cloudy.
Head to Wat Khunaram to see a mummified monk. Luong Pordaeng was a Buddhist monk who died in 1973 while seated in a meditative position. It was decided that his body would be preserved and he has been on display in a glass case ever since. Forty years later the body hasn’t seen decay.
For some people, it might be shocking to see a dead man, though most Buddhist Thais are not frightened of death. They believe it takes them one step closer to enlightenment, so the display gives them something to reflect on. There are other mummy monks on Samui and throughout Thailand, but Loung Pordang is among the most highly revered.
Ladyboy Cabarets Shows
If looking for a form of entertainment that is distinctly Thai, don’t miss a Ladyboy Cabaret Show on Chaweng Beach.
Thailand is more accepting of ladyboys than the rest of the world, and its katoey, or the ‘third sex’, have dominated the entertainment industry for generations. Thailand’s Ladyboy’s are world famous for being feminine. Many unwitting tourists have traveled to Thailand only to discover that the beautiful young lady paying them attention wasn’t a lady at birth!
“A typical show involves lip-synched interpretations of popular songs, complete with elaborate costumes and make-up. Some of the performances are skilfully choreographed and the tone is light-hearted, sprinkled with glitter and glitz.”
Muay Thai Training
If learning the art of Muay Thai is on your bucketlist, or you’re looking to improve your Thai boxing skills, Koh Samui is the place you want to be. People travel from all over the world to train here and “gyms offer travel and accommodation packages that combine an intense training program with a relaxing holiday on a beautiful tropical island.”
Muay Thai gyms and fitness camps are open to everyone, whether you’re a complete novice, or a professional fighter. Taking part in camps can be a perfect way to lose excess body fat and get in shape, or you can opt for a personal training schedule which is specially designed for your own level of fitness and experience.
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Photo credits: Featured photo by NoRMaN TsAi 蔡英颉. Pinterest Krabi Transportation by Mike Behnken. Pinterest fire image by Richard Herbert. Maenam Beach by Iker Urteaga. Diving with a sting ray by Arend Kuester. Pad Thai by femme run. Flaming jump rope by Duane Storey. Big Buddha Temple by invictaathome. Cabaret by John Shedrick.