Koh Samui was the second stop on our Thailand tour. From Bangkok, we decided to splurge a bit and fly to Koh Samui for about 140 USD per person instead of taking the longer, cheaper route which would’ve included a 12 hour bus ride + ferry, and would have us arriving in Koh Samui super late at night (no thanks).
I will say though, our flight to Koh Samui was on Bangkok Airways and although it only lasted 45 mins I would’ve been happy to stay on the plane longer. The seats were large, we had a pretty decent in flight meal, and there was even a private room in the Bangkok airport with coffee, snacks and wifi pre flight. (This isn’t sponsored, I was just super impressed!)
FYI to figure out our options for getting around Thailand (or anywhere we're traveling) I like to use the site rometorio.com. This is especially helpful when trying to figure out how to get to an island in a foreign country where I have no clue about transportation-and it is difficult to call and ask directly.
My thoughts on Koh Samui, Thailand
My initial thoughts about Koh Samui were that the airport was beautiful and reminded me a lot of the Maui and Kauai airports! I immediately knew I would like the beach-y vibe of Koh Samui, and was super excited to be back on an island after busy Bangkok!
Once we arrived at our Airbnb (click here to use my code and get $40 off your first stay!) we realized that it was actually a surprisingly loud island (?!?) with trucks driving by every few minutes or so blasting announcements about thai boxing or other local events coming up.
Having said that, Koh Samui is a beautiful island that still has the “feel” of Thailand: lots of shops, street food and people watching, plus beaches! The island is also pretty americanized which surprised me - inclduing Starbucks, Mcdonalds, etc.
We stayed near the airport in Koh Samui, which was convenient, and we could actually walk to Chaweng Beach (one of the most popular beaches on Koh Samui, stretching a few miles long!)
If you have the time I would definitely recommend going to the southern area of Koh Samui to explore! The best way to get there would either be a shared taxi or a motorbike, but again, rent/drive these at your own risk.
Transportation in Koh Samui
It is a small island so no matter where you are, you’ll probably be walking distance to plenty of restaurants/shops/beaches etc. which is awesome, especially if you don't feel like taking taxis everywhere! However, taxi's are EVERYWHERE and will even honk at you as they drive past in case you need a ride. It is also very easy to take boat/ferry's to the nearby islands, or fly out of the Koh Samui airport if that's more your style.
The Food in Koh Samui, Thailand
The food in Koh Samui, just like in Bangkok, was incredible. We would usually have a light breakfast of fruit and coffee and then decide between one of literally hundreds of Thai food restaurants for lunch/dinner. On average we spent about 20$ US a day on food in Koh Samui, and this was including things like drinks, fresh fruit, smoothies, and even the occasional “bucket” (liquor + juice). Eating this way (lots of Thai food + fruit) was definitely the most cost effective way to eat. However if you get sick of Thai food, there are lots of American options, but you're likely going to be spending a lot more.
In terms of gluten-free/dairy-free/allergy friendly options , they were pretty hard to come by in Koh Samui. Vegetarian options however, were almost everywhere.
Another perk, in my opinion, were the $10 massages on every corner.
Koh Samui Temples
The only temple we went to in Koh Samui was called the Big Buddha (or Wat Plai Laem) and was actually walking distance from out condo, which was awesome. The Big Buddha was a beautiful temple with tons of gold and other vibrant colors. I definitely recommend visiting if you're in Koh Samui, and just be sure to 1. get there EARLY to beat the heat (Wat Plai Laem opens at 10am) and 2. cover your shoulders (however they provide coverups for you if you don't have one!)
Overall, Koh Samui was a fun island with lots of great restaurants, shops, and beaches - however it definitely wasn't my favorite island in Thailand. I didn't end up snorkeling like I had liked to because the water (unfortunately) wasn't quite up to my standards (I know that sounds snobby, but coming from Maui I just had to be real with you guys!)
Also, the loud/crazy/party vibe was definitely not what I was expecting. It was fun for a few days, but if you're looking for a tranquil vacation, this is probably not the place for you. It would however be an awesome option for college students wanting to party on a budget!
Another perk was that there are tons of people from all around the world in Koh Samui, many of them travelers/backpackers, making it a great place to socialize and meet new people.
I wish we would have had more time to explore the southern area of Koh Samui because it looks beautiful, but overall after 4 days I feel like we pretty much saw/explored everything in the Northern part of the island.
For more on Thailand, check out my blog posts on Bangkok, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
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Have you been to Koh Samui? What did you think? Tell me below!