It was a mere four decades ago that Koh Samui was first being discovered by travellers. Back then, luxury meant a hut with running electricity and water and trying out mushrooms on the menu.
Fast forward 40 years and now we have an extravagant holiday destination that boasts of exclusive wine bars, resorts and nightclubs. Fine sand and turquoise waters now welcome tourists out here all year around.
This island is Thailand’s second largest and brings forth a cosmopolitan mix of lodging, spectacular beaches and sunshine all year round. Here’s an ultimate guide to make the most out of your vacation to Koh Samui this year.
When To Visit?
If you are visiting Koh Samui, look forward to warm and humid tropical temperatures all year round. It rains during September and November. Otherwise the average temperatures stay between 27-29 degrees annually.
The best time to plan an economical visit would be during February as its off-season. March and April still offer a less touristy time but the high temperature can get to you. Don’t forget to bargain to get really good prices around Koh Samui around these months.
Moving In And Around Koh Samui
The easiest way to reach Koh Samui is to fly with SilkAir, Thai Airways or Bangkok Airways. There are also ferries that can get you to this island from the areas in the nearby periphery.
When it comes travelling around the island, renting a car is the most convenient option as the island is compact and there is a single road going around. It usually takes between 1-3 hours to drive around Koh Samui depending on the number of stops you make along the way.
Know What And Where To Eat
The trick out here is to approach basic looking shops and food stalls. They serve authentic cuisines with fresh ingredients as all the locals eat here too. If you are around W Retreat Koh Samui, do have the Som Tam Thai (spicy green papaya salad with salted duck eggs) at the Crok Yai.
Head over to the Hua Thanon Fishing Village where you can find pre-tourism Samui life along the narrow street. The street is bussing with local eateries, wooden shophouses and women selling fresh seafood with colorful boats gleaming in the background. If you happen to be here, do look out got the hor mak pla wrapped in a banana leaf (fish steamed with coconut milk).
Another local favorite is the Horm Lamai café, which has various specialties on the menu. They are famous for their breakfast dim sums and old-school styled brewed coffee. They serve kanom jeen with veggies (vermicelli noodle and curry smorgasbord) at lunchtime.
Places To Visit & Feel Like A Tourist
Wat Plai Laem
Wat Plai Laem is home to the most famous statue in Koh Samui. The thousand-arm bodhisattva of compassion, Kwan Im rests here next to the temple hall. There is another sculpture of the Maitreya Buddha set in a picturesque background.
There are several prayer areas and a lake with big fish that you can feed. The walls are adorned with murals. You can also find an amazing fresh food market out here.
Ang Thong Marine National Park
This marine park is all about natural limestone cliffs, pristine peach colored sands and natural beauty at its prime. Various tour operators also offer many canoe and snorkelling adventures that are worth every penny.
Lad Koh Viewpoint
If birdseye views are your style then head over to the Lad Koh viewpoint. This point has some of the best views in Koh Sumai. Get here in time to watch the sunrise between Lamai and Chaweng and the sunset from Nathon and West Coast.
Bophut’s Fisherman Village
Rustic style buildings welcome tourists to this village market. The alleys are gleaming with trendy restaurants, eateries, hotels and boutiques along the Beach Road. Don’t forget to visit on a Friday as the area turns into a walking street market with a vibrant atmosphere.
Hin Ta and Hin Yai
This is truly a sight for sore eyes if you have the knack for it. Witness nature-imitating art at these natural geological formations with the art of the ribald at the Hin Ta and Hin Yai.
If you wish to admire these majestic natural creations, then head over to Hin Ta and Hin Yai situated along the fishing village of Hua Thanon. Expect to find buffalo fields along with a lush green landscape.
The Secret Buddha Garden
Hidden in the hills along Koh Samui’s interior, this garden has an unusual collection of sculptures set amidst a forest. The garden is said to be a creation of Nim Thongsuk, a humble fruit farmer who constructed these statues around his farming land.
There are several statues depicting humans, animals and even deities out here. A stream and waterfall flow through the garden filling it with tranquility. Also known as Heaven’s Garden, be prepared to get lost out here, for you may never know what lies around every corner.
Ladyboy Cabarets in Chaweng Beach
Don’t be surprised to find a community of pretty ladyboys or katoeys out in Thailand. They are world famous, very feminine and very entertaining. Make sure to witness at least one show with some lip-synced interpretations, elaborate costumes and mind-blowing make-up.
A Few Common Mistakes To Avoid
Although you may feel that heading over to Koh Samui will just be like ‘any other’ beach vacation but make sure you take care of a few things given below:
Remember to pack right. Make sure you carry enough mosquito repellent bracelets; lightweight linen shirts and yoga mat flip-flops.
Plan ahead. Make sure you book accommodation and travel well in advance to avoid any last minute calamities.
Stock up on sunscreen. Koh Samui may be good for other things, but affordable sunscreen is not on the list. Keep in mind that sunscreen costs almost 300% more out here.
Renting a cheap jeep. To move around the air, always opt for air-conditioned car rentals rather than the traditional airy option. The heat will definitely get to you.
Too much Pad Thai. It’s just something that is well known around the world these days. The traditional Thai cuisine has a lot to offer. Make sure you try out a variety of dishes.
Missing out on sunrises. Well, most travellers do miss out on this. Wake up in time to experience the magic of a sunrise out here in Koh Samui.
To wrap it all up, this guide gives you a heads up for everything that you can look forward to when landing in Koh Samui. This season is a great opportunity for travellers to explore this hidden gem in Asia.