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Koh Samui is just a 1 hour flight from Bangkok and is one of Thailand’s most visited islands. With it’s turquoise ocean water, precious golden sand, and luscious greenery, this place is the absolute definition of Paradise.
However, I must admit that if you want to see “authentic Thailand” and don’t want to be overwhelmed with white people and other tourists, then you might not like Koh Samui. I saw three times the amount of tourists than locals and the prices were extremely inflated compared to other places around Thailand. I sort of felt like I was on a European beach, by the amount of Europeans (and Russians) everywhere. However, there are places around the island that you can go to escape the people and have a more tranquil experience.
My friends and I only spent 2 days on the island, because we headed to the Full Moon Party on a nearby island called Koh Phangan. Nonetheless, we did lots of awesome things and were constantly entertained.
– Currency: Thai Baht (THB)
– Language: Thai
– Population: 65,000
– Koh Samui is the second biggest island in Thailand
– Over 1.5 million tourists visit per year
– The first inhabitants were fisherman about 1,500 years ago
– There weren’t any roads until 1970, when huge investments were made on the island and now it is one of the most visited islands in Asia
– The entire island measures 25 kilometers long and 21 kilometers wide
Culture & People
Like mentioned before, most of the people you will see are Foreigners with the exception of some Monks around the Buddhist temples. The majority of them being Europeans, Russians and other white people. I usually don’t prefer to go to places with a lot of tourism, but Koh Samui is an exception because it’s so beautiful.
The beaches are packed with Europeans, with local Thai’s walking by every 5 seconds to sell you coconuts or a massage. I felt kind of guilty being there, because us tourists were totally taking over their beaches. Well, at least we pump money into their economy!
During the daytime, everything is peaceful and quiet. The beaches are very relaxing and the waves are actually nice (at least when I was there). In town, you’ll find lotsof little restaurants, shops, Thai massage places and souvenir shops. For transportation, everyone rides mopeds around the island. They are so cheap and convenient.
I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and make some new local friends! Click this link to learn the Top 10 Thai Words to keep in your back pocket
What to Do?
Our hostel organized an “all day” tour for a flat rate (around $40) and I highly recommend it. The tour was called the Island Safari Tour and they will pick you up the back of legit a pickup truck and drive you around (on the truck bed) all day to do various activities. Everything is included in the price, even an amazing Thai lunch on the top of a mountain.
Some key highlights of the safari were:
– seeing an elephant show
– petting a live Tiger
– seeing a monkey show
– feeding the elephants
– exploring a man-carved Park with awesome statues
– Go offroading 4X4 to a mountain top 650 meters above sea level- amazing viewpoint
– going to see the Big Buddha statue
– checking out the viewpoint from grandfathers rock
– Taking a swim in Namuang Waterfalls
– Visiting the Mummified Monk
^ALL of that^ for just $40!
It was a pretty awesome day. All the truck drivers are crazy (in a good way), so they’ll blast music and drive like maniacs around the Island. For the price of the tour, this was really the best move as you’ll accomplish everything and more around Ko Samui. In other words, it’s the best bang for your buck!
On another note, you should definitely rent a scooter for $5 USD per day and ride it around the island. It’s the best and cheapest way to explore around. But be careful because people drive on the left side of the road (as opposed to the U.S.), so it might be a little challenging at first- especially making a right turn.
The Food in Ko Samui, although quite expensive, was spectacular. Every Thai dish that I was was just as good as the one I ate before. Some of my favorite dishes that I ate in Koh Samui were Phanghan curry, green curry, pad thai and fried rice. Pad thai (shown in the pic) is one of my all-time favorite dishes.
There are also many Western food places, but who wants to eat that when they can eat delicious Thai food?
If you want to learn about the best local dishes, then please read my post on 7 Thai Foods to Try.
The nightlife on Koh Samui is a great time. Given the fact that there are so many tourists, pretty much everyone is looking to party. There are some fun bars and clubs around town, but they are quite expensive. Green Mango is the best club!
To be honest, I did partied much harder on the neighboring island of Koh Phangan- debatably the biggest party island in the world. This is where all the fun happens! Koh Phangan is world famous for the Full Moon Party (read my story here!). It occurs once a month (on every full moon) and consists of 30,000 + people raving on a beach and drinking buckets of booze (shown in pic) until sunrise. Koh Phangan also hosts numerous other parties, like the half moon party, New Years party and new moon party. There is basically something happening at least once a week. It’s only a 30 minute ferry ride from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to find your hotels on this link 🙂