Koh Samui – A treat to your senses

thai boats on the beach

From the moment you step foot on Samui, a special journey through your senses will begin. You will be rewarded with stimuli along the way and feel overloaded with energy when you leave. The island is not big, but the opportunities it offers are endless. To get the most out of your stay, you have to balance between your options. I will share with you my personal favorites of the island to help you better plan and enjoy your trip.

An important question is where to stay. The most popular spots are along the eastern shores of Samui. Chaweng and Lamai offer a great variety of hotels and hostels, numerous restaurants, bars and tour agencies. If you prefer a convenient and bustling area for your stay, anywhere near these two towns will be a good choice. I took another route and stayed in the remote region of Taling Ngam. My hotel was located on the western side of Samui, half an hour away from the touristy cities. In retrospect I feel this was a good decision as I was able to take a taxi or ride my scooter to town any time I wanted to, while I enjoyed the serene beaches and quiet villages of Taling Ngam.

Talking about scooters… I guess this is the cheapest, most efficient (and fun) way to get around on the island. In a day or two you can visit the most important spots and never wait for a ride. Usually the hotels can organize the rent for you, but it’s easy to find rental offices in the bigger cities also. There are a few quite interesting places to check out. It’s worth starting with the Big Buddha – a 12 meter statue in the north of Samui. This is a bit out of the way, but a nice introduction to the religious aspect of the island. If you prefer to stay only in the southern region Wat Rattanakosin is not only a place to see a Buddha statue but also offers a fantastic view of the southern shores of Koh Samui.

Ang Thong National Park beach
The beach where you arrive at Ang Thong National Park

If you want to get the chills, pay a visit to the mummified monk near Lamai. Supposedly the monk died while meditating and his body didn’t decompose. A weird experience for a Westerner but a place of worship for a Buddhist thai. One more spot I liked a lot was the Na Muang waterfalls. Still on the southern part of the island and a nice little track into the woods.

Once in Samui, you will surely spend some time on the beach. My favorite ones were again in Taling Ngam and also in Bophut. Chaweng and Lamai are nice but crowded. During peak season talented local vendors will try to sell you something you don’t need every 2 minutes. They walk down the beach keeping 100 meters of distance, so by the time one leaves and you lay down on your towel, the next one will arrive. After a day on the beach treat yourself with a thai massage either in your hotel or still on the beach.

view from Ang Thong National Park
The breathtaking views from a cliff in Ang Thong National Park

Agencies offer several daytrips you can choose from. One you can NOT miss is a boat trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park. This place is majestic. You arrive to a set of uninhabited and protected islands that look like paradise on Earth. If you can, take part in the seriously arduous hike to the top of the cliff of the main island. It is only for the most fit as you have to climb on sharp rocks and pull yourself up with ropes, but your reward is the most fantastic sight you will see in Thailand. Some tours also offer snorkeling or kayaking around the park which is great fun. If you are a diving enthusiast, the coral reefs of Koh Tao are a better choice. There are also organized tours from Samui and the service is professional. As far as I know you can also take lessons in Koh Tao to become a certified diver. You can learn more about Samui diving here.

beachside dinner table
Beachside dinner to end a fantastic day

Koh Samui offers a great variety of delicious thai food in reasonable prices. And I don’t mean Pad Thai necessarily. Make sure to try Tom kha kai (a coconut soup with chicken) or Tom yum (a spicy shrimp soup) to start with. Any fried rice or curry could be a good choice to continue with. My personal favorite is a crab curry called Boo Paht Pong Karee. The variety of fruits is simply astonishing – lychees, dragon fruits, ripe mangos, pineapples will make a great juice or an afternoon snack. For some more ideas on what you can choose from, click here.

On your last evening, make sure to light a sky lantern and send your troubles and problems away with it. They are considered to bring good luck, and who knows, maybe they will help to bring you back to this magical island one day.

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View from Koh Samui lookout point