The Thai paradox is that most citizens of the kingdom are deeply reverential Buddhists who will grab any excuse for a party. The fun is spread throughout the year, and some of the dates are rather fluid, but Samui comes with a no-boredom guarantee.
January: Samui Festival
This new arts, culture and sports festival kicks off the year with a bike and run event with a choice of distances from mini-marathon to fun run, and a choice of wheels or feet. Around Nathon’s pier there’s an art street and mini music festival.
February: Samui Swine Classic
February sees the big event in the frisbee calendar – a disc golf tournament where the frisbee has to land in a series of buckets. The course is open year-round but the Swine Classic brings in pros as well as amateurs competing in four skill divisions. A heads-up: these guys can party hard too.
For the motherlode of mad Asian festivals, this giant mid-April water fight is an unforgettable experience. The entire Thai population stops being shy and goes nuts for three days in celebration of Thai New Year. Get ready to get soaked.
May: Samui Regatta
Pulling in the yacht set since 2002, this is the Gulf of Thailand’s big event. May sees six days of sailing, with races happening daily off Chaweng Beach, plus plenty of onshore parties, concerts and gala events for the landlubbers.
July: Queen’s Cup Golf
Some of golf’s big stars fly in to compete in the Samui leg of the Asian Tour, which has created a network of world-class greens on the region. Head to Santiburi Samui Country Club in June to see the pros gently slog it out for the big prize money.
November: Loy Krathong
This festival occurs throughout the kingdom on the full moon of the 12th Thai lunar month, which means sometime in November. Participants float decorated baskets – krathongs – in lakes or temple ponds to pay respect to water spirits. Try not to use foam krathongs as they’re not environment friendly.
Religious days are sprinkled liberally throughout the Thai calendar. Follow the locals to the numerous temples and make merit. However, be ready for some outlets to not sell alcohol on these days, although your hotel will still be serving.
Full Moon Parties
You’ve heard the stories, and now you’re just a short speedboat ride away from one of the world’s most bacchanalian events. Every month hedonists hit the main beach of sister island Koh Phangan for a legendary party. Not for the faint of heart, but unforgettable nonetheless.
A group of Samui residents have banded together to promote events that focus on clean and green sustainability for this rapidly developing island. Their green market pops up fairly regularly at Elysia Fisherman’s Village and offers locally-grown organic produce plus discussions and family activities.
There’s a school of thought that believes running in the tropics is lunacy. If you graduated from a different, healthier school then go running, but never stop hydrating. Samui’s fitness calendar features races throughout the year, including fun runs, full marathons, midnight runs and the intriguing concept of the neon bikini run.