Koh Samui caters for whatever level of activity you desire. You can whizz around the island or do absolutely nothing on the beach. Samui is also big enough to offer interesting rewards for the independently roaming explorer along its meandering mountain roads.
1. Ang Thong National Marine Park
This is the tropical paradise of your holiday reveries. A short boat trip from Samui gets you pristine sand and ridiculously photogenic scenery. Spend a day as a castaway, climbing handsome limestone mountains and exploring hidden lagoons. Truly unforgettable.
2. Big Buddha
Buddha is a big deal in Asia, and Samui’s biggest Buddha is the 12-metre statue at Phra Yai temple. All are welcome to pay respect, light a candle, burn incense or simply enjoy the ocean view. Deep thinkers can contemplate existence while the planes come in low to land at the nearby airport.
3. Chaweng Beach
Big, brash and lively, Chaweng Beach is the throbbing heart of Samui. The beautiful beach is globally popular and there’s plenty to entertain the non-recumbent holidaymaker. The nearby road ticks all the shopping and drinking boxes. Not everybody’s version of paradise, but definitely fun, fun, fun.
4. Bophut Fisherman’s Village
Bophut used to be a throwback to the traditional island ways of life, but now you’re more likely to bump into a barista or mixologist than a grizzled fisherman. This is the hip, modern face of Thai tourism, offering fine dining with fine views, and hits the sweet spot between trad and luxe.
5. Tamarind Springs Spa
Thai massage is one of the best activities you can do lying down. Massage places proliferate on Samui, but for a premium pampering experience visit this upscale spa. Well-trained staff offer the best in wellness treatments and enjoyably reasonable prices.
6. Sea Walking
There’s great diving and snorkelling not too far from the island, but for a truly unique underwater experience, try sea walking. Don a special helmet and wander the seafloor as part-astronaut, part-aquatic creature. Odd and fascinating.
7. Ladyboy Cabaret
Fabulously camp and camply fabulous, these glamorous transgendered ladies are guaranteed to put on an entertaining show that’ll really have you guessing. It ain’t the opera but it is marvellously cheesy fun.
8. Grandmother and Grandfather Rock
A couple of the massive boulders on Lamai Beach have rather suggestive anatomically-correct shapes. Choose either the male or female rock for a snigger-worthy selfie, safe in the local wisdom that doing so in some way blesses your love life.
Miami meets modern Samui at 9Gems. Don your finest jet-set attire and drink, dine and dance the night away at this lounge restaurant. This over-the-top hilltop destination offers high-end cocktails and fusion feasts.
10. Lamai Sunday Market
Thais love shopping and eating, and Samui’s best way to do both is to take a lazy stroll through the Sunday market in Lamai. Stock up on souvenirs or just graze the street food stalls.