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Having spent about a week in Koh Samui, here are some tips on 10 things to do in Koh Samui, where to go, with some personal suggestions. Enjoy!
1. Explore Chaweng Beach
- 1 1. Explore Chaweng Beach
- 2 2. Go Island Hopping at Koh Tao & Nangyuan Island
- 3 3. Go visit the Big Buddha
- 4 4. Venture to Coral Cove & Crystal Bay
- 5 5. Do Water Sports
- 6 6. Go for a Full-Moon Party at Koh Phangan
- 7 7. Visit the local Night Markets (Fishermans Walking Street, Lamai)
- 8 8. Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
- 9 9. Get a Traditional Thai Massage
- 10 10. Just explore!
Although critics have criticised the most popular beach of Koh Samui for becoming too touristy, I still believe that Chaweng Beach is a lovely and lively spot. I lazed around the beach on my first day here, listening to the waves crashing onto the shores. I suggest paying a little to get a cosy spot on a resort’s private stretch of the beach. Various touts go around trying to get tourists to purchase their wares. This is a surefire way to get around that.
The nightlife here is fantastic. Though not as raucous as Bangla Road in Phuket, Chaweng Beach, with its popular Green Mango Club and Ark Bar, still manages to impress. The music and fire shows are decent and worth your time.
Suggestion: If you are not too scared of the dark, don’t be afraid to use the beach to walk towards Ark Bar. It will be visible as the fire shows happen continuously. Furthermore, it saves you time and there are some pop-up chill out “bars” by the beach that serve cheap alcohol and decent music, if you’re looking for a relaxed chill out on the beach with friends instead of partying the night away. It saves your wallet 🙂
2. Go Island Hopping at Koh Tao & Nangyuan Island
Many tourists that visit Koh Samui take a day trip to the nearby island of Koh Tao (usually packaged with Nangyuan Island). It’s beautiful iconic white sand bar between two headlands attracts many daytrippers everyday. The waters are crystal clear, with fish appearing by your side as you take a few steps into the sea.
On a typical snorkelling day trip, your boat will bring you to 2 snorkelling sites and Nangyuan Island at the end. You will get to look at the vibrant biodiversity in Koh Tao, and even get to relax on the beach if you would rather tan. I usually find it easier to see the fishes with my goggles rather than my snorkels. I almost always end up taking my snorkel off and replacing them with my goggles.
Price: SGD 40-60 per person (bargain for better prices). Differing prices are due to factors like boat quality and whether you get light snacks on board.
Suggestion: Stay a few nights on Koh Tao instead of making a day trip here, if you have the time. It will be much quieter when the daytrippers leave, then you will be free to explore the whole island 🙂
Suggestion: At the sand bar, try to swim a little further out on the side (which is facing the sea insead of the mountains). You will eventually reach a platform of dead coral that you can stand on. There you can see various kinds of fish feeding on the algae that are present on the coral bits. I stood there (yes you can stand! In the middle of the sea because of the elevated platform) watching the fish for some time. They would usually ignore you and continue feeding, allowing you to take all the photos you want.
3. Go visit the Big Buddha
This majestic statue tells of the Buddhist culture in Thailand, with its many arms. There is also a gong on the side which you can try rubbing with your hands to produce a clear distinct echoing sound. Unfortunately, my not-so-nimble hands were not able to replicate the sound.
Besides visiting the Big Buddha, there are also shops lined around the area selling ornaments and typical Thai products like elephant pants and silk scarfs. Its good to look around, but I do not recommend that you buy the goods here as they are mostly likely to be overpriced, even after bargaining.
Suggestion: While parking at the Big Buddha, I suggest making a short walk to the end of the road, where you can access the sea. There you can climb onto some rocks to take your perfect Instagram shot 🙂 please be careful not to cut yourself or fall though. Seems like we were the only ones doing it there.
4. Venture to Coral Cove & Crystal Bay
This little cove boasts vibrant corals if you swim out farther just to the edge of the huge rocks that you see at the side. Many people don’t know about this side, adding more to its tranquil surroundings. Although the sand here is little rougher than that of Chaweng Beach, the quiet surroundings, amazing scenery and nice corals make it worth your time. If you ever feel hungry, there’s a cosy little cafe at the beachfront to cater to your needs. Visit while the peace lasts!
You can also attempt to climb some rocks like I did. However, please be careful. I almost slipped and fell into the waters as I was trying to jump onto another rock. Don’t be like Dexter, be safe. I was amazed that some people had even clambered onto a rock to tan , while holding a book to read.
DIrections: Google Maps: Coral Cove
Suggestion: I suggest climbing the rocks at the left side of Coral Cove, where the gradients are gentler and the rocks are more accessible.
5. Do Water Sports
You can also immerse yourself in a variety of water sports at the various beaches in Koh Samui. Jet skiing and surfing activities are plentiful around the island. They have this unique activity known as Flyboarding, where you use powerful jets of water to propel yourself in the air. It looked really interesting!
They have a wide variety of surfboards that you can rent and go surfing. The waves at Chaweng beach were small, around 2m, so it was good for basic surfing. Other activities include paddleboarding, kayaking and snorkelling, all at reasonable prices if you bargain.
Another option is to get a diving / free diving licence here. There are many reputable PADI certified instructors working for the dive schools here. It takes approximately 3 whole days for a Basic Open Water Licence and 2 days for an Advanced Open Water Licence. Diving is pretty fun and it really calms your mind. Get ready to be awed by the sealife!
Suggestion: Try to bargain for more than 1 item. Bargain for one item, then bargain for the other item, then try to get a combo package deal at the end. The price difference would be worth the time, trust me 🙂
6. Go for a Full-Moon Party at Koh Phangan
During my research on Koh Samui before my trip, I had read a lot about Koh Phangan’s famous Full Moon Parties. However, since I was with family when I came here, I did not manage to attend one. In spite of that, I would recommend experiencing this once in your life. An overcrowded beach, filled with scores of intoxicated people grooving to mixes and beats, I would like to try it at least once.
Cost: SGD 40 (Normal), SGD 56 (VIP)
Suggestion: You can buy tickets for the speedboat to Koh Phangan via the numerous tourist information shops in Koh Samui. They sell other tour packages (eg: Koh Tao) as well. Remember to bargain! Or you might get ripped off at a price that is 3x the normal cost.
7. Visit the local Night Markets (Fishermans Walking Street, Lamai)
The night markets in Koh Samui sell an assortment of goods and food. I visited the one in Lamai, which had 2 food streets and 2 shopping streets. Fresh hand-made pizzas were going for SGD8 per piece. I bought two, one of the way there and one on the way back. Food here averages SGD 1-8, depending on what you purchase. I tried this fantastic Thai Milk Tea for only SGD 1.5, it was flavourful, not too milky and absolutely wonderful. They also sold unique edibles like crickets, silkworms and grasshoppers. I did not take them 🙂
Besides food, the night markets also offer a variety of goods to purchase for your loved ones back home. I was particularly intrigued by this set of paintings that I saw at the shopping street in Lamai. The best places to get cheap and affordable deals for your elephant pants, skirts, shorts are definitely at the night markets. This is because the rental costs for the stalls are lower, so vendors can afford to sell goods at markedly lower prices than at other areas.
Opening hours: Fisherman’s : 5pm – 10pm; Lamai: 5pm – 11pm approximately
Directions: Google Maps : Bo Phut Fisherman’s Village Night Market, Lamai Sunday Night Market
Cost: SGD 1-8 per item, depending on what you purchase
Parking Area: Fisherman’s: Right side of entrance (small fee) ; Lamai: Try to park outside on the roadside, its a short walk to the Walking Street.
Suggestion: Try to shop around at different stalls for your items. I found a really nice Captain America singlet at one shop but it was selling at a starting price of THB300, after some time, found another shop that was selling at a starting price of THB 200, this means that your bargaining margin just went up.
8. Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
This place spells tourist all over. And that is what makes it unique. It seems like the local authorities have built a little touristy town at the North West area of Koh Samui.
I dont know why, but most of the shops were not open when I was there. It could have been due to poor business or just the conditions on the day. Also, the sunscreen cream sold at the pharmacy there was way overpriced. Do not purchase it there.
Suggestion: Walk further in, once you park at the Fisherman’s Wharf public carpark. You will soon reach Bophut Beach, where people usually do kitesurfing.
9. Get a Traditional Thai Massage
There are Thai Massage parlours scattered all around the island! I would recommend getting a good massage to ease your aches after a day of snorkelling or diving. The Thai masseurs are friendly and really professional in relieving muscle knots and pain. Here are various massages I have tried and recommend:
Approximate prices vary from shop to shop, however these are the prices you should be getting.
1-hour Foot Massage: THB 200 (perfect if you have been walking for the entire day)
1-hour Oil Massage : THB 250 (the standard Thai Massage where they use heavy pressure to stretch your muscles)
1-hour Head & Neck: THB 300 (definitely helpful for people like me who are more sensitive at the feet)
1-hour Milk /Aloe Vera Massage: THB450 (this is especially helpful for sore sunburnt skin)
There are many different types of massages on their lists. Feel free to explore the other options!
10. Just explore!
Honestly, just explore, you get so much more from venturing out by yourself, than following textbook guides on where to go (unless its mine 🙂 kidding). Its good to get a rough idea of the main attractions (thats why you read this 🙂 , but I also went out exploring the isolated beaches nearby, and found many photogenic spots and unique scenery . Just remember to take along your camera!