Long before posh spas and luxurious resorts sprang up like mushrooms, Koh Samui was a sleepy island, inhabited only by fishers and traders from Malay’s peninsula and South China’s coast. Legend has it Koh Samui’s name is derived from the Chinese word “Saboey,” or “safe haven,” because Chinese traders mooring on the island’s coast found the place to be a sanctuary, perfect for settling down.
“How to travel to Koh Samui” was a question that people asked as news of this island passed by word of mouth. Today, Koh Samui’s powdery shores are well-known, but there’s much more to this paradise in the Gulf of Thailand than lounging on a palm-fringed beach or kicking back in a noble hotel.
While Koh Samui sees tourism all year, the masses thin out in the rainy season typically from late October to mid-December. That’s the time when you’re unlikely to encounter tourists coming from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Samui. Though the best time to go to Koh Samui is in the dry season between mid-December and February.
Day 1 – Enjoy staggering island vistas in the afternoon, and fire spinning shows in the evening
Just come from Suratthani to Koh Samui? Certainly, lounging in a hammock at a Koh Samui beach club is a great thing to do on Thailand’s second-largest island. But now that you’ve checked in and dumped your backpack on your bed, why not jump on a songthaew and make for The Jungle Club first?
While you can’t find any public buses or tuk-tuks in Koh Samui, cheap songthaews are available, covered pickup trucks with two benches in the back. You don’t even need to ride that thing up the hill, because The Jungle Club’s guys make transport in Koh Samui a breeze and collect you from the street in the Chaweng Noi area – for free. Just ring them up to know the current timetable.
Situated on top of a hill, the aptly named Jungle Club overlooking Chaweng Beach is the perfect way to settle in and take plenty of Insta-worthy pictures. It’s not just a bungalow resort with a pool, but also a restaurant open to anyone. The vibe is chilled out; only the Greater Coucal sets the tone with its low-pitched, relaxing boop-boop-boop calls. You can slump into a beanbag, sip on a yummy cocktail or fruit shake, and soak up splendid views of rolling hills and the sea.
Then, once the sun has set and the pink-tinged skies turned black, you can head for Ark bar. Chaweng’s well-known beach resort features three swimming pools, several bars, and two restaurants with beach recliners. You can make yourself comfortable, order a round of beers, and watch jugglers deftly spinning balls of fire on chains with the ends ablaze.
Day 2 – Chuckle at the sight of the Hin Ta Hin Yai rocks and unwind on Silver Beach
Many travelers come from Koh Phangan to Koh Samui just to visit the conspicuously shaped granite outcrops, snuggled into the rocky coastline between Lamai and Hua Thanon: Hin Ta, Hin Yai, also known as Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks.
Dropping by, you can giggle and be amazed at the intriguing resemblance between these rock formations and male and female genitalia. Locals stumbled across them ages ago, and needless to say, there’s been a lot of debate on how these rocks came into existence. A number of shops sell anything from souvenirs to fresh coconut juices, and parking is available. Once you’ve had your fill of shooting photographs as waves are crashing ashore, you can repair to Silver Beach some five kilometers further up north.
Sandwiched between Lamai and Chaweng in the northeastern foothills, lesser-known Silver Beach is set in a rocky, 250-meter-long bay, perfect for snorkeling in crystal waters. If you’d rather explore what’s above the sea’s surface, you can rent a kayak and paddle around the granite boulders on the northern and southern end. And, of course, you can spread out your towel on soft white sands and bask in the sun, or opt for a massage in the shade of coconut trees.
Day 3 – Visit Tan Rua waterfall and embark on zip lining or quad safari adventures
Situated in Mae Nam’s jungle, Tan Rua provides shade and a welcome change from the heat. This waterfall isn’t very suitable for swimming, but cooling down is well worth the trip. You can access several sections, walk through the water, and enjoy natural “spa jets” under the waterfalls, clearing your mind as the water pours down your shoulders and back.
If you’ve rented a scooter or car, we highly recommend using it, or else it’s a steep 2-3-hour walk from Maenam Beach. Once you arrive at Tree Bridge Coffee – great for sipping on a cup of joe to nature sounds while enjoying majestic jungle and sea views – it’s a short but not so easy hike to the falls. Wear proper shoes and leave the flip-flops in the hotel.
If you’re an adrenalin fiend, you’ll love the zip lining and quad safari adventures available at Tree Bridge Coffee. Flying through the rainforest from canopy to platform at 50 miles an hour is bound to give you a kick. There are 33 platforms with 21 ziplines.
Day 4 – Pat wild pigs at Koh Madsum
Another cool thing to do is paddling with swines. Situated on a tiny, uninhabited island off the south coast of Koh Samui, Koh Madsum, aka Pig Island, is home to dozens of almost domesticated wild boars and pigs that love resting under coconut trees.
They’re used to people and will join you for a swim. You can splash about, pat and feed them bread as they shove their snouts into your pockets, squealing with delight.
Day 5 – Enjoy bird’s eye-views of karst islets
Comprising 42 islands, Ang Thong National Marine Park boasts Halong Bay-reminiscent limestone islets jutting out of emerald waters. Thick jungle, soothing waterfalls, and powdery white-sand beaches await you on your day trip to this 95-square-mile archipelago. Kayaking, snorkeling, and lazing by the beach are popular here, but go the proverbial extra mile and hike up that steep path at Koh Wua Talab, where the park headquarters are.
Not a nature trail for the faint-hearted, the track leads up the side of rocks along several platforms, each featuring more spectacular vistas. Make it to the top some 500 meters above sea level. With limestone monoliths scattered across deep blue seas, we guarantee this view is going to knock your socks off.
If you’re staying in Koh Tao and can’t find a trip for some reason, you can take the ferry from Koh Tao to Koh Samui and then jump on a speedboat to Ang Thong National Marine Park; the latter ride will take 45 minutes.
Day 6 – Watch artists cut shapes on canvases
Want to experience something extraordinary now that the end of this fabulous week is drawing near? Oil paintings at Koko Gallery will make a lasting impression.
Watch in awe as gifted artists demonstrate their skills, scraping oil paints into mesmerizing sceneries. Koko also offers custom-made paintings that you can collect 48 hours later.
Day 7 – Kick back at one of Koh Samui’s numerous spas
There’s no better way to end a fantastic week than winding down at a spa. Splash out and pamper yourself with a relaxing treatment.
From oil, hot stone, and Thai massages to all-natural scrubs and aromatherapies, massage parlors round off an unforgettable week and ensure you come away with recharged batteries.