During a recent break, I took a few months off to backpack around Southeast Asia. Of the countries I visited, Thailand was my favourite, with a week in Koh Samui being the absolute highlight.
The accommodation on Koh Samui varies to suit every budget, from low-end dorms with insufficient fans to air-conditioned resorts with multiple swimming pools. I went for not-quite-the-cheapest hostel: it was more than adequate and a great place to meet fellow travellers. That said, if I was to go again, especially during the warmer months, I’d be thoroughly tempted to pay a few extra baht to get a room with A/C.
The food on Koh Samui, as it is everywhere in Thailand, is incredible. Sure, you may get sick of noodles and rice if you linger too long, but for me nothing beats a week of pad thai, green curries and mango with sticky rice. Prices vary from roughly AU$1–$4 per dish.
As with any island holiday, you can make your trip to Samui as laidback or as active as you like. If you’re the type of holidaymaker who desires nothing more than to head to the beach with a book in hand, I’d recommend Bophut or Taling Ngam. If you want somewhere a bit busier try Chaweng or Maenam. Beware of Lamai; it’s the seediest part of the island I encountered.
Venture off the sand and there are a number of activities to enjoy. The scuba diving and snorkelling are great, although personally I prefer nearby Koh Tao for both, while on dry land you can try bungee jumping, go-carting and golf. One of my best day trips was a jungle tour that included zip lining from tree to tree. There are three main temples to visit on the island – be sure to check out the marble Buddhas in Wat Samret; they’re my pick.
How to get there
In my experience, the cheapest way of getting to Koh Samui is to buy a combined bus-and-ferry ticket from Bangkok. You are trundled down to Surat Thani overnight, transferred via minibus to the dock and then there’s a ferry to Samui from there. It’s also possible to catch a train to Surat Thani – there’s one express and one ordinary service daily – but if you choose this option be sure to book your ticket in advance as it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to buy one at the station for that day.
The boat trip to the island can be quite rocky so if you suffer from seasickness it might be best to give it a miss. There are quite a few daily flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui, so getting there is no problem and this will save you some time, which can be better spent on the beach!
Author: Becky Hillard would love to spend 3 months a year soaking up the sun in Koh Samui and eating Pad Thai.