Heading to Koh Samui? Check out the best hotels for a stunning stay, and explore the island with our bucket list of fun things to do.
Exquisite private beaches, chill holiday vibes and buzzing street markets – the popular resort island of Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island. A former fishing community, the place is now a peaceful vacation spot perfect for immersing yourself in local culture, watching sunsets on beautiful beaches, and visiting tranquil temples. If you need more reasons to holiday there, scroll through our list of hot hotels and fantastic things to do in Koh Samui.
Top things to do in Koh Samui: Explore and shop
1. Live the beach life
Koh Samui may not be as sought-after as Phuket, but you can’t vacay here without hitting the beach. The island is full of fabulous spots boasting powdery white sand, sparkling waters and views that instantly put you in relaxation mode.
Bophut Beach attracts countless visitors to its beautiful long coastline, while Maenam Beach is a quiet destination that provides an escape from the bustling streets. If you’re bringing the fam, head off the beaten track to Lipa Noi Beach for shallow waters and soft sand. So you’re a night owl? Pop over to the popular (and touristy) Chaweng Beach in the island’s biggest town for boozy beach clubs and non-stop parties.
2. Have a thrilling time with water sports
Any adrenaline junkies in the house? Dive into the sea with your choice of water sports. Kayak on gleaming waters for undisturbed views, put your balance to the test with stand-up paddleboarding (try it at sunrise for gorgeous sights!), or gear up for a diving, snorkelling and scuba diving sesh.
For a day of adventure, hop on board a speedboat or catamaran to cruise around Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Taen and more. To get your heart pumping, opt for the 20-minute Tornado Water Xtreme ride that’ll see you twisting, spinning and drifting on a high-speed jet.
3. Let’s go chasing waterfalls
Venture deep into Koh Samui’s lush jungles to feast your eyes on awe-inspiring waterfalls. Na Muang – a pair of waterfalls about half an hour away from each other – offer splendid views, a chance to dip into the waters, and nearby stalls for snack and souvenir shopping. Hin Lad is located near an elephant reserve and a Buddhist temple, but you’ll need to trek in to find the falls.
For a hidden gem, swing by Tan Rua Falls (otherwise known as Secret Falls). It requires a bit of navigation to get there, but you’ll be rewarded with amazing views. Plus, Canopy Adventures is nearby if you’re up for a ziplining experience.
4. Explore Ang Thong National Marine Park
This national marine park, established in 1980, is an archipelago of 42 islands. The seascape is spectacular, with magnificent beaches, towering cliffs and epic caves home to all kinds of wildlife. Jump on board a boat for a day trip to take in the view or splash into the sea for an afternoon of kayaking and snorkelling. Check out the largest (and busiest) island, Koh Wua Talap, and make a pitstop at the famous Emerald Lake (from Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie The Beach).
5. Admire the charm of Fisherman’s Village
One of the well-known attractions in Bophut, Fisherman’s Village is nestled by the beach, with a lovely street of delightful boutiques, spas and chill eateries with a view. But take note it’s a pretty touristy area, so expect to see higher prices. If you’re coming by in the evening, check out the night market for street food and knick knacks.
6. Hit the streets
Love a good local market experience? Traipse across the island for tidbits, souvenirs and rousing entertainment. Lamai Night Market is one of the busiest, offering street performances, local food and handicrafts on Sunday evenings. Foodies can make a beeline for Chaweng Night Market for fuss-free shopping and eating, followed by a night out at bars and clubs.
7. Go on a temple run
Temples are aplenty on Koh Samui, which means most visitors add them to their list of things to do. Just remember to stick to the dress code at these religious sites. The most popular one has to be Big Buddha Temple, a massive 12m-high gold statue located near Wat Plai Laem temple.
Other architectural marvels to see include Wat Ratchathammaram (better known as the Red Temple) and Wat Khunaram (where you’ll find the mummified monk). If you’re heading to Pom Mountain, one of the island’s highest peaks, you’ll find the Secret Buddha Garden of sculptures at the summit.
Where to stay in Koh Samui: Best hotels
8. Six Senses Samui
For an unforgettable stay, pack your bags and head to Six Senses Samui, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Gulf of Siam. The luxe resort, situated on the northern edge of the island, is home to villas that come with private pools and ocean or tropical views. This private retreat is all about pampering yourself in your home away from home. The award-winning Dining on the Rocks serves fresh, innovative creations on the terrace deck, while Dining on the Hill offers Thai and home-style dishes paired with wine.
For an indulgent time, try the rejuvenating massage or facial treatments, vitality retreats, or mani-pedi sessions. We also love how the hotel cares about sustainability and the community. At its farm, it converts waste to minimalise its environmental footprint. The team also participates regularly in events to raise awareness about going plastic-free and living the zero-waste lifestyle.
Six Senses Samui, book online
9. Avani+ Samui Resort
Make yourself at home to luxuriate in a peaceful getaway where you can truly unwind. Surrounded by lush greenery, the hotel is a 40-minute drive from the Koh Samui airport – and it feels like a private retreat away from the flurry of tourists. It offers 58 cosy rooms and breathtaking pool villas (including ones by the beach) – perfect for a romantic escape or a digital detox.
We say go for the private pool villa, where you can jump out of bed and dive straight into the water to enjoy your floating breakfast. For a mid-morning activity, board the longtail boat at the beach to Koh Madsum (aka Pig Island) where you’ll find the wild animals and Insta-worthy swings on the beach. After a snorkelling sesh, take it easy at AvaniSpa with an invigorating massage. Total bliss!
Avani+ Samui Resort, book online
10. Cape Fahn Hotel
Want exclusivity? Holiday in your own private island hideaway off the northern tip of Koh Samui. Cape Fahn is secluded luxury at its finest. Across 22 one- and two-bedroom villas dotting the island, each offers picturesque views. Relax by the pool and dine on a menu of Thai delicacies curated by Michelin-starred chef David Thompson. Next, take a leisurely stroll by the beach to catch a glimpse of the Gulf of Thailand, or hit up the spa. The charm is all yours to discover.
Cape Fahn Hotel, book online
11. Melia Koh Samui
Sun seekers will love this hotel located on Choeng Mon Beach, fringed by tropical foliage and coconut palms. It’s home to 200 guest rooms – from family suites to The Level boat suite, an ancient Thai teak barge that opens up to the pool.
To beat the heat, take a dip in the long loop pool which comes with features like waterjets, fountains, slides and a pool bar. When the hunger pangs come knocking, grab a bite at The Breeza and enjoy the view or head to Koko Kitchen for a breakfast buffet of Thai and international grub. Ready for an afternoon of fun? Try cooking lessons, morning yoga on the beach or Muay Thai workouts.
Melia Koh Samui, book online
12. Avani Chaweng Samui Hotel & Beach Club
This hip new hotel in Koh Samui is for fun-loving merrymakers: we’re loving the all-day (and night) party vibe of the retro chic spot. It’s right by Chaweng Beach, which means you’re just steps away from restaurants, bars, shops and street markets.
The rooms are cosy with sweet views, but you won’t be spending too much time snuggled in bed when you can lounge by the pool in cabanas, hang by the 24/7 bar or work up a sweat at the all-hours gym. When the sun sets, head to the hotel’s Seen Beach Club Samui, where you’ll enjoy stellar food and drinks to a backdrop of beats and vibrant lights.
Avani Chaweng Samui Hotel & Beach Club, book online
Bookmark this list of hotels and things to do for holiday fun in Koh Samui!