Koh Samui Travel Guide

Bamboo hut over sea on Sunset, Koh Tao, Samui, Thailand

Thinking of visiting Koh Samui? Our Koh Samui travel guide is a great place to begin planning your trip. We have covered the basics you need to know before you start to choose where to stay and what to do on this island that is fast becoming one of Thailand’s most popular.

Thailand’s second largest island, Koh Samui, in the Gulf of Thailand, lies just 80km from the coast of the mainland town of Surat Thani. About 700 km (430 mi) south of Bangkok and 80 km (50 mi) from the eastern coastline of Southern Thailand.

about Koh Samui

With just 50,000 full-time inhabitants, the island has a slower pace than nearby Phuket but offers almost as much to see and do. In fact, enough to easily keep you busy for a week.

There are over 30 temples on Koh Samui where the island’s residents, 90% of whom are Buddhist worship. Be sure to visit a few while you are there. While the beaches on the island are stunning, don’t miss exploring the island’s lush interior. With more than 40 stunning beaches, amazing lookouts and waterfalls to discover book a tour and discover Koh Samui’s secret places.

The island is a jumping point to tours to nearby islands like Koh Phangan for a day trip or the full moon party or Ko Phi Phi.

Golden buddha on the beach in Koh Samui, Thailand

Getting to Koh Samui

Flying to Koh Samui: Samui Airport is privately owned by Bangkok Airways, making it one of the more expensive places to fly in Thailand. There are many flights to Bangkok, Krabi, and Phuket every day, as well as limited international flights to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. 

The airport is 2km from Chewang Beach and a taxi will cost approx 400 baht. If you are travelling to Lamai, expect to pay 700 or to Maenam 600 Baht. A private minivan transfer is about 25% more. Alternatively, you can book a private transfer.

Koh Samui Airport
Koh Samui Airport

Ferries to Samui: Many travellers arrive in Samui by ferry. There are two main ferry piers on the island: Nathon (Seatrans and Lomprayah), and Lipa Noi (Raja Ferry Pier) and both on the western side of the island. Ferries leave hourly between 5 am and 6 pm or 7 pm. Along with passenger ferries, two car ferries operate from Don Sak Pier in Surat Thani on the mainland.

Lomprayah High-Speed Ferry operates from Nathon Pier

Getting around Koh Samui

Getting around Koh Samui: Koh Samui is easy to navigate by rental car or bike. A 51km long road runs in a circle around the island, making it very hard to get lost! This road is in good condition and traffic is quite manageable for experienced drivers. If you plan to drive, make sure you get an international driver’s license in your home country before you leave. 

At its widest point, Koh Samui measure 25 kilometres (16 mi).

If you want to rent a motorcycle, you must have a motorcycle license in your own country. The police do book people who do not have one and your insurance will not cover you on a motorbike if you are not licensed. 

Songthaew Thailand
Songthaews are the most common form of public transport in Koh Samui

There is no public bus service in Samui, nor are there Tuk Tuks. There are taxis (that rarely use the meter). However, most visitors use the Songthaews (pronounced song-tao), which operate fixed rates (approx 40-100 baht) during the day. In the evening, prices need to be negotiated as they are with Tuk tuks in other parts of the country.

When is the best time to visit Koh Samui

The ideal time to visit Koh Samui is during the dry season, which runs from late December to April. During these months, the weather is mostly sunny and dry, with temperatures ranging between 23°C to 32°C (73°F to 90°F).

  • Late December to February: These months are cooler and relatively dry, making them a great time for outdoor activities and exploring the island.
  • March to April: The weather is still dry, but it gets warmer, which is excellent for beach lovers and water activities.

It’s advisable to avoid the rainy season, which peaks in November and continues with moderate rainfall into December. During this time, there can be heavy showers and rougher seas, which can cause ferry cancellations and make water sports and day tours challenging.

Temperature and rainfall in Phuket

Temp. (°C)
Temp (°F)
Rainfall (mm)
January23 – 2973 – 8490
February24 – 3075 – 8630
March25 – 3177 – 8830
April26 – 3279 – 9070
May25 – 3277 – 90160
June25 – 3277 – 9090
July24 – 3175 – 88120
August25 – 3177 – 88100
September24 – 3175 – 88120
October24 – 3075 – 86290
November24 – 3075 – 86430
December23 – 2973 – 84210

Where to Stay in Koh Samui

Accommodation in Koh Samui: There is a hotel room or villa in Koh Samui for every type of traveller and budget. Check out our detailed guide to choosing the right location on the island and then, once you have decided, start your search for the right hotel.

The average time travellers spend in Samui is between five and seven days, and you will find our suggestions for your Koh Samui itinerary here.

A day trip to Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park is a must for visitors 

Where to go next

Continue your holiday travels in Thailand. After Koh Samui, the most popular destinations are Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai.