Thailand's South

KO SAMUI

Global Mark : 11.10

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 5 1 3 1 2 4 5 1 11.56

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
25 64% (16) 44% (11) 52% (13) 1 to 19 10.64


Description :
The largest and most developed island of the east coast

Comments : Ko Samui is the latest island of Thailand which has been turned from a backpacker to a tourist paradise. Getting up market, backpackers nowadays tend to skip it for Ko Pha-Ngan.

What to do ? Get free copy of What's on Samui / Select your paradise  / Visit fishing villages / Spot strange rocks / Tour Wat and see a 12m high Buddha (Wat Phra Yai) /  Splash at waterfalls / Discover one of nature's rarity : an eight heads coconut tree ( 1km north Na Thon, on 4169 ring road, opp.. sea-front road to the post office) / Walk coconut plantations / Buy honey / Learn about snakes, butterflies  or other insects / Watch a monkeys or elephant show / Trek on elephant / Bet on cock fights, buffalo fights or Thai boxing events / Walk a Muslim village / Speed on a kart / Enjoy an herbal sauna or massage / Walk Asia's longest aquarium tunnel / Party with 500 other people at Reggae Pub, the most famous night spot at Chaweng / Dream at sunset /  Smell tropical flowers / 

What you may not like ?  "Beautiful but so commercialized !" /  The difficulty to find a cheap bungalow during the HS / The size of the island, making anything but motorbike time consuming / The taxi ripp-offs / The overall cost / Having nearly everything designed for tourists / Some very mediocre attractions / 

How long ? A few days maybe ?

When to go ? April to June is the best time to visit : less tourists and good weather. December to March & summer are crowded. July to late October is humid and from then to January, it is the monsoon and the sea can get rough. 

On what beach ? The best water can be found on the east and south coasts. As for accomodation, there are more than 200 places to choose from, even so cheapies nowadays seem to be an endangered specie... 

  • Chaweng beach :the longest strip of sand, the best water and an opposite island means the most developed area. Count on B150 for a basic bungalow, if you can get one ! 
  • Lamai : another great beach plus a coral reef  means the second most developed area with arguably the best nightlife. Only slightly cheaper than the above.
  • Bo Phut (fishing village) and Bang Rak offer more isolation, the Big Buddha island and superb sunset opportunities. A basic bungalow should cost less than B100.
  • Other places offer more isolation and cheaper prices. At Ao Na Khai (south of Lamai), White Sand GH was reported having bungalows for B60. At Ao Phangka (small bay on the south-east coast), Emerald Bay Bungalows was reported at B100 w. shower. 

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money ! >> Hostels

Backpacker's Tips : Andrew Harvard, South Africa (March 02)
 Lamai Chalet in Lamai beach (077-233232). "P" and "Pum Pui" are relaxed and NOT pushy. A good base from where you can tour the island on a B150 m/bike. / Excellent little place to eat across from Lamai Muay Thai stadium. Ask for "Mama" and watch her cook up splendid meals. Very good Green chicken curry and King Prawns. Beer cheap.

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Oct 00)
I just read the bit about it being difficult to get cheap places during HS. Rubbish, it is very easy to get cheap accomodation as long as you stay away from the main centers. Try the north of the island around Maenam - No Problems!!. We stayed at the Moon Hut, 150B for a fan hut with shower and toilets right on the beach. Good food, clean and friendly staff. They even do your washing for you.

Internet ? Expensive on the island. 

Motorbike ? B150 per day in most places. Riding a motorcycle without helmet is subject to a minimum fine of B500. Samui is a dangerous place to drive, especially at night, so know your limits...  

How to reach ? I would suggest reaching from Ko Pha-Ngan or Ko Tao. But then, coming this way, you are likely to be disappointed... Otherwise, there two or three express boats from Surat Thani's pier (80km from town)  in the morning and early afternoon (around B150, subject to change, 2 hours) and a recommended night ferry at 11pm (around B80, 6 hours, do not leave your belongings unattended) 

Leaving Samui ? If you do not fly nor swim long distance, boats are the only options. Westerners are oriented toward Na Thon pier for the tourist express boat to Surat Thani. It was however reported possible to show up at Thong Yang pier and travel with the locals for B45 only. The bus trip onward from the pier to Surat Thani, 80km away,  is apparently also much cheaper this way : B40 instead of B140 ?1? Investigate... 

Next destinations : Ko Pha-Ngan / Ko Tao / Khao Sok National Park via Surat Thani