“An island of superb natural beauty and variety.”
Samui is off the Eastern coast of Thailand, Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest Island after a 1 hour 20 minute flight from Bangkok, you step into paradise with soft powdery sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and swaying palms. Samui Island is a rare gem, preserving the idyllic simplicity of a tropical hideaway. In recent year it developed to a tropical beach resort but still maintained its charm and has everything to offer – from coconut tree fringed beaches to tropical jungle to a vibrant nightlife.
Koh Samui lies in the Gulf of Thailand. It is surrounded by 60 other islands, mostly within the Ang Thong National Marine Park. Samui has a population of about 50,000 people and the island’ s popularity makes certain parts a busy place to be but it still has some quiet, secluded beaches it offers plenty of activities, including diving, sailing, day trips to marine parks, full moon partying on nearby Koh Pha Ngan, spas and of course satisfying hotel resorts, dining and nightlife.
Koh Samui may not be the country’s most beautiful island but it is still an oasis of natural beauty.
The climate seasons are not exactly the same as in Krabi and Phuket as these destinations are located in the Andaman Sea and Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are located in the Gulf of Thailand. This makes the climate differences rather evident.
December – February: The dry season. Not much rain, but it might have some refreshing wind or breeze at this time. It’s great for wind and body surfing and normally a lot of sunshine at this season.
March – August: The weather is still dry in this time, and it is usually very sunny and hot. In May it might rain a little more though. This is a great period to visit the islands if you can stand temperatures ranging from 28-35 degrees Celsius at daytime.
September – November: Also known as the monsoon season. It’s still hot and normally there are many sunny days in the monsoon period. On some days you might find yourself in a refreshing monsoon shower for a moment. The rain showers are often short and as these island’s water supplies are finite, the rain is needed and important.
Samui Travel Guide
|Dining in Samui
Samui Island is located some 80 kilometers off the coast of Surat Thani, about 560 kilometers from Bangkok. It can be easily accessible from many popular destinations in Thailand, some of which include by air from Bangkok, or by ferry boat from Surat Thani town.
The easiest but the costliest way is to fly. There are direct flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui. Bangkok Airways is the only airline that flies directly to Koh Samui.
Bangkok – Samui Flights
Daily domestic flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui are available through Bangkok Airways. You will find there are normally eighteen Koh Samui to Bangkok flights and seventeen Bangkok to Samui flights per day. And additional flights during summer.
Bangkok – Surat Thani Flights
You can fly to Surat Thani by Thai Airways from the Suvarnabhumi Airport and Air Asia from LCCT. Both offer several flights daily. From Surat Thani airport there are minibuses which shuttle up to Donsak’s port, the ferry boats place of departure that will bring you to Koh Samui.
Phuket –Samui Flight
Bangkok Airways offers 2 direct flights to Koh Samui and Thai Airways flies to Surat Thani daily.
The train system in Thailand is safe, affordable and tends to arrive roughly on time. When travelling from Bangkok to Samui, it is highly recommended you get a night sleeper train. These trains are more comfortable and ensure smoother bus and ferry connections.
Bangkok – Surat Thani – Koh Samui
All trains from Bangkok depart from the Hualamphong Station 10 times daily from 12 noon-10.50 p.m. The trip takes approximately 13 hours. The last sleeper now leaves at 19:15pm
Weekend train fares are higher than those during the week. Sleeper compartments also cost an additional sum, but provide more privacy and comfort. A night sleeper ticket will be your most expensive option however; you will find the travel much more conducive to a relaxing trip. It is more economical to purchase a combination ticket that includes your ferry ticket to the island. Advance reservations are highly recommended to ensure your passage without delay. Once you arrive in Surat Thani, a bus will take you to Donsak where you will board the ferry to access the island.
For more information contact the customer service at State Railway of Thailand:
+66 (0)2 222 0175 +66 (0)2 621-8701 or +66 (0)2 2220 4567
Getting to Koh Samui by Bus or coach is one of the cheapest options. If you are coming from Bangkok you will find that all the travel agency’s sell tickets for Koh Samui starting from 250 Baht up to 800 Baht if you choose a VIP bus, which is normally a 24 passenger coach with air-conditioning, more comfortable seating and a more pleasant journey. Local coaches which are cheaper do more stops on the journey to offload or take onboard new passengers.
Some coaches board the boat and drop you at Nathon port (Koh Samui), other coach companies will drop you off at the port of Surat Thani to catch the ferry across to Koh Samui. On route to Surat Thani the coaches stop once or several times for you to eat and get refreshments. VIP buses have their own bathrooms but still stop once or twice. Most of the coach companies’ travel at night and the journey from Bangkok to Surat Thani lasts around 10-12 hours.
Be aware that not all buses/coaches are the same. Spending that extra baht makes a difference in overall comfort. The most comfortable are the overnight Super VIP coaches. These air-conditioned double decker vehicles have toilets, seats that lean back quite far with leg rests at the bottom, and they also supply blankets for the journey.
No food or drink is served on board, although you can take your own drink and food onboard. A video is almost always shown on an overhead TV, and played at quite higher volumes that make it very difficult to sleep. Once the film ends around, if you’re lucky, you may sleep through much of the night. It is not wise to leave anything of value in the luggage compartment under the bus as it has been known for things to go missing. There are also coaches for Koh Samui from Surat Thani, Phuket, Hat Yai and Krabi
Surat Thani – Koh Samui
The ferry transfer is included in the bus fare because the bus uses the ferry. On the island the bus first stops at the ferry pier and then at Nathon Pier. Remember to tell the resort where and when you want to be picked up. (Surat Thani – Samui app. 3 hours, ferry included). Check the ferry schedules here www.seatrandiscovery.com
If you don’t want to spend all your holiday lounging on a single beach, then Samui is an explorer’s dream. It is just big enough to offer a wealth of diversity in landscape, vistas, flora and fauna, yet small enough to seek adventure in its many out-of-the-way places, while hardly ever losing sight of sea. Samui is remarkably easy to get around. In fact, a round trip by car can be done in about an hour. Below are some of the ways you can do this.
Songtheaws act as the local bus service. They are red covered pick-up trucks. Each songthaew’s destination is clearly marked in English on the front and sides of the vehicle. Songthaews follow fixed routes around the island but there are no official stops. Just flag down the first one you see, and confirm that the drivers going in your direction. Press the button or bang on the roof to signal when you want to get off and pay when you exit the vehicle. Fares range between 10 and 50 baht.
At night songthaews also operate as private taxis and can be chartered to go anywhere, but fares can increase sharply. Should you wish to charter a vehicle late at night from Chaweng or Lamai to outlying areas such as Maenam, the fare could run as high as several hundred baht. If there are already people on board, it should still be operating as a bus and be correspondingly cheaper.
Samui has dozens of yellow and blue metered taxis for those who prefer to travel in air-conditioned comfort. They can be found at the airport and cruising the islands major roads throughout the day and night. The downside is that it’s virtually impossible to get drivers to actually turn on their meters and prices can be high, so if you can have your way make sure you ask the driver to use the meter before you set off, or if not, try to negotiate a reasonable fare before departing.
Renting your own vehicle is an excellent way to get around as it allows you to explore the many small roads and tracks that lead off into the jungle-clad interior or down to one of the islands many little coves and deserted beaches. Prices vary from 800-2000 baht according to type and condition of the vehicle. Local operators generally rent manual shift Suzuki jeeps, while the major car rental companies like Avis and Budget now rent both manual and automatic sedans and air-conditioned cars and jeeps. Smaller companies will ask you to leave your passport as collateral on the vehicle. Make sure that full insurance is included, or you will be held responsible for the potentially ruinous expense of any damage to the car in an accident and compensation for others involved.
Most visitors to Koh Samui, seem to opt for motorbikes to get around town, go to the beach and go out in the evening; making these inexpensive rentals the most popular option by far. Prices range from 150-180 baht a day for a 100cc bike with semi or automatic gears, though you can bargain for a discount on a long term rental. They are fast, fun and easy to park. Large and off-road motorbikes can also be rented around the island, prices are around 500 baht per day.
BEWARE. Many local drivers have not received proper instruction in traffic safety, and tourists are often riding these bikes for the first time in their lives. Many SERIOUS ACCIDENTS happen. People are killed, and the statistics are alarming. However a prudent person need not panic. These accidents are almost always due to a serious lapse in judgment. Remember that while Samui may be a paradise you are still a mortal.
This is now becoming a popular, safe and pleasant way of getting around. Good quality mountain bikes can be rented at many places around the island for around 80 baht a day. They are ideal for those who want to discover some of the many beautiful nature trails and tracks of the islands interior. Don’t ride at night if you can avoid it as you’ll be the most vulnerable person on the road, and bear in mind that the hills between Chaweng and Lamai and between Maenam and Nathon are very steep.
Fuel is available around the island at modern petrol stations or from roadside stands. You can spot these by the pumps attached to 55-gallon oil drums; the price is higher than in stations though. If you get a flat tire, don’t panic. You are seldom more than 100 meters from someone who can repair it or knows a neighbor who can. This takes about 30 minutes and costs about 50-100 baht – more if your whole inner tube needs to be replaced or you had to wake someone in the middle of the night. Large off-road dirt motorbikes can also be rented around the island. Prices are around 500 baht per day.
Driving is on the left hand side. Motorcyclists are required to wear crash helmets. The fine for not wearing one is 500 baht. Car drivers and front seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. An international driving license or national license is required to hire any kind of vehicle, although some companies and smaller rental places may not ask for any proof at all.
Other Top Destinations: