Cities, Islands and ProvincesVisit Koh Samui

Koh Samui Island in the Gulf of Thailand: the guide

Koh Samui has many tourist attractions: white sandy beaches, beautiful seabeds, many activities and a nightlife that makes it a very popular island.


Koh Samui is the 2nd largest island in Thailand after Phuket, with an area of 228 km² and a population of 63,000 inhabitants.

The main city is Nathon, a fishing and transport port between the different islands, located on the southwest coast.

It is also the seat of the local administration and the economic heart of the island.
Koh Samui, Lipa Noi

Geography of Koh Samui

Province of Surat Thani
Province of Surat Thani
The island is located in the Gulf of Thailand, about 35km northeast of the city of Surat Thani, in the center of a small archipelago of 85 islets, 6 of which are inhabited and which make up the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park (the bowl islands).

The island of Koh Pha Ngan is just a few kilometers further north.

Ko Samui has a massive shape of (25 km x 21 km), rather circular.

Its center, located at an altitude of 656 meters, is covered with jungle.

The plains are connected by a unique 51km road that follows the coast.

Climate in Koh Samui

Samui has essentially two seasons, a hot and tropical one and a short rainy season.

The island’s climate is relatively dry during the year, and the rainy season lasts only one month, November.

The rest of the year there are only short showers.

See also: When to go to Koh Samui

Photo panoramique de Koh Samui


The island was probably uninhabited until the 6th century before being colonized by fishermen from Malaysia and southern China.

It can be found on Chinese maps from 1687 under the name Pulo Cornam.

The origin of the current name, Samui, is not known.

It could come from the name of one of the local trees, the “mui”, or the Chinese word saboei, which means “safe harbor”.

Before the arrival of the first tourists in the 1980s, the island was occupied by a self-sufficient and isolated fishing community with little contact with Thailand.

There were only dirt roads and to cross the 15km of the island, it took a day’s walk through the jungle and mountains.

Koh Samui Choeng Mon beach
Koh Samui Choeng Mon beach


The “Chao Samui”, names of the island’s inhabitants, are predominantly Buddhist.

While in the past they lived mainly from fishing and coconut harvesting, today most of them work in tourism.

Samui’s economic development then attracted rich Sino-Thai from Bangkok. and workers from Isan, northeast Thailand.

Ko Samui is a popular destination for the elderly and many retirees have moved here because of the cost of living, the climate, and the beauty of the place.

Bo Phut beach
Bo Phut beach

Local cuisine

The local cuisine is a mixture of Malay, Indonesian and Indian cuisine.

The most popular dishes are Indian curry (Massaman), rice noodles in a fish curry sauce (khanom jeen) and biryani chicken.

See: Curry Massaman: the recipe for one of the best Thai curries

Curry Massaman
Curry Massaman

To see and do on Koh Samui

Chaweng Beach

The most popular beach in Koh Samui is a large white sandy beach more than 7 km long, it is also the safest on the island due to the shallow water depth.

Chaweng is bordered by hotels directly on the beach, shops, stalls, and restaurants.

Lamai Bending

It is the second most popular beach in Koh Samui, the beaches being wilder and quieter than Chaweng, ideal for more tranquility.


This is the boat port of Koh Samui in the direction of Surat Thani.

Nathon is just a place of passage, it is very little animated.

NaThon beach Koh Samui
NaThon beach from the jungle

Green Mango

It is Chaweng’s soiree lined with many bars that come alive at nightfall.

Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai)

It is a seated Buddha statue that measures 12 meters high and is located in a temple located in the north of the island, the wat Phra Yai.

The rocks of Grandfather and Grandmother (Hin Ta and Hin Yai)

They are rocks in the shape of male and female genitalia, symbols of fertility.

Hin Ta et Hin Yai
Hin Ta et Hin Yai

Video: Top 5 things to do in Koh Samui

A video that also allows you to discover the most beautiful places on the island.

Events and festivals in Koh Samui

The Festival de Combats de Taureaux is one of the most famous festivals on the island, organized on special occasions such as Christmas and New Year holidays or Songkran.

The season differs according to ancient customs and ceremonies.

The bull is richly decorated. Before the battle, which lasted two rounds, the monks sprayed him with holy water.

Traditionally, the winner’s owner wins a sum of money.

The Festival du Village de Pêcheurs is a five-day festival based on music, festivities and local food.

Music is played by famous artists and tents sell specialties from nearby hotels at affordable prices.

The Samui Regatta has been held every year since 2002.

It is known internationally and competitors come from Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and China.

Finding a hotel in Koh Samui

You will have no trouble finding hotel places, but if you come between November and February, the high season in Thailand, it is better to book in advance.

You will find the best quality/price ratio by comparing the offers of the largest platforms through our partner: Hotels in Koh Samui on Hotellook

Transport to Koh Samui

You can get an idea of the transport prices or book your tickets with


You can find the cheapest long-haul flights to Koh Samui by comparing prices by period with Jetradar.

Ko Samui International Airport (USM) is a private airport built by Bangkok Airways, which is still the main operator and was for a long time the only one to offer the link between the island and Thailand.

The airport is also served by Thai Airways International.

It does not have any real buildings available to passengers, except for the souvenir shop.

It has two terminals: one for domestic flights and the other for international travel.

The airport is located near the Big Buddha pier from where ferries leave for Ko Pha Ngan. Fast ferries to Koh Tao and Chumphon leave from the Maenam pier, about 6km northwest of the airport.

Aéroport de Koh Samui
Aéroport de Koh Samui

Other means of transport on and to the island

Several ferries connect Samui to the mainland.

Public buses serve the island.

Songthaew (bus vans close to tuk-tuks) travel on the coastal road, and private taxis are available throughout the island although they are criticized for their unreliability (odometer and overload).

Practical information

Koh Samui Hospitals

There are four international private hospitals in Samui:

Samui International Hospital on Beach Road north of Chaweng

Thai International on Lake Road in Chaweng

Bandon Hospital on the coastal road

Bangkok Samui Hospital in Chaweng Noi

The public hospital is located in Nathon. There are also many clinics and pharmacies, especially in Chaweng.

Koh Samui’s map

Koh Samui map

You will find other maps on the forum: Maps of Koh Samui Island

Source: ;; Photos: Bophut beach : Ssuri : Lipa Noi Beach : Manfred Werner : Koh Samui Airport : Per Meistrup : Koh Samui Airport : Binderdonedat ; Koh Samui Airport runway : Binderdonedat; Grandfather and Grandmother’s Rocks (Hin Ta Hin Yai) : Ahoerstemeier : Choeng Mon Beach : Rich Daley ; Na Thon from the Jungle : Rich Daley ; Massaman curry : Thanthan

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Settled in Thailand since a few years (with trips to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia), I love this country and its inhabitants, the real country of Smiles! Sorry for any translation errors that may occur. Feel free to mention them in the comments, I will correct them. Thank you.

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