Recently, my husband and I left our kids behind for a week and headed on a Thailand holiday. Together with six other couples, we stayed at a luxurious eight bedroom home on the beach in Koh Samui. We were absolutely spoilt by a lovely staff who cooked and cleaned for us. We also got to do a lot of really fun activities all over Koh Samui, all of which I would recommend and would happily do again. However, would I return? Notwithstanding the phenomenal accommodation and the amazing things to do, is Koh Samui an island that would beckon me on another Thailand holiday. Probably not.
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Koh Samui has amazing amenities.
Don’t get me wrong. We had a marvellous time. We went jet skiing with a guide in the Gulf of Siam and took an ATV tour in the hills and jungle surrounding us. For a couple of days, we took the ferry across to Koh Phangan where we explored the beautiful beaches and delicious restaurants scattered throughout. Back on Koh Samui, we shopped and found some cool boutiques. It sounds pretty wonderful, right?
If you are looking for an easy destination for your Thailand holiday, then look no further. Koh Samui has been developed into the ultimate tourist destination. There are hotels and restaurants everywhere for every price point. We found some terrific bars and nightlife. Further, there is a large tourist infrastructure to transport and entertain you most everywhere on the island.
There is little authenticity in Koh Samui.
What is lacking is authenticity. In many ways, you could close your eyes and believe that you are in any major beach destination in the world. Of course, there is no question that you are in Thailand. As I have said before, we met many kind and welcoming Thai people and ate some wonderful Thai food. However, beyond that, the development of the island has been crafted to meet the needs of a tourist on holiday.
As we drove around Koh Samui, it was hard to see any evidence of traditional Thai living. The beaches were filled with hotels and homes owned by foreigners. Where we stayed, the roads nearby were stacked with massage parlours, restaurants and tour shops with very little reference to what a traditional Thai family might want or need. We found that this was the case most everywhere we went on Koh Samui
However, not everyone wants authenticity. Sometimes, people just want to have an easy vacation filled with sun, beaches, great food and a good time. This is exactly what you will get on your Thailand holiday in Koh Samui.
7 Recommended Things To Do on Koh Samui
We had a wonderful time in Koh Samui. There were so many things to do, all of which would appeal to people of all ages and interests. Here are seven of my favourites.
1. Stay at Upni Duniya on Koh Samui – things to do.
Upni Duniya is one of the most beautiful houses at which I have ever stayed. It has 9 gorgeous suites, outdoor showers, a large pool, hot tub, and a fitness room, all steps from the beach. We had a full staff to meet our needs that included a chef who made exceptional meals offered from an extensive menu. Cocktails and chilled coconuts were only a “please and thank you” a way. The location was excellent. We were 15 minutes from the airport; 15 minutes from the Night Market and Fisherman’s Village; and mere minutes away to massage parlours. You might choose to never leave this house and that would be completely understandable.
Accommodation on Koh Samui
For accommodation at Upni Duniya or elsewhere on Koh Samui, I would recommend searching below in booking.com and using the amazing interactive map to find your ideal location at the best prices.
2. Jet Ski at Samui Pier Resort on Koh Samui – things to do.
Samui Pier Resort was a five minute walk from Upni Duniya. We took a two hour private jet skiing tour in the Gulf of Siam which was a blast. It was a great way to see other parts of Koh Samui on our Thailand holiday.
3. ATV Tour through Samui X-Treme ATV Adventure on Koh Samui – things to do.
We went into the hills and jungle of Koh Samui for a half day ATV tour with Samui X-Treme ATV Adventure. The company offered free pick up from our accommodation. From Upni Duniya, the start of the tour was a 40 minute drive away.
This ATV tour was not for the faint of heart. You spend a lot of time climbing up and descending steep slopes in the hills of Koh Samui. However, there were some fantastic view points along the way. Most of the tour was in the jungle and it was nice to spend some time in nature, away from the tourist sites.
For these and other fun things to do while staying in Koh Samui, please take a look at the awesome tours offered by Get Your Guide. For more tours and adventures, simply click on one of these three activities and you will be redirected to other amazing experiences waiting for you to discover.
4. Beach Hopping to Koh Phangan from Koh Samui – things to do.
From our accommodation, we were literally 20 steps to the pier that offered an inexpensive ferry ride to Koh Phangan. Koh Phangan is a large island 45 minutes away from Koh Samui. Out of our seven day Thailand holiday, we did two day trips to Koh Phangan. This is an island that had beautiful untouched beaches everywhere. Luxurious yet inexpensive hotels were tucked tastefully behind palm trees and jungle, and were mere steps to the beach. On one trip, for a couple dollars each, we hired a car and driver when we arrived on Koh Phangan. Then, we spent the day exploring the island, the beautiful beaches and the wonderful restaurants. We loved it on Koh Phangan. This island offered a blend of authentic Thai living and more natural undeveloped surroundings with an established yet simple tourist infrastructure. I would love to go back.
If you are interested in reading more about our two day trips to Koh Phangan, including which beaches and restaurants we discovered and enjoyed, please click on the following link – Koh Phangan vs. Koh Samui: Which Thailand Is Better?
5. Massage, Massage, Massage on Koh Samui – things to do.
My experience in Thailand is that getting an inexpensive massage anywhere is as easy as getting your next delicious meal! Every day, we chose a new massage parlour down the street from our accommodation. For $11 USD, we had wonderful hour long massages that quickly led to late afternoon naps – A truly decadent and affordable way to spend each afternoon in Koh Samui!
6. The Night Market on Koh Samui – things to do.
Around 15 minutes away from Upni Duniya was the Fisherman’s Village night market. On Fridays, the roads close to traffic, and shopping and food stalls are set up in the street. On either side, brick and mortar stores remain open and dozens of restaurants offer amazing menus from all over the world.
We had a lot of fun walking the streets, inspecting crafts and goods, and negotiating for deals. There were standard Thai souvenirs, but also a number of talented artists showing off their creations. Give yourself lots of time…this was a large market and it was well worth wandering around and enjoying it.
7. Fire Show on Koh Samui – things to do.
Not far from Fisherman’s Village and along Bophut beach was Coco Tam, a beach bar on Koh Samui that offered a nightly fire show from 9:30 pm. This was a cool bar with a huge beach presence that offered cushions and tables right on the sand. Every night, there was a free fire show on the beach, tables being inches or feet from the show depending on your preference. The drinks were fantastic and the show was extraordinary. We added it to our night market experience. We landed there after shopping and it was the perfect end to our evening.
If you have dreamed of a Thailand holiday where you walk on deserted beaches with jungle life steps away from your small boutique hotel, then Koh Samui is not the right destination for you. It is a tourist driven location in Thailand that will disappoint if you are seeking an authentic Thai experience.
On the other hand, if you are looking for an easy escape to a beautiful island filled with hotels, beaches, restaurants and things to do, then Koh Samui would be the perfect place for you.
There are many, many destinations in Thailand waiting for you to discover. They all offer something different – seclusion, romance, culture, adventure, night life, beaches, family activities, and so on. It is well worthwhile to spend a bit of time identifying what is important to you and researching which destinations best suit your interests. In addition to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, I have been to Phuket, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I can honestly say that excellent service, delicious food and unconditional kindness from the Thai people seem to be everywhere. This is a beautiful country that is waiting for you to discover it.
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