Koh Samui
May 30, 2017

The best of Koh Samui: 35 island highlights

Discover 35 places, ideas, tips, activities, books, beaches and experiences – all of which I’m declaring the best of Koh Samui.

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The 35 best of Koh Samui: hotels, beaches and more

No room for mediocrity inside your precious holiday time – I've done the guinea pigging for you. Below you'll find a long list of 35 places, ideas, tips, activities, books, beaches and experiences – all of which I’m declaring the best of Koh Samui.

1. Best beach on Koh Samui

I like Choeng Mon Beach best, but you'll have a favourite soon enough – Samui manages to be all things to all sorts of people.

2. Best place to stay on Koh Samui

My readers' most-booked Koh Samui hotel is SALA Samui Choengmon Beach Resort. Me? I could never choose just one.

3. Best Koh Samui guidebook

See what The Koh Samui Guide has to offer your vacation. I’m just getting started! Use the guide to choose where you’ll be happiest staying; learn the pros/cons, demographics and highlights of every corner of the island (plus discover each area's most notable  hotels and get tips for villa rental).

4. Best mosquito repellent for Koh Samui

Mosquitoes in Thailand are worthy adversaries, but won't be any kind of problem if you're in the habit of using mozzie repellent.

Tip: For totally natural and extremely effective protection, try Incognito mosquito repellent (UK) or Murphy's Naturals (U.S./Canada).

5. Best thing to bring to Koh Samui

The most random packing suggestion you've received? I've used myself (and my family) as an ongoing mosquito science project for 20 years now and this little beauty – Incognito's luxury loofah soap – is next-level genius.

Apparently, some chemical result of dead skin cells + sweat = mosquito heroin. Start using one of these a week or so before leaving for Thailand, then pop it in your toiletry bag to continue the victory. There's a citronella soap inside so it's your entire shower kit in one tidy package.

Mosquito tips: Find out why I love Incognito's anti-mosquito products and its totally ethical business.

6. Best foot forward

You'll live in your flip-flops/thongs, slides and sandals on Samui. At most, you'll want to pack just 5 kinds of shoes for Thailand but, for 99% of your time on Koh Samui, flip-flops are the most convenient. Why Havaianas in particular? They last for-ev-er and don't get hot when left in the sun.

7. Best way to avoid embarrassing yourself

Without a little research, it's easy to embarrass yourself in a new country. Simply remember these brief Thailand do's and don'ts (5 do's, 5 don'ts + 1 bonus don't) and you're golden.

8. Best beach restaurant on earth

Travel+Leisure magazine included the very tiny (very delicious) Had Bang Po seafood restaurant on this impressive list. Catch it now before it gets trendy!

9. Best day ever

It might be your wedding day, blah blah blah, but a day-trip by boat to Angthong Marine Park will be a very close second.

10. Best way to spend a rainy day on Koh Samui

I've got 13 ideas for rainy day activities. Some will make you fat, but they'll all keep you dry.

11. Best way to terrify your partner

Don't tell them there's a gecko in the bathroom.

12. Best romantic dinner on Koh Samui

I offer a few smushy romantic ideas, plus nice spots for sunset cocktails. After the gecko thing, it's the least you can do.

13. Best-dressed list

Make sure you feature. On the beach and off – it's easy to figure out what to wear in Thailand.

14. Best street food on Koh Samui

Stop by a walking street (farmer's market/night market) in one of Samui's towns for a moveable feast – dinner, drinks and dessert. Fishermen's Village (on Fridays) is one of my favourite nights out on Samui.

15. Best way not to die

Scooter rental is one of a few island transport options, but perhaps the most popular. Plan to rent one? Add a helmet. Hot, sunny weather makes many Samui visitors forget their physics (oh please avoid holiday lobotomies).

16. Best time to have Koh Samui to yourself

Most definitely during Koh Samui's rainy season (and in November particularly).

17. Best way to have your cake and eat it too

Spend Christmas on Koh Samui – eating your mince pies on a beach.

18. The best of what, exactly?

I like to keep tabs on Samui's victories – it regularly scoops up armfuls of prizes in Traveler's Choice Awards. Make that best for romance, best for food and wine... and plenty more.

19. Best way to say thank you

How to the person looking after your dog/cat/goldfish/plants? Choose a nice Thai silk cushion, local Samui rum or a selection of soaps/candles/essential oils – spend a few hours doing some Thai souvenir shopping and you'll easily find the perfect gift.

20. Best guess

Which is bigger – Koh Samui or Fiji? Find out how big Koh Samui is, compared to Bermuda, Greenland and beyond.

21. Best early morning walk

For its length (approx. 3 miles/5 km), seclusion and views of Koh Phangan  – you can't do than better Maenam Beach.

22. Best year yet

Lots to look forward to – see Koh Samui's events calendar.

23. Best face forward

You'll probably meet him as you fly into Koh Samui, so why not get to know Koh Samui's Big Buddha?

24. Best books about Thailand

I've read almost all of these books about Thailand myself and loved them. I now I know a lot of random Thai trivia with which I annoy my family. (They don't ask, but I like to tell them anyway). Cultural norms, birds, lady-boys, coconut milk, murder, mystery – it's all there.

25. Best Thai beer

I've done the research on Thai beer (I fully committed, in fact) – but the judgment is yours.

26. Best sausage rolls on Koh Samui

They're waiting for you at Angela's at Moonhut, in Maenam.

27. Best Discovery Channel moment

A near-collision with a metre-long monitor lizard – with updates from many readers' monitor lizard stories, too.

28. Best way to cool off quickly

That would be a bucket of water (iced, probably) thrown down your back during Koh Samui's Songkran – celebrated annually in April.

29. Best friends for life

Use free Thai language podcasts to learn a few words of Thai, and you'll have never made people so happy.

30. Best beach books

These are my favourites – what are you loading on your Kindle?

31. Best rude photo-op on Koh Samui

So this is awkward. There are a few unusual Koh Samui attractions, but 'Hin Ta Hin Yai' takes just 5 minutes to bring out the inner 12-year-old in all of us. There's a boy-version, too.

32. Best sales pitch

It goes like this... "Hello, massaaaaaaage", and it works. Thai massage huts are found all along Samui's many beaches, (with dozens of resort spas available too) – you'll need very little convincing to succumb to an hour a day.

33. Best local food treat on Koh Samui

Fresh fruit and veggies (like Thai bananas – fresh off the tree, bought from the granny who grew them).

34. Best attempt at "Slow Food" on Koh Samui

Growing my own mangoes. From seed. There are only 5 to 10 years left to wait. (Growing my own dragon fruit is even slower).

35. And the rest of the best?

I've saved the even better-best (like where to find bacon) for The Koh Samui Guide. Download it now and the island awaits. Enjoy!