Koh Samui
October 25, 2017

How much do things cost on Koh Samui?

How much do things cost on Koh Samui? From drinks, snacks, beach massages, lessons to XYZ (literally) – here’s an idea of how much baht to bring.

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How much do things cost on Koh Samui?

Given the success of our A to Z Thailand packing list, we’re combining the alphabet and ‘really, really random’ again to find out: How much do things cost on Koh Samui? From drinks, snacks, beach massages, lessons to XYZ (literally) – here’s an idea of how much baht to bring.

Ambre Solaire sunscreen (200 ml)

  • Amazon price: £7.00
  • Koh Samui price: 595 THB (£14.10)

Comparing the same bottle at a Koh Samui pharmacy and on Amazon, expect sunscreen to cost at least 200% more on Koh Samui than at home (depending on whether you're looking in a pharmacy or a hotel gift shop). Sunscreen is expensive in Thailand – they know you need it – and selection can be limited. Bring your favourite from home.

TIP! Prefer eco/non-toxic products? These are the best natural sunscreens for Thailand: they're as green-as-can-be, with no animal testing – we've tried them all.

Bombay Sapphire gin (70 cl)

  • Amazon price: £21.98
  • Koh Samui price: 1169 THB (£27.70).

Imported alcohol is pricey in Thailand (tariffs! duties!) – in this case, 126% more than the UK. Are you coming to Koh Samui to celebrate something special? Beyond sunset spots and save-the-rainy-day suggestions, The Koh Samui Guide has detailed drinks lists plus tips for succeeding at duty-free.

Coconut oil (1 litre, food grade)

  • Amazon price: £9.59+
  • Koh Samui price: 629 THB (£14.91)

You won't see tremendous savings in buying your coconut oil locally ... but how about the smug satisfaction of supporting the island's original industry? The range of choice on offer in terms of coconut oil and related products is always an enjoyable browse – and makes great gifts. You can find coconut oil everywhere on Samui – including entire aisles at island supermarkets.

Diet Coke (2 litres)

  • Amazon price: £1.66
  • Koh Samui price: 38 THB (£0.90)

Recall that Coco-Cola's entire business model relies on Coke being as cheap (or cheaper) than water? No gouging here – this is one of few instances where the Koh Samui cost is much, much lower than the West.

Espresso (1 shot)

  • Starbucks UK price: £1.50
  • Koh Samui price: 80 THB (£1.90)

Expect to pay roughly 80+ THB for a cup of quality espresso – as at a Fisherman's Village café. Plan on higher prices (but even prettier scenery) for hotel coffee. A gadgety alternative if your bloodstream is 90% coffee? This travel 'minipresso' coffee maker allows you to make magic with any beans you find on your travels. (Chiang Mai is particularly recommended as a grown-in-Thailand option).

Foot massage (1 hour)

No wonder that daily foot massages – either on the beach or in a massage shop – become routine. Rates on Koh Samui’s main beaches tend to be standard, but you might find lower rates off the beaten track. For services like this, there's no tipping, and you'll always pay in cash. Hotel spas, though a more decadent experience, are typically many-monies more.

Green curry (chicken)

The stated price is for a lunch dish at a casual beach restaurant – green curry with chicken on Chaweng Beach. Rice is usually extra, but costs only a nominal amount and often is shared amongst people. Expect to pay more for food at resorts, and less off the beach. The same dish is approximately 120 THB (£2.84) on Chaweng high street.

Planning to eat your own body weight in Thailand? Get our top food and drink recommendations in The Koh Samui Guide.

Havaianas flip-flops

  • Amazon price: £8.78+
  • Koh Samui price: 1390 THB (£32.95)

In a flip-flop emergency, look for genuine Havaianas flip-flops at the Havaianas store, in Koh Samui's Central Festival mall. Again, imported products come with a price tag: comparing the same pair at Amazon, you'll find that Western brands can be 375% more than at home. Of course, it's nice to have shopping options available if you need them – but you'll probably want to bring these things from home (especially if you have feet bigger than "Thai-size").

TIP! Learn exactly which shoes are best for Thailand (and find out why you’ll want to live in flip-flops on Koh Samui).

Ice cream (single scoop)

A scoop of ice cream (the good stuff) costs 90 baht at a Choeng Mon café. Every 7-Eleven has an ice cream freezer with cheaper options and Koh Samui coconut ice cream is widely available (in coconuts!). Island supermarkets carry imported options – Häagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry's, the whole gang.

Juice (fresh, 1 glass)

A glass of juiced-in-front-of-you, cold-pressed fresh juice costs 120 baht at the very same Choeng Mon café as the ice cream 'research'. Fresh juice from tropical fruits is easy to find though – unless at a healthy/veggie restaurant – orange juice in Thailand tends to be spectacularly bright orange – like a concentrated highlighter. If you try to avoid additives and added sugar, it's often better just to eat the actual fruit and stick to coconut water for hydrating purposes.

Kobe beef (one portion)

Rest assured, Koh Samui has plenty to offer the well-funded foodie – like a plate of Kobe beef carpaccio at a Fisherman’s Village café. As a general rule, imported (Western) foods – anything involving high-quality butter, olive oil or fresh produce not found in Thailand – will cost as much or more than equivalent restaurants in London, New York, Sydney, etc. Worth it? Of course – you're on vacation and you're eating by candlelight with your feet in actual sand. Splash out, order another round of mojitos and enjoy yourself.

Long island iced tea (one glass)

Whether Long Island iced tea or other standard cocktails, the 200-Baht range is typical for cocktails on Chaweng beach. Stretch your drinking dollars further by looking for beach-front happy hours, typically just before sunset.

Mumm champagne (75 cl bottle)

Crying a little? Your tears are thanks to steep import duties – meaning Koh Samui champagne is nearly 400% more than the same bottle at home. Bring your own – packed safely in your suitcase.

Nivea after-sun lotion (200 ml)

  • Amazon price: £4.99
  • Koh Samui price: 600 THB (£14.22)

Expect to pay around 600 THB for after-sun lotion at your hotel gift shop. We emphasise that hotel gift shop pricing will always exceed 7-Eleven by a factor of a billion but note that you'll want to arrive with your toiletries covered. If you prefer natural/green products, check out our recommendations for the best toiletries for Thailand (face care, shower stuff, mosquito repellent, makeup, sunscreen and more).

Off! mosquito repellent

You'll readily find Off! mosquito repellent at any Koh Samui convenience store supermarket. Great to know it’s there as a Plan B, but acquaint yourself with our most successful tactics to win the mosquito war in Thailand and you'll arrive with an arsenal of your own.

Pringles (1 regular can)

  • Supermarket price (UK): £2.50
  • Koh Samui price: 55 THB (£1.30)

So! Diet Coke and Pringles are amongst the few items that cost much, much less than in the West. Further legitimise your snacking: You’ll want to increase your salt intake in Thailand’s heat.

Q-Tips (travel-size)

  • Amazon price: £2.55
  • Koh Samui price: 63 THB (£1.50)

As a guide to what's available on Koh Samui and what's not – expect to pay 15+ THB (£0.36) for cheapy travel size Q-Tips (the kind that hurts your ears) to 63 THB (£1.50) for a small, travel-sized box of the cotton-iest of buds at any Koh Samui supermarket.

Rosé (75 cl bottle)

  • Amazon price: £3.99 and up
  • Koh Samui price: 649 THB and up (£15.38)

Note: The stated price is for the cheapest option on the shelf at a Koh Samui bottle shop (ideal for our quantity-over-quality friends). Compared to Amazon's cheapy-cheap rosé selection which starts in the £3 range, again, Koh Samui's wine prices are typically triple those of home. If you particularly love your rosé, bring a few bottles from home (wrapped like precious babies in your checked luggage). Koh Samui's selection continues to improve but the prices will never cease to make you weep (or go teetotal – and who wants that in the tropics?).

Singha beer (small bottle)

  • UK supermarket price: £1.95
  • Koh Samui price: 34 THB (£0.81)

How to budget travel in Thailand? Allow Diet Coke, Pringles and Singha to account for all your food groups – so far the only items where you'll see a substantial comparative savings on Koh Samui. The given Singha price is Koh Samui supermarket pricing. Expect standard bar/restaurant margins elsewhere, and typically a choice of large or small bottles. (Helpful hint: 'yai' is big).

Thai massage (one hour)

Three hundred baht for a Thai massage on the beach is pretty standard, island-wide. Some places might push it to 350 or 400 Baht. Again, 'beach basic' is your starter price, with high-end hotels offering spa menus luxurious enough to require a re-mortgage.

Umbrella (travel-sized)

Caught in a downpour? You can always find a cheapy ‘save-the-day’ pocket umbrella at a Koh Samui supermarket or convenience store (quality never guaranteed).

Vodka (Absolut, 70 cl)

  • Amazon price: £17.95
  • Koh Samui price: 999 THB (£23.68)

While Koh Samui shelves are well-stocked with choices, you won't find bargain booze prices for anything imported to Thailand. Though more reasonable than champagne, store-bought vodka prices are often 150% more than at home.

Watermelon shake (1 glass)

Most Samui restaurants have a dozen options of fruit shakes: coconut, banana and pineapple are amongst our favourites.

X-Rated Soap

Need a saucy souvenir? X-rated soap abounds in Thailand. Find bits and bobs (fine, penis- and boob-shaped soap) at any Koh Samui souvenir market.

Yoga (1 hour drop-in)

Want to bend and stretch and even hum with strangers? Koh Samui's yoga options have everything from zero to fifty on the hippie-dippie-woo-woo scale. Further options include ocean views and/or reliable air-conditioning. As far as our research confirms, hour-long drop-in classes are roughly equivalent to studios in major cities (London, New York, Sydney, etc) and are well-worth your time.

Zip-line tour

The given price is for a 2000-metre zip-line cable ride at a quality operator with high safety standards. You'll find few zip-line options on Koh Samui. Our recommended operator includes helmets and Petzl equipment (while others look like a guy took some rope, a ladder and a hammer out into the jungle).

TIP! As with anything adventurous in Thailand, be sure to (A) buy travel insurance before you depart and (B) check in advance that it covers your planned activities. Depending on your home country, zip-lining can require 'level 2' insurance over and above the standard coverage and some activities (such as Muay Thai) aren't covered at all.

More Koh Samui questions?

Fear not, you can enjoy the island on your terms, on just about any budget, so we’ve tried to account for Sir-Spend-A-Lot and dollar-stretchers alike. Dubious? Check out your huge range of resort and bungalow options.

For perfect planning, use The Koh Samui Guide to find out when it makes sense to bring particular items from home and when to buy them locally on Samui. Enjoy!"