Koh Samui or Maldives?
If you’re staring at two pretty pictures with distant dreams of palm trees, white sand and coconuts... here’s our input on choosing between Koh Samui and the Maldives.
How to choose between Koh Samui or the Maldives?
We were asked recently how Koh Samui compares to the Maldives, presumably as a honeymoon destination – certainly as a dose of beachy paradise. If you’re staring at two pretty pictures with distant dreams of palm trees, white sand and coconuts... here’s our input on choosing between Koh Samui and the Maldives.
Koh Samui vs Maldives (FAQs)
When is the best time of year to visit?
Actually, Koh Samui and Maldives share a fairly similar climate. While the Maldives is fractionally closer to the equator, the temperature range and hot/cool/wet/dry periods of the year are very similar between Samui and the Maldives.
When is it most and least likely to rain?
- Koh Samui: October 25th (likeliest) and February 7th (least likely)
- Maldives: September 9th (likeliest) and March 1st (least likely)
Hottest and coolest dates of an average year?
- Koh Samui: April 24th (33°C / 91°F) and January 11th (25°C / 77°F)
- Maldives: April 9th (32°C / 90°F) and December 17th (26°C / 79°F)
Temperature variation through an average year?
- Koh Samui: 25°C to 33°C / 77°F to 91°F
- Maldives: 26°C to 32°C / 79°F to 90°F
Is Koh Samui or Maldives bigger?
By square miles or kilometres, there’s not much between them (Koh Samui’s 228.7 sq km to the Maldives’ 298 sq km, or 88.3 to 115 sq mi). However, while Samui is a hilly, jungle-y and very green island, the Maldives is 1,192 islets and the area we just mentioned is 99% water.
Are you scared of the ocean?
What does the size and layout of Koh Samui and the Maldives mean for your honeymoon or vacation? Consider how independent you like to be, how much you like to explore a new place – or if you’re happy withdrawing to paradise and staying put. If you’re a keen diver or love to snorkel, you’ll be kept busy in both Koh Samui and the Maldives.
If you’re scared of things in the ocean or can’t swim, now’s the time to pick Koh Samui; staying on dry land will get boring quickly in a Maldives resort. See our best recommendations for Koh Samui's most romantic resorts – ooh la la!
Travel time to Koh Samui vs the Maldives?
The fastest possible journey (total flying time including connections) from the following four cities to Koh Samui Airport (USM) and Malé International Airport (MLE). Unless you’re an impatient New Yorker, there’s not much difference in travel time, either!
- Quickest from London: Maldives (12h 20m vs 13h 45m to Koh Samui)
- Quickest from Melbourne: Koh Samui (12h 5m vs 15h 40m to the Maldives)
- Quickest from New York: Maldives (18h 35m vs 22h 20m to Koh Samui)
Koh Samui vs the Maldives: Things to do
1. Spoil yourself rotten
Both are destinations devoted utterly to tourism (Koh Samui has approximately 1.5 million tourists a year, while the Maldives has approximately 800,000). As such, if there’s a sybaritic experience to be had – whether a beach massage, a sunset or romantic meal – you won’t be left wanting in either location.
2. Land action?
Given its topography and greater land mass, Koh Samui has various activities available to you on land (including golf, spas, yoga and a huge range of food and drink).
While Koh Samui is neither a diving nor snorkelling destination in itself, both are available as day-trips or trip-excursions, though kayaking, stand-up paddling and boating are increasingly popular. The Maldives, in contrast, is all about its crystal-clear water.
Koh Samui questions?
We've put our readers' most common Samui questions in a tidy FAQ list – find out things to do, where to stay and how to get to know the island.
Koh Samui vs Maldives resorts
What to know
If you have your heart set on a Maldivian over-the-water villa, not even the most beautiful Thai teak could change your mind. Koh Samui's resorts just aren't built like that. However! Samui has hills, and hills mean views.
Do you like to roam or prefer all-inclusive?
Assuming we’re comparing the stuff of dreams, five-star resorts in the Maldives tend to sit on their own small islands (reached by float plane). Since you don’t have neighbours, many are all-inclusive. That can be an attractive option – unless you’re a savvy fisherman you’re unlikely to find outside food options. In comparison, only one Koh Samui resort (that we know of) is all-inclusive: the highly rated Shiva Samui (formerly Samui Beach Village). Otherwise, you can enjoy greater independence at a Samui vs a Maldives resort and can try a huge variety of the island's restaurants and bars.
No exaggeration – we've spent 15 years eating our way around Koh Samui to bring you the very best of the island's food and drink options (even durian ice cream). Find every last calorie (and healthy options too) in The Koh Samui Guide – newly updated in its 6th edition!
Which has the best-priced accommodation?
Wondering about Koh Samui vs Maldives cost? As for resort prices, Koh Samui has accommodation at every price level, yet it can spruce itself up 5-star-style, no problem.
We picked a date in February 2017 (smack in between the dates it’s least likely to rain in either Koh Samui or the Maldives), and checked the best offers at highly rated and beautiful hotels of the same brand in Maldives and Koh Samui. *Some Maldives hotel rates exclude the extra cost of float plane transfer, if applicable.
See if you can find a favourite:
- Koh Samui’s Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa and Anantara Lawana Resort and Spa
- Maldives' Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa and Anantara Veli Resort & Spa
- Koh Samui’s Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui
- Maldives’ Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa and Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa
- Koh Samui’s Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
- Maldives’ Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
Results (USD per night):
- Koh Samui: 459.50 (median price)
- Maldives: 1045.50 (median price)
Here's the difference: While all of the above hotels are 4- and 5-star amazing, and any would qualify as 'trip of a lifetime', some of the Koh Samui rates include breakfast and hotel transfer (but not all), while many of the Maldives options are all-inclusive, with float plane transfer and free SCUBA diving included. So, if you're seeing sticker shock it's not so much a like-for-like comparison as an example of how Koh Samui allows for a much more à la carte vacation.
You'll be happy to know that you can enjoy Samui on any budget: see how much things cost on Koh Samui.
Koh Samui vs Maldives conclusions?
For you to draw! While most visitors to Koh Samui combine their trip with other regional destinations (like a few days’ sight-seeing in Bangkok), the Maldives is the ultimate way to pull up the drawbridge and turn off. For more details in either direction, see The Koh Samui Guide or Lonely Planet Maldives. Enjoy!