Koh Samui is second only to Phuket in terms of popularity and tourist arrivals in Thailand. Despite years of long-term overdevelopment, the island still retains many natural beauty and postcard beaches, for good reason. Regular international and domestic scheduled flights to and from the island and regular ferries from Surat Thani make it easy to get to and from the island.
Although the trend is to develop more and more upscale resorts, there are multiple accommodation options on the island to meet different budget needs. The main beach is Chaweng, a beautiful white sand beach. Chaweng is a lush building with resorts spread over most of the beach, shops, bars and restaurants all over the streets. Quiet beaches can be found in the northern part of the island. Bophut has a more rural family atmosphere, although the beach is not so good.
Whether you choose to rent a car, cycle or use local transportation, there is a lot of work to do in Koh Samui. [Warning-If you choose to rent any equipment, such as cars, motorcycles, motorboats, etc., do your research beforehand and use only reputable car hirers. In Thailand, there are many scams in operation and car hirers will try to charge you Extortion can fix small scratches you may not have scratched on it. This situation is already annoying. Please do a Google search for more information on this issue].
Therefore, here is a summary of the main activities:
Temple Visits-One of the highlights of most people visiting Thailand is visiting some temples, and Koh Samui is no exception. The most famous is the Big Buddha at Big Buddha Beach. Climb briefly to the top of the temple for a great view of the sea. There are also some pretty fancy fortune telling machines where you can buy bricks to build new temple buildings. Another famous temple is Wat Khunaram, which contains the mummy of a local monk. Located in the south of the ring road, it is worth a visit.
Hin Ta-Hin Yai- This is a rather quaint station located a few miles south of Chaweng Beach. The ring road extends along the edge of the rocky cliffs and you will encounter a small intersection with road signs. This will take you to a small village and parking lot with some tourist souvenir shops. You then follow a short circuit to some rocks and a small beach. Protruding like a sore thumb are two rocks [Hin Ta and Hin Yai, literally grandfather rock and grandmother rock] that are shaped like "private parts" for men and women!
Animal attractions-In the southeast corner of the island, there is a tiger zoo and an aquarium, a great way to spend hours, especially if you have children. Both are fun and there are some shows throughout the day. These are part of Samui Orchid Resort. The Butterfly Garden provided great photo opportunities for lovers of butterflies and orchids that day, but not everyone had a cup of tea! There is also a crocodile farm near the airport.
There are regular monkey shows at the Monkey Theatre, which crosses the ring road from Bophut Beach. The monkeys demonstrated how to collect coconuts and elephant shows. Monkeys are also the sight of motorcycles that often appear on the roads of Koh Samui [luckily only passengers!]. There are elephant rides all over the island, usually inside, as this is the ideal place to hike.
Natural attractions and tours-The most popular waterfalls on the island are Na Muang 1 and 2. It's easy to reach if not the most spectacular. Na Muang 1 is the lower of the two and is adjacent to a small parking lot without the need to walk. Na Muang 2 is a little taller and needs a walk. There are many natural sceneries on the island that provide you with good photography opportunities out to sea, especially at sunset. One of the most famous attractions is to stop in the north of Hin Ta-Hin Yai near the Lamai beach area. The interior of Koh Samui offers you some great hiking routes.
Of course, the beach is the main attraction of Koh Samui. As I said before, Chaweng Beach is the main beach, the longest beach, and the beach and sea are superior to the rest of the island. It is also the most developed, with many shops, pharmacies, food and noisy night spots. Lamai is next to Chaweng and quieter. Bophut Beach is a popular and more relaxing place in the northern part of the island. It's a more family-oriented beach with a country-style village with some shops and restaurants. Off-island-There are usually options for water sports, usually near Chaweng, including jet skis, banana boats, etc.
The ferry runs from Bophut Pier to the nearby Koh Pha Ngan. This is an island known for its full moon party, and you can arrange an overnight stay in Koh Pha Ngan through a travel agency in Koh Samui. You can also head to the famous diving paradise Koh Tao. From here you can enter the beautiful Ang Thong National Marine Park, which is well worth a day trip. You can also stay overnight, but there is no accommodation in the park. I have some photos of this spectacular location on my website.
Miscellaneous-If you wish, there is a Muay Thai Stadium at Chaweng Beach. There are also some sports activities such as karts and shooting ranges. If you have the courage to rent a car, driving on the island's ring road is a fun pastime.
All in all, Samui has a lot of food available for every taste and budget. Although keep in mind that this is now an international destination, prices are generally higher than in other parts of Thailand, and some areas are overexploited. Nonetheless, it retains many natural beauty and makes people go back to the past time and time again.