In terms of contemporary travel, Koh Samui is probably the most recognizable name among all the islands that dot Thailand’s coast, especially in terms of budget travel. A couple of decades back it was Phuket that headed the pack. Today, Phuket is widely acknowledged as one of Thailand’s more expensive retreats; since its initial boom, the island has become a mainstay for families and luxury travelers. Koh Samui, on the other hand, has welcomed the humble backpacker with barely concealed glee. With bars, restaurants, and hotels in Koh Samui around every corner, not to mention more than the occasional sun-kissed beach and picturesque waterfall, Koh Samui Thailand is now considered one of the hottest spots on the backpacking circuit.
The fundamental attraction of Koh Samui is simple: its natural beauty. This is a tropical island like only Thailand can boast, and the incoming visitor is guaranteed to be in for a treat. Koh Samui beaches are, of course, the most famous of the island’s natural features. Choosing hotels in Koh Samui can often be a case of choosing which beach you’d like to be near, as the nature of the beach closest to your accommodation will likely dictate how you spend your time here.
For example, choose one of the hotels in Koh Samui that are situated on Chaweng and you’re basically guaranteeing yourself fun and frolics on the sand and in the bar. Chaweng is the main tourist development in Koh Samui Thailand—this is the place to head if you want to spend carefree days on a busy beach before spending lively nights hopping from bar to club. There are plenty more attractive Koh Samui beaches than this one, but few are quite as unashamedly fun.
On the other end of the scale, Maenam Beach in Koh Samui Thailand is a tranquil, tropical paradise. About five miles in length, this shallow, sandy beach is lined by coconut trees and lapped at by perfectly inviting blue waters. There are fewer hotels in Koh Samui found here, but that does not mean the beach is devoid of tourist provisions. On the contrary, there’s a good selection of hotels to meet all budgets, along with some great dining options, too. All in all, this is a good place to stay if you want to get away from the crowds without getting away from the comfort of civilization.
Of the activities that keep travelers occupied while they're spending time in Koh Samui Thailand, diving is one of the most popular. Thailand in general offers some breathtaking diving opportunities, and Koh Samui is no exception, with plenty of dive tour operators on hand to facilitate your trip. June to August is considered the best time of year for diving, though it is possible year-round.
The main sightseeing attraction on Koh Samui is the Big Buddha Temple, also known as Wat Phra Yai. Situated to the north of the island, it’s an enormous installation that stands (or sits) fifty feet, or about 15 meters, tall.
Koh Samui Thailand is the sister island of Koh Phangan, where the infamous monthly Full Moon Party takes place. The tiny diving hotspot of Koh Tao is also close by, meaning you can easily include other stops if an island-hopping tour is how you'd like to pass the time on your trip to Thailand.