Koh Samui is a splendid tropical paradise and is incontestably Thailand’s most famous island. It’s touristic offerings are diverse from its palm-lined resorts to its awe-inducing, perhaps even magical natural treasures. In summer, traveling Koh Samui is an adventurous affair especially when you have plenty of reasons to enjoy. In this summer guide, we list the top ten most recommended things to do in Koh Samui in summer.
Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island located south of the mainland on the Gulf of Thailand. Famous for its white sand beaches and dense, mountainous rainforest, the island has been visited by millions of travelers from all over the world. Whether you’re a backpacker looking for a tropical adventure or a working CEO whose aim is a different kind of relaxation, you will find satisfaction in this little Eden in the South East.
Technically, Koh Samui has three different seasons: dry, hot, and rainy. From December to February, the island experiences the dry season when the waters are calmer and there are no frequent rains although there may be occasional storms that can last an hour or two per occurrence. There’s plenty of sunshine and the intermittent breeze makes it refreshing.
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The hot season starts from March and ends in August. This is the eastern equivalent of summer in the tropics. The temperature can reach anywhere between 28℃ to 40℃. That does not mean however that there won’t be any downpour. Just like during the dry months, the hot months are visited with occasional rainfall and short periods of thunderstorms. For those who want to travel to Thailand, this season is the most recommended time to come.
The rainy season happens in September to November. Rainfall and thunderstorms become very common, sometimes lasting almost a week in succession. The volume of water does serve a purpose and that is to maintain the lush tropical forests of the region. This does not mean however that you will not see the sun during the entire monsoon season. If you’re lucky, there are still many sunny days that will allow you to explore around.
Koh Samui has plenty of famous attractions that it’s hard to cram them all into your schedule if you have limited vacation time. Mostly, people come for the beach but aside from this obvious pride, there’s the famous Big Buddha, the awesome Namuang Waterfall, the temple at Wat Plai Laem, and the spectacular “Ladyboy” Cabarets at Chaweng Beach!
The following list is only a recommendation. Feel free to take our advise or create your own itinerary.
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Spending the day cruising through the sea surrounding the island, hopping from one beach to another, chilling underneath the tropical sun with a glass of wine or a bottle of cocktail and concluding the day by the orange sunset is certainly a relaxing way to spend a tropical holiday.
Charter a boat and bring along your friends. Hop from Maenam to Lamai. Chill at Lipa Noi. Be the boss of your own vacation. There are various crafts for charter in the island including catamarans, yachts, wooden junks, and high-end speedboats.
Boats for charter mostly come with a professional staff who can facilitate some activities for you. It’s perfect for private tours and parties while at sea.
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Ang Thong National Marine Park is an archipelago of 42 uninhabited islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Resided only by towering limestone mountains, fertile mangroves pristine forests, waterfalls, and white-sand beaches, its sheer beauty was enough for it to be preserved as a national park.
The whole 100 square kilometers of sea and jungle are protected and houses a number of unique species of flora and fauna.
If you’re chartering a boat, a tour around the islands of Anthng Marine Park is a must. You can also visit by joining a guided tour where you will be provided with detailed information about the sanctuary. There are plenty of quiet, majestic beaches to takes photos and relax in. Here, you can snorkel, swim, bask in the sun, and take photos all you want. Don’t ever forget to bring your camera and capture the whole vista as every inch of it is worth preserving in memory.
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Tasting local cuisine is always a wonderful way to experience a place. The gastronomic path is one laden with surprises, especially for those who are open to new flavors. Koh Samui’s unique food and drink choices will delight your taste buds with so many choices and so varied in prices that it’s easy to splurge whether you’re street hunting or fine dining.
For starters, the Isaan population of Koh Samui has their own regional cuisine so if you’re looking for something you’ve never had before, this is the place to start. If you’re looking for reasonably-priced chomps, stop at Lamai. Chaweng Beach, on the other hand, offers a handful of internationally-acclaimed restaurant choices, aside from the lively spectacle.
Feast in the taste of street food such as kway tiao, chicken satay, pad thai, khao mok kai, the pancakes, tropical fruits, and even the street cocktail!
If you want to have a great meal after a long and exhausting day, head to the Crystal Bay Beach Club at Ao Thongtakian. Hemingway’s on the Beach is another great option located in Baan Taling-Ngam, Thong Krut, replete with a sea view for an overall great vibe. Supattra Thai Dining at Bangrak is a great dining space to learn about Thai cuisine where the staff will happen tell you all about the dishes in their menu like how they are cooked or what they are served with.
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Although primarily known for the grandeur of its beaches, Koh Samui has the best adventures to offer to those who seek a challenge inland. Why yes! Its rainforest and jungles are only as beautiful as its majestic coasts. For those who have the determination to brave the trail, hidden wonders await: the waterfalls and the hidden gardens atop unassuming hills make for thrilling hikes.
But of course, safety first. Before you enter the jungle, know that it is full of risk as well. Be sure to have a reliable guide with you and have the proper gear throughout the journey.
If you’re looking for an easy hike with a scenic path, trek to the Hin Lad Waterfall, a fantastic sight of riveting water plunging down orange-hued rocks. The path is pretty easy and will not be a problem even if you have not much previous experience in hiking. In fact, the place has become a famous picnic spot with plenty of places to eat nearby.
While we’re on the subject of waterfalls, the Na Muang is another spectacular piece of waterbody that has come to be glorified by many who sought it. There are two falls, the first one relatively easier and less challenging than the next. If you want to see the waterfall in its full glory, the best time to visit is around September to November. Don’t forget to wear a good pair of hiking shoes and pack up your swimming gear. While at Na Muang, taking a dip is an absolute must.
On a two to three-hour trek, you’ll reach the magical site of the Secret Buddha Garden located atop Pom Mountain. At the site, you will be greeted by magnificent sculptures surrounded by a lush rainforest and at the top, you have a stunning view of the whole vista. Sunset at the site is unbelievably ethereal. Really quite an experience.
Another sought-after trail is the Nathon Mountain Ridge Trail which is a valley well established with a variety of vegetation and a refreshing evergreen forest. The trek requires some effort so bring along some snacks and enough hydration to keep you replenished. If you start early, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful sunset view at the top.
And while you’re visiting Ang Thong National Marine Park, you can take a day hike to Emerald Lake Viewpoint, one of the most scenic hiking destinations in Koh Samui. The trek can be a tad exhausting due to the flights of stairs you need to overcome to get your way to the top but once there, guaranteed all that effort is well-rewarded. From the peak, you’ll bear witness to a stunning view of the glorious lake, aptly named, alongside a vista of some green islands dotting the sapphire sea.
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They say a good way to remember a place is to experience something exhilarating while there. Although the splendid memory of the beaches is enough to leave you a lasting impression of Koh Samui, a safari tour and a 150-mile per hour dash through the air will surely seal that first impression.
At the Canopy Adventures Park, you’ll get your dose of pure adrenaline as you zipline through the island. Located in Mae Nam, the zipline and aerial adventure park offers tours and outdoor activities for those who want to experience Koh Samui beyond its beaches. This fun activity is perfect either you’re going solo, with your buddy/ies, or with the whole family.
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This one is an oddity, one of those curiosities that will trigger your wonder and laughter at the same time. Located in Lamai beach are the peculiar rock formations fondly called by the locals as Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks, roughly translated as Grandma and Grandpa rocks. So what makes these rock formations interesting? Well, they look like gigantic genitalia of both sexes. According to local folklore, this came to be when an old couple, with the intention of marrying off their son, decided to sail to the neighboring village to ask a man named Ta Monglai for their daughter’s hand. But the couple never made it after their boat was capsized by a storm. Being their intention so pure, the couple turned into the rocks as we know them today.
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Buddhism is the dominant religion in Thailand, as evident in the majesty of their well-preserved temples from the olden days, giant Buddha structures and sculptures, and other shrines and temples for meditation.
One of the most heralded demonstration of the Buddhist belief in Koh Samui is the well-preserved, mummified remains of a monk named Luong Pordaeng, located at the Wat Khunaram temple. He died in 1973 while seated in a meditative position.
Much was known of the now preserved monk who was born in 1894. In fact, he was not a monk all his life. He disrobed, got married, and only when his children had all grown up did he decided to dedicate the remaining years of his life to Buddhism. He died at the age of 79.
Seeing a dead body on display might not be a very welcome sight, especially to those not of the faith. But to Thai Buddhists, death is only a necessary step to reincarnation. The body of the mummified monk is now kept on a glass display upon his request so as to continue to inspire the future generation of those who follow the teachings of the Buddha.
You might wonder why the monk is wearing sunglasses. Well, the eyeballs have dried out which is not a pretty sight so they put the eye gear on.
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If you’re looking for merchandise to bring home as souvenirs, want to find some cheap clothing to go around, or simply want to gawk at curious handicrafts, the local night market is the place to be. There are plenty of Koh Samu, especially in the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street and the Lamai Night Plaza. The Chaweng Night Market and the Chaweng Walking Street are also great places to explore. These are also places to find street food or find a good local munch after a long day of touring, or beach hopping.
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Aside from a sunset cruise, Koh Samui’s watersports provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy the tropical seas, perhaps with a shot of adrenaline. There are watersports activities you can enjoy solo or with family and friends. Scuba diving is especially big in the island with an abundance of resorts with PADI instructors who can teach you to confidently roam the underwater with grace and confidence in just a few sessions. There are jetskis for rent, jet packs, paragliding and parasailing activities, flyboaring, and many more.
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Koh Samui is hailed as the country’s ultimate destination for spas. In fact, it has been voted as Asia’s top spa destination in the recent years. In Koh Samui, you’ll find the best spa offers from Traditional Thai scrubs to facials and reflexology treatments. They also have yoga and meditation sessions and other alternative therapies such as Reiki. It’s a great idea way to spend time especially if you’re a couple.
Head to Magnolia Spa at Chaweng, a spa that is also a cafe and studio and which incorporates the ancient Thai and Indonesian rituals in their treatments. The Samui Ridgeway Private Estate and Spa
In Taling Ngam is another wonderful option, located on an exclusive hilltop estate and promises luxury spa treatments with a panoramic view of the Gulf of Thailand. Speaking of the gulf, just a few meters away, you can find the tropical paradise that is Ban Sabai Big Buddha Retreat and Spa in Bangrak. They offer classic Thai massages, Ayurvedic therapy, and with a private herbal aromatherapy steam rooms.
The Spa resorts at Lamai offers a comprehensive range of treatments replete with a laid-back, beachfront setting. And if you’re looking for a mix of Thai, Swedish, and Indian massage, the Peace Tropical Spa at Bophut is the place to go to.
Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa Resort is an award-winning retreat located in Laem Sett encompassing a nine-acre estate surrounded by natural springs and vibrant bougainvilleas and banana trees, truly a tranquil oasis.