First Time in Koh Samui – What to Do

Samui Island Survival Guide

This page is here to help you organise your first time in Koh Samui. As one of the most popular holiday destinations in Thailand, Samui has a lot of places to visit, leisure activities to practice, delectable foods to sample, and much more to experience. So, this page is here to answer the question that many first timers in Samui ask: what to do first, upon arrival in this tropical paradise?

Discover the places and venues we personally recommend to our friends and family when they touch down in Samui on their first day. Our Samui Island survival guide comes in handy when, after a long journey, you’re jetlagged and wonder where to eat and what to do first. Samui offers so many options, so here are the best of them adapted for each type of budget.

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Samui at a Glance

Samui has been on the bucket-list of independent travellers since the end of the ‘80s. Before that, the island was as wild as can be, with locals relying on fishing and farming. It used to take the whole day to get from one side of the island to the other. The advent of tourism has seen the development of resort towns along the most notable beaches, and today, Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut, and Maenam, to name the most popular of them, have all the infrastructure required to spend a very pleasant tropical holiday.

  • Over 15 beaches of all shapes and sizes
  • Great island-hopping opportunities to Ang Thong Park, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao
  • Plenty of leisure and sporting activities at hand
  • Great choice of dining and nightlife entertainment options all around the island
  • Wide range of hotel prices
  • Heavy traffic at rush hours
  • The most popular places can be crowded during high seasons

Things You Can Do in Samui

In line with the most sought-after holiday destinations, Koh Samui hosts a fair deal of beautiful places to visit and many exciting leisure and sporting activities at hand. From beaches to temples to viewpoints to waterfalls, you won’t have time to get bored during your holiday. If this is your first time in Samui, the following things to do should be on your bucket-list…

  • Big Buddha Temple

    Big Buddha Temple

    Big Buddha temple sits majestically on a small rocky island off Koh Samui’s north-eastern corner. Known locally as Wat Read More»

  • Fisherman’s Village Samui

    Fisherman’s Village Samui

    Although the seafaring community has moved on, Fisherman’s Village still has a charming rustic look and atmosphere. Read More»

  • Secret Buddha/Magic Garden

    Secret Buddha Garden

    Secret Buddha Garden is hidden away high in the hills in Koh Samui's interior, offering majestic views and an unusual Read More»

Things You Can See around Samui

Samui is not an isolated island in the Gulf of Thailand. A vacation in Samui offers you the opportunity to enjoy one of the favourite activities of holiday makers: island hopping. From the pristine Ang Thong National Marine Park to the lesser developed Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, there’s really a lot to discover a short boat ride from Samui. If this is your first time in Samui, the following things to see are unmissable…

  • Ang Thong Marine National Park

    Ang Thong Marine Park

    The setting for the eponymous 'perfect' beach in Alex Garland's book, Ang Thong really was once home to a group of Read More»

  • Koh Phangan

    Koh Phangan

    World famous due to its Full Moon, Half Moon and many other parties, Koh Phangan actually only has about 10,000 fulltime Read More»

  • Koh Tao

    Koh Tao

    Once the haunt of sea-turtles, this small island north of Koh Samui has become a magnet for those who really want to get Read More»

Best Places to Go at Night in Samui

Whether you like to dance ‘til you drop, or just appreciate ocean views while sipping a glass of wine in peaceful surroundings, Samui after dark has something for everyone’s taste. From the beer bars of Soi Green Mango in Chaweng to the tranquil beach bars in Maenam, you can have as much fun at night as during daytime in Samui. If you come for the first time to Samui, the following venues are not to be missed...

  • Coco Tams

    A fun and extremely relaxed beach bar with a great atmosphere and unique styles of seating, Coco Tams is one of the most Read More»

  • Soi Green Mango

    Soi Green Mango

    The beating heart of Koh Samui’s nightlife, Chaweng’s Soi Green Mango is home to cheap drinks, loud music and good Read More»

  • Ark Bar

    Ark Bar

    Ark Bar is a restaurant, bar and nightclub that describes itself as the one-stop party destination in Samui Island Read More»

Best Places to Shop in Samui

Even though Samui is not as trendy as Bangkok or even Phuket regarding shopping opportunities, you’ll find all that you need here. Minimarts abound all around the island, a few supermarkets sit along the Ring Road, and night markets are held on designated days in each of the largest resort towns. For specific items, there’s a 21st century-style gigantic shopping in the centre of Chaweng with whole floors dedicated to fashion, footwear, technology, homeware and beauty products. If it's your first time in Samui, the following shopping opportunities are not to be missed...

  • Fisherman’s Village Walking Street

    With more unique and boutique goods at rock-bottom prices, Fisherman’s Village Walking Street is among the most popular Read More»

  • Central Festival Samui

    Central Festival Samui

    Central Festival Samui is indeed the largest shopping complex in Samui and has completely changed the face of Chaweng. Read More»

  • Lamai Night Plaza

    Lamai Night Plaza

    In the centre of town, diagonally opposite McDonald's and leading to a bar beer square, you'll find a mini-version of Read More»

Great Restaurants We Like in Samui

Samui really has a place to dine for everyone’s taste. From local Thai restaurants that serve the freshest seafood you could dream of, to sophisticated venues specialised in international fusion cuisine, do not expect to lose weight during your holiday in Samui. We’ve picked out three absolute must-try restaurants for your first time in Samui. The first of them serves fine French cuisine in settings inspired by Shahrazad’s Arabian Nights. The second one is a family-friendly poolside Thai restaurant. The third one is a stylish Mediterranean food restaurant set in a stunning unconventional environment.

  • Tree Tops

    Tree Tops

    Located in Anantara Lawana in north Chaweng, Tree Tops is one of Samui’s most accomplished restaurants and is definitely Read More»

  • The Boudoir Koh Samui

    The Boudoir is a French restaurant that serves haute cuisine in settings inspired by Shahrazad’s Arabian Nights. The

    The Read More»

  • Kob Thai Restaurant in Koh Samui

    Kob Thai Restaurant offers authentic Thai food in a serene tropical setting, just off the main hub of Lamai Beach Road. Read More»

Hotels in Samui We Recommend to Our Friends

Samui's hotel scene features the right establishment for every taste and budget. From upscale resorts settled on their private beach to mid-range hotels located in the centre of the most popular resort towns to cheap bungalows in tranquil areas of the island, Samui is, accommodation-wise, able to please everyone. The three hotels on display below have been selected according to the following criterions: we recommend these hotels to the members of our families or to our friends when they come to Samui, and each of them belongs to a different budget category.

Amari Koh Samui

Amari Palm Reef Koh Samui is a four-star resort located not far from central Chaweng on the east coast of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Read More...

Escape Beach Resort

When you stay at Escape Beach Resort in Koh Samui, you'll be by the sea, just steps from Mae Nam Beach and 12 minutes by foot from Read More...

Anantara Bophut Resort

Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa is a five-star beachside hotel located nearby Fishermans Village in Bophut on Koh Samuis east Read More...


Hotels in Koh Samui

20% OFF
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USD 131
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USD 158
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30% OFF
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USD 310
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