These ways to save money in Koh Samui gives you advice regarding the most common expenditures on vacation. This list includes travelling around, dining, shopping, sightseeing and accommodation.
After saving up on these essentials, you can allocate your remaining budget to special activities like a day trip to Ang Thong Marine National, or dinner at one of the many upscale restaurants on the island. Make the most of your Koh Samui vacation without spending too much with our money-saving guide below.
- Ang Thong Adventure Tour
- Ko Tao & Ko Nang Yuan Snorkeling Tour
- Jungle Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Around the Island Tour
- Temples & City Tour
- Big Game Fishing Full-Day Tour
- 4-Wheel ATV Adventure
- Red Baron Junk Sailing Tour with Transfers
- Guided Photography Tour with Golden Pagoda & Big Buddha
Eat street food or at local restaurants
Generally, food is pretty affordable in Thailand. It’s only expensive in restaurants serving international or local dishes to tourists. You can eat pretty well without spending too much in Koh Samui.
Street food is delicious and very cheap. It’s available in weekly fresh and night markets, as well as in permanent fairs such as Chaweng Walking Street. Local Thai restaurants serve classic Thai dishes such as pad thai (stir-fried noodles) or kway teow (noodle soup) for about 60 baht per plate.
Visit free attractions
Most of the major landmarks and natural attractions in Koh Samui can be visited for free. There’s definitely a great number of beautiful sites to see without spending a dime: waterfalls such as Namuang and Hin Lad, temples like Samui Big Buddha and Wat Plai Laem, as well as all the beaches – 24 strips of sand to be exact. There are also many little coves hidden in between that require a little bit of exploration, but no entrance fee is required.
Travel around by songthaew
Songthaew is arguably the most economical way to get around Koh Samui. This is the name for mini pickup trucks with a roofed back, in which 2 benches allow up to 10 people to sit. They are the main public transport system in Samui.
You can find them on Ring Road and in the resort towns. Most of the time, the destination is written on the back of a songthaew. As it doesn't run on a schedule, you can hop on or hop off wherever you like. Just negotiate the price of your journey before getting in.
Shop at Tesco Lotus for snacks and drinks
You can find Tesco Lotus supermarkets in Chaweng, Lamai, and Nathon. These are generally the cheapest grocery stores for buying drinks, snacks, toiletries and other necessities in Koh Samui.
Just slightly more expensive, yet available everywhere throughout the island, are convenience store chains such as 7-Eleven and Family Mart. You can also get affordably priced drinks and snacks at local mom-and-pop’s grocery stores.
Shop at night markets for souvenirs
Night markets and walking streets are really great places to visit in Koh Samui. Some take place once a week while others are opened daily, such as the Chaweng Walking Street. You’ll find there a tremendous choice of souvenirs – shirts, handicrafts, sunglasses and much more - at very interesting prices.
Bargaining is a fundamental part of shopping in night markets. Keep your cool, smile, start by cutting the opening price the vendor gives you by half, then see how things go from there.
Withdraw large amounts from ATMs
When using an ATM in Thailand, most banks charge you a usage fee that reaches 200 baht. AEON machines found in large supermarkets such as Tesco Lotus and Big C charge around 150 baht. Your own bank will probably add a fee, too.
Therefore, it’s a good move to use ATMs as rarely as possible. Try withdrawing large amounts once or twice during your holiday. Another tip is to avoid paying with your credit card in shops, as an additional fee will be added to your bill.
Be wary of common scams
Common sense and vigilance are the best way to not fall into the traps set by dishonest people. Crime is rather uncommon in Koh Samui but, as one of the prime holiday destinations in Thailand, it naturally attracts a few con artists. Just be cautious with your money and belongings.
When a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. The most common scams often include jet ski operators, time-sharing agents, taxi drivers and, in general, people who approach you in the street with an outstanding deal for you.
Travel in the low season
Koh Samui has 2 high seasons per year, from December to February and from July to August. The monsoon hits the island from September to November, while the period between March and June is extremely hot.
If you do not mind rainfalls or oppressive heat, these times of the year are the best to visit Koh Samui at rack rates. With incredible deals on accommodation, on excursions, and even in some shops and restaurants, you’ll save a fair amount of money by coming to Koh Samui offseason.
Stay at one of the quiet beaches
Most of the time, prices increase with the popularity of a destination. The prime resort towns in Koh Samui, such as Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut, and Maenam, are generally more expensive to stay in than smaller and less-sought-after beaches.
Basically, the more local you go, the less you’ll spend. While this could see you staying a little further away from the top attractions, restaurants and nightlife, Koh Samui is still relatively small – you can easily get around on a bike or by foot.