Koh Samui is a paradise of sandy beaches and palm trees at every turn, a tropical island in the Gulf of Thailand that’s definitely worth a visit. Here’s why you should be planning your own trip here right now.
1. You Can Use Points at Many Hotels
While some islands are set so far off the beaten path they don’t have any properties where you can use your points, Koh Samui isn’t one of them. For example, a stay at the Renaissance Koh Samui starts at 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, while award nights at the Conrad Koh Samui start at 85,000 Hilton Honors points. Starwood also has several properties on the island, including a Sheraton, Le Meridien, as well as some luxury and design-collection hotels — TPG actually just had a lovely stay at the W Koh Samui, which he reviewed here. If you don’t have enough points, it’s okay — lodging on the island is extremely cheap, which brings me to my next point.
2. It’s More Affordable Than You Think
You can make your vacation as affordable as you’d like, but even if you splurge to your heart’s content, Koh Samui is relatively inexpensive compared to other island destinations. You can find cheap bungalows (sans air conditioning) for as low as $15 per night, private rooms with air conditioning just off the beach as low as $30 per night or five-star beachfront accommodations for just a couple hundred per night. Need something more specific to your needs? There are plenty of yoga retreats, detox centers, party hostels and Airbnb villa rentals to choose from. The island offers plenty of comforts you’d expect to find in a larger city, like international restaurants and shopping centers, but you can still discover cheap street food and find $10 one-hour Thai massages at most spas here.
3. There’s No Shortage of Peaceful Beaches
While Phuket and other Thai islands have turned into backpacker base camps and tourist zoos, Koh Samui has managed to retain its charm. Yes, party animals will be thrilled to know they can rage all night long on Chaweng Beach, but families can enjoy kid-friendly attractions on and around Bo Phut Beach, while solo travelers, couples or groups of friends wanting to relax can find many low-key areas to chill, like Mae Nam and Bang Po beaches, or pretty much anywhere along the western and southern edges of the island.
4. Getting There is Easy
Many of the islands in Thailand require a hot, sweaty ferry experience, but not Koh Samui. The island is home to Samui International Airport (USM) — most of the flights going into the island are operated by Bangkok Airways and come from the Thai capital, but you can find a few other carriers like Thai Airways coming in and out of here as well. It’s possible to arrive nonstop from other cities in Thailand, like Chiang Mai, or from other hubs outside Thailand, like Penang, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The nice part is that Bangkok Airways is an awesome airline, offering all passengers — even in economy! — a free lounge-style experience in many airports and complimentary food and beverages on flights, including the short, 50-minute hop from Bangkok. Plus, the airport has cute open-air trolleys that drive you from the runway to the baggage claim, welcoming you to Koh Samui in the most adorable way ever.
5. It’s a Great Jumping-Off Point
You can spend all your time in Koh Samui if you’d like, but if you’re hoping to explore more of the Thai Islands, Koh Samui makes it easy. Day trips to nearby Ang Thong National Park, an archipelago of 42 islands full of pristine beaches, limestone cliffs and palm trees, are easy to arrange. You can also catch ferries to Koh Pha Ngan (about 20 minutes away by boat) or Koh Tao (about 75 minutes away by boat). Koh Pha Ngan is home to popular Full Moon parties and stunning bays and beaches. Koh Tao is famous for its diving — the island is home to more than 50 dive schools and is the perfect place to get your PADI certification. In fact, for about $300, you can complete the course and have lodging included. If you plan to dive, I’d recommend checking out Ocean Sound Dive + Yoga.
Have you been to Koh Samui or any other Thai islands? Tell us about your experience in the comments, below.
All images by the author.