Ko Samui is an Island off the East coast of Thailand which is hugely popular with tourists.
Known for its reputation of being a party island, the sheer number of tourist resources available makes this destination great for those who want an easy trip which doesn’t require a huge amount of planning.
Despite being massively commercial it’s also popular with backpackers and nomads alike and so whilst we were staying nearby in Surat Thani, we couldn’t resist the opportunity take a trip across the water to check out the most famous Ko Island.
How do you get to Ko Samui?
Whilst Ko Samui does have its own airport most tourists won’t ever see it because flights to the Island are amongst the most expensive in Thailand. There are other, more affordable options available and so unless you are short on time or big on cash, you probably won’t fly into the island.
Surat Thani on the mainland acts as a gateway to Samui and is likely to be the airport that you fly into on your way to the island. Flights are cheap thanks to it being served by budget airline Air Asia and onward travel to Samui is made easy by the large number of tour companies touting for your business.
To avoid being overcharged or inadvertently stuck in Surat Thani you should book your transportation in advance and we would highly recommend SeaTran who will collect you at the airport in an air conditioned bus and drive you to their ferry at Donsak pier where you’ll be able to disembark and enjoy the spectacular 90 minute journey across the water in comfort before you dock in Ko Samui.
Price: 400 baht / £8.
We used their service and found them to be a really solid operation. The ferry was safe and well maintained and they also serve a great selection of drinks and snacks on board which is pretty nice after your long journey. It’s also much cheaper than making your own way there.
Seatran will drop you off in the North East
Ko Samui is on lots of people’s ‘dream destinations’ list and so getting the chance to go there is pretty cool. You’ve probably heard loads of awesome things about it from other people and of all the Thai islands, this one probably holds the most kudos in conversation with your friends.
It has beautiful beaches and Chaweng Beach is without doubt the most popular, fantastic night-life, plenty of diving opportunities and lots of hotels and restaurants serving western food / alcohol which feeds into the party atmosphere I told you about earlier.
It’s great if you want to let your hair down and have a comfortable holiday where everyone speaks English and there’s lots of home comforts.
So… Chaweng Beach. This is the beach that everyone goes to Samui for. It’s marketed as being 6km of pure white, sandy beach with crystal clear water and this is absolutely true. However it has also been so badly developed all around with garish buildings and imposing hotels that you can’t really enjoy it. When you throw in all of the beach touts (of which there are MANY) and the huge hoards of tourists it really becomes less of a paradise and more of a pain in the ass.
One of many.
The same can be said of Lamai beach which is equally disappointing and is where you’ll find the worst of the cheesy night-life including Thai boxing, mud wrestling and hostess bars.
I’d heard that Ko Samui can now be compared to Phuket which, once a beautiful Island, has subsequently been thoughtlessly overdeveloped and now attracts the wrong crowds and would completely agree.
The Plain Dangerous
After the well maintained and quiet roads of Surat Thani you’ll be in for a shock when you disembark in Ko Samui. Traffic is a nightmare and the hoards of unqualified foreigners zipping in and out on old motorbikes without so much as a helmet in sight is truly frightening.
They have absolutely no respect for the road or other road users and most seemed drunk or high. Considering the Island has a wealth of coastal roads with not an awful lot to protect you from plummeting in the event of a road accident, we found the behaviour of the idiot drivers shocking.
After three months of safely driving a scooter in Thailand we had our first near death experience within 5 minutes of leaving the ferry when a car door opened into our path and the second mere minutes later when two drunk girls nearly crashed into us.
It really put us on edge from the get go and when we encountered the disappointing beaches and rude crowds, we really couldn’t wait to leave. We lasted 4 hours, in which time we drove the whole length of the island, had lunch on Chaweng Beach, visited Lamai beach, stopped to shop in town and bought petrol before we gave in and went back to the ferry pier.
Have a nice pic of the gorgeous views on the ferry back
Should you go?
I would never tell you not to go somewhere that you’re dying to visit. To be fair there were lots of people in Samui that seemed to be having a grand time but it definitely wasn’t for us and we wouldn’t go back.
If you’re not sure I would suggest staying in Surat Thani which really does have unspoilt and empty beaches and then just take a day trip over to Samui like we did.
I really hope you enjoy it more than we did!
Have you been? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.