Koh Samui in Thailand is a perfect destination for great food, while it is also good for relaxation and a sun, sand & sea vacation. At the same time it is very touristy, and dirty. You can still stay at a luxury resort at a lower cost than many other places in the world. The beaches are not clear, but you can travel to nearby islands for crystal clear waters. I consider visiting Thailand again, but I will plan better ahead and opt to visit more (remote) islands too see how different Thailand is.
Lord have mercy. How can nutritious and healthy food taste this good? I ate even when I wasn’t hungry. Thai curry is the best. I loved it.
The beaches are OK. They are nice to swim in, and you do have a lot of choices, but they are not as idyllic as the beaches of the Caribbean. I prefer clear beaches, and Chaweng was the one that came closest to my standards. See this Koh Samui beach site for more details. I will say that I later read that Silver beach is supposedly very clear as well, so I regret not visiting it.
I spoke to some locals and they were very friendly trying to give us advice for how to get more out of our holiday, expecting nothing in return. They are friendly, helpful, and peaceful people, unless they are taxi drivers charging you 5 times more than they charge locals.
There are not great distances around the island, but big enough for you to need transport to get around. As for the taxi’s; they never use their meters. Ask the taxi driver the price, he gives you a ridiculous fare, and you say you’ll pay half of that. He says no, and you walk away, but then another taxi driver waves you in and accepts your quoted price. The tuk-tuk’s are cheaper, but they may take detours. Just get on and pay 60 THB when you get off. Almost everyone is riding motorbikes, but at own risk. We saw a nasty accident while there, and we would never have rented one to use on the motorway. The locals seem to master this though: with children hanging from one arm, and the other perfectly steering the scooter. Even dogs sit perfectly still on the scooters.
The food is dirt cheap, even when it’s not. We had planned to cook at our own villa, but with the cheap and delicious food in Koh Samui we hardly cooked at all. The price of clothing is cheap too, but you have to bargain for a better price. A simple cotton dress is worth about 100-300 TBH. A good quality leather bag costs about 3000 TBH, and this was at one of the most expensive boutiques in Chaweng. The supposedly charge a flat rate of 60 TBH, but they don’t. Please bargain because this is where your money goes, but do it with a smile. We read that 10 % is way too much tip, somewhere between 20 – 100 TBH is the custom. If you’re staying for two weeks you may not want to tip everyone, even if it is cheap.
My rating: ♥♥♥
…Interesting place and very different from home. Koh Samui was a lot more touristy than expected, and the place is also very dirty and polluted. The beaches visited were just OK (Koh Nang Yuan is excellent, but it’s not in Koh Samui). The highlight was the food, and I now have several food memories that will stay with me forever.