Even though Thailand’s third-largest island has often been compared with paradise, it still manages to keep its feet on the ground. So whether you’re a bohemian backpacker or a comfort-loving hedonist, you'll find that most hotels in Ko Samui deliver a little piece of heaven at seriously down-to-earth prices.
Beaches and waterfalls
The beaches are the jewels in Ko Samui’s crown, but head inland to escape the crowds of sun-seekers and you’ll be richly rewarded. Marvel at the colourful cascades of Namuang waterfall, the longest of the island’s many falls, or hike through several levels for a cooling dip in the pool at the top of Hin Laad, stopping off at the temple for some spiritual refreshment. Climb the staircases for a dramatic view of the azure waters of the Emerald Sea, or admire the tropical flowers and colourful insects in Samui Butterfly Garden.
The Fisherman’s Village at Bo Phut offers a glimpse of the traditional island way of life, with many well-preserved wooden Chinese shop-houses and a lively evening market where you can shop for souvenirs and sample the local cuisine in the street cafes. From here you can take a fishing trip on a local boat around the island of Koh Phangan, or go on a day dive to the world-famous Ang Thong Marine Park.
Detox and Full Moon Party
If you’re up for a full-on detox, many Ko Samui hotels have their own on-site wellness centres, offering everything from bespoke New Age holistic spas to friendly open-to-all yoga classes. Check with your own accommodation for more information about the facilities in your resort. Or if you prefer to leave the hard work to others, grab a ticket for Chaweng Thai Boxing Stadium, where you can watch high-profile title fights as well as local matches.
For an antidote to all that healthy living, spend a night on the tiles before you leave. The legendary Full Moon Party has been held at Haad Rhin Beach on Koh Phangan since the mid-1980s. Nowadays tens of thousands of revellers take the short boat ride from Ko Samui to party until dawn and then sleep it off on the beach. Try the Thai whisky (in moderation) for an authentic hippie hangover!