Ko Samui is a big island and, therefore, it's easy to find a convenient way to get around, day or night. Songthaews (open-air pick-up-trucks) and taxis are expensive but plentiful. But, if you prefer to make your own way around – and can deal with reckless drivers – you can hire a car, motorbike or bicycle and make your own way.
On the Thai islands, songthaews and taxis tend to charge whatever they want. There's little in the way of competition so, for the time being, all you can do is try and haggle for a sensible rate. Taxis will rarely use their meter, so for the most part all you can do is grin and bear the extortionate rates or snub them completely and hire a motorbike
Hiring your own songthaew to take you exactly where you want to go can get pricey. But, others work like buses, where you hail them down, hop on, get taken along the main drag, stop near where you want to go, hop off and pay around THB20-60 per journey.
Taking a motorbike or scooter around the island is the perfect way to explore a few of the more remote nooks and crannies. But, be warned; accidents do happen and no matter how good a rider you are, others may not be so careful. Drinking and driving is a big problem.
Though Thai is widely spoken, the majority of people on Ko Samui work within the tourist industry and rarely expect foreigners to say much more than 'thank you' in Thai. The standard of English here is fairly high, and you should find most people understand you. In fact, if they are Burmese, as a lot of service staff in Samui are, they may ask you not to speak Thai, as they don't understand it!
As with any Thai party island, you'll see people in the street wandering around shops in skimpy swimwear or women sunbathing topless. But, while it may be commonplace in Ko Samui, it's certainly not respectful to Thai culture. Make like the locals and dress appropriately at all times.
Ko Samui is one of the nearest islands to Ko Phangan, an island famous for monthly full moon parties, where young backpackers drink to excess and dance into the night. Whether you're looking for a relaxed break or one packed with buckets of Sangsom and body paint, check when the full moon is and plan your trip accordingly.
Ko Samui is one of the drier islands in the south, enjoying a relatively dry period most of the year round. However, travel during October and November should be avoided, as the monsoon season tends to put a dampener on beach breaks.
Situated near Bo Phut beach, the airport is the most convenient way to arrive in Ko Samui. Only Bangkok Airways flies into Samui, but nearby Surat Thani airport is also convenient; a short bus and ferry ride away.
From Darwin: Flights take around nine hours with a stopover in Singapore with Qantas or Singapore Airlines.
From Perth: Flights take around 12 hours, with stopovers in Singapore or Bangkok with Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Qantas and British Airways.
From Brisbane: Flights take around 12 hours with stopovers in Singapore. Fly with Etihad, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Eva Air and Qantas.
From Melbourne: Fifteen-hour flights stopover in both Perth and Singapore. Fly on carriers including Qantas, Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines.
From Sydney: Flights take around 15 hours, with stopovers in both Singapore and Bangkok. Fly with Singapore Airlines and Bangkok Airways.
Transfers from Ko Samui airport start from around THB600, depending on the area in which you are staying. Drivers know the Bangkok Airways schedules and will meet you at the airport at a coinciding time.
If you decide to arrive by sea, there are plenty of transfer options. As well as numerous daily ferries, it's possible to hire a speedboat for around THB20,000 to THB40,000, depending on where you want to travel from and to.
Thailand is famous for its Lady Boy cabaret shows, and Chaweng Beach at Starz or Christy's. Both offer a great show, and, if you're sitting close enough to the front, the chance to be involved in the show – whether you like it or not! Shows are free, but drinks are a little pricier than other bars, and tipping is expected.
Around 30km off Ko Samui is Angthong Marine Park, a mass of 42 islands covered in tropical rainforest, coves and beaches. Book in for a day-long snorkeling trip from Samui to spend the day exploring the marine life and swimming, walking and kayaking around the islands before heading back to Samui for sunset.
12km high on the rocks is Samui's Big Buddha and its adjoining temple. If you need a party come down, this tranquil spot will do the trick, and remind you you're in a country steeped in Buddhist history. You'll also find several market stalls selling food and souvenirs nearby.
Take a break from the stresses and strains of lazing on the beach by opting for a massage. Though there are dubious massage parlours dotted around the island, there are also plenty of mid-range and high-end spas offering the works; from sea salt scrubs to oil massage and, of course, rigorous Thai massages. Head to any of the luxury resorts for a bit of TLC or, if you can't face wandering too far from the white sand beaches, there are masseuses offering treatments of varying quality for next to nothing up and down the beach.
Specialising in Thai, seafood and European cuisine, The Patio is far from the usual mid-range beachside eateries serving up farang (foreigner)-friendly Pad Thais and Tom Yum. Instead, Patio offers high-end international cuisine against a stunning backdrop of pretty water features, making it one of Lamai's fanciest eateries.
Perched up high over the beach, The Height offers stunning panoramic views from the climate-controlled environs of a glass-walled air conditioned room, or an outdoor deck. Though prices are also a little on the steep side, the atmosphere and imaginative four-star cuisine make it unrivalled for romantic meals for two.
After a day exploring the island's most famous landmark, head to the BBC for a seafood buffet with a beachside view. Experience some of the island's best sunset views and one of the most comprehensive menus, which includes Thai seafood and western pub dishes at very reasonable prices
Just because you're on an island doesn't mean you have to eat oily western food and easy-on-the-spice Thai. Why not opt for some health-conscious authentic southern Thai cuisine at Eat Sense? Perfect for couples – especially those looking to boost their daily vitamin intake – Eat Sense's dishes are packed full of wholesome veggies and fresh fish.
Ark Bar is one of those rare beach gems that successfully acts as one of the best spots to chill out during the day, provides a great atmosphere for sundowners and some decent Thai and international grub for when you need to refuel. Pull up a sun lounger and enjoy.
Less raucous than nearby club, The Green Mango, Solo Bar is just far enough from the seedier streets of Ko Samui that you'll be able to enjoy a cocktail in peace. A cool, modern interior, excellent service and a DJ spinning hits every night make Solo one of Chaweng's top destinations for a refined night.
Every island seems to be required to have a reggae-themed bar in which punters can chill out and watch the sunset without a care in the world. Bophut's version is no exception. Get in some cheap beers, recline in a bamboo chair and let your worldly cares melt away to the sound of Everything Is Gonna Be Alright.
For party animals, there are surprisingly few places to dance the night away. However, Sound offers late night drinking, outdoor dance floors, DJs spinning the latest R&B hits and a swimming pool, for late night fun. The party doesn't really start in here until gone 1am, but there are plenty of surrounding bars in which to gear up in.
Get your beach on with a relaxing day spent soaking up the sun on one of Ko Samui's numerous beaches. Try Lipa Noi for a quieter spot than Chaweng. It offers white sands and a few high-end bars and restaurants in which to chill in.
If you're feeling brave, head out on a motorbike to explore the island's Big Buddha and the amusing-looking rock formations of Hin Ta and Hin Yai on Lamai beach, before heading back for an evening of entertainment in the form of a Lady Boy show at Chaweng Beach; the perfect start to the night before you explore some of Chaweng's legendary nightlife.
Get up early enough to book a trip to Angthong Marine Park, for an action packed day of snorkelling and kayaking 30km off Ko Samui. Expect to see langurs (long-tailed monkeys), otters and a colourful array of fish in the 100 square km of land and sea the park covers. Head back to Samui for a well-deserved sundowner on the beach.
Ko Samui's waters are chock-full of fish, large and small. Make the most of it with a Big Game Fishing tour. Travel agents around the island will be able to set you up with a captain and a crew well-versed in finding and catching mackerel, shark, barracuda and grouper around the island. As the sun sets, your haul will be barbecued up so you can enjoy tucking into it as night falls.
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