Inspiration Destinations Thailand 7 Unique Things to Do in Koh Samui 

7 Unique Things to Do in Koh Samui 

March 20, 2024
Aerial view of a woman lying on woman boat in a lily pond – Luxury Escapes, Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort.

For that clean and serene Thai island escape that’s not too far off the beaten path, just look to Koh Samui.

As Thailand's third-largest island, Koh Samui is less touristy and a bit more serene than it’s westerly relative, Phuket, and northern Koh Chang – beloved among Bangkok locals. So if you're looking for a quiet Thai island, Koh Samui ought to contend for your next escape. A smaller population means Samui has been able to focus on sustainable tourism and bringing visitors closer to nature's tranquility. Book yourself a stay here and enjoy Samui’s unique experiences that its competitors can't rival.

1. Catch a memorable sunrise in Chaweng

While Phuket’s westward position off the mainland makes Patong Beach an excellent spot to catch sunsets, Koh Samui has an eastward-facing advantage. With views across the glimmering Gulf of Thailand, it’s hard to beat a morning on Chaweng Beach. Seven kilometres of perfect powdery sand lining shallow turquoise waters easily makes Chaweng one of Thailand’s all-around best beaches. A colourful reef just off the shoreline breaks incoming tides, meaning the water is peaceful and clean. Try snorkelling in the day’s early hours to catch clown fish and sergeant majors frolicking among the emerald tentacles and ruby branches of tropical coral.

2. Lose yourself to bliss during a beachfront massage

Have you ever booked in for a massage and wished while the spa’s beachscape recordings and a fan lull you that you could just have the real thing? Head to Koh Samui. Along every sandy shore you’ll find huts decked with silken beds, where delicate hands knead hidden pressure points and stretch your limbs, releasing subtle knots of tension as waves lap upon the beach and a tropical breeze cools your brow. And alright, sure, Thai beach massages are by no means unique to Koh Samui, but as the Gulf’s premier resort island, you’ll find the most variety here, both in offerings and price points.

Two massage tables under a beach cabana at sunset with a masseuse standing nearby – Luxury Escapes, InterContinental Koh Samui Resort.
Beach massages. Source: InterContinental Koh Samui Resort.

3. Design your own beachwear at a natural Thai tie-dye workshop

Head to the north end of Chaweng’s sugar-frosted sands where Rati, out of Meewaya Hotel, will show you how to create eye-catching garments in tasteful, earthy tones. During the three-hour workshop, you’ll extract pigments from local plants, like ruby-skinned mangosteens and warm ochre neem bark, before learning fabric-folding techniques and how to use woven baskets to create radiant patterns. Everything about this process is chemical-free, so your cool new tees and tote bags are completely safe to rinse in the ocean water just outside the hotel’s door.

4. Go cuckoo for coco at the Coconut Museum

Near Nathon Beach to the west, the family-run Samui Renong coconut plantation is keeping the island’s heritage alive. Before the days of massive overland trade, Koh Samui was one of Thailand’s top exporters of this tropical fruit. Exhibits and artefact displays – containing tools, sculptures and even musical instruments carved from coconut husks, trunks and leaves – are complemented by classes where you can see how coconut shells are dehusked and treated to create activated charcoal, then learn how to harvest the meat yourself and cook up either coconut oil or sweet custard and dumplings.

Catch memorable sunsets with a nearby stay at Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, located on westward-facing Lipa Noi Beach, or InterContinental Koh Samui Resort.

5. Learn how to cook curry from scratch

Ask Chef Lat where she gets her bursting energy and she’ll proudly tell you – it’s from tea she makes with fresh moringa, grown in her own garden. Her cooking classes at Island Organics include an introduction to this thriving operation, hidden in Samui’s northeast hills and fertilised by an eco-conscious aquaponics setup, as you walk among kaffir limes and butterfly pea blossoms. Afterward, you’ll set up in an open-air kitchen and follow along as she shows you how to toss green papaya salad, fry noodles in a wok and grind curry paste from farm-fresh ingredients with a mortar and pestle.

Continue your culinary exploration with a visit to the Fisherman's Village Night Market and a peaceful retreat at neighbouring Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort.

6. Adventure to Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park's uninhabited paradise

A speedboat moving past tropical archipelago islands in a turquoise sea – Luxury Escapes, InterContinental Koh Samui Resort.
Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine Park. Source: InterContinental Koh Samui Resort

A mere 45 minutes west of Koh Samui by speedboat, discover Mu Ko Ang Thong – an archipelago of 40 islands surrounded by 100 square kilometres of protected reefs and waters. This idyllic and isolated setting, with its limestone hills, sinkholes, caves and inland marine lakes, inspired The Beach, in which a wanderlusting backpacker (Leonardo Di Caprio) sets off to find a legendary, perfect shoreline. Take a day trip here to kayak, snorkel and hike, taking in sights of rare orchids found nowhere else in the world, adorable macaques, leopards, jewel-toned kingfishers and banana-beaked oriental pied hornbills.

7. Get dive certified in nearby Koh Tao

Just a bit further north past Koh Samui’s sister island, Koh Phangan, you’ll find the baby of this triad – Koh Tao, also known as sea turtle paradise. Thanks to stable weather conditions year-round that mean the crystal-clear waters never get cold – along with unbeatable pricing – scuba-diving classes here are top-choice for travellers all over the world. A remote location has kept Koh Tao’s reefs in nearly pristine condition, too. While learning the ropes, you’ll swim with hawksbill and green turtles during breeding season, clown around with clown fish and get up close to giant fuschia sea anemones.

Dreaming of serene? Read up on Thailand's top wellness destinations.

Feature image: Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort.

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