A backpackers guide to Koh Samui

1st Jan 2019


Koh Samui is probably one of the most popular tourist islands in Thailand. Being the second largest island of Thailand, Koh Samui attracts all sorts of travellers – from high end tourists who are looking to unwind in one of the high end resorts at the island to backpackers, who are redefining travel goals on a shoe string budget.

How to get there?

Koh Samui is well connected by ferries and flights. Regular ferries ply from Surat Thani in the mainland and the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Koh Samui’s airport has daily domestic flights and a few international departures.

Where to stay?

There are a range of stay options available — if your pockets run deep, you could live the luxurious life by staying at one of the many lavish resorts on the island but if you are travelling solo and on a tight budget, I’d recommend you to stay at hostels and find some fellow travellers to make memories with!

Chill Inn is probably the friendliest hostel I’ve ever stayed at. Gorgeous beach views along with an amazing vibe, what more do you need? I’d highly recommend Chill Inn if you are looking to stay at hostels.

What to do there?

There are tons of activities and attractions in Koh Samui, depending on your budget. I’d suggest setting aside 4 days to explore the island comfortably.

Here is a 4 days itinerary for Koh Samui –


Kayak and unwind at Chill Inn hostel

Chill Inn is probably the most laid back and chill hostel you could stay at. You’d be surrounded by the friendliest of faces and would be treated to a stunning beachfront view. You can head to the open waters on your kayak (50 Baht/hour) and sip on chilled beers for 50 Baht all day long.

Pro tip – The hostel has a briefing session everyday at 7pm where you are introduced to fellow hostel mates and they give you a run down on the coolest attractions and viewpoints around!

Hin Ta and Hin Yai

A 10-minute walk from the hostel is Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks (Grandpa and Grandma’s rocks). As ridiculous as it sounds, these rock formations resemble the male and female genitalia and are one of the top tourist attractions in the island.

Head over to Rock Bar for sunset

Situated right next to Hin Ta – Hin Yai is a cozy little reggae cafe called Rock Bar. This bar is nested on top of a rock and overlooks the sea, making it the ideal spot to catch the sunset. Live reggae music, joints and a beautiful sunset by the sea would be a befitting end to a rather eventful first day at Koh Samui.


Visit Ang Thong National Marine Park

If you have a day to spare, you must not miss Anthong Marine National Park. This full day trip to one of Koh Samui’s natural wonders can be booked at the hostel and would cost you around 1200 baht. Some cool activities like snorkeling and hiking are included in the tour! Feeling adventurous? You also have an option of staying overnight at the national park

Party at Chewang beach

Chewang beach is the party central of Koh Samui! Ark Bar and W have built a reputation of throwing some of the sickest parties in the island. These beach front clubs attract the swankiest of crowds and may burn a hole in your pocket.

Pro tip – Want to save some money? Pre game before heading to the party by consuming copious amounts of ‘thai buckets’!

Photo credits – Roberto Trombetta


Rent a scooter and explore the island

Renting a scooter is definitely the best way to explore the island. For a mere 200 Baht, you can rent a scooter for the day and hit most of the attractions in the island. If you aren’t confident about your riding skills, you can consider renting a car (for 1200 baht) along with your hostel mates.

Khun Si viewpoint and waterfall

While the waterfall itself may be a bit underwhelming during the warmer months due to lack of water, the best part of Khun Si is actually the ride up there. The winding roads through the countryside of Koh Samui were definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

Pro tip – To get there you’ve to take the detour from the main highway and follow the signs that say ‘shortcut to Meenam’.

Hin Lat Waterfall

A 30-minute hike into the jungle would lead you to a tranquil waterfall called Hin Lat. The waterfall has a small natural pool at the base where you could take a refreshing dip and laze around. As this is not as popular as Namuang, it is very likely you would have the entire waterfall to yourself, so fingers crossed!

Namuang waterfall 1 & 2

Namuang waterfall spills down from the highest peak of the island making this the most popular waterfall in the island due to its vantage point. The waterfall isn’t worth a visit during the warmer months but it attracts a lot of tourists during the rainy season. There is a large pool at the base of this 30m waterfall where you could look to unwind.

Sunset at Island View restaurant

After hitting the waterfalls, head over to Island View restaurant for a well-deserved beer and some lip smacking seafood. Sit back and enjoy as the sun goes down beyond the horizon while reminiscing memories of the exciting day you’ve had.


Sunrise at Lad Koh viewpoint

Wake up early to beat the crowd and head towards Bo Put to Lad Koh viewpoint for sunrise. Lad Koh offers a panoramic view of the sea from the east cost of island, which is ideal for sunrise. If you are a morning person, I’d suggest you don’t miss this.

Wat Phra Yai

A trip to Koh Samui is incomplete without a visit to Wat Phra Yai (Big Buddha). The 12 meter golden statue of Buddha is situated on a little island just off the coast of the main island and is the most popular tourist destination of Koh Samui.

Pro tip – The temple stairs are get really hot during the day, get there early to prevent your feet from getting burnt.

Wat Plai Laem

Wat Plai Laem is a Chinese style statue with 18 arms that is a dedication to the goddess of mercy and compassion – Guanyin. In addition to the main statue of Guanyin, there is a statue dedicated to the Monk Budai. The temple complex in itself is pretty beautiful and is surrounded by a lake full of koi fish.

Pro tip – Head to Wat Plai Laem early in the morning in order to beat the crowd and to capture flawless images like this.

Fisherman’s village

If you want a glimpse of how Koh Samui looked back in the day, head to the Fisherman’s village in Bo Put and see it for yourself. Once a traditional fishing village, this town has managed to preserve its beauty by maintaining their traditional wooden doors and structures.

Pro tip – If you are looking to shop in Koh Samui, head to Fisherman Village Walking Street on a Friday. You would get everything from local handicrafts to fabrics, spices and designer clothes at affordable prices.

Koh Samui is a great island to just kick back, relax and get away from the bustling crowds of Bangkok or from the crazy parties from the neighbouring island of Koh Phagyan. Some may say that Koh Samui is a ‘touristy island’ but I’d say that it has a charm of its own.

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