The Luxury Guide to Koh Samui, Thailand
It's no secret Koh Samui is one of the most beautiful and popular places to visit in Thailand.
And for good reason.
On land, you can find lush fields of palm trees, killer Thai cuisine and the occasional roaming monkey … while on water, you can take in view of the turquoise ocean with towering mountainous islands in the distance.
It's heaven to say the least.
So heavenly that 30 minutes after arriving, I promptly cancelled my return flight due to happen in five days and opted to stay two weeks instead… Yes, really ?
During those two weeks, I stuffed myself with delicious Thai food, island hopped in the sun and experienced some of the best luxury hospitality Koh Samui has to offer.
Let's first talk about where to stay on Koh Samui…
While on the island, I had the pleasure of experiencing multiple properties – the W, Banyan Tree, Six Senses and Vikasa Yoga Retreat. From high-end luxury to low-key yoga retreat, these accommodations ran the gamut of what you can experience while on Koh Samui, and I would highly, highly recommend any of them to anyone looking to have an incredible time on the island.
Banyan Tree Koh Samui – The Modern Luxury
I have to be totally honest here and say that Banyan Tree was my favorite resort we stayed at on Koh Samui. It was high-end luxury at its utmost and with delicious dining, personal butlers, unbelievable views and pristine waterfront, nothing about it disappointed.
As with many of Banyan Tree's properties, each villa at Banyan Tree Koh Samui is outfitted with its own private pool. Your only decision to make is whether you'd like your villa to face the garden or the ocean.
We stayed in the Oceanfront Pool Suite and, well, I'll let the photos do the talking…
Six Senses – The Rustic Luxury
If you're at all familiar with Six Senses' hotels, you will know that these properties are beautiful. Six Senses' properties are like rustic authenticity meets utmost luxury, and their Koh Samui property was no different.
The Six Senses Koh Samui felt a part of the elements, built into the surrounding jungle with things like the “Out Door Information” sign made from the surrounding elements. I especially loved the bathtub in our room as it was so cozy & romantic and surrounded by jungle.
W Koh Samui – The Hip, Luxe Option
W Koh Samui is very consistent with the other properties under the W title. The decor is bright & eclectic, paired with 5-star hospitality and beautiful grounds.
My favorite part about the hotel was the lobby, which was open-air and opened out onto this gorgeous pool with seating areas.
yes, this is their LOBBY!
Vikasa – The Low-Key Yoga Retreat
Vikasa Yoga Retreat is different from the other properties on this list in that it cannot be considered a resort. Rather, it's a low-key retreat built on one of Koh Samui's oceanfront hillsides that caters to those looking for a wellness escape. Vikasa offers many different yoga retreats and accommodation styles (private bungalows vs. hostel style accommodation) for all budgets.
If you were looking for an escape or a wellness trip, this would be the most beautiful place to do it!
Now that you know which property most fits your travel style & budget, let's move on to what you can actually do while on the island!
Koh Samui’s strategic location in the Gulf of Thailand makes it the perfect base for going on day trips to some seriously stunning and untouched islands. Popular island destinations in the area include Koh Madsum, Koh Tan, James Bond Island and the 42 islands that are part of the Ang Thong National Marine Park. Many of these islands are less than an hour boat ride away and are full of jungles, waterfalls, exotic wildlife, sandy beaches, mountains, and more.
Don’t get me wrong, there are sooooo many incredible things to experience in Koh Samui, but island hopping is, without question, a MUST.
Shop at the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street
Every Friday evening, the Fisherman’s Village by Bophut Beach turns into a lively night market. Cars are are blocked off from entering the main street and people come flooding in. The usual shops and restaurants along the street stay open, and a whole bunch of market stalls, street food vendors, and live musicians set up for the night too. It's a really fun and lively place to spend your Friday.
I highly recommend checking out Gusto for dinner – a delicious, lively Italian restaurant right on the water. When I was there, there was a fire show on the beach!
Treat Yourself to Some Relaxing Beach Days
Koh Samui is famous for its stunning beaches, so you’ll definitely want to set aside at least a few days for some quality beach time. Most of the resorts on the island have beach access, but if you're looking to explore outside of your hotel, check out Chaweng Beach and Lamai Beach. Those are more lively, but if you’re looking for something a little more quiet, check out Lipa Noi, Maenam Beach, and Bophut Beach.
It’s also worth knowing that you can visit some of Koh Samui’s major landmarks from a couple of the island’s beaches. The Big Buddha in Wat Phra Yai can be found just off of Big Buddha (Bangrak) Beach.
Once you’ve had your fill of beaches, I recommend heading inland to explore the island’s jungle trails. A few of the island’s more famous hikes can take you to and around the scenic Na Muang Waterfalls, the Hin Lad Waterfall, and the Secret (and magical) Buddha Garden.
Try All the Watersports and Activities
The Gulf of Thailand’s warm waters and insane marine life make it the ideal place for enjoying all sorts of watersports and activities.
Koh Samui is full of dive centres for beginners and experts alike. Many diving (and snorkeling) trips will take you to islands around Koh Samui, such as Ang Thong National Marine Park, for some unreal underwater experiences.
Want to keep your head above water? You can also give SUP-ing, windsurfing, jet skiing, kayaking, and sailing a try along Koh Samui’s shores.
No trip to Koh Samui would be complete without tasting all of the incredible food the island has to offer. So here are my top places to eat:
Vikasa Life Cafe
Even if you don't stay at Vikasa, you need to visit for lunch or dinner one day because Vikasa Retreat has incredible dining. It should be your go-to for fresh & healthy eats – especially if you have any dietary restrictions (vegetarian, gluten or dairy-free, etc.), Vikasa is very accommodating.
Six Senses Samui
Six Senses Samui has two main restaurants: Dining on the Hill and Dining on the Rocks. While Dining on the Hill serves insanely good Thai dishes, Dining on the Rocks offers mouth-watering 3 to 8 course Western meals with some molecular gastronomy experimentation.
our 3-course meal at Dining on the Rocks
Jahn can be found at Conrad Koh Samui. The restaurant mixes international ingredients with Thai cooking practices, so you’ll see quite the list of innovative dishes on the menu. Since a whole bunch dishes are bound to sound beyond appetizing, you can opt sample some of the restaurant's finest with the Tasting of Jahn or Journey of Jahn set menus.
As a bonus, all of Jahn’s dishes are served with a side of gorgeous views since the restaurant’s floor to ceiling windows overlook the Gulf of Thailand.
On top of being one amazing luxury resort, Banyan Tree Koh Samui is also home to the award-winning Saffron restaurant.
Saffron puts a creative spin on traditional Thai cuisine, and the restaurant really goes the extra mile when it comes to giving guests a mind-blowing culinary experience. I highly recommend the green curry here.
Supattra Thai Dining
Supattra Thai Dining, located just off of Big Buddha Beach, is a little different from the other restaurants on this list. The small Thai restaurant is not affiliated with any resort or retreat, and you also won’t find any pre-printed menus online or on site.
Supattra is all about serving the freshest seafood, and its blackboard menu changes based what’s locally caught that day. If you’re a fan of seafood, you need to check out Supattra!
Which property most catches your eye? If you've been to Koh Samui before, where did you stay?
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