Hey Thailand lovers! We are Danielle & Matt, the travel couple behind Couples Quest. Thanks for taking the time to check out our article on the best things to do in Koh Samui. In this article, we will be sharing our experiences on the island and giving you an overview of what to expect on your visit – everything from the best things to do, to where to eat and sleep.
Before we get started, let us tell you about ourselves. Travel was always destined to be a part of our lives, as we met on a train of all places. We both grew up in towns 30 minutes apart but never knew each other. Danielle went to university near Manchester and moved there after graduating. Matt moved there around the same time for a change of scenery.
While both heading home for Christmas, we met on an empty train and spoke the whole way back. We discovered a mutual love of travel after deciding to go to Prague for a few days early on in our relationship. Before we knew it we had booked trips to Portugal, Milan and Budapest.
After becoming disillusioned with the life of a 9-5, and our house in Manchester, we decided last year to set off on the trip of our dreams. This included going to Bali, Singapore and eventually to Australia where we had intended to rent a campervan and drive from Cairns to Melbourne.
We had an Australian working holiday visa granted early 2020 and I think you know the rest. We worked throughout the pandemic, Matt worked in Sales and Danielle worked as a Social Media Manager. A year after we were supposed to set off on the trip of a lifetime, we finally managed to get away although the plan changed from week to week until getting on a plane.
First it was supposed to be Bali for 6 months and then they closed their borders. Then Danielle heard about the Sandbox Program and after some research we applied for everything and booked it within 2 weeks.
Visiting Thailand via the Sandbox Program
We had both traveled to Southeast Asia together a few years ago when we backpacked Vietnam over a 2-week holiday, so this trip wasn’t a huge culture shock to us. The Thai Sandbox program started with 2 weeks in Phuket, which was required to then travel anywhere else in Thailand.
Once our “quarantine” had finished we went to Koh Samui for a few weeks, before going to Koh Pha Ngan for a week and Koh Tao for a week. We then headed back to Koh Samui for a few days before flying to Bangkok.
We have some friends who live in Bangkok so it was great to see familiar faces again, before flying to Bali, Indonesia. We only left Thailand after deciding to make use of the tourist visas we had already spent money on – hence we traveled to Indonesia once they had re-opened their borders.
Our days in Koh Samui were mixed between exploring and relaxing. We stayed in some great places, with Escape Beach Resort being the best, and had a list of things we wanted to see while on the island. We hired a scooter during our stay there to make it easier to get to anywhere we wanted to go, and we had a great time driving around some epic roads.
Koh Samui is an island that is full of surprises. While it might be larger than Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Tao it doesn’t lose that amazing island feel. You can easily find a quiet beach here to drink coconuts, sunbathe and snorkel or explore some of the incredible cultural wonders around the island too.
There are so many amazing things to do here, it just takes a few days so we would recommend any explorer stay here for at least a week. Rent a scooter and hike, swim or climb your way to some phenomenal sights.
Favorite Place in Koh Samui: Na Muang Waterfall #2
Our favorite place in Koh Samui by a mile was Na Muang Waterfall #2. It’s not the easiest place to get to, but it’s worth it for the unbelievable view at the end. There are 2 waterfalls close by and waterfall #1 is still great, it’s good to stop by and see, but the viewpoint at waterfall 2 is something else.
After trekking uphill for 20+ minutes during the hottest part of the day, we thought we had gone off track as the non-existent road seemed to just keep leading us further and further uphill. Eventually some of the trees parted and we stepped out onto the cliff which looked over miles of jungle and out to the ocean. It was an incredible sight that we won’t forget!
After taking some pictures, we sat in awe of what was before us while we finished our water and prepared for the trip back down. While heading back down we saw a small waterfall that sat above a natural pool which was a great way to refresh ourselves after the long walk up and down.
Best Things To Do in Koh Samui, Thailand
There are so many things you can do in Koh Samui and now is one of the most opportune times to go. All the sites that would usually be packed full of tourists are completely empty right now. It’s something we wrestle with ourselves, as we do feel for the local people who are struggling right now.
We see it as us doing our bit to help them by visiting and spending what money we can in different places. By taking the best pictures we can, we are hoping to share our travel experiences with others, which could help influence more tourism back to these beautiful and unique Thai islands.
That being said, we aren’t walking around having a horrible time, and we do have to pinch ourselves as we stand at some of the most incredible places we have seen – especially when there are no other people in sight.
We would advise people go to Na Muang Waterfall #1 and #2, obviously. There is also Overlap Stone, which stands high above Samui and gives an incredible view of the island. The bridge to the stone looks perilous but with careful footing you will be fine. Just across from the entry road to Overlap Stone you will also see Wat Ratchathammaram, a beautiful temple.
Chaweng Beach is also one of the nicest white sand beaches either of us have ever been to. It’s in the quieter part of the island, which may sound odd to anyone who has been there before the pandemic. Previously this was packed with tourists, and it resembles a bit of a ghost town now.
The beach stretches on for miles and we had the rare opportunity to experience what it is like to have our own private beach, as that is how it felt. The beach itself is one of the best you will find on the island – so it’s a must-see, maybe stay somewhere else on the island for now though.
Hin Ta Hin Yai, or grandmothers and grandfathers stone, is a must-see too. It’s one of the signature pieces of the island. Don’t simply go there and look at the huge rock you first see, have a walk around the area.
Climb a little and explore to find some natural lagoons, and some brilliant rock formations just off the coast that make for incredible snorkeling. If you have a drone, then this would be an ideal place to take some epic pics!
Silver Beach is another great beach and it’s close to Hin Ta Hin Yai – so it’s worth coupling these together. Fisherman’s Village is the place to be if you are looking for a few drinks and some popular places. This is the area that expats and locals live near to, so it’s one of the more popular places.
We found some great places to eat in Samui and recommend Aroy Dee for a homemade curry. Finally, there is a magnificent road you can drive that is worth it just on its own. It’s a mountain road that cuts through the island between Lamai Beach and Maenam Beach. If you head towards Panoramic View Samui on Google Maps, then it will take you to the right road.
Lovely Local People of Koh Samui
The people of Koh Samui are amazing, we loved our time there. It was our favorite place in Thailand and somewhere we will absolutely be going back to. Our presence was well received as we were one of few backpackers. They saw us being there as hope that more tourists could be on their way.
We ate at one place in particular which served, in our opinion, the best Thai food either of us have ever tried. This goes by Roadside Thai on Google Maps, and it’s a family run place that is incredibly welcoming and friendly.
If you want something off the menu, they will make it for you as long as you give them a day’s notice to go out and get all of the ingredients for you (they really can’t do enough for people). Most other guests in the places we stayed at were Thai as well, visiting from other areas of Thailand on holiday.
They were equally as surprised to see backpackers, but always liked to have a chat and understand what we were doing and our plans for the future. We found Thai people to be kind, and Samui was a shining example of this.
Where to Eat on the Island
We mentioned some of the best places to eat already, but there are others. Danielle is a sushi fiend, and she managed to find her dream food market. They were selling freshly made sushi for 5-10 BHT, which is obscenely cheap. She filled an entire box full of amazing sushi all for about £2.50.
There was also a place called To Be Sweet, which is a fantastic breakfast spot and at a very good price for some incredible food. About Cafe as well is another amazing breakfast place that sells the best coffee you will find on the island. The iced latte we had there is still the best we have ever had!
Roadside Thai is a must-visit. Not just for the family that runs the place and makes incredible food, but the regulars you are likely to find here are great fun too. We spent more than a few evenings drinking and having a great time there. It doesn’t look like much, and you might wonder if you are in the right place, but it’s the definition of not judging a book by its cover.
Need to Know Before you Go
Everyone should know that Koh Samui is a fantastic place to visit. If you are confident enough to get a scooter, that is by far the best way to get around. We rented one from Raf’s Affordable Rentals. He is easy to find on TripAdvisor and was happy to help. Make sure to give yourself enough time on the island so that you don’t miss anything and so you can relax too.
We would like to finish with our best memories of Koh Samui: sitting at the top of Na Muang Waterfall #2, spending our last few nights drinking with friends and laughing at Roadside Thai, and laying in the lagoons at Hin Ta Hin Yai and just floating in the beautiful crystal-clear waters – these were all incredible moments that we will cherish forever. Thanks for reading!