No room for mediocrity inside precious holiday time – we’ve done the guinea pigging for you. Below you’ll find a long list of 33 places, ideas, tips, activities, books, beaches and experiences – all of which we’re declaring Koh Samui’s best.
Best beach on Koh Samui? We like Choeng Mon best (for these 12 reasons), but you’ll have a favourite soon enough – Samui manages to be all things to all sorts of people. How so? Use The Koh Samui Guide to choose where you’ll be happiest staying; learn the pros/cons, demographics and highlights of every corner of the island (plus each area’s most notable private hotels, bungalows & tips for villa rental).
Best guess? Which is bigger – Koh Samui or Fiji? Find out how big Koh Samui is, compared to Bermuda, Greenland and Sarah Palin’s head.
The best of what, exactly? We like to keep tabs on Samui’s victories – it regularly scoops up armfuls of prizes in TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards. Make that best for romance, best for food and wine… and plenty more (like unintentionally hilarious signs).
Best accessories: Scooter rental is one of a few island transport options, but perhaps the most popular. Plan to rent one? Add a helmet. Hot, sunny weather makes many Samui visitors forget their physics (oh please avoid holiday lobotomies). The shirt? Basic Thai manners – and no sunburn. Easiest A+ of your life.
Best friends for life: Use free holiday Thai language podcasts to learn a few words of Thai, and you’ll have never made people so happy.
Best day ever? It might be your wedding day, blah blah blah, but a day-trip by boat to Angthong Marine Park will be a very close second.
Best way to spend a rainy day? We’ve got 13 ideas for rainy day activities. Some will make you fat, but they’ll all keep you dry.
Best beach books? The literary world voted on the best 200 beach books – which, owing to a beef with Harry Potter, we had to augment with our favourite 15 books we’ve read on Koh Samui (most recently on the extremely packable, totally-readable-in-Thai-sunshine Kindle Paperwhite).
Best face forward: you’ll meet him as you fly into Koh Samui, so why not get to know Big Buddha?
Best early morning walk? For its length (approx. 3 miles/5 km), seclusion and views of Koh Phangan – you can’t better Maenam Beach.
Best rude photo-op: there are a few unusual Koh Samui attractions, but ‘Hin Ta Hin Yai’ takes just 5 minutes to bring out the inner 12-year-old in all of us.
Best sales pitch: It goes like this… “Hello, massaaaaaaage“, and it works. Thai massage huts are found all along Samui’s many beaches, (with dozens of resort spas available too) – you’ll need very little convincing to succumb to an hour a day.
Best way to cool off quickly: that would be a bucket of water (iced, probably) thrown down your back during Koh Samui’s Songkran – celebrated annually in April.
Best year yet? Lots to look forward to for 2015 events and festivals.
Best way to have your cake and eat it too: spend Christmas on Koh Samui – eating your mince pies on a beach.
Best books to read before going to Thailand: We’ve read all of these books about Thailand ourselves and loved them. Cultural norms, birds, lady-boys, coconut milk, murder, mystery – it’s all there.
Best prevention: Mosquitoes in Thailand are worthy adversaries, but won’t be any kind of problem if you’re in the habit of using mozzie repellent. For totally natural and extremely effective protection, try Incognito mosquito repellant (a UK product) or Beat-It All-Natural repellent as a U.S. alternative.
Best dressed list? Make sure you feature. On the beach and off – it’s easy to figure out what to wear in Thailand.
Best foot forward with Havaianas Flip-Flops (UK version). At most, you’ll want to pack just 5 kinds of shoes for Thailand but we explain here why flip-flops are the most convenient. Why Havaianas? They last for-ev-er and don’t get hot when left in the sun.
Best sausage rolls: They’re waiting for you at Angela’s Diner and Bakery, in Maenam.
Best local food treat: Thai bananas – fresh off the tree, bought from the granny who grew them.
Best Thai beer: We’ve done the research on Thai beer (we fully committed, in fact) – but the judgment is yours.
Best beach restaurant on earth: Travel+Leisure magazine included the very tiny (very delicious) Had Bang Po seafood restaurant on this impressive list. Catch it now before it gets trendy!
Best way to avoid embarrassing yourself in a new country: remember these brief Thailand do’s and don’ts (5 do’s, 4 don’ts) and you’re golden.
Best Discovery Channel moment: Rick’s near-collision with a metre-long monitor lizard.
Best things to bring from home: For enjoying Samui with kids, we definitely recommend bringing some beach games and pool toys – selection is fairly limited on the island and your beach book wants them occupied. The very most popular of all? Toypedo Bandits (UK version) rank as all-time favourite pool toy in both the UK and the U.S.
Best dinner on foot: Stop by a walking street (farmer’s market/night market) in one of Samui’s towns for a moveable feast – dinner, drinks and dessert. Fishermen’s Village (on Fridays) is one of our favourite nights out on Samui.
Best way to terrify your girlfriend/wife: Don’t tell her there’s a gecko in the bathroom.
Best romantic dinner: We offer a few smushy romantic ideas, plus nice spots for sunset cocktails – after the gecko thing, you’ll owe her.
Best way to thank the person looking after your dog/cat/goldfish/plants: choose a nice Thai silk cushion, local Samui rum or a selection of soaps/candles/essential oils – spend a few hours doing some Samui shopping and you’ll easily find the perfect gift.
Best Koh Samui guide book? See what The Koh Samui Guide has to offer your vacation. We’re just getting started!
Photo credit to yeowatzup via Flickr Creative Commons