Koh Samui in January
If you’re a Northern Hemisphere inhabitant, January’s main excitement might be shuffling through the snow to your new gym. Do you remember what lush plants and flowers look like? Barely, right?
So let’s consider this bleak misery grounds for your evacuation: time to head to Thailand and enjoy Koh Samui in January. What can you expect?
Top 15 January FAQs
#1. What to expect on Koh Samui in January?
While 2017 was a marked exception, January is usually one of the best times to visit Koh Samui if you prefer balmy temperatures over strong heat.
January 1, 2017 on Koh Samui: Certainly there are lots of people around following New Year – but it’s still easily possible to get a seat at one of the island’s most popular bars. A week or so later, Samui soon quiets down after New Year. (The night before? You’d probably want a reservation).
Floods? Much like fluke weather worldwide (not to mention fluke presidents), January 2017 on Koh Samui saw abnormal and insane quantities of rain, which caused island-wide flooding. Locals with good memories suggest it was the most January rain in 18+ years.
Normally, your worst-case weather means overcast skies and a little rain. Note that January floods are the vicennial exception.
#2. Is January a good time to visit Koh Samui?
Typically (and what else can you offer where weather is concerned), Koh Samui in January will be 945,809,348 times preferable to the cold, frozen place you’re trying to escape. Taking the 1-in-18-year chance of mega-rain, I say yes!
January is a great time to visit Samui – especially later in the month. With good odds from the weather gods and balmy, barefoot days – it’s no hardship. January is one of my favourite months on Samui, especially when it quietens down from the Christmas rush.
#3. Is January or February better on Koh Samui?
I’m assuming that “better” means “sunnier”, in which case it’s February. February on Koh Samui has, on average, fewer rainy days, and a slightly higher temperature.
However, if you’re choosing between one week or the next, the difference will be miniscule. That said, once the Christmas/New Year crowd has gone home, you can often find the island to yourself in January.
- Temperature (avg): 26°C in Jan vs 27°C in Feb
- Sunshine (hours): 7 in Jan vs 8 in Feb
- Rainy days (avg): 7 days (90mm) in Jan vs 5 days (30mm) in Feb
- Sea temperature: 26°C in Jan vs 27°C in Feb
- *data source
January 1, 2017 on Koh Samui: These are fairly usual skies for early January – and the craziest corkscrew coconut tree.
#4. Is Koh Samui or Phuket better in January?
Choose your own adventure, my friends, or you risk me saying Koh Samui is always better.
- Temperature (avg): 26°C on Koh Samui vs 27°C in Phuket
- Sunshine (hours): 7 on Koh Samui vs 8 in Phuket
- Rainy days (avg): 7 days (90mm) on Koh Samui vs 6 days (40mm) in Phuket
- Sea temperature: 26°C on Koh Samui vs 28°C in Phuket
- *data source
#5. Is Koh Samui busy in January?
Christmas and New Year on Koh Samui are one of the island’s peak seasons, with visitors typically staying as long as they can stretch school holiday. It can also get busy at Chinese New Year (if the holiday falls in January).
Otherwise, expect a medium volume of (mostly European) retirees escaping their dreadful winter. Note that, even at peak times of year, it’s always possible to find a quiet corner on Koh Samui – it only has to feel busy if you want it to.
January 4, 2012 on Koh Samui: Maenam Beach is ideal if you’re seeking peace, quiet (and maybe a few beers).
#6. What are hotel rates like for Koh Samui in January?
- High-end: Hansar Samui (£270/night)
- Mid-range: Escape Beach Resort (£67/night reduced to £56)
- Budget: Chaulty Towers Guest House (£27/night)
TIP! For an introduction to Koh Samui’s beaches and great hotel suggestions, see Where to Stay on Koh Samui.
*Rates for a random Monday night in January, avoiding major holidays and events. Rates via Booking.com, links include affiliates.
#7. What to pack for Koh Samui in January?
Every shred of knowledge I’ve accumulated in 14 years of Thailand packing trial-and-error is in these two posts:
Given the chance of rain and cloud cover in early January, I especially recommend bringing entertainment (like travel games or some good books), plus extra sun protection for the surprising skin-burnability of overcast days.
TIP! More than anything, pack quality mosquito repellent. This natural brand, Incognito Anti-Mozzie Spray, is my absolute tried-and-tested favourite. I love it so much I’d almost drink it.
Koh Samui weather in January
#8. What’s the weather like on Koh Samui in January?
You’ll experience two different types of January weather, depending whether you come early or late in the month. For example, two recent New Year’s Eves included evening deluges of biblical proportions, both drying up at the perfect time for incredible fireworks and thousands of lanterns.
While early January on Koh Samui can be cooler (it is, statistically, the coolest month of the year), it warms up towards February.
January 2, 2013 on Koh Samui: This is pretty typical for early January – a nice breeze for your beach massage.
January 23, 2012 on Koh Samui: You’re likely to enjoy nicer weather and calmer seas towards the end of January.
#9. How much does it rain on Koh Samui in January?
Put it this way … (on average) it rains:
Less than: MUCH less than November, and much less than December.
More than: However, it rains more (almost twice as much) as February and March, which are the two driest months of the year.
As mentioned, 2017 was very different to the norm and it rained Forrest Gump-style, non-stop, for many days. However, the occasional rain shower is very welcome; rain cuts the humidity wonderfully.
January 1, 2017 on Koh Samui: Yep, a rainy day. But guess what. I took this photo while enjoying a foot massage. Normally you have to play “relaxing ocean waves music” through headphones or speakers – this was so.much.better.
#10. How hot is it on Koh Samui in January?
In general, expect temperatures from about 27° C (brrr), to the low 30s. Ideal for kicking off your reading for the new year!
#11. Is it sunny on Koh Samui in January?
Late January tends to be sunnier than early in the month. Is your brain fried with trying to make the perfect decision? Relax! If it rains for an afternoon, you just get a massage or a pedicure or read another great book.
Use The Koh Samui Guide and its hundreds of recommendations for the best things to see, eat and do. Unless you only want to sun-tan all day every day, you’ll never notice the weather.
January 26, 2012 on Koh Samui: A very sunny sunset
Things to do on Koh Samui in January
#12. What are the best things to do on Koh Samui in January?
(1) Tend to Your New Year’s Resolutions
Of course you’ve got New Year’s resolutions, right? Happily, Koh Samui is the perfect place to start things properly. A cracking formula? Lots of fresh Thai coconuts (Vitamin C!) and plenty of ocean-front yoga. There’s no better place to maintain a healthy breakfast – with extra Vitamin D for free. (I’ll pretend not to notice if you fall off the wagon around happy hour).
(2) New Year, New You
Try something new, way out of your comfort zone. My friends at iSupSamui reported on Instagram that they saw a pod of dolphins just metres from Samui’s shores in mid-January. For me, that’s more than enough incentive to get paddling.
#13. Koh Samui events in January?
As for big events (see the 2017 island calendar), January on Koh Samui is largely a case of “make your own entertainment” (something a set of Cards Against Humanity and a few Singhas will sort out very nicely). Much like elsewhere, it’s a low-key month after the parties of late December. Sounds pretty good to us!
- January 1: New Year’s Day
- January 25: Australia Day (celebrated at Samui’s Aussie bars)
- January 28: Chinese New Year
#14. Can I swim in the sea on Koh Samui in January?
Usually, you definitely can. However, earlier in the month can have periods of ‘remnant rainy season’ where the sea is a bit rougher (certainly the case in 2017 when beaches had to close for a few days). Yet don’t let freak weather dissuade you: January is more likely to be nice than not.
January 1, 2017 on Koh Samui: Barring totally this year’s freak floods, this is what a “bad day” in early January looks like. An hour later, every seat was filled with people (and cute dogs) having fun. It takes a lot to stop happy hour on Koh Samui.
#15. When are sunrise and sunset on Koh Samui in January?
On January 1st, you’ll need to be up before 6:36 am to see the first sunrise of the year. Sunset is 6:11 pm. (Push things back approximately 5-10 minutes by February 1st).
January 5, 2013 on Koh Samui: A beautiful early January sunset at Melati Beach Resort & Spa.
How do I…? Where do I…? What’s the best…?
More questions? Ready to get planning? The Koh Samui Guide ($12) gives you every scrap of my 14 years’ Samui expertise: from how to choose your perfect beach, to where to enjoy romantic nights out … it’ll even help you hobble your way to hangover brunches (and will totally save a rainy day).