A new and improved white Christmas? With some planning and a measure of good cheer, a Koh Samui Christmas could become your family’s default holiday preference. Breakfast on the beach, followed by presents? A beautiful day together, then Christmas dinner – that someone else cooks and cleans up? If you distill ‘the important bits’ – whatever that might be to your family – you can have your Christmas pudding and eat it too. Here’s why a Koh Samui Christmas is our favourite kind.
Koh Samui Christmas FAQs
We’re those Christmas-obsessives who think that ‘Love Actually’ solves everything. With a major thing for Koh Samui, too … we can’t think of anything better than our favourite holiday in our favourite place. There’s so much to love (and look forward to) about a Koh Samui Christmas. Here’s what to expect (and why to get *really* excited)…
What is Koh Samui like during Christmas?
Compared to New Year’s Eve, Christmas on Koh Samui is fairly tame. Though low-key, no one does merry like Thai people and you’re assured of big smiles and an inclusive attitude, however you like to celebrate. Santa hats pop up on unlikely heads and, Santa arrives (in broad daylight) in some unconventional ways:
- Jet-ski Santa at the InterContinental (2015)
- Parasailing Santa at Four Seasons Samui (2015)
- By elephant at Anantara Bophut (2016)
Is Christmas a holiday in Thailand?
While Christmas is embraced as a good time in tourist areas of Thailand, it’s not an official holiday. Shops, restaurants and attractions (unless expat-owned) remain open as usual.
What is there to do on Koh Samui at Christmas?
Perhaps you can already gauge our enthusiasm for the subject – but we’ve literally written the guide book on how to have the time of your life on Koh Samui. Dive in to Koh Samui’s best – The Koh Samui Guide gives you 174 pages of food, drink and things to do, plus perfect preparation, island advice and crucial safety tips:
“I read the whole book last night and I was hoping to use it while away too.
Fantastic book.” – Tania
The Koh Samui Guide is the proud product of 5+ years’ non-stop updates and expansion – downloaded in 81 countries and counting! See more details and book screenshots, and download your copy in an instant [PDF and Kindle download, $12].
Christmas sunrise and sunset?
Time your Christmas morning coffee, and sunset champagne, just right:
- Christmas Day sunrise: 6:32 am
- Christmas Day sunset: 6:07 pm
Plenty of daylight to enjoy the day however you like!
Is Christmas a good time on Koh Samui?
It’s officially less than 6 months until Christmas and the organised have already booked their travel for Christmas 2017. Gulp! If the rest of us can make a solemn pact to leave each other room on a December 21st-ish Koh Samui flight… that’d be appreciated. So, is it worth the trip?
Given that, together, Christmas and New Year on Koh Samui is one of the (probably THE) busiest time on the island, we’d be better off telling those asking: “No! It’s horrible! Stay away and keep our travel costs down!” But that wouldn’t be true, nor quite in keeping with the season’s ethos, ‘goodwill to mankind’. Just how popular is Christmas on Koh Samui? The island’s hotel and villa rental rates peak for the two weeks over Christmas and New Year’s Eve – let’s compare the same room at the Four Seasons Koh Samui in June and at Christmas…
- June 25 23,500 THB/night (approx US$725)
- Dec 25 45,500 THB/night (approx US$1400)
It’s popular on Koh Samui at Christmas, and for good reason. As many hotels and most villas require a 7-night minimum stay over the holiday period, you can’t help but settle in and relax in full. Arrive, unpack, and your whole focus is enjoying time with your family (and eating non-stop). There are no distractions (and certainly no turkey curry). Once you’re on the island, there’s no stress to be found – someone else deals with the Christmas tree, too.
Most readers’ questions regard the weather (Is it still rainy season at Christmas? Will it be sunny enough? Is it warm enough to swim in the ocean?). With equal parts anecdotal evidence and 10-year weather statistics, we answered all your Christmas/weather questions.
If you love the lead-up to Christmas with decorated shops, Starbucks cups, and glittery dresses… fill up throughout December and arrive to a tropical version the weekend before the 25th. Just save us two seats on the last flight in!
Koh Samui Christmas events
If you’re staying in a hotel or resort, you’ll likely be invited to its Christmas gala dinner (included in your reservation). Koh Samui resorts do a really nice job of decorating for Christmas – they look great. The gala dinner formula tends to be an enormous buffet, with Thai cultural performances, flowing drinks and a Filipino band. Verdict? Pretty decent if you like drinking and/or other people’s children. Otherwise, with a group, Christmas is a very popular time of year for villa rentals on Koh Samui (typically with prices to match).
Can you eat a traditional Christmas dinner in Thailand?
Yes! At every budget, island hotels and Western restaurants offer a full Christmas dinner – some go all out with home-made eggnog and brandy butter. The Koh Samui Guide offers dozens of restaurant suggestions for all budgets (we eat like piggies to ensure thorough and totally honest research). This is a very busy time of year on the island, so we really recommend making reservations for your Christmas lunch or dinner. Whether you want to eat your turkey with your feet in the sand, or dress to the nines and enjoy an ocean view – there’s great variety in dining options.
Koh Samui Christmas food
What Christmas food should you bring to Koh Samui?
Perhaps bring from home any particular Christmas foods that you can’t live without (if they’re transportable) – whatever your “crucial” Christmas food might be. We distill our Koh Samui Christmases to (easily transportable) sights, sounds and smells. We’re greedy, love Christmas, and pack the following:
Keep all chocolate in the fridge, “Thai After Eights” ooze rather quickly. Yes, the Christmas pudding takes a full pound of luggage space but it’s long gone for the return journey. If you won’t have access to a microwave, kindly ask if your hotel can help in warming it for you. Wrap all glass jars in bubble wrap for transit. As for the mulled wine, a hotel room kettle can work magic! And, of course, bring any edible traditions particular to your family. Ours are pretty tasty, but you might know better.
TIP! Double-check customs allowances if in doubt and never pack any meat/dairy/fruit/vegetable products. All foods should be packaged, unopened & clearly labelled. Check any alcohol in your luggage!
Koh Samui Christmas drinks
An ugly Christmas sweater for your beer (it keeps it cold, too)
Ready to celebrate? You’ll need to know where and when to buy your Christmas alcohol on Koh Samui. Tesco, Tops, and other island supermarkets are well-stocked – but go in the morning. You can’t buy alcohol between 2pm and 5pm at Thai supermarkets, nor after midnight. (Also on religious days and Thai national holidays – though this is not the case with Christmas). Know that wine is expensive but the strong stuff comes cheaply.
Why you should BYO-bubbles
First and crucial fact – wine, champagne and top-shelf liquor are e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y expensive in Thailand (due to government import tariffs). While Thai beer, local liquor and cheapy basics are easily funded, expect Thai champagne prices to bring you to tears. If you need bubbles, a decent red or quality port for Christmas to be Christmas – pack the bottle/s in your suitcase and bring it from home.
Champagne and port
Both are available on Koh Samui, but at a steeeep island price. If you can spare the weight in your suitcase, these are best brought yourself (snuggled well in lots of bubble wrap). Avoid buying them at duty-free if connecting in Bangkok – they’ll be taken off you as they’re (sealed or not) over 100ml.
Hotels and where to stay for Christmas on Koh Samui
As you’ve perhaps gathered, Christmas on Koh Samui is peak season and hotels book up quickly. If you prefer to wing it, or have only just decided to travel, there’s still time! Here’s a head-start to finding a Samui hotel that still has Christmas availability for 2016:
We set the search parameters to ‘has rooms available’ over Christmas dates … avoiding an obvious Mary/Joseph/manger pun…
- Chaweng hotels with Xmas availability (+ beach details)
- Bophut hotel with Xmas availability (+ beach details)
- Lamai hotels with Xmas availability (+ beach details)
- Choeng Mon hotels with Xmas availability (+ beach details)
- Maenam hotels with Xmas availability (+ beach details)
Just 1 month to go and, if you haven’t booked your Koh Samui Christmas accommodation, we really recommend you ‘drop what you’re doing and click now’. Last year we got some panicked emails from readers: Did we know a secret Samui peninsula with available hotels? Everything in their budget was booked. Um, we could tell them where to get mince pies…?
Already, many of our favourite spots are down to their last few rooms – Christmas on Koh Samui is the island’s busiest period of the year. Game on! (You can thank us for the nudge to action when you’re sitting on the beach, miles from gloves, sweaters and scarves).
TIP! For a beach-by-beach guide, see where to stay on Samui
Where to stay for Christmas on Koh Samui?
To cut straight to available hotels with exceptional review scores, here are some last-minute options (at every price level) that as of time of writing have availability for 7 or more nights over the Christmas and New Year period…
- SALA Samui, right on Choeng Mon Beach
- Banyan Tree Samui, on its own bay near Lamai
- Belmond Napasai, on Maenam Beach
- The Library, a boutique spot on Chaweng Beach
- Anantara Lawana Resort & Spa, on the quiet, northern edge of Chaweng
- InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort, way down on the quiet southwest coast
- Anantara Bophut, in pole position on Bophut Beach
- Sea Dance Resort, on its a quiet beach with just one other hotel
- Melati Beach Resort & Spa, on a quiet beach near Choeng Mon
- Rocky’s Boutique Resort, near Lamai
Koh Samui Christmas weather
Good news: “[S]now is exceptionally unlikely to fall at this location on December 25” (weatherspark).
What’s Christmas weather on Koh Samui?
If you’ve heard any dissuading remarks about Koh Samui Christmases, they were probably about the weather. Let’s clear up the confusion: November is the centre of Koh Samui’s rainy season, which can run into December. However, by the end of the month, Koh Samui’s Christmas weather should be hot days and lots of sun. “Should be”. A sample of Christmas Day weather we’ve had in the past few years:
2011: Rough seas and a big breeze – no swimming off the mince pies.
2012: Perfect blue skies.
2013: A lovely day with a light breeze, not too hot – ‘turkey temperature’.
From 2005 to 2012, the average Christmas Day temperature was between 25.5°C to 29°C (78°F to 84°F). Chance of rain? 37% chance of some precipitation (most likely ‘slight rain’). If you’ve come from somewhere cold, you might not care – even “bad” weather in Samui still means shorts and T-shirts.
Bring back-up for a rainy day
As there’s a decent chance of a rainy day at this time of year, we really recommend bringing some games or activities to ensure the party stays in full swing. Whether a fully stocked Kindle, an easily packed card game (we love Cards Against Humanity) or kids’ crafts – bring a a rainy day Plan B to ensure you get nothing but sun!
New Year’s Eve
If you’re lucky enough to be staying on Koh Samui through the entire holiday period, take a look at what to expect on New Year’s Eve.
Packing for Christmas in Thailand
What to bring with you? If you’ve never travelled over Christmas, or never had a tropical Christmas, you might be concerned that it becomes an anti-climactic non-event. Not so! It just takes a little planning, and a tiny bit of luggage space. Other than what’s necessary (see our how to pack perfectly + what to wear in Thailand) and any sneaky presents, you might amp up the Christmassy-ness with some favourite food and drink brought from home (discussed above).
TIP! Don’t forget Santa hats – We bring a dozen of these from home (they’re probably available somewhere on the island, but we’d rather not spend time looking). Wearing our santa hats, we take a terribly tacky family photo on the beach on Christmas Day (usually emailed to friends in lieu of the Christmas card that organised people would send).
Perfect presents for Thailand
Does a tropical Christmas still require pressies? Tell your family how lucky they are to be on holiday in such a nice place – see how that goes. If material goods are called for, we have plenty of perfect Christmas present ideas that will pack well for Thailand:
- Travel stocking stuffers under $10
- Women’s travel gift ideas
- Men’s travel gift ideas
- Kids’ beach/pool/’Thailand-y’ gift ideas
Gift wrapping is available through Christmas Day or Boxing Day at Tesco and, likely, at Central Festival mall. You can usually choose between “festooned with bunnies” or “festooned with rainbows and puppies”. If artful wrapping is your thing – bring paper from home.
TIP! Packing your family’s presents: Leave presents unwrapped in your suitcase (in case customs has a look), then pop them in Christmas gift bags with festive tissue paper on arrival – no need to find tape or scissors. Clever, right?
Merry – Koh Samui – Christmas
A Koh Samui Christmas will be different, memorable and – we hope – your best yet. Make sure it’s so, using The Koh Samui Guide to plan your best-ever holiday. Then it’s just a matter of counting down the days. Enjoy!