Koh Samui New Year's Eve: How to Have Fun, Stay Safe

Whether you hope your Koh Samui New Year’s Eve is the highlight of your year – or it’s just another drink at midnight – we offer a few choices for making the evening whatever you’d like it to be.

Where’s best for Koh Samui New Year’s Eve?

How to choose your New Year’s spot? Peruse where to stay on Koh Samui and, ideally, make your choice the sooner the better – New Year’s Eve is a really busy time of year on Samui.

Where’s the best place for a fancy, romantic New Year?

Anywhere four- or five-star on Bophut Beach will offer an amazing, tropical New Year ambience or, on quieter Choeng Mon, consider SALA Samui. It’s easy to book a glam New Year’s night out, whether in your own hotel or elsewhere. Options include early dinner with ongoing drinks, or parties starting closer to midnight.

Many restaurants have set menu dinners for New Year’s Eve (obviously at steeper, special occasion prices) and you must book in advance. Most years, every seat on every plane to Koh Samui is booked for NYE – meaning the island’s restaurants are just as full. Restaurants attached to hotels may give preference to their own guests, and some (cough-Four-Seasons-Resort-cough) shut to outside patrons entirely.

Where’s the best place for a big night out on New Year?

For Koh Samui’s biggest New Year party with big-name DJs and huge fire shows, try Ark Bar on Chaweng Beach and – slightly more up-market – Nikki Beach in Lipa Noi.

W Retreat, Nikki Beach and central Chaweng. If you want a party with a capital P, central Chaweng – as usual – will meet your needs. A raucous affair with celebrity DJs, a Chaweng New Year goes well into January 1st. Possibly January 2nd. Not your scene? If you’re staying at a resort on Chaweng, you’ll be happy and busy at your own party.

At different ends of the budget (and at opposite corners of Koh Samui), you’ll find big New Year beach parties at Nikki Beach and on Chaweng Beach (at and around Ark Bar). You’ll want to reserve your spot at the former in advance (and, if staying elsewhere, consider transport – the resort is a long way from Samui’s busy bits).

The Koh Samui Guide covers all your transport options (and safety tips) in depth – it’s ideal to read now in advance of your trip, so you know your stuff when you need it.

The Koh Samui Guide covers all your transport options (and safety tips) in depth Get your Koh Samui Guide

Where’s the best place for a casual New Year on the beach?

Much of Maenam Beach and Choeng Mon Beach remain very family-friendly on New Year’s Eve. If you want a shorts and T-shirt beach dinner, that’s, of course, a great option. Broadly speaking, reservations won’t be necessary at local Thai places but, once you’ve found a favourite spot, double-check that it will be open – many close or host parties for their staff. Of course, a reservation is a good idea if you have a big group or want a prime beach-front table.

On smaller beaches, like Choeng Mon, the show’s over by 12:30 – 1 am. This is great for families with kids or babies, but you’re welcome to dance the night away – Thais are generally game for a party.

Where’s the best place New Year’s Eve fireworks on Koh Samui?

Love fireworks? Rule of thumb: the bigger the beach, the bigger the fireworks. As such, consider Chaweng, Bophut, Lamai, Maenam and Choeng Mon beaches for fireworks – in roughly that order. However, they’re very freely available so tiny bungalow resorts will probably have a few. Whether you’ll be on a beach at midnight, or somewhere with a view – Koh Samui’s New Year fireworks are great. (Sydneysiders might disagree, but then they’d be whinging).

Arrive a total Koh Samui expert

Amongst other crucial trip details, The Koh Samui Guide covers exactly where (and when) to buy alcohol, plus how to arrange your transportation, navigate taxis and catch a songthaew. As for the morning-after, it has you covered for hangover breakfast and brunch recommendations, too.

The Koh Samui Guide has you covered for hangover breakfast and brunch recommendations, too Get your Koh Samui Guide

What to wear for Koh Samui New Year’s Eve?

body glitter + Happy New Year tiara + party dress

A Koh Samui New Year can have any dress code of your choosing – squeeze into a little black dress for champagne and canapés, or show up in pyjamas on Maenam beach. Five-star hotels request ‘smart elegant’ for their New Year gala events.

What shoes are best? As for shoes, note that your feet will swell in Thailand’s heat so only bring shoes that can be adjusted for size. You also want shoes that slip on and off. As such, dressy or casual, flip-flops and or sparkly flats fit every stipulation discussed.

How to stay safe on Koh Samui New Year’s Eve

We’ve seen some surprising sights during our half a dozen Koh Samui New Year’s Eves (not least of which was sitting in a traffic jam outside Tesco, behind an elephant). You’ll have a great time but we should flag two safety precautions.

1. Beware of drunk drivers: True anywhere at this time of year, but especially on Koh Samui where “vacation brain” affects many visitors who know better. If possible, arrange your evening to start and end within walking distance from your hotel room. If your phone doesn’t have a flashlight app, pack a travel torch/flashlight in your handbag or pocket to safely navigate the walk home.

2. Fireworks caution: Though the shows are spectacular, Koh Samui fireworks are fairly freely available to anyone who’d like to have a go. Be aware of your surroundings (should you find yourself around a drunk and DIY bottle rocket situation) – and be ready to move to a safer distance. Hotel-produced fireworks will be better organised than ad hoc beach parties.

What to pack/bring with you for New Year?

champagne + New Year photo props

While you’re sure to have a great night, no matter how little you prepare, we’ll flag two things that are hard to find and/or extremely expensive on Koh Samui:

Stupid hats and ‘New Year’ tat: You might want to add some tacky New Year accessories to your suitcase – you never have enough novelty headwear when you’re drunk.

Champagne: If it’s not New Year without champagne, bring your own (packed carefully in your suitcase). Due to heavy taxation, a 75cl of champagne costs approximately £82 on Koh Samui (compared to £38 for Veuve on Amazon). Worse still, owing to limited island supply, shelves empty quickly at holidays. Yea, it’s our worst nightmare, too.

What does a Koh Samui New Year’s Eve hotel gala involve?

As with Christmas, most large Koh Samui hotels include a New Year gala dinner with your reservation. Should you attend? While the menu and theme will differ by the resort, we really recommend joining these celebrations. For one, you eliminate any transportation worries and won’t need to find ATMs. As well, Samui’s hotels do a fantastic job at dressing up and decorating for the holidays – it’s their peak two weeks of the year. If you’ve paid to stay somewhere, why not enjoy it on the night it’s sure to look most beautiful?

What to expect at your hotel gala? Whether you’re on a first-name basis with the gardener and the girls at reception, you will be by midnight on New Year’s Eve. Thais love a good party, and even though Western New Year is a total adoption, expect your beloved hotel staff to be equally in on the fun. The Santa hats usually get a second showing, and the background music is at long last anything but.

What happens after midnight on New Year’s Eve?

[Update: floating lanterns are now banned on Koh Samui, owing to fire risks]. Once the pyrotechnics finish, the evening gives way to a quieter practice: khom lhoy, or Thai floating lanterns. Set them off together as a couple, with your whole family, or with new friends. Last year, our whole hotel joined in together – staff and guests swapping lantern techniques. It’s meant as a way to send wishes skyward; a beautiful way to start a new year, even for cynics.

And a happy new year…

Zooming straight ahead to January, here’s what to expect on your January 1st on Koh Samui. And, for the noble few, here’s where to find healthy breakfast for that highly likely New Year’s Resolution.

For the rest of your trip-planning, save yourself a million hours of worry and research – it’s all in The Koh Samui Guide. Enjoy!

Use The Koh Samui Guide to save yourself a million hours of worry and research Get your Koh Samui Guide

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