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 my favourite kind…
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Koh Samui Christmas Guide
- What to expect?
- Koh Samui Christmas weather?
- Where to stay for Christmas on Koh Samui?
- What to pack for Christmas in Thailand?
- Koh Samui Christmas Events (2018)
What to expect from a Koh Samui Christmas?
I’m that Christmas-obsessive who thinks ‘Love Actually‘ solves everything. With a major thing for Koh Samui, too … I can’t think of anything better than my favourite holiday in my favourite place. There’s much to love about a Koh Samui Christmas. Here’s what to expect (and why to get *really* excited)…
What is Koh Samui like during Christmas?
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.
Do Thai people celebrate Christmas? Not as such, but where there’s a good time to be had – Thai people are in. 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.
Does Santa visit Koh Samui? Santa hats pop up on unlikely heads and, Santa arrives (in broad daylight) in some unconventional ways. In past years he’s arrived …
- On a jet-ski at the InterContinental
- By parasailing into Four Seasons Resort
- Atop an elephant at Anantara Bophut
But is it … “Christmassy”? This might be where First World Problems get the better of us. If you love the lead-up to Christmas – and become a walking/talking Love Actually montage – twinkly shops, red Starbucks cups, glittery dresses… fill up on that atmosphere at home and arrive at a tropical version the weekend of the 25th. Plan to import a lot of your own Crucial Christmas Kit – see tips below.
Is Christmas a good time on Koh Samui?
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 soon your only 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.
What is there to do on Koh Samui at Christmas?
Perhaps you can already gauge my enthusiasm for the subject – but I’ve literally written the guidebook on how to have the time of your life on Koh Samui. Dive into Koh Samui’s best – The Koh Samui Guide gives you the total sum of my 15 years’ Samui expertise. Use it to jump into the island’s very best food, drink and things to do, plus get perfect preparation and crucial safety tips.
Koh Samui Christmas weather
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 a decade of weather statistics, here’s what to know…
Will it rain over Christmas?
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”.
Recent Christmas Day weather
- (Year A) Rough seas and a big breeze – no swimming off the mince pies.
- (Year B) Perfect blue skies.
- (Year C) Lovely day with a light breeze, not too hot – ‘turkey temperature’.
Koh Samui’s average Christmas Day temperature is 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 (see what to wear on the beach).
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!
Where to stay for Christmas on Koh Samui?
Given that Christmas and New Year on Koh Samui is one of the (probably THE) busiest time on the island, I’d be better off telling those asking: “No! It’s horrible! Stay away!” But that wouldn’t be true, nor quite in keeping with the season’s ethos, ‘goodwill to mankind’.
Last-minute Koh Samui Christmas?
Hotels book up quickly for Christmas on Samui and, by late October, availability shrinks quickly. Closer to Christmas, plan to make quick booking decisions! If you’ve only just decided to travel, here’s a head-start: As of the time of writing, the following hotels and villas still have availability over the Christmas and New Year period… (avoiding an obvious Mary/Joseph/manger pun)…
- Casa De Mar
- Imperial Boat House Beach Resort
- Bandara Beach Resort
- SENSIMAR Koh Samui Resort and Spa (adults-only)
What are hotel rates like on Koh Samui at Christmas?
Can’t sugar-coat this one: Samui’s hotel and villa rental rates peak for the two weeks over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
How popular is Christmas on Koh Samui?
If you haven’t yet booked your Koh Samui Christmas accommodation, I recommend you ‘drop what you’re doing and click now’. Every year I get panicked emails from readers: “Do you know a secret Samui peninsula with available hotels?!? Everything in our budget is booked”. Um … I could tell you where to get mince pies…?
Packing for Christmas in Thailand
- Perfect prep: How to pack for Thailand
- Thai dress code: What to wear in Thailand
- Safety first: Travel insurance for 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, and any sneaky presents, you might amp up the Christmassy-ness with some favourite food and drink brought from home (discussed below).
1. Bring back-up for a rainy day
As there’s a decent chance of a rainy day at this time of year, I 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 rainy day Plan B to ensure you get nothing but sun!
- For kids: Packable rainy day crafts
- To read: The best books about Thailand
- Movies: Home Alone, Elf, Die Hard, The Holiday
Note that Netflix in Thailand has different content than at home – there are some Hollywood movies, but the majority is Thai. As the power (and WiFi) will often go out during storms, it’s best to have a few books or movies downloaded to your device just in case you need the entertainment.
2. What Christmas food/drink 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 distil 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.
3. Koh Samui Christmas presents?
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.
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? On Samui, 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.
4. Koh Samui Christmas drinks (BYO-bubbles)
Ready to celebrate? First and most 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.
Don’t buy duty-free alcohol: If you can spare the weight in your suitcase, any alcohol is best brought yourself to Koh Samui (wrapped well in lots of bubble wrap and checked as luggage). If you’re connecting flights in Bangkok, avoid buying bottles at duty-free – they’ll be confiscated. Official reason? Sealed or not, they’re over 100ml. Actual reason? Think a few cynical thoughts…
Buying Christmas alcohol on Koh Samui: You’ll need to know where and when to buy your Christmas alcohol on Koh Samui. Both champagne and port are available on Koh Samui, but at a steeeep island price. Tesco, Tops, and other island supermarkets are usually well-stocked (except when they’re not – actual island reality) – but go in the morning.
5. 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).
2018 Koh Samui Christmas Events
Christmas dinner on Koh Samui: What to know?
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 I 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 of dining options.
What to wear to Koh Samui Christmas dinner? What to bring? For a total head-to-toe Thailand dress code primer, whether you’re eating casually or getting dressed up, see:
- Dinner dress codes: What to wear in Thailand at night
- Mosquitoes: How to prevent mosquito bites in Thailand
- Heat and humidity: The best makeup for tropical climates
What are the Christmas gala dinners like at Koh Samui hotels? 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 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).
Do we need to book our Christmas dinner in advance? With a few exceptions (Four Seasons Samui), you can reserve your Christmas dinner at many hotel restaurants whether or not you’re a guest – but you must book in advance! Turkeys and roast potatoes are by no means a natural phenomenon on Koh Samui, so you need to stake your claim. If you love to be last-minute…
- See which hotels – at time of writing – still have rooms available, or;
- Start from scratch and get to know your Samui beaches
Net? Gross? Plus-Plus? When booking, check whether tax and service charges are included. Typical rates are 10% service charge and 7% government tax. Some establishments include them in the price; some don’t.
New Year’s Eve on Koh Samui?
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.
Merry – Koh Samui – Christmas
A Koh Samui Christmas will be different, memorable and – I hope – your best yet. Find out everything else you’re wondering – or worried – about in The Koh Samui Guide. Arrive better prepared, and make sure you enjoy every minute. Merry Christmas!