Mention Samui, and vacationers immediately conjure up images of an idyllic beach holiday. Yet, there’s more to the island than postcard-perfect beaches. There are plenty of attractions and activities to fill up your days, from adrenaline pumping activities like flyboarding, to luxurious visits to the spa or discovering an unusual cultural attraction.
We’ll share all about these below, along with insider recommendations from the Villa Finder team:
1. Go beach hopping
A Samui vacation isn’t complete without plenty of beach hopping, and here are some of our favourite family-friendly beaches to hang out at:
Bophut Beach — We like Bophut Beach as it’s conveniently located just a skip from Fisherman’s Village. It features a variety of shops, restaurants and bars, so you can stroll about or unwind with a relaxing dinner after a day at the beach.
Chaweng Beach — Chaweng Beach is the hotspot in town: it’s busy and bustling, with diverse beach bars, restaurants and watersports. It’s a great option if you have older kids, and want to be in the heart of the action.
Choeng Mon Beach — A small bay with wide sandy beaches, and popular with families. The beach is quieter compared to the surrounding coasts, yet offers a good selection of restaurants and activities.
2. Unwind with a luxurious spa session
Going to the spa is such a treat; let the therapist work their magic over your body, stretching and kneading out sore problem areas. But don’t stop at just getting a massage—you’re on holiday, and have all the time to spare. Get a body scrub for to bring out the sunkissed glow on your skin, try a foot massage for deeper relaxation, or enjoy a herbal bath soak.
We offer a free concierge service, so let us know if you want to have an in-villa massage arranged! We’re also including a few of our favourite spas below:
Anantara Spa at Anantara Bophut Koh Samui — Spa treatments are enjoyed in standalone suites spread out across the lush grounds of Anantara Spa, complete with award-winning Elemis spa products and alfresco tubs or rain showers. For the ultimate pampering session, try out the 200-minute Journey of Siam treatment, which comprises of a foot ritual, herbal steam, coconut scrub, Thai massage and refreshments. 99/9 Bophut Bay Tambon Bophut, p. +66 77 428 300 ext. 1801. Open 10am – 10pm daily.
The Spa at Four Seasons Koh Samui — With numerous massages, wellness therapies and beauty treatments, you’ll be spoilt for choice at The Spa. Go for the beach spa treatments to soak up the breezy Samui vibes, while a therapist kneads away tension and stress in your body. There’s a secret garden spa for kids too, so your little ones won’t be left out. 219 Moo 5 Angthong, p. +66 77 243-000.
Banyan Tree Spa — Luxury takes on a whole new meaning at the Banyan Tree Spa. There are 10 fully equipped spa pavilions, featuring a massage room, bathtub, shower alcove and a Vichy-shower room. The spa menu offers a wide-ranging selection of treatments, including Ayurvedic therapies. And lastly, there’s The Rainforest—a dedicated section of the spa that offers a unique experience and various hydrothermal therapies. 99/9 Moo 4, Maret Lamai Beach, p. +66 77 915 333 (ext. 7501 / 7502).
3. Learn the basics of Thai cooking
Joining in a cooking classes is an excellent way to discover the Thai culture. You’ll learn about traditional recipes and cooking techniques, understand how and why specific ingredients are used, get to interact with the locals, and discover the local markets!
Island Organics — Cooking lessons aside, participants will also get to join in an informative tour of the on-site micro farm at Island Organics, and learn about their sustainable garden techniques, aquaponics systems and more. Kids aged nine years and up can join in the cooking classes, while younger children joining in with their family can observe from the side. 24/1 Moo 4, Chaweng, p. +66 89 731 6814. Open Mon-Sat 8am – 5pm. Closed on Sun.
InFusion — InFusion offers half-day cooking classes with a market tour, as well as two-hour workshops with a tour of an organic garden. Both the cooking sessions and garden tours are kid-friendly: your little ones can feed the tilapias and worms during the garden tour, are given child-friendly kitchen tools to cook with and can opt for easy-to-make recipes, like ice cream. Kids aged eight years and up can join in the classes and tours, while younger children can participate under the supervision of their parents. 149 Moo 1, Soi Khao Phra, Cabana House, Bophut, p. +66 93 784 8976. Open Mon-Fri 7.30am – 2.30pm & 5pm – 7pm, Sat 7.30am – 7.30pm. Closed on Sun.
4. Join in a Muay Thai class
Samui has several well-maintained gyms that offers lessons across all levels—whether you’re a complete beginner or have had experience in Muay Thai or other forms of martial arts. Training sessions typically last between two to three hours, and comprise of a combination of stretching, jogging, skipping, pad work and learning Muay Thai techniques.
Jun Muay Thai Camp —164/4 Moo 4, p. +66 89 589 6356. Open Mon-Sat 7.30am – 9.30am & 4.30pm – 6.30pm. Closed on Sun.
Punch It Gym — 124/666 Moo 3, Maret, p. +66 92 905 8518. Open Sun-Fri 8am – 7.30pm. Closed on Sat.
5. Embark on an outdoor adventure
Beyond its postcard-perfect beaches and scenic viewpoints, Samui still has much to offer for outdoor lovers. There are sunrise or sunset standup paddleboarding (SUP) tours, where you get to enjoy magnificent views while balancing atop your paddleboard. These tours are suitable for beginners—tours are held in small group sizes, and your SUP instructor will be keeping an eye out for all participants throughout the session.
For thrill seekers, there’s ziplining and flyboarding. The latter is a little complicated to describe to those who are entirely new to the sport. To put it simply, you’ll have equipment attached to your feet that enables you to fly over or dive into the ocean. Once you’re familiar with the sport, you can even perform adrenaline pumping acts, such as flips or twists in the air.
SUP tour with Klook — Meet up location at Bangrak Beach or Choeng Mon Beach.
Canopy Adventures Secret Falls — Canopy Adventures Secret Falls, Soi 5, p. +66 77 300 340. Open 9am – 6pm daily.
6. Discover Samui’s best cultural activities and attractions
Samui’s cultural attractions aren’t limited to its intricately designed temples and pagodas. The island also offers cultural centers, private sculpture parks, traditional dance performances and communal dining experiences.
Big Buddha — If you only visit one temple during your trip, make it the Big Buddha. It’s the island’s landmark attraction, and known for its gigantic Buddha statue. Exploring the temple compound is a feast for the eyes—the surroundings are colourful, and there are many smaller statues that are just as eye-catching.
Wat Plai Laem — Wat Plai Laem is worth a visit for its striking 18-arm Guanyin statue. Tip: Combine your trip here with a visit to the Big Buddha; both attractions are located just a five minutes’ drive from each other.
Secret Buddha Garden — Located atop Pom Mountain, the Secret Buddha Garden features an unusual collection of statues in a picturesque hilltop environment. You’ll find statues of animals, deities and humans—all of which are sculptured by Khun Nim Thongsuk, a retired farmer.
The Thai Experience — The Thai Experience is a communal dining attraction with a cultural twist. Come with an empty stomach and an open mind. You’ll get to meet fellow travellers, learn about the local culture, savour a three course meal and try your hand at mixing up cocktails and Thai condiments. 25/1, moo 4, Bangrak, p. +66 81 546 7664. Open Tue, Thu & Sat 7pm – 10pm.
7. Explore Fisherman’s Village
Featuring boutiques, souvenir stalls, restaurants and bars, Fisherman’s Village offers a great family experience. The streets have retained its Mediterranean charm—the village once served as the main French outpost many years ago. Come by on Friday evenings to visit the Fisherman’s Village walking street, where you’ll find numerous food and shopping stalls alongside cocktail carts and live bands.
8. Visit Central Festival Samui
Central Festival Samui is more than just a mall; aside from numerous shops and family-friendly restaurants, the sprawling complex also contains a landscaped garden area, kid’s playground, open-air atrium, a 6D motion ride theatre and kids attractions. It’s excellent both as a rainy day attraction, as well as for days when you need to cool off from the tropical heat. 209, 209/1-2, Moo 2, Chaweng, Bophut, p. +66 77 962 777.
9. Enjoy jaw-dropping vistas from a viewpoint
Samui’s breathtaking landscape is best enjoyed from a vantage point. While there are a good number of viewpoints located across the island, here are a few of our favourites:
Khao Hua Jook Pagoda Temple Viewpoint — A small, peaceful temple offering views out to the airport and Chaweng Beach.
Lamai Viewpoint — If you’re in Lamai, make a stop by at Lamai Viewpoint—it’s easily accessible from the beach. Stunning views aside, the venue also boasts a small bar at the peak (a great option to cool down with a drink on hot and sunny afternoons!), natural attractions and a zipline ride. 127/199 Moo 3 (Behind Makro – Lamai), Maret, p. +66 80 890 9755. Open Mon-Fri 9am – 6.30pm, Sat-Sun 8.30am – 6.30pm.
Wat Teepangkorn — Wat Teepangkorn is located atop Khao Pom Mountain—the highest mountain on the island. Head to the platform with the golden Buddha statue, where you’ll enjoy astounding views out to Samui’s eastern coastline.
10. Take in Samui’s spectacular sunset scenery
The best spots for enjoying Samui’s gorgeous sunsets lie along the island’s west-facing coast, such as the beaches of Bang Po, Lipa Noi and Taling Ngam. Or check out a few of our favourite sunset bars below:
Sunset by Angelina — A beautifully appointed seafront venue with uninterrupted ocean views. The restaurant’s French and Thai cuisine is good reason to stay on after you’re done with a round of sunset cocktails. 14/1 Moo 5 Bangrak, p. +66 61 249 0953. Open 1pm – 10pm daily.
The Jungle Club — Tucked away in a lush mountaintop setting, The Jungle Club isn’t the most accessible of venues—but the incredible views you’ll enjoy from the peak makes it well worth the journey. Tip: We offer a free concierge service when you book with us, and we’re more than happy to help you with transport arrangements to The Jungle Club. 44/11 Moo 3, Bophut ,Chaweng Noi Jungle Club Boutique Resort & Restaurant, p. +66 81 891 8263. Open 8am – 10.30pm daily.
Woobar — An ultra-chic sundowner spot. You’ll love the stylish decor, spacious outdoor deck, swimming pool and sunken lounge seats. 4/1 Moo 1 Tambol Maenam, p. +66 77 915 999. Open 11am – 12am daily.