Koh Samui is Thailand's most dynamic chameleon, a cosmopolitan melting pot of experiences and sensations. Palm-fringed shorelines and granite peaks cloaked in virgin rainforest offset cultural sights and delicious, varied cuisine. From relaxing to active, spiritual to lively, we love the choices Koh Samui has on offer. Experience the serenity of Wat Khunaram, busy beaches throbbing with activity, or isolated stretches of peaceful white sand; Koh Samui has a little something for everyone.
There are a number of carriers offering flights to Thailand from the UK.
Direct Carriers: Thai Airways, Eva Air and British Airways offer a direct service from the UK.
Indirect Carriers: Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Qantas and Etihad all offer indirect services from the UK.
Departure Taxes: Since 2007 international departure taxes have been included in the price of flight tickets, helping to take the hassle out of organising holidays to Thailand.
British Passport holders are not required a visa to enter Thailand for tourist stays up to 30 days only, more than sufficient for most holidays to Thailand. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in Thailand. Please contact the Thai Embassy for up to date country and visa information on 0207 589 2944.
You can exchange your UK Pounds for the Thai Baht (pronounced Baaht) prior to leaving the UK, but you will generally save a few Baht if you wait and do it upon arrival. There are several currency exchanges at Bangkok's international airport. FOREX booths are sprinkled throughout the larger cities and post their daily exchange rates on electronic notice boards.
Cash exchanges incur no commissions or fees, so cash is the easiest, and in most cases the cheapest way to go. However, this has obvious risks associated with it, so do be careful carrying excessive amounts. Traveller’s cheques are generally only accepted at banks or foreign exchange shops and you will incur a commission fee. Cash machines are plentiful throughout Thailand. Major credit cards are accepted by most hotels and restaurants. Smaller merchants may not accept cards or will add a fee.
THB - Thai Baht
While some people may leave the small change from a large note, tipping isn’t generally expected and is in no way mandatory in Thailand. Many hotels and restaurants include a 10 percent service charge, but if you receive exceptional service then an additional gratuity would be appreciated. In taxis it is customary to just ‘round up’.
April-June and September-October
Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid immunisations and malaria tablets are recommended. All travellers should be up to date on routine immunisations. Yellow fever immunisation is required if arriving from an infected country or area. For full details, please contact your GP.
Packing for your holiday to Thailand is mostly a matter of common sense. It also depends on which season you are travelling in. Although the weather in Thailand is marked by three seasons - rainy (July-October), hot (March-June), and cool (November-February - it is generally hot and humid throughout much of the year. As such, you should pack clothing for hot, tropical weather, including:
Food in Koh Samui caters for every taste, with rustic beach-side eateries, to the full five-star, three-course dining experience. As an island containing a number of resorts, it’s easy to find classic Thai fare and fresh seafood as well as global favourites, including French, Indian and Mediterranean.
Koh Samui has a large Isaan population, which has its own regional style of cuisine that’s prominent on the island. The key ingredients in Isaan cooking are sticky – or glutinous – rice and chillies, so expect well-balanced dishes packed with spice when you eat out here. They also frequently have on offer delicious vegetable fritters.
The island is also widely regarded to have the best-tasting coconuts in Thailand, so you won’t have to go far without having the opportunity to try some fresh. Takho Bangpo on Bang Por beach makes superb use of coconut and seafood, with recipes always being refreshed for the new season. You’ll also be able to pick up delicious coconut jam from markets and shops in the region.
All the favourite Thai dishes are available at most establishments. Red, green, yellow and panang curries remain immensely popular on Koh Samui and chefs often give the dishes their own twist and hits of spice.
One way to make sure you don’t miss any delicacies when you visit is to ask the restaurant for a random selection. Any you particularly like, ask what it’s called and then look out for it for the rest of your stay. You will always eat well in Koh Samui.
Although the food markets are not as extensive as they are in Bangkok, you can still pick up a real sense of local flavour from Koh Samui’s street stalls. Head to Plai Laem and Chaweng in the north east of the island for the best street eating experiences.
This is a southern style sour curry, which can be prepared with meat or fish. Quite often pineapple is used to give the dish a touch of sweetness to go with the lashings of fresh chillies and turmeric.
Gaeng gai baan
Similar in some ways to the more well-known curry dishes, in that its sauce is made using coconut milk and curry paste. However, there’s a stronger hint of pepper and an overall richer taste that’s well worth seeking out on your holiday.
Prices in Thailand are fairly inexpensive, particularly compared to what you are used to at home. A plate of Thai food, some noodles, and a soft drink might cost between 40 to 70 Thai Baht, grilled chicken with sticky rice from a street vendor might cost about 20 Thai Baht, one litre of bottled water from a store might cost seven to 12 Thai Baht, a bottle of wine from a supermarket might cost about 450 Thai Baht, and a small Singha beer from a bar might cost 60 to150 Thai Baht.
Most Thai's wear clothes similar to Westerners: suits to work, uniforms to school, jeans and T-shirts at the weekend. This is especially true in cities and tourist areas such as Bangkok. In some rural areas and for special occasions you might find people wearing traditional Thai dress. Chut Thai phra ratcha niyom (Thai dress of royal endorsement) includes several sets of clothing, typically made of silk, used on formal occasions and holidays.
Thai people are shy, polite, and sensitive by nature. Their culture is conservative and ruled by the family structure and the Buddhist religion. Young people respect their elders, teachers, and Buddhist monks, and behaviour is tightly controlled. This is a country where where the rules of saving face apply and explosive displays of emotion are frowned upon.
While parts of Thailand have been westernised in some ways, it is still a traditional Buddhist country, where certain cultures and traditions are revered, including:
Na Tian Butterfly Garden
Colourful butterflies are attracted to the sweet fruits that line this netted garden. The brightly coloured landscaped grounds are filled with the tropical insects, but also the interesting plants that the butterflies call home. The garden also includes an insect museum, with rare creatures from Thailand as well as around the world.
Angthong National Marine Park Sea Safari
See the wonders of life under the sea across three nearby islands — Maek Kho, Tai Phow and Wao — on this safari. A series of islands makes up the marine park, and between each one is calm water for kayaking, sheltered bays for swimming and the opportunity to snorkel. With a backdrop of dramatic limestone cliffs this is a wonderful way to spend a day in Koh Samui.
Diving in Koh Samui
Koh Samui is in a great location within easy reach of some of Thailand’s best diving spots. Pick up your PADI certification at one of the many dive centres, or take a day trip out to some of the nearby hotspots, particularly Koh Tao. Whale sharks, colourful tropical fish and manta rays can all be seen among the coral, rocks and underwater landscapes here.