There are so many areas of Thailand people suggest visiting, but it was a work colleague who suggested Koh Samui to me. I was told that places like Phuket and Krabi although apparently very beautiful can be quite seedy. I therefore went along with visiting Koh Samui, as it was apparently less seedy and also very close to Ko Pha Ngan, where the monthly Full Moon Parties are held.
I did consider staying on Ko Pha Ngan, which is a beautiful island, possibly more so than Koh Samui. However the problem is that during the Full Moon Party the prices of hotels sky rocket, and many hotels state that you must stay on the island for several days. As it was fairly easy to get a boat across and back, I decided to make Koh Samui my base and still visit Ko Pha Ngan for the Full Moon Party.
Koh Samui is very touristy, but the beaches are beautiful and although they were a little crowded, they were thankfully not too overcrowded.
I think one reason I have fond memories of Koh Samui is because it was here that I met up with Helayna, a fellow British tourist, and we spent our time exploring the island together. It was quite sad when I moved onto Chiang Mai and she moved onto Phuket, as she was an awesome travel buddy!
Accommodation on Koh Samui is very cheap, and I stayed in a nice 3 star hotel very close to Chaweng Beach. It worked out about £20 per night and was a beautiful room with a small balcony. It was literally only a few minutes walk from the hotel to the beach front.
Chaweng is a good location to stay at if you want a nice beach and nightlife. There are many bars around this area, including the Green Mango Club, a huge outdoor club playing various different music throughout. There are also many popular bars leading up to this club.
There are many daytime tours you can take to explore the island, and most will take you to the same sights. There are many large statues of Buddhas, Hin Ta & Hin Yai rocks, shaped like male and female genitals and many beautiful waterfalls you can admire and also swim beneath. You'll also be taken to various Buddhist temples, so make sure you dress appropriately by covering your shoulders and upper legs.
Helayna and myself were lucky enough to meet a monk who blessed us with water whilst reciting something in either Thai language or ancient Pali language. This was very exciting and gave me a peaceful feeling inside. He then tied special bracelets around our wrists. This was all for free, but we felt as if we should donate money to the temple and rightly did so.
It's possible there will be tours that try to get you to see animal shows and to ride elephants. I urge you not to go on tours that feature these. Elephant riding is a cruel practice, which you can read a lot more about on my Elephant Sanctuary post.
There are also shows involving crocodiles, which I again urge you not to attend, the animals are always mistreated at these places.
On the north of the island you'll find the Fishermans Village. From Chaweng we got a "songthaew", this is a little like a bus where you jump on the back and pay once at your destination. They are very useful but negotiate a price before getting on or they will try to overcharge you.
Every Friday there is a night market here with some wonderful items for sale. This is a good place to buy souvenirs as well as trying the local street food. Make sure you haggle and you'll get some great bargains. If you're not very good at haggling, I always advise showing a little interest, but not too much interest. Then walk away. The seller will most likely chase you and be willing to go much lower.
You'll likely see and hear many adverts for kick boxing whilst in Koh Samui. I regret not actually seeing a show. It's not usually my sort of thing, but I've since heard positive things about them. They can be quite brutal with blood spilt, but I think I'd consider seeing a show if I return to Koh Samui, which I think is only a matter of time.
I was only on Koh Samui for around five days, but it's a wonderful island and I would love to go back. If you want somewhere nice to chill out whilst also having the option to see some sights but nothing too strenuous, Koh Samui is a great location for this.