The days of grungy backpackers drinking heavily at full moon parties are nearing an end on the stunning paradise isle of Koh Samui. The island has gone upmarket, and the hotels and spas are high-end havens of luxury and relaxation.
That's not to say that you can't still have a wild time in jungle-covered Koh Samui. This is Thailand after all. You're greeted with big smiles upon arrival - they don't call Thailand the 'Land of a Thousand Smiles' for nothing - and your every wish will be granted during your stay. So if you want to join in the famed full moon parties of Koh Phangan, well, no one is going to stop you.
Koh Samui holidays offer everything that is great about tropical sunshine breaks: the sun beats down on your skin, the white sandy beaches are soft enough to sink into, the palm trees offer a cool spot to wile away time, and the waters are enticingly turquoise and deliciously warm. There's peace and quiet when you want it, and enough nightlife to get the pulse racing.
Sitting off the east coast of mainland Thailand in the Gulf of Thailand, and within the Surat Thani province, the island of Koh Samui is small enough to get around easily and brimming with fabulous resorts, including Chaweng, Tongsai Bay, Bophut Beach, Lamai Beach, Koh Phangan, and Lipa Noi.
The island is well known for attracting honeymooning couples, but holidays in Koh Samui offer so much more than just romance and relaxation - if you actually want more than that. Groups and families will feel right at home and, of course, backpackers can still find cheap digs in which to bed down for the night.
There are plenty of things to see and do while in Koh Samui. The Golden Buddha at Wat Phra Yai is striking, and the Secret Buddha Garden, high in the hills on the island, is sure to inspire. The Na Muang waterfalls should be seen, and the Mummified Monk, which is exactly what it sounds like, is oddly interesting. The monk in question died while in the meditation position more than 20 years ago and his body is on display at Wat Khunaram, not far from the waterfall.
Hin Ta Hin Yai - the Grandfather and Grandmother rocks - are phallic rock formations at Lamai Beach and attract a large number of curious visitors and their cameras.
Koh Samui is certainly enjoying something of a rebirth as an upmarket destination, though the evidence of its hippy roots and joyous parties is plain to see. Visit now to find out what all the fuss is about.
Use the search tool on TravelSupermarket to find your bargain holiday to Koh Samui and discover the island for yourself.
Much like the rest of Thailand, Koh Samui bakes in high temperatures with high humidity throughout the year. Rain can come at any time of the year, though May to December is considered to be the wet season. February is the best month to avoid getting wet.
Full moon parties; monthly: The legendary beach parties fall every month when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. The moonlit revelry features a soundtrack of international DJs and the dress code is very casual.
Makha Bucha; February/March: Celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month, this important Buddhist festival calls for everyone to do only good things. Candlelit processions form part of the event.
Songkran; April: It used to be that sprinkling water on someone during Thai New Year was a good luck wish. These days, the Thai people are quite generous with their wishes of luck because Songkran now equals a thoroughly good soaking. Water pistols and buckets of water are splashed and the streets are awash with wet and happy people.
Best of Koh Samui holidays for...
- Grown-up families: Places of worship might not normally get the family bubbling with excitement, but Koh Samui's striking Buddhist temples are simply breathtaking. Wow the kids with the big Golden Buddha at Wat Phra Yai.
- Active types: Go island hopping around Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park. There are 42 islands - and what lies in the waters around them - to discover with your snorkel and fins. Curious monkeys might even watch you from the deserted beaches
- Relaxing: Dig your toes into the soft white sand at Bophut Beach before strolling around the Chinese shop houses of the Fisherman's Village. It is a remarkably well-preserved part of the island's past.