KOH SAMUI LOCAL ACTIVITIES
Bangkok vs. Samui Weather
Koh Samui may be an island in Thailand, but that doesn’t mean the island has a similar weather with, say, Bangkok. Samui weather is different as the island sits on the Gulf Coast toward the east; hence, Koh Samui experiences the effects of the northeast monsoon.
Bangkok, on the other hand, has a hot and perpetually sunny weather. The city’s regular year round temperatures is around 30°C. If you have an aversion to heat, avoid setting foot in Bangkok from March until July, this is when the city is at its hottest and driest, an event that coincides with its busiest time since this is when most travellers decide to go to the city. This dry period also raises the humidity levels in Bangkok. If you’re in the city during April and May, expect to also feel stickier due to the humidity.
Samui weather is at its warmest from March to September. While it doesn’t get stifling hot, the sun comes out a lot during these months, raising temperatures to as much as 40°C. This event occurs particularly from March to May. Rain also becomes a rare occurrence in these three months. In June to September, Koh Samui gets the occasional rainfall but nothing intense and prolonged.
The rainy season in Bangkok begins in June and ends in October. The rainfall pattern is unpredictable; rain showers can either last for a few minutes or an entire day. Afternoon showers and thunderstorms are also common occurrences. If you have to be in Bangkok during its rainy season, make sure you pack a good amount of rain gear with you.
In Koh Samui, the rainy season takes place from October to December. Samui weather begins to clear up at around late December, when the sun begins to make its appearance. Note that the waters surrounding Koh Samui can get very rough during these three months. If you have a thing for water sports and want to give the Koh Samui waters a try, avoid scheduling your trip to the island during the wet season.
The best time to go to Bangkok is between November and January, when the city is at its coolest. For Koh Samui, it’s best to make a trip from January to February. At this time, Samui weather is neither too hot nor cold, making it the perfect weather to tour around the famed island.
Koh Samui, often called just “Samui” is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, some 700km south of Bangkok and about 80km from the eastern coastline of Southern Thailand.
Ko Samui is all in all a fairly big island. The most popular and commercialised beaches are Chaweng and Lamai, while the northern beaches and their adjacent villages of Mae Nam, Bophut, Bang Rak(Big Buddha) and Choeng Mon are more peaceful choices, and the west coast beaches are still (comparatively) quiet.
The major reason why people come to Samui is, quite simply, to enjoy the beaches. Even though the two main beaches of Chaweng and Lamai have generally suffered due to mass development over the past decade they are still relatively impressive. Development has been thwarted slightly because of the island’s regulation governing height restriction.
Other than lying on the beach with a cold beer in hand and ogling at the babes and hunks sauntering past, there isn’t all that much to see on the island. A certain pair of rocks onLamai amuses some visitors, Bang Rakhas a large but nondescript Buddha statue, and there are some waterfalls (notably Na Muang) of minor interest.
- Chaweng Beach is the major beach on Ko Samui and one that has developed tremendously since the early 1990s. Just 20 years ago the beach was home to just a sprinkle of wooden bungalows but now the place is swamped with 4-5 star hotels, Italian pizza joints, Irish pubs and even go-go bars. Samui’s nightlife is becoming legendary but unfortunately not always attracting the best standard of tourist. Chaweng’s once ‘hippy’ only backpackers have given way to a lot of ‘lager louts’. Chaweng is the place to be if you are looking for a rowdy reckless party scene.
- Lamai Beach Like Chaweng, Lamai has transformed from a ‘hippy’ hangout into a fun, party place packed out with bars and exciting nightlife. The beach though, is still in better condition than Chaweng and the place doesn’t get quite so crowded. If it’s a quiet relaxing location you are after, then Lamai won’t be the ideal place for you. At the southern end of Lamai, there are some odd-looking rock formations.
- Maenam Beach This quiet beach, located in the north of the island is decent enough for swimming and sunbathing especially for families with children due to the shallow water.
- Bophut Beach situated in the north of the island, is a popular starting point for diving tours. The place isn’t in any way as developed as Chaweng but there are still plenty of restaurants, shops and bars.
- Choengmon Beach is in the North-East of Samui just 10 minutes from Chaweng. Unlike the latter it is a perfect place for relaxing.
- Big Buddha Beach Located in the north-east of Samui, Big Buddha offers visitors good swimming and lovely views. The area has developed a lot over the past few years and there are now a plentitude of restaurants, shops and bars.
- Na Thon – The island’s major seafront settlement where shops, restaurants and tour agencies are concentrated.
- Namtok Hin Lat – This waterfall is easily accessible by car. Some of the numerous tiny levels have a large basin for swimmers.
- Namtok Na Mueang – A local road leads to the Na Mueang 1 Waterfall. A walk of about 30 minutes ends up at the more scenic Na Mueang 2 Waterfall. Purple rocks surround the stream of water, which gushes in from an impressive height of around 79 meters.
- Ban Lipa Yai – This village grows high quality fruits, including rambutan, durian, mangosteen and the famed langsat.
- Old House – This Chinese-style house, aged almost 200 years, represents Samui’s cultural identity. Grandpa Si and Grandma Maen Hancharoen, the present owner, open the house to visitors.
Other island attractions include coral beds at Laem Set and Thong Takhian; the nearby butterfly garden and aquarium; a snake farm; a monkey theatre at Bo Phut and a massive seated Buddha image on Fan isle.
- Wat Khunaram Ko Samui This temple is the island’s most famous temple for its mummified monk on display. The mummy sits upright in a glass casket and devotees offer it flowers and incense. The mummy is in fact the body of a very revered former abbot of the temple who was also a meditation master that was able to predict his own death.
- Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks These odd-looking rocks situated on Lamai beach bear a striking resemblance to male and female sexual organs and they have turned into one of the island’s biggest attractions. For those who would like to hear a legend or two surrounding the rocks, they need only ask a local.
- Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo Ko Samui Located at Ban Harn beach, the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo offer a fun day out for the family. The undersea world of the aquarium has an amazing collection of tropical fish and other vibrant aquatic animals such as turtles and colorful coral. The tiger zoo is home to Bengal tigers and leopards. For those who are daring enough, they can have their photograph taken with the awesome animals. The Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo are open daily from 9AM till 6PM.
- Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai) Also known as the Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai), has a 15 meter tall statue of the Buddha. It was built in 1972 and is in the north of the island.
- Laem Sor Pagoda Ko Samui This chedi (pagoda) situated at Laem Sor temple is one of the most important shrines on Ko Samui. The structure with its yellow tiles which gives off a golden aura is quite impressive.
- Samui Butterful Garden / Insect Museum This butterfly garden can be found in the south-east of the island. There is a huge collection of different butterflies, some quarter of a meter wide. The visitor can also enter the insect museum nearby to see a variety of rare bugs and a bee house.
- Secret Buddha Garden This beautiful garden was made by a 76 year-old Ko Samui fruit farmer in 1976. It is surrounded by lush jungle, rocky hills and is adorned with sculptures depicting both humans, in various poses, as well as various deities. Since the garden is the highest point on the island, there are also some awesome views to be had. Organized tours to the garden last for about 2 hours.
- Monkey Shows These shows can be enjoyed at the open-air theater on the main road behind Bophut beach. The entertainment also includes performing elephants.
The usual panoply of watersports are available, including plenty of dive shops, but most diving is done either in the nearby Angthong Marine National Parkor Ko Tao as the visibility around Samui’s sandy beaches tends to be poor. You can book diving day trips at dive shops, most of which are based inChaweng. The dive boats tend to leave from the pier at Bophut and Bang Ruk.
Diving Without a doubt the south of Thailand is home to some of the finest and most beautiful beaches and islands in the world, surrounded by crystal clear water and stunning coral. And that is the main reason why the number of divers coming to Thailand has escalated over the past decade or so. Even though the best time year of the year to dive in the Ko Samui is between June and August, it is still perfectly possible to dive virtually all year round. As diving in Thailand is considered one of the safest destinations for diving and snorkeling in the world, it is perfect for first-timers wanting to try these pastimes out.
The sea visibility in some places around Ko Samui is almost very good (distances of up to 10-30 meters). One can enjoy splendid sights of underwater mountains, coral gardens, undersea rock formations, hard and soft coral, whale sharks.
‘Samran Pinnacles‘ : Since the currents in this area are often quite strong, this site is recommended therefore, for experienced divers. Due to the currents being like this, the site is a haven for bringing in larger pelagics such as barracuda, jacks. There are three submerged pinnacles near Sail Rock.
‘Ko Kra & Koh Losin‘ : These two small islands located to the south-east of Samui, which because of its remotest, don’t get too many divers. Blacktip sharks, manta rays and hard to find loggerhead turtles can be seen.
Samui is well known for its coconuts, which are available everywhere and quite tasty. Being an island seafood is generally a good choice although in high season demand often exceeds local supply. The larger beaches have a number of international restaurants as well (often run by Thai-farang couples) with Bophut having a particularly good reputation.
Southern Thai food in general is renowned for its spiciness. Much of the cuisine has its origins in Malay, Indonesian and Indian food. Favourite dishes from the south include Indian-style Muslim curry (massaman), rice noodles in fish curry sauce (Khanom Jeen) and chicken birayani. Popular local food are salted eggs and delicious rambutan, too.
Dual pricing is regrettably common: some restaurants have two menus, one for tourists and the other for Thai people, at about 1/4 of the foreigner prices. Main courses in a standard, low-key Thai restaurant should be under 100 baht (except some seafood dishes), so if prices seem unreasonably steep, head elsewhere. Always check prices and menu first so you don’t have to argue when the bill is served.
There is a distillery that brews 5 flavors of rum on one of the side roads on the South Coast of the island, which offers tours during the sugar cane season and free samples any time. The flavors are natural (sugar cane), lemon, orange, pineapple, and coconut. Natural and coconut are actually quite tasty, lemon has a very strong pleasant citrus flavor, and you won’t miss anything if you don’t try the other two. They also have a delicious mixer to serve with consisting of lime juice, cinnamon, and other spices. Worth heading to if you’re in the area or just for the novelty of sampling authentic Thai rum. Very friendly staff.