Koh Samui: wild half-moon parties and upscale spa resorts, this island in the Gulf of Thailand wears its contradictions easily. Away from the backpacker scene there are plenty of things to do in Koh Samui – from adrenaline boosting watersports to jungle based retreats and indulging in the famous Koh Samui nightlife.
W Retreat Koh Samui
This is about as far from a backpacker’s beach shack as you can get – the jewelled W welcomes you to a luxurious retreat filled with insanely sleek hotel rooms with their own private pools and wooden decks. Hidden away at the tip of two coves on the northern side of the island, it’s one of the best places to watch the sun go down, with one of their Mo-Hee-Toes, made with freshly squeezed sugar cane.
To make sure that everyone at home is experiencing Instagram envy, you can mix up sampling your cocktails at the Woo-Bar, to some deep house tracks, or poolside in your own private garden or balcony.
For the ultimate wow factor, go for their four-bedroom villa – although you might spend your whole holiday there! It’s not just the big things though – your inner six-year-old will love the resort’s Sweet Spots where you can grab complimentary ice-creams.
Things to do in Koh Samui
It’s not just relaxing on the beaches and by the pool – you could easily spend a couple of days just doing water sports. Before you hit Koh Samui’s bars and clubs, take a boat out into the gulf for snorkelling at Coral Island or Koh Nangyuan to see pristine corals, giant clams and schools of tropical fish.
If you want more of an adrenalin shot, pack a morning full of parasailing, jet-packing and jetboarding – Samui Sea Sports have a full package and, to reassure your mum, are fully insured and licensed too.
For the ultimate beach smugness, head to Chaweng. It’s the island’s most popular beach for a reason – a long stretch of white sand fringed by palm trees. Head to the southern end to grab the best photos.
If you can tear yourself away from the water, make time to stop and see Wat Phra Yai, a 15m tall gold Buddha on the northern coast.
Koh Samui Nightlife
The island’s legendary parties are the biggest draws for hedonists – but there are plenty of options if you want something less backpacker.
Grab cocktails, champagne and sheesha at one of the island’s swankiest bars – although you’ll pay for the prestige the stunning views are worth it. Visit for sunset or after 11pm when the crowd gets going.
Monkey around by the beach and in the pool during the day with a few beers or cocktails before the party gets into full swing later. The beach club is the place for a proper party – although steer clear of the pyrotechnics after you’ve had a few.
Relax and Recover
It’s not all cocktails and parting until the small hours. If you need to soothe away that hangover or just somewhere to spoil the missus, go for a package at Tamarind springs.
Surrounded by forest, this swaps out your bog standard steam room for steam caves, offers couples massages in outside huts so you can unwind to the sound of nature and the spa is home to flocks of butterflies.
Tree Tops, Anantara
Dinner in your own secluded platform in the tree-tops, with your own waitress and a specially selected tasting menu – sounds like a pretty great way to spend an evening after a day lounging by the pool? Right? Right.
You’ll get major kudos for making a surprise reservation here for your missus.
And our shorts pick for paradise? It has to be our Paradise Butterfly shorts:
Featured image credit: Sebastien Bertrand