Koh Samui is a wonderful island in the south of Thailand.
It is a pretty big island, the second biggest in Thailand, and it has a lot to offer its visitors – numerous beautiful beaches, refreshing waterfalls, and a crazy amount of things to see and do.
How much time to spend in Koh Samui, I would say depends on whether you’re hopping from one island to another and want to see more at a faster pace or you’re on vacation and want to relax and take your time. But in general 3 days are enough to see highlights of Koh Samui and spend time relaxing with a cocktail under the palm tree.
So here’s a 3 day Koh Samui travel itinerary.
Jump into / Table of Contents
- Orientation and Map
- DAY 1
- DAY 2
- DAY 3
Before we hop into Koh Samui Itinerary I would like to mention, that it is created only as a guide for you and you should adjust it according to your needs, wants and wishes, also the arrival and leaving times and weather conditions. It is your holiday and it is just a suggestion of what you can do in Koh Samui.
Orientation and Map
Koh Samui may look small on the map but it is a second largest island in Thailand.
It’s located in the Gulf of Thailand and is a part of Surat Thani Province.
You can easily drive around the island as it has a 51-kilometre long ring road that takes 1,5 hours to finish. There are a few secondary roads that would add extra time if you decide to detour.
The eastern part of the island is greatly developed with Chaweng and Lamai attracting the most visitors and being the epicentres of tourism.
Many travellers base themselves on the northern part of the island, beaches are beautiful there, it is pretty calm compared to Chaweng or Lamai, there is plenty of accommodation for various budgets and needs and it is pretty easy to reach the main spots of Koh Samui.
Nathon is the administrative centre of the island, hosting the main ferry pier, city hall and offices, but has little interest for travellers.
The landscape of Koh Samui is mountainous offering stunning views, waterfalls and coconut palm plantations.
North of Koh Samui is the islands of Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. Many travellers visit both islands after Koh Samui or as a day trip.
Here’s an orientational map that you can save and use when travelling to Koh Samui. All the places that are mentioned in this guide are pinned on the map.
Visiting Koh Samui for the first time? Don’t forget to read Koh Samui Travel Tips here!
– Fisherman’s Village
Located on the northern part of the island next to the Bophut beach is a lovely Fisherman’s village.
This village was founded by the fishermen who migrated and found their way to these shores from southern China. It is said that some of their families still live and work there to this day.
This village is lovely and you can spend here a few hours strolling around or make it your base in Koh Samui. Here you will find everything you need – great restaurants, cafes, hotels, shops and a night market that pops up every Friday.
– Bang Rak Beach (Big Buddha Beach)
Moving east from Fisherman’s Village you will find The Big Buddha Beach, also known as Bangrak Beach.
If you have a little stroll around this beach, you will see a lot of boats here cruising from one side to another, some cafes and eateries as well as little shops.
Not a lot of things to do here, but soak up the view that is truly breathtaking – Koh Pha Ngan island on the horizon makes it worth a moment to stop and stare.
By the way, if you are planning to join Full Moon Party in Koh Pha Ngan then you catch a speedboat at Bangrak Pier.
– Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai)
Visiting Big Buddha Temple should be on everyone’s list while visiting Koh Samui and it is on yours too!
Golden Big Buddha is 12 metres high and stands on a little hill overlooking the beautiful scenery of Koh Samui.
You will find Big Buddha on the northeast of the island (between Bang Rak and Choeng Mon) and it is standing on its own little island (Koh Fan) that is connected by a bridge to Koh Samui.
There are lovely shops and a few cafes where you can buy cute souvenirs and have refreshing coconut water on a hot day.
It’s open daily, free to visit and there are big signs saying to dress respectfully, e.g. to cover the shoulders and knees, or you might not be allowed inside the temple.
– Wat Plai Laem Buddhist Temple
Wat Plai Laem is a temple complex decorated with Chinese Buddhist figures surrounded by a man-made lake.
This place is spectacular as there is a huge eighteen-handed Goddess of Mercy Guan Yin, that protects women and children, sick and poor, and a Laughing Buddha, giving prosperity and careless joy.
In the centre, there is a gorgeous temple standing on a huge lotus, by the entrance you are met by a golden Buddha statue and inside you might follow the whole journey of his life in bright and colourful paintings.
The lake is filled with many interesting fish and turtles, you can buy fish food and feed them which makes it perfect entertainment for an hour or two (that is what happened when we visited this temple).
It’s free to visit the temple complex, but remember to dress and act respectfully.
– Choengmon Beach
Let’s go down a bit more east where we will see Choeng Mon Beach.
Choeng Mon Beach is located at the northeastern tip of Koh Samui island and it is just 5 minutes away from Big Buddha temple (15 minutes from Chaweng beach).
Choeng Mon is a beautiful white sand beach with shallow clean azure water, perfect for relaxing and enjoying a hot and sunny day.
On a clear and low tide day, you can walk to the nearby islands of Ko Fan Noi and Ko Fan Yai.
While in northeast Koh Samui, Choeng Mon is worth exploring. This place is exceptional with its series of bays that come with beaches that boast white sand.
Many people, especially couples, loves Choeng Mon because of its quietness. It is a special place with its numerous bays with white sands and clear waters.
You can go to try delicious food, enjoy snorkelling, drink coconut water under the palm tree and enjoy your time on the beach to the fullest.
– Chaweng Beach
Let’s go down the road to Chaweng Beach – the most developed and touristy beach is Koh Samui island.
Chaweng area is considered the epicentre of the island, it is a place all new visitors head to once they arrive here.
It is a perfect holiday place because it has it all shops, cafes and bars, water sports and all kinds of activities. It is a place where you can spend the whole day, you can come here to relax on the beach on your sunbed and have a great night out with a few drinks and a party in one of the clubs.
– Pagoda Khao Hua Jook
Located near Chaweng Lake is a wonderful temple complex and viewpoint named Khao Hua Jook.
Here you can admire the panoramic views of Koh Samui Bay, enjoy the serene(ish) atmosphere when the monks chanting and even spot the arriving and departing planes.
It’s a pretty steep road leading to the Khao Hua Jook, but you can get here by scooter or taxi if you’re not ready to walk.
It’s free to visit this attraction, but remember to be respectful.
– Lamai Beach
Let’s start our day by visiting Lamai Beach!
It is said that you can see the most beautiful sunrises here. Many travellers choose to wake up early so they can witness the beauty that nature brings in the morning. Sometimes getting up early in the morning is worth it!
Lamai Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Koh Samui, just like Chaweng. Although the nightlife here is not as wild it offers plenty of things to do in the area. It is considered a honeymooner and family-friendly destination.
– Hin-Ta Hin-Yai Rocks
A bit further north of Lamai Beach is one of the most known places on Koh Samui island – the Hin-Ta Hin-Yai rocks (that are also called Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks).
This place is pretty unique and makes everyone giggle a bit as the few rocks that stand out are similar to male and female sexual organs.
It gets pretty busy here as many people want to see this Mother Natures prank. There is a parking area and a few souvenir shops and cafes here.
Attraction is free to visit, just a 10 baht for parking.
– Lamai Viewpoint
10 minute’s drive inland from Hin-Ta Hin-Yai rocks will lead you to Lamai Viewpoint which is a well-kept viewpoint with a lovely cafe on the top where you can enjoy some refreshing drinks.
It is a lovely place to visit and enjoy beautiful views of Koh Samui and its surroundings.
You can choose to walk up the very steep hill (50 baht entrance fee) or get up by cable car (cost 100 baht). There is also a zip line for adventure seekers (costs 800baht).
– Overlap Stone
Very close to Lamai Viewpoint is one of the things not to miss while you’re visiting Koh Samui – Overlap Stone.
Odly-shaped giant stones give you access to admire a beautiful view of Koh Samui and are a great spot for pictures.
Overlap stone is standing literally in someone’s backyard and they take care of the area and a little bridge that allows us to walk up there.
The entrance fee is 50 baht and parking 20 baht.
– Secret Buddha Garden
When you are done enjoying the views of Koh Samui (if that’s even possible) let’s have a little escape from the crowds and enjoy the refreshing atmosphere in Secret Buddha Garden (or Tarnim Magic Garden).
Secret Buddha Garden houses many sculptures of gods, animals and demons that were created by a former durian farmer, Khun Nim, back in 1976.
It is not a big place but gives you Tomb Rider vibes as you walk in the jungle surrounded by mystical creatures that are covered in moss (all in a good way though).
Travelling here might be challenging and better done for experienced drivers due to the steep hills and long drive (talking about scooters here).
Entry fee is 80 baht and mosquito spray is a must.
– Na Mueang Waterfalls
Na Mueang Waterfalls are the best-known waterfalls on the island. It is really worth the 20-minute drive and struggle driving the little jungle roads.
Once you reach the car park (use your google maps!) Na Mueang 1 is a few minute nature walk away from it. It has a pretty big area where you can swim, relax and enjoy the incredible sounds of the waterfall.
Na Mueang 2 is a bit harder to reach as you will have to climb a steep hill on a gravelled path. But.. There will be fewer people than at the first one, and you will be rewarded with incredible views while swimming in a natural pool.
– Laem Sor Pagoda And Wat Khao Chedi
In the southwestern corner of Koh Samui stands the lesser-known Laem Sor Pagoda and Wat Rattanakosin.
The golden Laem Sor Pagoda sits at the end of a rocky Bang Kao beach and is guarded by huge sculptures at the entrance.
A bit further from Laem Sor, (a short climb up the hill to be exact) there is another pagoda called Khao Chedi.
It is a white-coloured pagoda with a laying golden Buddha statue and incredible views of Koh Samui and the surrounding islands of Koh Taem and Koh Madsum.
It’s free to visit both pagodas, but donations are appreciated.
– Taling Ngam Beach
Taling Ngam gorgeous area and a hidden gem in Koh Samui that a lot of people tend to overlook.
Taling Ngam Beach itself is lovely, the whole picture of the narrow sandy beach with big rocks rising from the shiny azure water and lush greenery is breathtaking, and the view of Ang Thong Marine National Park makes this place one of the most scenic areas in Koh Samui.
Taling Ngam area is located in the southwestern part of the island, a little detour from the Ring Road makes it pretty remote than the other areas. To reach Nathon, the main town, and the pier takes about 25 minutes while reaching Chaweng will take around 45 minutes.
Taling Ngam area is perfect for those who aim to relax during their time on the island, soak up all the beautiful views of nature after a long day of exploring and enjoy a dreamy holiday destination.
– Elephant Gate And Wat Kiri Wongkaram
Less known to tourists but worth visiting due to its mummified monk Luang Por Ruam and many elephants, deities, and humans around the complex.
When driving into the village of Taling Ngam you will be met by giant elephants that formed a gate at the entrance. It is a really nice stop for pictures.
Elephant Gate was built here in 1979 by an earlier-mentioned monk Luang Por Ruam who wanted to create a more inviting atmosphere for his village.
It is free to visit the temple and gate, but remember to be respectful.
– Lipa Noi Beach
Moving north we will be met by the Lipa Noi area which hosts a pier and has a beautiful golden sand beach and breathtaking sunsets, which is the reason why this beach ended up on this list.
The coastline here is probably the only one that doesn’t have hidden coral reefs and together with pretty shallow water is a wonderful place to spend your time with kids.
– Hin Lad and Lat Wanon Waterfall.
Let’s visit a few waterfalls while we’re still on this side of the island.
Hin Lad Waterfall is located near the Nathon and Lipa Noi beaches and requires a 30-minute(ish) hike to reach it. The hike itself is lovely, there are many signs along the way so it’s hard to get lost, and following the river gives many opportunities to jump into the refreshing water and wash all the sweat away.
Not so far away from there is another lovely waterfall – Lat Wanon Waterfall. Not a big one, but definitely worth the hike.
If you’re like me and just enjoy going from one waterfall to another, then you will be happy that these two are close to each other.
– Nathon Beach
Nathon is a seaport and the only administrative city in Koh Samui (the others are villages or tourist oases) located on the western side of the island.
I wouldn’t call Nathon Beach the best beach on the island, the sand here is mixed with chipped corals, the speedboats and ferries add nothing good to the blue Gulf of Thailand water and low tides make it nearly impossible to swim.
But the whole landscape of Nathon Beach is charming and it is a good place to have an afternoon walk along the coast.
So that’s a wrap for 3 day Koh Samui travel itinerary!
Don’t forget that it is created only as a guide/sample and you should adjust it according to your needs, wants and wishes, also the arrival and leaving times and weather conditions. It is your holiday and it is just a suggestion of what you can do in Koh Samui.
Read further: Complete Koh Samui Travel Guide, Ultimate Koh Phi Phi Travel Guide, Everything you need to know about travel in Pattaya and Things to Do In Bangkok.
Thank you very much for reading the whole 3 day Koh Samui itinerary!
If you’ve already visited Koh Samui, it would be amazing to hear travel tips and recommendations from you in the comments.
If you haven’t been there yet, please don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any questions. We are here to help!
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