As you come into land at Koh Samui, it kind of takes your breath away. From above, you spot the stunning beaches and brightly coloured water. As you begin to drive the streets, you see Thailand come alive with street vendors selling fragrant snacks and the familiar, welcoming smiles of the locals. With so many beautiful spots to visit and Thailand‘s renowned hospitality, it’s no surprise Koh Samui is a popular destination for travellers. In fact, it’s the perfect spot to spend a few precious days or weeks of your annual leave, taking the time to rest, recharge and relax.
Recently, Matt and I took our first trip to Koh Samui as part of an 8-day adventure with Centara Hotels & Resorts. To help you figure out which part of Koh Samui is best suited to the type of holiday you’re after, here’s a look at the two properties we stayed at. I’ve also included some extra information on what to pack and the best time to visit. Without further ado, here’s where you need to stay in Koh Samui!
Best time to visit
We visited Koh Samui in late July/early August and found the weather to be really good. It was quite hot in the middle of the day, so we tended to stay inside and avoid the sapping heat, but the afternoons and mornings were lovely and cool. Those are the times we made the most of the pools and beaches. Occasionally, an afternoon storm would roll through but it wouldn’t last very long.
Weather-wise, the best time to visit Koh Samui is generally late December through to April when there is little rain and lots of sunshine. February and March can be your best bet as they are, typically, the driest months. Just bear in mind, things start to get really hot in April and May. If you’re looking to save money, October and November are probably going to be your best option as they are the wettest months of the year. If you’re hoping to spot whale sharks, you’ll want to plan your visit around March, April and May.
How to get there
There are a few different ways to get to Koh Samui. We flew with Thai Airways from Brisbane to Bangkok, had a brief layover, then flew from Bangkok to Koh Samui. The first leg of the trip was around 8 1/2 hours and the flight from Bangkok to Samui was only around an hour. Our experience with Thai Airways was really good, we managed to get ourselves those seats with no-one in front so we had extra leg room, the seats were comfortable and the service was fantastic. The staff were so welcoming and helpful, it was really nice! I was also really impressed with the food. Our vegetarian meals on the way over and back were both veggie pasta dishes and they were delicious! If you’re considering which airline to go with, I recommend Thai. The full-service airline experience made the journey much easier and enjoyable!
What to pack tips
When it comes to packing for Koh Samui, you want to keep it light! As it’s typically quite hot and humid, you’re going to want to bring lots of light, breathable clothing. Things like cotton summer dresses and skirts, shorts and shirts are perfect. I find baggy, floaty clothing to be more comfortable as it doesn’t cling to you and absorb any sweat. Matt typically wears cotton or board shorts with either cotton t-shirts or sweat wicking t-shirts while I opt for linen shorts and button-up tops, summer dresses and skirts with baggy t-shirts. Of course, you’ll want to make the most of the resort pools so swimwear, hats and footwear easy to slide on and off is essential.
You’ll find COSI Samui located in the heart of Chaweng Beach, surrounded by no shortage of restaurants, bars, beach clubs and shops. Nestled right alongside the Central Festival mall and a short walk to Chaweng Beach, just 15 minutes from Samui Airport, it’s a convenient base for travellers. The hotel is modern, offering everything today’s traveller needs and none of the things they don’t.
In place of the typical breakfast buffet, COSI offers daily ‘Freedom Credits’ to be spent in the cafe at The Hub. Guests can buy things like large bottles of water, fresh food, local Thai favourites, croissants, coffee and so much more. It’s a smart approach to minimising waste while still offering guests what they need. The Hub also acts as the hotel’s ‘lobby,’ where guests can check-in with the staff or, for introverts, do a self-check-in, all in addition to the hotel’s online check-in. It’s also a great hang out space, where guests can head up to the mezzanine to unwind and relax, charge their devices, make new friends or watch a game.
We loved the modern approach to the rooms too. There are 150 rooms and two different room types; COSI Room and COSI Plus. The difference between the two is the size and bed formations, with the COSI Room offering 18 square metres of space and twin or a King bed and the COSI Plus offering 21 square metres of space and a King bed. We stayed in the COSI Plus and loved it!
Our room was spacious, modern and really well thought out. The first thing I noticed was a large number of USB charging outlets everywhere, making it easy for me to keep my phone, cameras and other electronics charged. The floating bed was really impressive as it offered space for us to push our suitcases underneath it, keeping the floor clear and ensuring we didn’t stub our toes on our suitcases. We both found the bed to be nice and comfortable with cosy pillows and blankets. The heavy curtains were a nice touch too as we were able to close them for an afternoon nap after our long-haul flight.
The bathroom was also a great size with a generous shower and plenty of space for us to spread out, hang up clothes and get settled in. I particularly liked the window seat, running along nearly the full length of one side of the room. It gave us extra space to sit, lay down and chill out without always having to be on the bed. There was also a Smart TV, a small fridge, safe and a spot to hang some of our clothes up too. The hotel’s wifi is free to use and really good quality – always a bonus!
In addition to all this, there’s a rooftop pool which doubles as a cool chillout spot with waterproof beanbags dotted around the place. I also really liked the in-house laundromat where you can buy laundry detergent and pop on a load of laundry without having to leave the hotel – it’s the kind of thing that just makes your travels that much easier.
Now, in terms of location, Chaweng Beach is quite the busy little hive of activity. The streets really come alive as the sun goes down, with bright neon lights, beachfront bars, restaurants and street vendors. You’ll find no shortage of places to eat, shop and explore as well as Chaweng Beach to spend your days swimming, enjoying water sports or sipping cocktails under the shade of a beach umbrella.
COSI Samui is the perfect place to stay for modern and active travellers. It offers absolutely everything the modern traveller needs, keeping costs down by doing away with all the things they don’t. Best of all, you don’t have to compromise because despite it’s affordable price point, COSI Samui is far from budget digs! Rather than being tired and rundown low-cost accommodation, our room felt brand new, as though we were the first people to step foot inside. I think COSI Samui would be ideal for those wanting to spend their days on Chaweng Beach or out exploring Ko Samui but still have a great room to come back and enjoy, a pool to swim in and a place to unwind each day.
Bonus tip: If the location sounds right but the accommodation isn’t quite what you’re after, you should check out Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui. It offers ultimate beach-front relaxation set among plush resort grounds, colonial-era buildings and comfortable rooms. Find Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui here.
Centra by Centara Coconut Beach
If you’re after more of an escape, Centra by Centara Coconut Beach (affectionally called Coconut by the staff) is a 30-minute drive from Samui Airport but feels a world away. A pocket of tranquillity and pure relaxation, Coconut is the beachfront holiday of your tropical island dreams. The resort is gorgeous and incredibly comfortable, it seems to have a way of putting you at ease by making you feel as though you’ve found your second home.
I’ll do my best to describe this properly so you know what I mean. I sometimes feel, at other resorts, as though I’m uncomfortable because it’s so big and fancy with so many other guests. At Coconut, both Matt and I felt totally at ease. Everything was just so familiar and genuine, allowing us to feel completely relaxed and comfortable. The smaller size of the resort means there are no buffet queues, crowded beaches or long lines for anything. It’s a slice of paradise.
There are a few different room types to choose from, depending on your budget and needs and, with 54 rooms and villas in total, you won’t feel overrun by other guests. The Centra Superior Pool View rooms offer views over the long pool below while Deluxe Pool Access rooms allow guests to stroll straight from the bedroom, onto their terrace and into the pool. Best of all, the pool these rooms are situated along has a swim-up bar! Yes, thanks!
Matt and I stayed in one of the resort’s Deluxe Villas and if you’re looking to kick things up one more notch, there’s one deluxe sea view villa. We loved our villa, it was really spacious and comfortable with so many spots for us to put our bags, clothes and camera gear. The bathroom is actually massive and could easily be an entire room at a hotel in Tokyo! We both loved the spacious, private feel of our villa, as though we had our own little place to escape and relax.
Of course, one of the biggest drawcards of Coconut has to be the location. The resort is set right on the secluded Thong Tanote Beach, a picture-perfect escape offering a lovely stretch of sand and beautiful blue water. With no crashy waves in sight, you can spend your days lazing on sun beds, swimming and enjoying the views out to Koh Tan and Koh Mutsum. In the afternoon, the staff begin setting up for dinner, bringing the beach to life again with colourful lights, lanterns, waterfront dining tables and chillout spots.
The on-site restaurant is great, serving really delicious local and western food. Matt and I can both personally vouch for the cocktails and fruit shakes, too! There are different things that happen each night for dinner, like fresh seafood BBQs or steak nights, all accompanied by great music and fantastic service.
We spent our days at Coconut enjoying the two pools, soaking in the sunshine, catching a nap under the shade of a palm tree, sitting on the beach talking to local dogs and exploring the water on a kayak. For those who want to take things to the next level of relaxation, you can treat yourself to a few indulgement treatments at Spa Cense by Spa Cenvaree. If you’re keen to get out and explore the local area more, Coconut is a short drive from Lamai Beach, Nathon Pier and more.
Centra by Centara Coconut Beach resort is exactly the kind of place you could spend 5 nights of your annual leave relaxing. It’s the kind of idyllic destination you picture when you think of Thailand, offering great food, a quiet beach, gorgeous pools, delicious cocktails and total bliss. Better yet, it also offers a warm, welcoming atmosphere that leaves you feeling totally at ease – a home away from home in an incredibly beautiful part of the world.
Bonus tip: If you’re looking for a little more privacy in the same, quiet beachfront setting, try Centara Villas Samui. Some private villas here come with their own pool, in addition to the resort’s stunning private beach, so you can spend your days swimming and relaxing in your own slice of paradise. Find Centara Villas Samui here.
To help you get an idea of where each of these hotels is located here’s a very simple map I drew for you.
Useful travel resources for your trip to Thailand!
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Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.