Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Thu June 02 2016

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  • A Cruising Couple | June 2, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    The Ultimate 48 Hours in Koh Samui

    The Ultimate 48 Hours in Koh Samui

    Photos by A Cruising Couple unless otherwise indicated

    Koh Samui has long been a favorite destination for travelers of all styles and budgets. The third largest island in Thailand, Koh Samui seemingly has it all: sparkling water, pristine beaches, swaying palms, excellent restaurants, and hotels to appease everyone from budget backpackers to luxury connoisseurs.

    Lamai Beach Koh Samui Thailand

    But while Koh Samui is certainly well-trodden, the island has managed to maintain its undeniable Thai charm. Fisherman villages, local eateries and magnificent temples are just a few of the gems that await those travelers ready to explore past their resort walls.

    READ MORE: 3 Top Islands in the Gulf of Thailand

    Unfortunately, we were traveling on a timeframe, which left us only 48 hours to explore the best that Koh Samui has to offer. Of course, we didn’t come anywhere near to scratching the surface of all there is to see and do, but we did get a pretty good glimpse — and, more importantly, we went away with fantastic memories and a longing to return.

    Make the most of your time on the island with this guide to 48 hours in Koh Samui:

    Day One

    Rent A Scooter And Go Explore

    Chaweng Lookout Koh Samui

    Because Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s larger islands, you’ll want personal transportation to help you see as much as possible. Renting a scooter is perhaps the most fun way to get around, though do only drive one if you have experience and feel comfortable in the chaotic Thai traffic! (And of course, always wear a helmet!)

    Where you go with your scooter is up to you. We set out in the morning without much of a schedule, instead opting to let our curiosity guide us. If you prefer to cross off as many island attractions as possible, then you’ll, of course, want a bit more of a plan. Some of the major sites to see in Koh Samui that are easy to check out in one day include:

    Grandfather and Grandmother Rock Koh Samui

    Grandma and Grandpa Rocks (Also known as Hin Ta and Hin Yai): These rocks are famous for their shocking resemblance to male and female anatomy. We’ll let you take it from there…

    Big Buddha: Located in the northern area of the island, it’s possible to glimpse the top of the towering Big Buddha from various parts around the island. This is one of the most famous Big Buddhas in Thailand.

    Wat Plai Laem: You’ll find this colorful Buddhist temple near the Big Buddha. It’s a stunning temple, overflowing with ornate details and decorations.

    Loung Por Ruam

    Photo via Flickr/Alvin Seah 

    Mummy Monk: It’s not every day you get to witness a mummified monk. This one of Luang Pordaeng is one of the most famous, and a genuinely fascinating sight.

    Dance The Night Away

    Ark Bar Koh Samui

    After a long day of exploring Koh Samui’s top attractions, it’s time to unwind. Head to Ark Bar on Chaweng Beach for one of the most riveting beach parties on the island. Astonishing fire dancers are just part of the fun. Arrive early if you want to grab a first-row cushion on the beach.

    Day Two

    If you’re in Koh Samui on a Sunday, then don’t miss the Amazing Sunday Brunch at Nikki Beach Resort. The sumptuous buffet spread features a large variety of both Thai and Western dishes. The live music and post-brunch pool party are added features.

    Beach Hop

    Of course, one of the primary reasons to visit Koh Samui is to while away the day on the picture-perfect beaches. There are numerous stretches of sand across the island, so if you’ve still got that scooter handy, don’t hesitate to explore until you find the beach that’s right for you.

    Lamai Beach Koh Samui Thailand

    Personally, our favorite is Lamai Beach. It’s relaxed with plenty of room to soak in the sun in private, yet there are still heaps of restaurants, beach massage huts, and activities to keep you occupied. Alternatively, Bophut and Chaweng are popular beaches for good reason.

    Alternate Activity: Ang Thong National Marine Park

    Ang Thong Marine National Park, Thailand

    Photo via Flickr/ryan harvey

    If you find you have more time on Koh Samui, then consider taking the favorite day trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park. It’s easily one of the most spectacular scenes in Thailand, with iconic limestone islets jutting out of glimmering turquoise waters. The day trip typically includes snorkeling and kayaking past stunning vistas in the park.

    Catch A Ladyboy Cabaret Show

    Ladyboy Cabaret Show

    Okay, so a ladyboy cabaret show certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you’ve got your sense of humor in tow and you’re ready for an entertaining night, then these iconic Thai cabaret shows are worth checking out. Koh Samui has a handful of options. Moulin Rouge is one of the most popular, with some very talented performers. When in Thailand…

    READ MORE: Elephant Hills: A Luxurious Pachyderm Sanctuary

    Where To Eat During Your Stay:


    Poppies Koh Samui

    Poppies is one of the most famous restaurants on Koh Samui, dating back some 20 years. Chef Khun Wantanee is a Koh Samui native and brings an innovative touch to the South Thai flavors featured on the menu.


    When you need a break from Thai food, try the surprisingly authentic Italian fare at the Duomo. It’s the best place to get your pizza and pasta fix.

    What other activities would you say are a must-do while in Koh Samui on a tight timeframe?

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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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