The Perfect 3 Days in Koh Samui Itinerary (2020 Guide)

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Here is the best 3 days in Koh Samui itinerary on the internet to help you make the most of this fantastic paradise in Thailand!

Koh Samui is a must-see destination in the Gulf of Thailand.

Because it is a relatively large island, there are plenty of fun things to do but it is still easy to get around.

In addition to all the staples of Thai culture, like magnificent Buddhist temples, vibrant nightlife, bustling street markets, flavorful cuisine and smiling locals, Koh Samui is also packed to the brim with natural beauty.

From powerful waterfalls and white-sand beaches to the nearby national marine parks, nature and adventure enthusiasts will not be disappointed here.

3 days is the perfect amount of time to explore Koh Samui.

You’ll be able to do lots of sightseeing, eating, swimming, relaxing and hanging on the beach, and still have time for a day trip outside the island.

This 3 days in Koh Samui itinerary will highlight some of the island’s best attractions while laying them out in a logical order.

READ MORE: Check out our complete guide to the best things to do in Koh Samui!

How To Spend A Perfect 3 Days In Koh Samui Itinerary

Hopefully, this post will serve as a convenient 3 days in Koh Samui trip planner, so you will feel confident and excited about your trip to Koh Samui.

After outlining what to do in Koh Samui for 3 days, you can find some useful travel tips for visiting Koh Samui, including the best time to visit, where to stay, how to get around, and where to eat.

Day 1

We’ll start off this itinerary assuming that you’re starting this Koh Samui itinerary by arriving the night before.

Morning: Exploring the Temples

Spend your first morning in Koh Samui checking out two of the island’s most well-known landmarks: The Big Buddha and Wat Plai Laem.

These two temples are located very close to each other in the northeast corner of the island.

Before entering any temples in Thailand, make sure you have dressed appropriately, with your shoulders and knees covered and shoes that are easy to remove.

READ MORE: Plan your trip to Thailand with our comprehensive Thailand Travel Guide.

The Big Buddha

At the temple, Wat Phra Yai, you’ll find the 12-meter high golden Buddha statue that is easily one of Koh Samui’s greatest treasures.

After checking out the temple you can explore the little street market nearby.

  • Location: Big Buddha Beach, off Route 4171
  • Hours: Open all day, every day
  • Cost: Free

Wat Plai Laem

This temple is located on a tiny island in a lake and is famous for its massive statue of the 18-armed Guanyin, the Buddhist deity symbolizing compassion.

If you finish visiting the temples quickly, head over to the nearby Choeng Mon Beach to stroll through the soft white sand.

  • Location: Road 4171
  • Hours: 6 am to 6 pm, open every day
  • Cost: Free
Big Buddha Koh Samui
The Big Buddha

Afternoon: Stand Up Paddle Boarding

After chilling on the beach, grab some lunch and relax at your hotel for a bit to prepare for your next activity.

A great way to enjoy Koh Samui’s stunning natural scenery is by stand up paddleboarding.

In the late afternoon, when the sun isn’t as hot, grab a sturdy paddleboard and explore the coastline from the ocean.

You can even stay out paddling until sunset so you can see the magnificent, colourful clouds right from the water.

Evening: Visit a Night Market

After paddling, you’re going to need some dinner to refuel.

Koh Samui has a few wonderful street markets that are great for snacking and browsing through some local crafts and artwork.

Fisherman’s Village Walking Street Market

If it happens to be a Friday, head up to the north of the island for the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street Market.

Located in the quiet, local neighbourhood of Bophut, this market is a fantastic way to experience the local culture without tons of tourists around.

  • Location: Bophut Beach Road, Bophut 84320
  • Hours: 5 pm to 11 pm, every Friday

READ MORE: Enjoy your time in Thailand with these 21 places to visit!

Chaweng Street Market

Because the previous market is only open on Fridays, it is good to have a backup plan for any other day of the week.

Chaweng Street Market is located right in the hub of the island, so the atmosphere is very energetic and vibrant.

After eating some local street food at the market, hit some of the bars and nightclubs in the area for a fun night out.

  • Location: 14/102 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach Road, Chaweng
  • Hours: 5 pm to 11 pm, open every day

Day 2

Hopefully you didn’t drink too many Changs last night, because we have a big day today!

Morning: Lamai Beach Area

Any Koh Samui 3 day itinerary should include a visit to Lamai Beach.

Chaweng Beach is probably the most popular beach on the island, but Lamai Beach is just as gorgeous and far less crowded.

Spend your morning swimming, strolling, and relaxing on this little slice of paradise.

About 2 km south of Lamai Beach is the Hin Ta and Hin Ya Rocks, also known as the Grandfather’s and Grandmother’s Rocks.

Though this is basically just a pile of oddly shaped rocks, it is one of Koh Samui’s most famous tourist attractions because the rocks resemble male and female genitalia.

Rumours and legends describing how the rocks came to be are spread among the locals and it can be fun to ask people what they believe is the significance of these rocks.

So while you’re enjoying Lamai Beach, you might as well head down to this free and unique attraction.

Hin Ta and Hin Ya Rocks Thailand
Hin Ta and Hin Ya Rocks near Lamai Beach

Afternoon: Secret Buddha Garden and Waterfalls

About 30 km inland from Lamai Beach lies two amazing places where you can soak in the serenity of nature.

The Secret Buddha Garden and the Na Muang Waterfalls are very close to each other, so you can easily stop by both in one afternoon.

You also have the option of visiting just one of these, if you want to spend more time relaxing in one place.

The Secret Buddha Garden

Standing amidst the rich green forests of Koh Samui and filled with interesting statues, the Secret Buddha Garden is a treat for the eyes.

The garden was created in the late 1970s by a local farmer, and his collection of decorations and statues has only grown over the years.

Now the garden is a peaceful place to go for a stroll or have a picnic while admiring all the unique artwork.

  • Location: Off Route 4169 at Baan Saket, Thanon Dhupatemiya, Na Mueang
  • Hours: 10 am to 5 pm, open every day
  • Cost: 80 Baht

READ MORE: Add these activities to your list of things to do in Phuket!

The Na Muang Waterfalls

There are two waterfalls here that offer stunning photo opportunities as well as refreshing swimming spots.

Waterfall One is a super short, easy walk from the parking lot, and Waterfall Two requires about 30 minutes of hiking.

The view from the top of Waterfall Two is worth the climb, just note that you have to pay for parking at this waterfall because it is a bit more impressive.

Those on a tight budget can just visit Waterfall One because it has no parking fee or entrance fee.

  • Location: Off Route 4169, Na Mueang
  • Hours: 9 am to 5:30 pm, open every day
  • Cost: Waterfall One is free, Waterfall Two costs 30 Baht

Evening: Muay Thai Boxing Match

If you’re wondering what cool things to do for 3 days in Koh Samui, definitely put a Muay Thai Boxing Match on your list.

Muay Thai Boxing is the most popular sport in Thailand, and locals and tourists alike congregate at boxing stadiums in the evenings to watch the talented athletes spar in the ring.

The fighters are quick and agile, so you’ll be on the edge of your seat while watching a match.

Chaweng Boxing Stadium is one of the best stadiums on the island, so head over here after dinner for an exciting night.

  • Location: 166/16, Moo 2, Chaweng, Tambon Bo Put
  • Hours: Fights starting at 9 pm every Tuesday and Friday
  • Cost: Tickets range from 1,500 to 2,000 Baht
muay thai boxing koh samui thailand
A local athlete getting ready for a Muay Thai Boxing Match

Day 3

You’ve made it day 3 in Koh Samui. Get ready for an exciting adventure.

Morning & Afternoon: Take a day trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Without a doubt, 3 perfect days in Koh Samui should include a day trip to this incredible place of natural beauty.

Ang Thong National Marine Park is a string of tiny islands where you can find limestone cliffs, rocky caves, lakes and waterfalls, white-sand beaches, coral reefs, hiking trails, and more.

Because this is a protected natural area, only government-approved tour boats are allowed to enter the park.

Tours are quite cheap considering they cover all your transport from Koh Samui, your food for the day, and all the fun activities like snorkelling and kayaking.

Evening: Attend a Ladyboy Cabaret

Most travellers have heard of the Thai “Ladyboys”, or local men dressed in drag that host fabulous shows all over Thailand.

You can find a Ladyboy Show in most tourist cities around the country, and Koh Samui’s best venue is the Paris Follie’s Cabaret.

Conveniently located near Chaweng Beach, the Paris Follie’s Cabaret hosts nightly performances where the Ladyboys dress up, sing, dance, and absolutely dazzle the audience.

Don’t miss out on this activity during your Koh Samui itinerary!

  • Location: 166/92 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach Road
  • Hours: Performances every night at 8 pm, 9:30 pm and 11 pm
  • Cost: Free entry, but you should buy at least one drink from the bar to support the staff

READ MORE: Add these 10 activities to your list of things to do in Bangkok!

Koh Samui Travel Guide

Now that you know what to do in Koh Samui here is some information that will help you know the best time to visit, how to get around, where to stay and what to eat when you visit.

When to Visit Koh Samui

Like most tropical destinations near the Equator, Koh Samui has a rainy season and a dry season.

Generally speaking, the rainy season lasts from May to November, and the dry season lasts from December to April.

The best time to visit Koh Samui is during the shoulder season, which is those months during the transition period between rainy and dry season.

So shoulder season could be either March or April or late November or early December.

During these shoulder season months, the weather will be favourable, the crowds will thin out, and the flight prices will drop.

Peak tourist season is December and January when the sun shines and it rarely rains, so you’ll have better beach days but way more tourists crowding the popular attractions.

Peak rainy season is September and October when it rains almost every day, but sometimes the showers pass quickly and you can still get some gorgeous beach days.

So even though shoulder season is ideal, you can still have a great time with this Koh Samui itinerary during the sunny but crowded dry season or the rainy but uncrowded rainy season.

Koh Samui Beaches
The beaches of Koh Samui are picturesque

Getting Around Koh Samui

Koh Samui is the second-largest island in Thailand, so you’ll need to travel quite far around the island to see all the best attractions.

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

With your own car, you can visit all of Koh Samui’s wonders on your own schedule and move around at your convenience.

Driving around Koh Samui is very straightforward and easy. There are only a few main roads that circumnavigate the island and most attractions are on or just off these main roads.

Koh Samui doesn’t have tuk-tuks or a public bus system, so if you choose not to rent a car you’ll have to take either songtaews or taxis.

Songtaews are red pick up trucks with benches in the back that serve as shared taxis, and the more people you have in the back the cheaper the journey will be.

Songtaews are definitely cheaper than normal taxis, and they generally run to and from all the most popular tourist attractions.

Just ask locals where the best places to find songtaews are because they don’t always have a specific pick-up location.

As for normal taxis, they can be quite expensive.

There is only one taxi company on Koh Samui, so there isn’t much competition and the rates can be quite high.

So renting a car or riding in the back of a songtaew are the cheapest ways to get around Koh Samui, but if you don’t mind spending more money then regular taxis are always available.

Where to Stay in Koh Samui

Most of Koh Samui’s attractions are on the eastern side of the island, so that is where most tourist amenities and hostels or hotels are.

Chaweng Beach is the most central, touristy area on the island so it can be very convenient to stay here.

There are lots of things to do in Chaweng, and you can easily venture north, south, or inland from here.

If you want to stay somewhere a bit more relaxed and peaceful, stay near Lamai Beach.

About 12 km south of Chaweng, Lamai is just as beautiful but is far less touristy.

From here you can easily reach all the attractions near the south of Koh Samui.

Another great place to stay in Koh Samui is near Choeng Mon Beach on the northeastern tip of the island.

The beaches are beautiful and uncrowded, and you’ll be close to the airport and the ferries that leave for Ang Thong National Marine Park, Koh Tao, Koh Pha Ngan, and other islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

The Best Hostel in Koh Samui – Sirin Samui Boutique Hostel

Backpackers are in luck because this hostel has incredible ratings and costs only 9 USD per night for a dorm bed.

This hostel has a swimming pool, a cozy common room with a pool table, a communal kitchen with free coffee and tea all day, and laundry services.

Located super close to Choeng Mon Beach, guests can easily walk to the beach and to other attractions in the northeast of the island, like the Big Buddha.

Best Budget Accommodation for Couples – City Dance Hotel

Conveniently located next to Chaweng Beach, City Dance Hotel is a basic, affordable hotel that has all the basic amenities and doesn’t drain your wallet.

With its own bar and restaurant and close location to the heart of Chaweng’s nightlife, there is no shortage of things to do here.

The staff are friendly, airport transfers are available and standard double rooms are really affordable.

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Koh Samui – Crystal Lamai Hotel

This 3.5-star hotel is highly rated and affordable, but still has all the amenities of a fancy hotel.

It is a relatively new hotel located in the charming Lamai neighbourhood, and Lamai Beach is only a 350-meter walk away.

There is a fitness center, a sauna, a swimming pool, a garden, free breakfast and a 24-hour reception to help you out with anything you need.

Best Luxury Hotel in Koh Samui – SALA Samui Chaweng Beach

Located right in the heart of Chaweng Beach, this luxury hotel has everything you need for a perfect stay in Koh Samui.

You have the option of swimming at Chaweng Beach, or in the hotel’s private swimming pool, and there is also a sauna for guests.

With a super attentive staff and beautiful rooms with free wifi and beach views, SALA Samui is pretty much perfect.

Best Restaurants In Koh Samui

Koh Samui has lots of amazing restaurants and street food. You’ll find all the classic dishes of Thailand here, as well as some spectacular seafood.

Budget – Green Bird Restaurant

For a humble and authentic dining experience in Koh Samui, head to Green Bird Restaurant.

This small little restaurant in Chaweng has plastic chairs and an unimpressive appearance, but the food is cheap and absolutely amazing.

Mid-range – Baan Ya Jai

Baan Ya Jai is one of the best restaurants in Chaweng, but it is still reasonably priced.

This is the best place to try traditional Thai meals like tom yum soup or cashew nut stir fry, as they will be great quality and still affordable.

High-End – Supattra Thai Dining

Located near the Big Buddha, Supattra Thai Dining is a classy restaurant with some of the best seafood on the island.

You can find classic Thai and international dishes with fresh blue crabs, such as blue crab coconut curry and crab risotto.

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About the author

Gabby Boucher

After four years of working in hospitality, volunteering abroad and travelling for fun, Gabby has developed a knack for budget travel and admiration for different cultures. Her travels have taken her through the cloud forests of Ecuador, into the villages of eastern Europe, across the islands of Thailand, and to the beaches of New South Wales, Australia, where she is currently living with a working holiday visa. She plans to continue her adventures around the world for as long as possible. Follow her on her blog, and on Instagram.

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