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The Perfect 3 Day Koh Samui Itinerary And Travel Guide (2023)

Koh Samui is a beautiful Thai Island in the Gulf of Thailand. With tropical beaches, lush green jungle, luxurious resorts, and a laid-back vibe, it's an excellent place to add to your Thailand itinerary.

We've spent 2 months exploring this small but wonderful island getaway and are happy to share our best Koh Samui travel tips and the perfect 3 day Koh Samui itinerary.

Though be warned, there are so many things to do on Koh Samui, you'll be very tempted to stay (much) longer.

3 day Koh Samui itinerary

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Koh Samui 3 day itinerary map

Click here for the interactive map

Koh Samui itinerary 3 days

  • Day 1: hike to the Hin Lad waterfall, relax at I-Talay or the Intercontinental Resort, visit Wat Phra Chedi Laem So and drive the Jungle Road.
  • Day 2: hike to Khun Si Waterfall waterfall, visit Grandmother and Grandfather Rock, admire the view from Lad Koh viewpoint, and shop at Central Samui.
  • Day 3: hike to Tan Rua waterfall, visit Wat Khao Hua Jook, have lunch at the View, admire the Big Buddha temple and Wat Plai Laem, and stroll around Fisherman Village.

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Where to stay in Koh Samui: Kimpton Kitalay ☆☆☆☆☆


The best place to stay on Koh Samui is without a doubt the newly opened Kimpton Kitalay (December 2021). Luxury without being pretentious, beautifully designed, and with attention to the smallest details.

From daily handwritten notes and little sweets, origami swans made from bamboo leaves, a baby bathtub with shampoo for the little ones, and dog bowls for your furry friends, everyone will feel very welcome at the Kimpton.

No matter if you're traveling as a family or if you're a couple looking for the perfect romantic holiday hotel on Koh Samui, the Kimpton Kitalay Samui and their wonderful staff will make your stay unforgettable.

Dive into one of the many swimming pools straight from your bedroom from the Pool Access rooms & suites. Enjoy total privacy from the Garden Pool Villa, a beautiful ocean view from the Oceanfront Pool Villa, or utter luxury at the 628 sqm. Villa Kitalay (pictured below).

Image: courtesy of Kimpton Kitalay Samui

Wine and dine at one of the four onsite restaurants or order room service for a cozy night in with your favorite Netflix show or a romantic dinner on the balcony.

Chances are you're so comfy at the Kimpton Kitalay, you're going to skip the entire Koh Samui travel itinerary below and just enjoy your happy little holiday bubble…

Read more about our stay at the Kimpton Kitalay or click here to book

Disclosure: we were hosted by the Kimpton Kitalay Samui. Nevertheless, all opinions are my own.

Best places to visit on Koh Samui: day 1

Hike to the Hin Lat Waterfall


After enjoying a sumptuous breakfast at the Kimpton Kitalay Samui it's time to explore Koh Samui!

Get in your rental car or hop on your scooter and drive to Nathon, on the west side of the island. Along the way, you'll see some lovely views of the stunning blue ocean.

Drive through Nathon and take a left at the large roundabout. At the end of the road, there is a small parking area and some street stalls, this is where the trail to the Hin Lat Waterfall starts.

The trail itself isn't very long (1.3km one-way), however, I recommend wearing sturdy footwear (I always wear my Teva's) as it's a rocky and slippery trail.

Traveling Koh Samui with kids?


We did this trail with our kids (4&2), I carried our youngest our Tula baby carrier and my son walked most of the trail.

That being said, it's not an easy hike with young children. If you don't mind a bit of adventure and take it slow, it can definitely be done and it's a fun family activity on Koh Samui.

But please be very careful, there are some steep slopes and no fences.

Red Stone Coffee


Red Stone Coffee (next to the parking lot at the Hin Lat Waterfall) is a great place for a coffee fix. The friendly owner makes each cup with love and the cozy little shop is perfect to chill for a while cooling down from your hike.

Relax at I-Talay or the Intercontinental Resort


Don't stay on the Ring Road after visiting the waterfall but stick to the smaller roads along the coast. Make your way south while enjoying the views of the ocean, jungle, and rice paddies.

After about 12 km you've got a choice to make. You can either have a low-key relaxing lunch at I-Talay, a small eco-resort and restaurant along Taling Ngam beach (pictured above), or have a fancy meal at the Intercontinental Resort (with splendid views, see below).


We did both (on different days of course) and you can't make a bad decision here, it just depends on your preference and Thailand travel budget.

Koh Samui family trip: if you've got kids, the Intercontinental Resort has a lovely little playground with a slide, swing and trampoline.


Visit Wat Phra Chedi Laem So

This beautiful golden Chedi is covered by a mosaic of tiny tiles and the glittering Nagas (serpents) guarding the entrance are impressive as well.

Please note this is a place of worship and make sure to dress appropriately. I always carry a scarf with me for these situations.


Drive the cross-island road

From Wat Phra Chedi Laem So, drive along road 4170 until it connects with the Island ring road, just under Lamai.

Take a left between the 7-Eleven and the Sarocha Pharmacy onto Pracharakpattana Road and drive the cross-island Jungle road. This twisting and turning scenic drive is very quiet and very beautiful.

Take your time and admire the lush jungle and its typical sounds and smell. Be sure to tackle this road well before darkness falls and avoid driving just after heavy rainfall.

It's not a difficult drive and we've done it several times in our regular rental car. That being said, be careful and take your time.

Things to see on Koh Samui: day 2

Hike to the Khun Si Waterfall


While this probably won't be the most impressive waterfall you'll ever visit, it makes for a nice morning walk.

We parked our car just after the turnoff as the road is pretty rocky and we weren't sure if we would make it without damage.

If you're on a motorbike you can drive all the way up to the little road until you reach the end, where a kind lady sells fresh coconuts.

There is a trail leading down to the waterfall, it's quite steep in places but nothing too dangerous and easier than the trail to the Hin Lat Waterfall (see day 1).

That being said, be very careful at the viewpoint! People have died here trying to take the perfect selfie, so stay behind the ropes and if you're visiting with kids, watch them like a hawk.

Visit Grandmother and Grandfather Rock


The Hin Ta (Grandfather) and Hin Yai (Grandmother) Rocks are famous Koh Samui attractions. The rocks are shaped like a giant penis and vagina and it's almost like nature is playing a prank on us, tiny humans.

The parking fee is 10 bath for motorbikes and 30 bath for cars, though you can also park along the main road and walk the last hundred meters.

As it gets pretty busy here sometimes and the entrance road is very narrow, this would be my preferred option if you're visiting after 10 am in the morning.

Admire the view from Lad Koh viewpoint


This is just a quick stop, but definitely worth visiting. Admire the views over the beautiful ocean while enjoying a fresh coconut ice cream from the small food truck that's usually parked at the top.

Shop at Central Samui


Central Samui is the largest shopping center on Koh Samui. Now, don't expect a massive complex with 8 floors. You'll find plenty of those in Bangkok but not on Ko Samui.

Still, Central Samui is a great place for shopping. There are lots of small boutique stores with beautiful dresses, and several brand stores (such as Adidas, Crocs, and Jim Thompson for gorgeous silk scarfs).

What's more, Central Samui has a small but well-maintained playground where kids can have fun while one of the parents can go on a little shopping spree.

There is also a large food court and a big supermarket with lots of International products in case you're missing your daily Marmite fix or if you're looking for sunscreen, diapers, or shampoo.

What to do in Koh Samui: day 3

Hike to Tan Rua Waterfall


There are several waterfalls on Koh Samui and today you'll be visiting Tan Rua Waterfall. There are two trails to choose from, a trail leading down to waterfall 1 and a trail leading up to waterfall 2.

We only did the trail to waterfall 1 and while that was pretty steep in some places, it's only a short trail that can be tackled by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

The start of the trail leading to the zipline (yes there is a zipline too, read more here) is very nicely done, with a rope bridge and a lovely garden leading to a small cafe in the middle of the jungle.

Visit Wat Khao Hua Jook

Situated on a hill just north of Chaweng Lake, golden Wat Khao Hua offers spectacular panoramic views over the island.

If you're an avid plane spotter you'll love this place too as Koh Samui's airport runway is next to the pagoda.

You can either drive up to the pagoda on a scooter or tackle the steep road uphill on foot. Though be careful, there are some vicious dogs living in the house on the right just before the entrance to the pagoda.

Have lunch at the View


The View restaurant is situated on the grounds of Melati Beach Resort. Choose from a wide variety of dishes (Thai, Mediterranean cuisine, or burgers and sandwiches) and admire the splendid ocean views.

Alternatively, park your motorbike or car at Thongson Bay Restaurant and have a bite here instead. The beach is lovely though you don't have to bring your snorkel set as visibility is terrible.

Admire the Big Buddha


One of the most famous places to visit on Koh Samui is the 12-meter-tall Big Buddha statue found at Wat Phra Yai.

The imposing golden statue overlooks the rest of the temple complex and can be reached via a steep flight of stairs.

Important: as with all temples in Thailand, dress and behave respectfully. Take off your shoes when indicated and dress modestly.

There is a sign at the entrance of the temple clearly indicating what is considered appropriate clothing and what isn't (no cleavage, no exposed belly button, no skirts or shorts above the knee).

Bring a scarf and if you forgot, there are lots of little shops selling clothes to cover up in the temple complex.


A good time to visit is just before sunset, though the views from the gallery surrounding the Big Buddha statue are beautiful at any hour of the day.

Take care when visiting with young children, the tiled stairs are steep and get very hot during the day.

Visit Wat Plai Laem

If you'd love to visit another beautiful Wat, consider adding Wat Plai Laem to your 3 days on Koh Samui itinerary.

This complex was built in 2004 and features an 18-armed image of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. You don't need to set aside half a day, an hour or so is enough.

Stroll around Fisherman Village

Fisherman’s Village is a lovely area of Bophut, with historic wooden buildings that house boutique shops, restaurants, and upscale hotels.

The best time to visit Fisherman's Village is Friday night when the weekly Fisherman’s Village Walking Street market takes place.

Shop for souvenirs, a pretty dress, or just hang out at one of the bars while enjoying the view and lively atmosphere.

The night market runs every Friday from 5 pm to 11 pm.

Koh Samui 4 day itinerary

If you've got more time to spend on Koh Samui (lucky you!), I highly recommend joining a guided tour to Ang Thong National Park.

Take a tour to Ang Thong National Park

Ang Thong National Marine Park is one of the best day trips you can do from Koh Samui.

This National Marine Park is a protected archipelago of 42 islands and a great place for snorkeling because of the clear waters.

While it is touristy and you won't be the only one there, Ang Thong is still a gorgeous place that will take your breath away.

One of the highlights of any Ang Thong day trip is the Emerald Lake on Ko Mae Koh. While you can't go swimming in the lake, the views from the viewpoint are stunning. It's a steep climb to get there but worth the effort.

Important: bring plenty of water, wear a hat and sensible footwear for the hike to the viewpoint.

Click here to book a tour to Ang Thong National Park online, it's going to be one of the highlights of your Koh Samui trip.

Tours take the whole day so take this into consideration when traveling with small children.

Koh Samui 5 day itinerary

Take a Thai cooking class

Wouldn't it be great to learn how to cook some of those delicious Thai dishes yourself? Take a cooking class and unravel the secrets of Thai cuisine.

Learn about Thai herbs, spices, and vegetables and how to combine these into traditional Thai dishes that you'll find yourself making again and again.

Click here to book a Thai cooking class

Relax on one of the beautiful beaches of Koh Samui

Maenam Beach

Koh Samui has no shortage of stunning beaches and there is no such thing as ‘the best beach on Koh Samui'.

That being said, here are some of the most popular Koh Samui beaches, pick your favorite (or discover your own).

Which beach is best on Koh Samui?

Choeng Mon Beach

Are you looking for a lively beach with bars? Head to Chaweng Beach or Bophut Beach.

Looking for peace and quiet and the best sunsets? The beaches along the west coast of the island (such as Taling Ngam or Lipa Noi Beach) are your best bet.

Traveling as a family and looking for a gentle sloping family-friendly beach on Koh Samui? Choeng Mon, Thongson Beach, and Maenam Beach are excellent options.

While many people also love Lamai Beach, we didn't like it as much as the beaches mentioned above. That being said, it's still not a bad place to spend a lazy afternoon.

Hike to Na Muang Waterfall

While I've already included a fair share of waterfalls in this Koh Samui trip itinerary, Na Muang is another beautiful waterfall on Koh Samui that you can visit.

While Na Muang Waterfall is a bit of a drive (it would take around 50 minutes from the Kimpton Kitalay Samui), it's the tallest waterfall on Koh Samui and the views from the top are stunning.

From the car park, it took us around an hour to hike to the top of the Na Muang Waterfall with our kids (2 and 4 years old). You can go faster if you're traveling without kids, but it's a pretty steep hike regardless.

Bring plenty of water and your swimsuit, the natural pools at the top are perfect for a refreshing dip!

How to get to Koh Samui

By plane

The easiest way to travel from Bangkok to Koh Samui is by plane. It's just a short 1-hour flight and Bangkok Airways offers many flights a day for very reasonable prices (if you book ahead).

Alternatively, you can fly from Bangkok to Surat Thani and take a ferry to Koh Samui (read more below)

Click here for the best plane ticket deals

By ferry

Bangkok to Surat Thani by plane – Surat Thani to Koh Samui by ferry

Instead of flying straight into Koh Samui airport, you can book a flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani or take a night train.

Admittedly, getting from Surat Thani airport to the ferry terminal is a bit of a hassle. From the airport, you can take a taxi or bus to Don Sak pier (~90 minutes) where you can hop on a ferry to Koh Samui (another 90 minutes).

We traveled from Koh Tao to Bangkok when we were backpacking as a couple and this journey involves lots of steps and inevitably a lot of waiting.

Therefore I really don't recommend this option when traveling with young kids. While it will cost a bit more, it's much more comfortable to book a direct flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui.

Bangkok to Surat Thani by night train – Surat Thani to Koh Samui by ferry

A better option (though still a long trip) is traveling from Bangkok to Surat Thani by night train.

For trips operated by Thai Railways, a shuttle service to the pier is provided. From the Surat Thani train station, you board the shuttle bus to the Don Sak ferry terminal and transfer to the Koh Samui ferry.

Click here to book ferry tickets to Koh Samui

How to get around Koh Samui

Rental car


The easiest way to get around Koh Samui is by rental car. We rented a car for the majority of our time on Koh Samui and I can say from personal experience it's the best way to explore the island with kids.

While distances are small and you can walk in some parts of the island (Fisherman's Village for example), many roads don't have (proper) sidewalks and those that do are often not worth exploring on foot.

Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore the island independently, without organized tours or being dependent on public transport (read more below).


While roads are generally in good condition, there are some potholes and bumpy sections on the small secondary roads along the coast and across the island.

Also, while you won't necessarily need a 4×4 to drive the cross-island road (see day 1) there are some steep sections that require your undivided attention (so keep your eyes on the road, tempting as it may be to simply admire the views;-).

Click here for the best rental car deals



Renting a scooter or motorbike is another fun way to explore Koh Samui but only do so if you know what you're doing.

Every year a lot of people get seriously injured in motorbike accidents, so be very careful, make sure you've got proper (travel) insurance, and always wear a helmet.

Public transport and taxi

Public transport on Koh Samui means traveling by songthaew. These converted pick-up trucks have 2 benches alongside the bed that can seat between 8-12 people, depending on how busy it is and how comfortable people are squeezing into a non-existent space between 2 surprised-looking farang (foreigners).

Traveling by songthaew is a fun experience and in the busier parts of the island, it’s generally pretty easy and affordable to get where you want to go.

Places that are more off-the-beaten-track are harder to get to by songthaew (there just are fewer trundling these routes) so taking a taxi may be a better option.

You can just hail a cab and agree on a price (before getting in) or use Grab (download here) to get a ride.

How long does it take to travel around Samui?


Koh Samui is a relatively small island and driving the entire island ring road (51 km) takes approximately 90 minutes (without any stops and depending on traffic).

The ring road connects the major towns on Koh Samui (Chaweng, Lamai, Nathon, Maenam, and Bophut) and several smaller ones.

Also read: 10 best places to eat in Maenam

Frequently asked questions about Koh Samui

How many days do you need in Koh Samui?

While you can easily spend several weeks on Koh Samui, three to five days is a good amount of time to explore most of the highlights on the island (using the itinerary above).

The island may be small but there are lots of interesting sights, interesting temples, beautiful beaches to relax on, and exciting activities such as a 4WD jungle tour or a Quad bike safari.

What is the best month to visit Koh Samui?


There is no best month for a trip to Koh Samui, however, generally speaking, February is the month with the least amount of rain.

December, January, and February is the main season and the best time to visit Koh Samui for sunseekers. These months are the dry season and offer mostly sunny and cloudless days.

That being said, Koh Samui is a great year-round destination. We spent July and August on this pretty little island and while there were definitely some cloudy days, we never had a full day of rain.

With Koh Samui's tropical temperatures a tropical (thunderstorm) can actually be kind of nice as it cools down the air for a while and offers some pretty spectacular sights.

What is the rainy season in Koh Samui?

Monsoon season on Koh Samui is in October and November. During these months you can expect intense rain showers, but often these don't last very long.

If you don't mind cloudy skies this can still be a good time to visit Koh Samui. Accommodation prices are lower and crowds are few.

The best things to do on Koh Samui: in conclusion

I hope you've enjoyed this Koh Samui itinerary and travel guide. If you've got a question, leave a comment below or send me a message.

Also check out my other Thailand posts for more Thailand travel inspiration!