With its flashy good looks and tempting waters, it's hard not to fall head over heels for Koh Samui. Mae Nam and Lamai Beach tend to be the quiet spots, while Chaweng Beach is where the action's at. Grab a fresh coconut and chill out on the sands for a picture-perfect afternoon.
Chaweng Beach is the popular place for a reef snorkel, and it's where most visitors go for their beachfront fun. Once you've had a good dose of vitamin sea, you can enjoy a Thai massage in a local spa or grab a spicy prawn curry in a traditional shack-style restaurant.
Hidden away at the north of the island, Choeng Mon's less well-known than chatty Chaweng. And it's a bumper package. First off, you've got the main stretch with a couple of restaurants. Then there's a small island, which you can venture out to at low tide. Finally, there's a second rustic bay squirreled away for totally secluded sunbathing.
Chaotic markets sell everything from slinkies to regal silk outfits here. Maenam Walking Street's the place to be on Thursday nights – sip a lemon slurpee garnished with fresh mint while you barter for souvenirs.
Chaweng Beach Road's buzzing when it comes to shops. Whether you fancy a new tailored suit or some swimwear for the beach, this street will have more options than you can shake a spring roll at. Speaking of spring rolls, there's some seriously good food in the nearby restaurants.
If you've got dosh to spare, it's worth booking in at a spa for a day to recharge your batteries. The Wharf Samui shopping centre's got its fair share of pampering palaces, as well as boutiques and restaurants.
Purple sunsets are the standard in Koh Samui. Pick a beach – any beach – and settle in beneath a palm tree to watch the show. Low-key beach bars serve drinks on the sand long after the sun goes down.
From bars where you can let your hair down to parties on the sands, Chaweng Beach is where the late-night action happens. On full moon nights, jump on a speedboat across to Koh Phangan. With bass-pumping tunes, body paint and buckets full of booze, the parties here are legendary.
Koh Samui started out as a fishing village, so it's no shocker that seafood takes the starring role on most of its menus. Flaky fish flavoured with kaffir lime and wrapped in a banana leaf's a must-try, and red snapper in ginger sauce is right up there too.
For a quick lunch that fills a hole, fried rice is a great shout. Shrimp paste marries with garlic, chicken and veggies to create a hearty and colourful plate. Slap a runny-yolked egg on top to really set your taste buds tingling.
With tropical fruits aplenty, Koh Samui's a bit of a hotspot for detox tourism. Snack on fresh mango and pink dragonfruit, or whip up a vitamin-rich smoothie from custard apples and watermelon.
Koh Samui's curries are so good, they're worth rolling out the red carpet for – or at least some fiery red chillis. Massaman curries are packed with creamy, beefy goodness, while the classic greens and reds are winners on any table.
From cooling coconut ice-cream bowls to deep-fried dough sticks and custard, you'll always find a sweet something to tide you over here. Coconut rice dumplings are a great beachside snack, and mango sticky rice is adored by locals and tourists alike.
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