Picking the perfect Thai island paradise can be difficult as there are so many to choose from! Two of the best Thai islands out there are Koh Samui and Koh Samet.
You may be wondering which island would suit you better and this article will tell you that. It looks at Koh Samui vs Koh Samet in many different areas (including cost, location, activities etc) giving you an honest comparison helping you pick the best island for your trip!
Location – Koh Samui vs Koh Samet
Koh Samet is close to Bangkok making it very easy to reach if you’re staying in the capital (or nearby e.g. Pattaya). You don’t need to fly, just take a 3 hour bus from Bangkok to the coast and a speedboat or ferry to the island. The whole journey will take 4 – 5 hours from Bangkok or 2 – 2.5 hours from Pattaya. Overall this costs around 250 baht (~$8).
If you’re heading to Koh Samui from Bangkok, then you will need to fly so it will be more expensive to reach than Koh Samet. At the time of writing, flight’s cost around 3200 baht (~$100). The flight only lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes so it is quicker than taking a bus to Koh Samet but if you also factor in the time of getting to the airport, waiting in the airport and getting to your hotel after, its probably not much quicker.
Despite being further from the capital, Koh Samui is in a really convenient location because you can visit other Thai islands such as Koh Phangan and Koh Tao on your trip as well as they are right next to it.
Koh Samet is a pretty small island, only 7km long from north to south. If you hire a motorbike, you could explore it’s length within a day. There is a single main road that runs from north to south, however most of the hotels, restaurants and bars are located in the northern area.
For more information, check out my guide to getting around Koh Samet which includes more information on transport options and hiring motorbikes.
Koh Samui is much bigger (25km at its widest point) covering a lot more area. As Koh Samui is bigger, there is a lot more choice when it comes to accommodation, restaurants and amenities.
Which Is Cheaper? Koh Samui or Koh Samet
Overall, Koh Samet is cheaper than Koh Samui. However, bear in mind that as Koh Samui has much more choice, you will be able to find a variety of hotels, activities, restaurants at different price ranges so there is something to suit every budget.
However, you will get more for your money in Koh Samet e.g. the price of a similar hotel would be lower in Koh Samet and food in restaurants tends to be a bit cheaper too.
Check out my guide to hotels & villas in Koh Samet for more details including the best places to stay at different price ranges.
As already mentioned, the cost of travelling to Koh Samui is much higher (~$100) than travelling to Koh Samet (~$8). This assumes that you are travelling from Bangkok.
What Is The Weather Like? Koh Samui vs Koh Samet
The best time to visit Koh Samet would be between November and April. Low season runs from May to October. Koh Samet is known to be one of the driest islands in Thailand and it gets significantly less rainfall than other areas.
Rainy season only stretches from May to June and even then, it gets a lot less rainfall than other parts of Thailand so if you’re visiting during these months it may be a better option than Koh Samui.
The best time to visit Koh Samui would be from December to April when the weather is great and you get little rain and a lot of sun. From May to September, it is still hot but you will get some rain, these tend to be brief showers in the afternoon or at night.
Which Has More Things To Do? Koh Samui vs Koh Samet
Koh Samet is a small island with limited activities. It has some beautiful beaches to relax on where you can take part in water-sports such as diving, snorkelling, jet skiing and kayaking. Other island activities include fishing, massages and Muay Thai.
You can also hire a motorbike or ATV quad bike and explore more of the island or if you’d prefer you can take a speedboat tour and visit some of the more remote beaches in the south or west coast.
For more information, check out my post on the best things to do in Koh Samet.
Koh Samui has a multitude of options when it comes to activities and things to do; there is much more choice here compared to Koh Samet. You can take part in water-sports such as snorkelling, diving, kayaking and more.
You can also try go karting, Thai cooking classes, go hiking, take a safari tour, play golf and visit Buddhist temples! Koh Samui has plenty of fun, exciting activities to try out in addition to its tropical beaches.
Which Has Better Beaches? Koh Samui or Koh Samet
Both islands have some pretty impressive beaches. The beaches on Koh Samet will be a lot more quiet than the beaches on Koh Samui and you will sometimes find beaches toward the south of the island completely empty! It feels like your own private island at times.
You won’t really find this in Koh Samui, although the beaches are stunning, they will also be very busy which can sometimes make it harder to enjoy them.
Koh Samet only has 16 beaches, being a very small island. Check out this complete guide to the beaches of Koh Samet. Koh Samet has one main beach, Sai Kaew, which is lined with restaurants and bars. It’s other beaches offer much fewer amenities and some have no amenities at all!
As Koh Samui has over 50km of coastline, it has over 40 beaches, bays and small coves so there is a lot more to explore. It has many beaches with plenty of choice and lots of amenities so you’ll definitely find the perfect beach for you.
Some of the best include the tropical Lamai Beach, Chaweng Beach and Bophut Beach. The beaches are a lot more lively but there are definitely some more secluded and quiet beaches too.
Which Has A Better Atmosphere? Koh Samui vs Koh Samet
The atmosphere on the islands are very different. Koh Samui is a large, busy island filled with plenty of hotels, restaurants, resorts, bars and much more.
Whilst Koh Samet does also have a good selection of hotels, resorts, restaurants etc, there are far less and it is much quieter and less built up than Koh Samui. This makes it a lot more relaxed as there are less people. It also provides a much more natural, less built-up environment whereas Koh Samui is very built-up and commercialised.
Koh Samui can get very busy and crowded especially during peak season. Koh Samet is a popular weekend getaway from Bangkok so it can get quite lively on weekends but is much quieter on weekdays.
Which Has Better Nightlife? Koh Samui or Koh Samet
If nightlife is important to you then Koh Samui would probably be the best option. It gets very lively and there are so many options when it comes to bars and clubs.
Koh Samui has plenty of beach clubs, discos, lounges, beer bars and much more – there is so much choice and plenty to do after dark. It is often named as one of the best party destinations in Thailand. You can also head over to the nearby island of Koh Phangan for a full moon party!
Koh Samet does have a decent nightlife, on the main beach, Sai Kaew, there are many bars that line the beach including Naga Bar – a hotspot for backpackers and travellers. You’ll definitely have a fun night out on both islands but overall, you will find much more choice in Koh Samui whereas options are more limited in Koh Samet and it may be a lot quieter.
I hope this comparison guide on Koh Samui vs Koh Samet was useful in helping you decide which island to visit! Both are equally beautiful islands with so much to offer so if you can, I’d suggest visiting both!
For more information on Koh Samet, check out this ultimate Koh Samet guide.