Both have long, white sand beaches. Both are tropical islands with gorgeous weather. Both have great food and wonderful restaurants and hotels. So which one do you choose – Phuket or Koh Samui?
Are you wondering which destination will be your choice for your next vacation? Do you want to visit a Thai island but can’t decide between Phuket and Koh Samui? It’s a tough choice because there really is no wrong decision. Both Koh Samui and Phuket are wonderful places, and your choice depends largely on your preferred style of vacation and your personality. We looked at the differences between Koh Samui and Phuket to help you make up your mind.
When to Visit Phuket or Koh Samui
If you want to miss the rainy season, avoid coming to Phuket in September or October. But if you have to travel in September and want to miss the rainy season, try Koh Samui as it tends to be later in the year; October and November, and part of December.
In Phuket, you’ll find the hottest weather in September and October, while in Koh Samui the hottest time of year is November through to December.
Image via Micky Aldridge/ Flickr
Is Koh Samui or Phuket Quieter?
Phuket is twice as big as Koh Samui and it does attract more tourists. In general, it has a more developed infrastructure and more resorts. But Koh Samui is not un-developed and has its fair share of hotels, resorts, and restaurants.
In general, the buildings in Koh Samui are low-rise and you won’t find any apartment blocks or high-rise towers. In Phuket, the buildings are not exactly tall by Bangkok standards but there are built-up areas where you will see high-rise condo blocks and tall hotels. On Koh Samui, the buildings are never higher than a coconut tree so you will always be able to see the sky and you get a more peaceful vibe.
Koh Samui has a more relaxed vibe than Phuket, although there are many places on Phuket where you can get away from it all. If you are looking for lively nightlife, big clubs and lots of people to party with, Phuket is your best bet. But Koh Samui has a good selection of clubs, bars, and restaurants although the overall vibe is more laidback.
How Quick is it to Get to Phuket and Koh Samui?
There really isn’t a huge amount of difference between travel times to Phuket and Koh Samui. The quickest island to reach from London is Koh Samui, which you can reach in 13 and a half hours compared to 14 hours to Phuket. The quickest island to reach from New York is Phuket, at nearly 21 hours compared to over 21 hours for Koh Samui. The quickest to reach from Sydney is Phuket at just over nine hours compared to nearly 12 hours to reach Koh Samui.
Things to Do on Koh Samui and Phuket
If you like sailing and watersports then Phuket is a better place for you as there are more opportunities to take part in these activities. On the bigger beaches in Koh Samui you’ll find the usual jet skis and other beach activities but on the smaller beaches there is very little to do besides swim, snorkel and relax.
Both islands have great spots for diving and snorkeling. And you can take boat trips from both islands into the surrounding ocean to explore secluded islands and see the beauty of the surrounding seascape.
Both Phuket and Koh Samui have their cultural attractions with temples to explore, and villages to wander around. You can get off the beaten track in both locations to see the countryside and take treks around the island, although neither place is particularly great for adventure tourism.
Phuket has many more golf courses than Koh Samui, which may sway your decision if this is a sport you love.
Phuket and Koh Samui Accommodation
There’s really not a whole deal of difference between the style and price of accommodation on Phuket and Koh Samui – you can find hotels and resorts to love whatever your preference: romantic hotels, lively resorts for families and young people, backpacker hostels, and boutique hotels. Whether you choose Koh Samui or Phuket you can pick the style of accommodation you want. Phuket is more developed so you may have slightly more choice in high season, but there is still a great range of accommodation in Koh Samui and it is not all at the top end of the market.
Still can’t decide? Choose between the two at Koh Samui Sunset and find more information about Koh Samui and Phuket.