• koh samui island thailand

Koh Samui Nightlife, Waterfalls, & Burlesque

If you still want island life, but need a little more “big city” mixed in, Koh Samui nightlife will be perfect for you to take a break. I went twice; the first time as a base for the Full moon party, then second because we had some time to kill before we needed to catch a flight our cute hotel in Bangkok, and wanted to get some shopping done, which Koh Samui is great for.

koh samui island thailand

Most important information EVER:

DO NOT use Koh Samui as a base for the full moon party. It’s so dumb. I’m going to tell you about this next week!

Where to stay on Koh Samui

We stayed up north on MaeNam Beach the first time we went so we were close to the port to Koh Phagan. It was a cute resort called Shangrila with great stilted huts on the sea. Although far from Chaweng, the main scene, it was a nice break from people.It was a relaxing resort with fair/decent food, but good breakfast. Getting to Chaweng at night was easy from all locations; trucks drive up and down all the main streets, and it’s hop on hop off as they drive around.

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

The day after the full moon party we stayed on the south side Bo Phut because it was less expensive and closer to the main road. Ben and I also stayed here when we came back to Koh Samui the second time. An attraction near this beach is Big Buddha; we saw it in the distance but didn’t take the walk to it. I am usually underwhelmed by statues and it was really hot.

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

What to Buy on Koh Samui

The main beach, Chaweng, is also is not only THE place for Koh Samui nightlife, it’s where the shopping is best. All over the islands are Beats by Dre speakers and headphones. They might be fake, as one retailer admitted, but they still have incredible sound so we got speakers for about 900 and headphones for 600. Ben, who hates to shop, and lives in board shorts actually was quite a shopper here. He got loads of really cool printed boardies from billabong, O’Neil, etc for about 300 baht (10 bucks) each as well as some tee shirts. The only thing I bought was a fake Longchamp bag that is holding up really well; I take it as a carry on here in India. Prices were cheaper here than anywhere else, but they didn’t have the handmade pieces or crochet that Koh Phi Phi had. A lot was straight from factories, knock-off’s, and unoriginal items. I actually see a lot of what’s sold in Thailand on the streets of India. But I am sort of still obsessed with my Beats speakers and headphones. Ben has since lost his (it’s bound to happen with all items he owns).

koh samui island thailandwearing my favorite Koh Phi Phi leather arm band

The burlesque show!!! (video)

It is SO hard to wrap my head around the fact those are men! Male Christina Aguilera killin’ it! Seriously, don’t scroll past this video. You have to watch it to understand how amazing these shows are! PS now I have a YouTube account you can subscribe to- yay for more upcoming GoPro videos!

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

This was my favorite. It is suitable for guys and girls, old or young! It’s funny and not obscene like the ping pong shows in Bangkok. I would even advise my parents to see it. The lady-boys copied the likes of Tina Turner, Britney Spears, the Moulin Rouge girls, and did some traditional songs. It was the cost of one drink (200-300 baht), so technically the show was free, although the hope you tip at the end. There were many shows on Chaweng and they run over and over for about 30 minutes.

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailandthis was by far the best performance. the Christina was dead on!

Food on Koh Samui

Food was great and BBQ was everywhere.  We tried multiple BB places on the main road eating mostly ribs, prawns, corn on the cob, and salad. Each places serves almost the same dish with about the same price. Most full all you can eat platters go for 100 and it’s about 600 for a normal plate. Ben got the all you can eat, but it wasn’t necessary.

Don’t kill the American…. McDonalds. I’ve been in India nine months. Beef is usually water buffalo. I NEEDED a big mac. And hash browns. And chicken nuggets.  Also, Starbucks was right next-door. There are a few western restaurants on the island like those and Burger King, just look it up on google maps, but on the main strip Chaweng, you’ll see them all.

What else can you do on Koh Samui?

koh samui island thailand

Hiking to Na Muang waterfalls (there are 2). We hired a car from our guesthouse for about 100 baht each person. Make sure you wear comfy shoes because it’s a lot of walking. Wear a swimsuit so you can jump in the natural pools! There is a “water park” at the top and restaurant that we didn’t bother to eat at. It’s definitely worth going here to see the waterfalls and elephants.

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

Riding bikes here was safer thanks to paved roads, so this would be a good place to rent. You’ll save loads of money on taxis. There are multiple restaurants near Na Muang waterfalls that you can eat at; all are quite pricey along the main road.

koh samui island thailand

koh samui island thailand

Some people hate Samui, probably because it is very different from the other islands. It’s larger, commercialized, and has more adults than raging teenagers. Regardless, I found it had a lot to offer, especially since I was headed back to India and wanted my western commercialized fix.

What to Wear



About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Alex @ ifs ands & butts January 24, 2014 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    I would have never known those were men had you not said it! Wild! Looks like such a fun place to explore both day and night. Noticed also this is where you took your main blog photo, must be a special place!

  2. Rachael January 24, 2014 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Wow, this post came at the perfect time, I am sitting here with my Thailand travel plans in front of me and was planning on staying on Koh Samui as a base for a Full Moon Party in August. Now I am intrigued as to why you think that is a bad idea.
    I found your blog from reading comments on the Alex in Wanderland blog that I always follow.
    Thanks for the posts, I look forward to the Full Moon Party one.

    • Rachel Jones January 25, 2014 at 5:35 am - Reply

      I will put it up next week then for you! We did stay on Koh Samui for full moon party & it was a DISASTER! lol

  3. Ruann (Solo Journey Uncut) January 25, 2014 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Having done the real raw and rural island life (where I got a bit lonely, to be honest) for half-a-year, and the big city life for a year (where it was just to much running around), I think Koh Samui is the perfect kind of balance I’m looking for. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rachel Jones January 26, 2014 at 8:14 am - Reply

      No problem! The island has a nice vibe because it’s fast paced in town, but laid back on the shores

  4. Andi January 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about Koh Samui! Love the elephants!!!

    • Rachel Jones January 27, 2014 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      Yeah, I after writing this post, I’m starting to think it was my favorite island in Thailand!

  5. Clothes and Creativity April 5, 2014 at 6:41 am - Reply

    Same question again, where did you stay in Koh Samui? We are planning to stay there for about a wk atleast and looking at budget accommodations. Done a fair bit of research on Agoda and the likes, but nothing like hearing from a person who’s actually stayed at one of these places.


  6. Pratik November 5, 2014 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Hey, it seems that you really had great time. And after reading your blog we have decided to stay in Koh Samui for 3 days on our trip to Thailand.
    Could you please suggest some best places to visit ?
    What are the options for water sports ? (and possibility of scam)
    and some night life places where we can party and make new friends ??

    Thank You!

    • Rachel Jones November 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      Hi there, It’s been a while since I was there so this post is pretty much all the info I have! Sorry

      • Pratik November 10, 2014 at 9:25 pm - Reply

        Okiez . . Thanks anyways :)

  7. Pratik December 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Hello there !

    We had great time in Koh Samui/Koh Tao/Thailand. Thanks for some useful tips.

    ‘Goa’ is my next destination :)
    I am planning to attend Supersonic/Sunburn Festival on coming week. Would you be able to give some advice on that ?

    Moreover, I really would like to attend some Goan Secret parties. If know any of the place names then please let me know. It would be great help.

    • Rachel Jones December 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      I haven’t been to Sunburn b/c it’s a bit crowded for me and pricey – but I have heard rumors it’s sold out. I would check online. I don’t know of any secret parties! I Guess I havne’t been invited lol

      • Pratik December 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm - Reply

        haha . . Okay :)
        I am lucky as one of my friend has some good s and he got our names in Guest list of Supersonic.
        And we have rented a villa in Anjuna Beach.

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