The Koh Samui Guide
In Thai, “koh” means island—and we’d wager that “samui” means perfect. Okay, not really, but you wouldn’t be far off in thinking that Koh Samui, off the coast of eastern Thailand, is the perfect island. From above, Samui looks like concentric circles of color: The center, dense with lush, green jungle, is surrounded by a ring of white, powdery sand, which is surrounded by an endless sea of sapphire-colored water. It’s a screensaver of a landscape. Colossal mountains jut out of the ocean, and quaint bamboo huts line the shores. Samui is a feast of natural beauty, but there are also restaurants that serve the freshest ceviche and juiciest island fruits, and the locals treat you like family.
“Samui has everything you need for a wellness getaway—massages, healthy food, healthy drinks, Ayurvedic wellness, essential oils…everything,” says Briohny Smyth, a global wellness leader and yoga instructor. Smyth, whose mother is Thai, has a deep connection to Samui. Every year, she and her children spend the summer on the island. “You feel taken care of in the most luxurious way,” she says.
To dive into all that luxury, we zeroed in on the best places to stay, eat, explore, and rejuvenate, so you leave the island feeling like yourself—only, let’s say, more “samui.”
Sweet Sisters Cafe4170, Tambon Na Mueang, Amphoe Ko Samui
It's a charming, totally unassuming little café that serves up some of the island's best fish cakes, handmade spring rolls, and papaya salad. There's also a variety of freshly squeezed juices and green smoothies with coconut milk. But if you're going to have one thing, make it a piece of the spongy, buttery, vanilla-y macadamia nut cake. It’s that good.
Big Buddha CoffeeWat Phra YAI KO, Koh Samui
All the morning (or afternoon) coffee you want is here—foamy lattes, creamy cappuccinos, and strong cold brew over ice, along with an incredible view of the Gulf of Thailand. It's a tiny but mighty little café with a strong following (you'll find a mix of locals and tourists in the morning) and a few cozy seats in the back perfect for people-watching, reading a book, or looking out over the ocean.
Boulangerie Patisserie de Samui5/17 moo 3 Lamai Beach, Koh Samui
This is everything you might imagine a tropical island café to be: open, full of island plants, and anchored by lots of bamboo furniture. It's a French café, so come in the mood for buttery, flaky croissants and strong coffee. Or if you're looking for more substance, order one of the custardy omelets at an outside table before heading to a morning yoga class. Then again, maybe wait until after your sun salutations.