If your luxury vacation checklist includes warm beaches, clear beautiful water, exotic experiences, and delicious food, check out Koh Samui, Thailand. This island community sits in the Gulf of Thailand and offers both beaches and mountains to explore all-inclusive resorts, and a laid-back atmosphere sure to help you relax from day one. 

No matter if you are the lay-on-the-beach type of traveler or a thrill-a-day adventurer, Thailand is a wonderful vacation option since it is chock-a-block full of activities and sun-soaked paradise. Add in friendly people and fresh Thai food and you are on your way to vacation nirvana. Koh Samui International Airport makes flying in easy and you can rent a car with little hassle. Another plus is many locals speak English, especially in the resort areas, so communicating should not be a problem. 

Check out also: Best Luxury Hotels in Bangkok!

A good exchange rate means you won’t pay a lot for meals out and shopping, so you can put more of your budget into a beautiful resort. Here are several to consider in Koh Samui. 

Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui (starts at $520)

November rates: $520-$741 4.8/5 Map  

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Sitting on Laem Yai Bay, this property lets guests get lost in their own private oasis. Rooms come complete with patios, private splash pools, and an IPod dock. Book a villa and enjoy the hypnotizing view of the sea while sipping a cool drink. 

Spend your days soaking in the sun on a magnificent beach or lounging by the Four Season’s infinity pool, complete with chilled towels. You can spend an afternoon making friends with monkeys, otters, and sea turtles at the nearby Ang Thong National Marine Park. Finish up the evening with a nice cocktail at the Beach Bar and you’ve got a vacation worth posting about. 

Conrad Koh Samui Residences – (starts at $499)

November rates: $499 – $6173  4.6/5 Map  

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Walk into this resort’s lavish villa, put down your bags, kick off your shoes, and get ready for some serious relaxing. This 5-star hotel won Asia’s Leading Hotel Residences in the 2016 World Traveler awards. You will quickly understand why when you enjoy your air-conditioned lodging with a beautiful view of the sea, or pull up a shaded lounge chair next to the gleaming pool. Sunsets are the start of the show here, so make sure you are settled in near the view when the sun starts going down. 

If you want a little adventure, the resort is only 15 minutes away from the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo. Here you’ll learn a little more about the creatures living beneath the waves just outside your door, including sharks, turtles, and tropical fish. In another part of the facility, predators of the land are waiting to meet you at the zoo’s tiger and leopard area. 

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Banyan Tree Samui – (starts at $411)

November rates: $411-$499  4.8/5 Map  

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When you walk into the gleaming foyer of Banyan Tree Samui, you will shrug off your stress like an ill-fitting coat. Offering five dining options, free Wi-Fi, and private infinity pools, this resort has the facilities and activities sure to take you away from it all. 

Maybe a day at the Spa is just the thing to get your vacation started just right. Sign up for the Royal Banyan treatment and indulge in a combination of Eastern and Western massage techniques enhanced with an herb-infused oil treatment. 

If food is your jive, don’t miss the Thai cooking classes offered by the resort’s culinary team. Here, you will get to learn the secrets to getting just the right Thai flavors and perfectly cooked noodles. Of course, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor while relaxing on The Edge terrace. Other activities include fishing, cycling, diving, or a visit to Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks just 10 minutes away. 

Vana Belle, A Luxury Collection Resort – (starts at $337)

November rates: $337 – $340  4.8/5 Map  

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The lush grounds, white sandy beach, and exquisite pool of Vana Belle speak of luxury before you even get inside. Sitting on Chaweng Noi Beach, this indulgent resort is fantastic for the traveler looking for a combination of relaxation and adventure. 

You can lay a towel out on the beautiful beach, or choose just the right lounge chair at the pool and let your biggest decision be what drink to order from the bar. Or, you can have the front desk organize a sightseeing trip to some of Thailand’s treasures. Whether it’s a jeep tour or a zipline through the jungle, you are sure to find breath-taking fun for the afternoon. 

When you return from your day’s adventure, pull up a chair in the beach-side restaurant Panali, and dig into home-made Italian fare. Finish the evening at the Pool Bar watching the cloud chase each other over the quiet water. 

The Ritz Carlton, Koh Samui – (starts at $359)

November rates: $359-$360   4.7/5 Map  

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For the traveler that likes a buffet of experiences, the Ritz in Koh Samui delivers abundantly. With nine on-site restaurants, two white sand beaches, a full-service spa, and a long list of recreational activities, boredom will not be a problem on this vacation. 

The water lover can go swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, stand-up paddling, and snorkeling. Or for a quieter time, slip under the water in the Swim Reef, and get to know the tropical fish who share the sea with you for a few moments. If it is a spa that is your perfect vacation day, the Spa Village Koh Samui offers eight treatment rooms, a yoga pavilion, lap pool, and three outdoor massage areas. 

For a little more cultural experience, spend some time at the nearby Fisherman’s Village where every Friday features a walking market. 

Six Senses Samui – (starts at $591)

November rates: $591 – $369  4.6/5 Map  

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This dazzling resort really does call on all your senses, including that sixth sense that tells you you are in just the right place. Stand on the large deck overlooking the northern tip of Samui Island and breath in the beauty. Slip into the infinity pool and let the cool water wash away your pre-vacation stress. 

Six Senses offers on-site activities for all different kinds of guests. You can visit the spa for a little pampering, or claim a hammock in the library area for an afternoon of reading and napping. On Thursdays, there is a sunset cocktail party, followed by a movie under the stars. 

Budding chefs can take Thai cooking classes, while environmentalists can visit the sustainable farm and even help collect eggs from the farm’s chickens. One of the four dining options – Dining on the Rocks – features farm to table cuisine where fresh meets delicious and results in happy palates. 

Ammatara Pura Pool Villa – (starts at $207)

November rates: $207 – $280  4.8/5 Map  

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Folks looking for a cozier vacation experience will love the boutique resort of Ammatara Pura Pool Villa overlooking Lamai Beach. Featuring 18 private pool villas, with decor inspired by local palaces and temples, this property is perfect for the luxury-seeking traveler. 

Each villa offers a private balcony, fully equipped kitchenettes, and oversized bathtubs with Jacuzzies. Once you’ve settled in, make your way to the beachside restaurant where you can order up award-winning cocktails, and meals made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. 

If you want to take your relaxation to the next level, make your way to the Ammartara Spa where you can indulge in the full menu of holistic treatments. Feeling more active? Sign up for a Thai boxing class, or a barre-lates workout. While tucked away in luxurious seclusion, Ammatara Pura Pool Villa is close to the city center so you can spend an afternoon exploring the neighborhood. The friendly staff is happy to make transportation arrangements if needed. 

Belmond Napasai – (starts at $235)

November rates: $235 – $274  4.8/5 Map  

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At this intimate resort, you can watch the ocean all around you since it boasts a 180-degree view of the Ban Tai Beach. With the amazing site comes exquisite service, four dining options, a sea-view infinity pool, and an amazing spa. 

With 45 villas, 24 suites, and private pool residences, you are sure to find your perfect home away from home. Each one has a terrazzo bathtub and rain shower, air conditioning, and large patio. Furthermore, the resort has an abundance of activities. 

Start your day with sunrise yoga on a patio overlooking the ocean. Tree pose has never been so inspiring. Or take time to get certified in PADI diving. Duffers can find a championship golf course just 5 minutes away, and water lovers will find all kinds of sports to get wet in. No matter which activity fills your day, you will be glad to come back to a relaxing outdoor seating and a fabulous meal at Lai Thai restaurant. 

Intercontinental Koh Samui Resort – (starts at $244)

November rates: $244 – $270  4.6/5 Map  

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Book a villa in this gorgeous resort and spend the night among the coconut trees. Nestled in 16 acres of a lush coconut grove, Intercontinental offers luxury and modern convenience without forgetting old-world manners. 

With seven swimming pools, a cliff-top spa, and views that go on for miles, the property lets guests find their own brand of relaxation. Indulge in a coconut spa treatment, or soak up the rays on white sand beach. Let the concierge guide you to a unique cultural experience in the nearby town, or take a speedboat ride to visit the famous pink dolphins. At the end of the day, take a stroll out on the 500-foot private pier where you can let your Thailand experience wash over you in the quiet. 

When dinner time calls, you are sure to find just what you are craving since the resort offers a range of restaurant with different culinary themes and experiences. 

Santiburi Koh Samui – (starts at $199)

November rates: $199 – $250  4.7/5 Map  

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Cerulean waters, bright green foliage, soft breezes all combine to make this Thai resort a treat for the senses. Modern rooms and a range of activities make this place a perfect spot to mix relaxation and fun into a wonderful vacation concoction. 

Try your hand at Hobe Cat sail boating, or slip into the refreshing onsite pool. Golfers can take on the fairways at the nearby Santiburi Samui Club, while others can find their Zen by lounging on the beach, waiting on the Beach Butler to bring their favorite drink. When you are ready to up your vacation game, let the resort’s staff book a yacht cruise for you and get an up-close look at Koh Samui shoreline side. 

Pull up a chair at The Beach House restaurant and enjoy fish so fresh you’ll swear it was caught just hours before. For authentic Thai fare, give Sala Thai a try and discover the flavors beyond Pad Thai. 

About the island

Koh Samui is a terrific destination when you want an exotic, but easy vacation. You are certain to find just the right resort to meet your personal needs and then have plenty of options to explore on the island.

Though you can hardly miss a 40-foot high golden Buddha, you may want to take an official trip to the Wat Phra Yai temple where you can see Big Buddha up close. Of for a fun jungle experience, trek to the Namunng Waterfall, where you can swim in cool water below the beautiful falls. 

This island in South Asia offers so much, you can be sure you will find your unique brand of fun. So, pull out your favorite suit, toss away your watch, and get ready to let Thailand work its magic on you.