view across tree branches of a stretch of sea and golden sand beach in koh samui

Ultimate guide to visiting Koh Samui with kids

Thailand is an amazing place to visit with kids. It has stunning scenery, gorgeous beaches and buzzing cities. The people are incredibly welcoming and absolutely adore children. If you’re looking for postcard perfect beaches and a place to relax then you’ll want to explore the islands. Visiting Koh Samui with kids is one of my favourites.

In this post I’ll explain why I love Koh Samui so much, the best things to do with kids in Koh Samui, fabulous day trips off the island and the best places to stay. I’ll also cover the more practical side of a visit to Koh Samui with kids such as how to get there, what to pack and how to stay safe.

buddhist satue on a beach under a bright blue sky in koh samui

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Koh Samui for kids overview

It’s only a short flight from Bangkok but it really does feel like a different world. Koh Samui truly is a paradise island. You’ll find pristine beaches, elaborate temples and luxurious family friendly hotels. The island isn’t huge so it’s easy to explore it all or you can just stay in one location and soak in the view. Koh Samui is home to a large expat community, although you’ll find plenty of traditional Thai restaurants and activities, the whole island has a very Western feel. It’s a great introduction to this part of the world if it’s your first time in Asia with kids.

young girl in black swimsuit swinging on a tree swing on a sandy beach in koh samui

What to do in Koh Samui with kids

In my experience kids love hanging out on the beach or playing in a hotel pool for hours. They really don’t need too much to entertain them during a visit to a tropical island. But I’m sure you’ll want to explore a bit so here are my favourite things to do in Koh Samui with kids. Most of these attractions are completely free although there may be small charges for parking. Make sure you bring some Baht for your days out.

The Fishermans Village

Markets are a must do wherever you are in Thailand and the Fishermans Village in Bophut, Koh Samui is one of the best. Every Friday there’s a fabulous night market where you can pick up amazing souvenirs, great value clothing and tasty street food. During the rest of the week you’ll find plenty of independent retailers, some amazing restaurants and heaps of places to get a massage. The fishermans village is one of the most popular things to do with kids in Koh Samui so it can feel pretty busy at times.

woman and two young girls walking through the fisherman village night market

It’s also easy to get to Bophut beach from here which is one of the best family friendly beaches on Koh Samui.

Lamai Viewpoint

If you’re looking for a day out with an amazing view then head up to Lamai Viewpoint. Kids will absolutely love this place as it has a traditional wooden funicular which takes you up to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy a drink in the bar while taking in the stunning views. At the base of the viewpoint you’ll also find some sweet gardens and the valentines stone.

View from the lamai viewpoint in Koh Samui

For little thrill seekers there’s also a zipwire which is just about fast enough to get the heart racing.

Namuang Waterfall 1 and 2

Kids love waterfalls right and the opportunity to swim under one is the icing on the cake. Namuang Waterfall 1 and 2 are the most popular on Koh Samui and they are so beautiful I can see why. Waterfall 1 is a very short but pleasant walk from the main carpark. You’ll have to tackle some rocks which can be slippy so keep a close eye on the little ones as you approach the falls. There’s a swimming hole at the base of the pool which is perfect for cooling off after your short hike. Namuang waterfall 2 is a bit further away and a slightly longer 1 km hike from the carpark. The trail to the top of this waterfall has recently been closed, it can be a dangerous hike so not one I recommend with kids.

waterfall one on koh samui, a tall waterfall down brown rocks with a couple of people swimming in the water at the bottom

You’ll find street sellers at the the main entrance to the waterfalls where you can grab a cold drink or pick up some decently priced souvenirs.

Big Buddha at Wat Phra Yai

The Big Buddha is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Koh Samui. It’s so stunningly beautiful I’m sure it will become one of your favourites too. The Buddha is 12 metres high and was built in 1972 and is know by locals as Wat Phra Yai. You’ll find some street food and souvenir stalls at its base. A walk up the decorated steps will take you to the base of the big Buddha where you’ll also find some lovely wishing bells and amazing views of the coastline.

huge golden buddha seen from the bottom of steps leading to its base

Make sure to cover up during your visit to the Big Buddha with kids, this is a sacred place. There is normally a guard on the gate checking you are dressed respectfully. Cover both shoulders and knees.

The Mummified monk at Wat Khunaram

This one’s a little gory but definitely a unique attraction on Koh Samui. This is Loung Pordaeng, one of Koh Samui’s most famous monks and although it may seem strange to many of us, this monk is worshipped by  many Thai people. For them death is the opportunity to be reborn. It was his wish to be preserved in a glass casket unless his body starts to decay. Again, this is an extremely sacred place so please dress respectfully. Little one’s will either love this place or be traumatised, I’ve included a photo below so you can decide if it is suitable for your family.

mummified monk in glass case bordered by gold intricate detail

Visit a spa

For something a little less grisly I highly recommend visiting a walk in spa with the kids in Koh Samui. You find these all over the island and they range from tiny beds on the beach to luxurious spas in 5 star hotels. We make time for foot massages most days when we’re in Thailand, it’s great to sooth tired legs when you’ve been exploring all day and I’m sure it’s great for circulation. We also get our nails done which is always great value and makes Piper feel like a little grown up. If you’re getting the kids a massage, just tell the the therapist “not hard” and “no stick” they’ll understand.

young child getting her nails done by two Thai women in a spa in koh samui

Lamai night market

As with the Fishermans market in Bophut, Lamai night market is a thrilling place to take the kids. Lamai Night Plaza is open every night but if you can fit it into your schedule, visit the Lamai Sunday Night Market. Here you’ll find a whole street of food stalls serving everything from fried insects to crispy potatoes. The atmosphere is absolutely electric, and the market is always full of locals catching up over a beer and a bite to eat. This is also a great place to pick up souvenirs to take home or fake branded goods if that’s your thing. Make sure you negotiate hard, most vendors will accept 25% of their initial asking price and there will be several stalls selling the same things. You’ll soon get an idea of what the price should be.

street food stall in koh samui

Grand mothers and grandfathers rocks – Hin Ta and Hin Yai

Another rather unusual thing to do with kids in Koh Samui is a trip to Grandfathers and Grandmothers rocks. Also known as Hin Ta and Hin Yai. These rocks are so called as they apparently represent a female and male you know what. Hmmm I guess I can see it! Kids obviously don’t need to know this, it’s just fun for them to visit and clamber over the rocks. The views out to sea are absolutely beautiful. Plus the rocks will give you a bit of a giggle.

many grey, smooth boulders jutting out of a turquiose sea next to a pale sandy beach in koh samui

As with pretty much every tourist attraction in Koh Samui, there are small stalls lining the walk to the rocks. We grabbed a fresh coconut to hydrate after our visit.

Watch a fire show on the beach

Thais seem to have absolutely no fear and this is apparent during regular fire shows on several beaches. I’m sure it’s all very safe and they are rigorously trained but I did feel my heart thump a little harder as I watched. You can find these shows after the sun goes down outside of many restaurants on the most popular beaches in Koh Samui. Our favourites were outside Coco Tams on Bophut beach, or outside of Swing Bar on Lamai Beach. Collapse on a beanbag, order a fancy cocktail and enjoy the show, it’s the perfect way to end a day on Koh Samui.

fire show on bophut beach, koh samui

Some performers will get kids involved with their show. We allowed this as pester power won out in the end and watched as they expertly swung lit ropes over the heads and across the bodies of our precious children. A firm shake of the head will leave this part out if you’re feeling nervous.

Wat Ratchathammaram the stunning red temple

Another amazing and lesser know temple on Koh Samui is Wat Ratchathammaram near Lamai. Its terracotta walls and roof make it a visually unique temple. It’s intricately decorated both inside and out with a golden buddha in the corner. You can also follow the serpent bordered steps to a small Buddhist cemetery again with a beautiful sea view.  You wont need to spend too long here to take it all in but do visit, it’s a great place to teach little ones the culture of the island. This felt like the most spiritual of things to do with kids in Koh Samui.

gorgeous red temple seen through some tree branches in koh samui

Spend a lazy day by the pool.

I can’t put together a post on things to do on Koh Samui with kids without including a bit of down time. Whenever we visit Asia we always plan in a few free days to just relax by the pool. Pretty much every hotel on the island will have a pool and many of them will be just steps from a beach. If you opt for a villa, again you’ll find most have their own private pool. It really is worth it as you’ll want to cool down in Thailands baking temperatures.

child in black swimsuit walking towards a circular pool at the outrigger hotel in koh samui

Get your hair braided

Obviously one best for kids with long hair rather than short but it is worth giving this one a go. The end result is obviously very cute but it’s also pretty practical. Pipers long frizzy hair always gets really knotted and unmanageable in the heat, sea and pool, having it tied back just takes away another job in the morning. It can take quite a while to get it done so not the best for fidgety kids but it is very inexpensive.

back of young girls head with two braids in her long hair with blue cotton running though them

Watch a Thai boxing match

Thai boxing or Muay Thai is big news on Koh Samui and there are always gyms and matches you can visit. Yes it is considered one of the most lethal sports in the world (gulp) but it is also steeped in tradition and ritual. Honestly I struggle to watch but it may be of interest to your family. There is a large stadium in Chaweng, you can check their schedule here.

small grey truck advertising a muay thai boxing match in koh samui at night

Best beaches on Koh Samui for kids

Of course you’ll be spending a lot of time on the beach if you’re visiting Koh Samui with kids. I promise you will not be disappointed. Koh Samui sand is soft and pale the sea is turquoise and the vibe is very much laid back. Take your pick from these family friendly beaches on Koh Samui or try them all! Make sure you bring some water shoes, whilst Koh Samui sand is perfectly silky, in the water and on rocks it can be pretty sharp.

view of pale sandy ta yai beach with a huge beige boulder in the sea next to the sand

Bophut Beach

Bophut beach is the perfect place to spend a whole day due to its proximity to lots of other things to do. It’s plenty lively to entertain the kids but not quite as crazy as Chaweng. The sand is soft and the sea is pretty perfect for swimming. As the beach is located right next to the Fishermans village there are heaps of shops and restaurants for when you need a snack or escape from the sun. There are watersports available to try for adventurous kids. The fire show starts outside of Coco Tams each night at half eight so it’s well worth staying till then if you can.

bean bags and parosols on bophut beach

Lipa Noi

Gorgeous Lipa Noi on the west of Koh Samui island is probably one of the prettiest we visited. It’s location also means it’s one of the best places on Koh Samui to watch the sunset. Lipa Noi is not a busy beach, in fact it’s likely to be deserted when you visit. This makes it perfect for little ones as there’s plenty of space for them to run around, jump on the rope swings or splash in the sea but there is little else for them to do. There are a couple of places to get food or a drink, we stumbled across Alchemist, an amazing vegan restaurant with tables right on the sand. It was the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sunset.

white sand of Lipa Noi beach stretching alongside a clear blue sea. You can see some islands in the distance.

Taling Ngam

Also on the west of the Island but further South is Taling Ngam Beach. Another one that feels deserted but is take your breath away kind of pretty. It’s here we found the softest sand on the island and marvelled at all the different colours of the sea. There’s little to do here but enjoy the view. The beach is bordered by a traditional Thai village and the jungle. It feels like one of those secret spots you only ever read about in travel guides. We found a shack style restaurant on the edge of the beach where we could grab a cold drink whilst watching the gently lapping waves. The luxury Intercontinental Hotel is also located on this beach, it’s a great hotel and you can visit the pool restaurant for lunch even if you’re not staying.

girl standing in bright turquoise sea in koh samui

Crystal Bay or Silver Beach

I can’t seem to find a definitive answer on what to call this one but just search for either Crystal Bay or Silver beach. Whatever it’s called it’s quite simply a must visit beach on Koh Samui. Kids will love scrambling over the huge smooth rocks and playing in the silky sand. The water here is so clear you can watch tiny fish swimming across your toes. Pop into The Crystal Bay resort for lunch when you’re hungry and gaze out at this little stretch of tropical paradise.

crystal bay beach under a green jungle hill with white sand and many large boulders

Lamai Beach

Lamai beach is one of the busier ones on Koh Samui. It draws the crowds due to its many restaurants, bars and stores bordering the sand. There’s plenty to do to keep the kids entertained for the full day. There are watersports for those looking for adventures and massage shacks for the ultimate relax. Although it can get super busy, being one of the longest beaches on Koh Samui means you can always find a quieter spot. Again there are plenty of boulders to climb and fire shows in the evening.

Ta Yai beach

We discovered Ta Yai by accident when we were visiting Grandfathers and Grandmothers rocks. It was accessed via a little path at the back of the carpark. We headed down to get a cold drink from the small restaurant and discovered this beautiful stretch of rocks and sand which was totally deserted. Ta Yai is actually the name of the beach restaurant but it’s the best way to guide you there. It’s basically right at the edge of Lamai Beach on the other side of the stones.

boulders nestling in white sand on ta yai beach with young girl running across the sand

Chaweng Beach

Although not my favourite beach on the island I do love visiting Chaweng in the early evening for the many beachside restaurants. The sand here is soft and the sea is warm and welcoming but it can get very, very busy. There are heaps of water and beach activities available for all ages and the party atmosphere seems to last the whole day. It’s fun and lively and full of beach vendors selling everything from grilled corn to fake sunglasses.

young girl lying on her back in white sand on chaweng beach in the evening

Maenam

Maenam beach on the North Coast of Koh Samui is a lovely quiet beach which is perfect for a relaxed family day on the sand. There are a few opportunities to get out into the water. The yellow sand is slightly coarse but still soft enough to walk on and we found the most amazing Thai Restaurant to eat at on our first night on the island. Plus a couple of bars with bean bags to watch the sunset. Yes we did let the kids splash their feet after dark.

mae nam beach in koh samui

Best day trips on Koh Samui with kids

Pig Island or Koh Madsun

This was our absolute favourite day trip when we were on Koh Samui. The kids absolutely loved walking amongst the many pigs that live on the island and we were all blown away by its beauty. You’ll need to take a boat trip to reach the island and it will take you around half an hour to get to there. Once you’re there you can explore the stretch of sand and jungle, enjoy a drink or snack at the food shack, play in the water or just relax in the sun. It’s absolute heaven!

Get your Guide has a great tour you can book before you go.

karen quinn smiling at the camera in a white flowing dress holding a bottle of beer on white sand koh madsun beach

Full Moon Party

Yes we were those parents that took their kids to the full moon party on Koh Phangan. And yes I would do it again it was so fun. The Full Moon party on neighbouring island Koh Phangan can have a bit of a bad reputation due to its party atmosphere and yes, there is plenty you will want to steer the kids away from. But there’s also plenty that they will love about it. It’s beach stalls, loud music, flashing lights, neon tattoos, fire jumping, crazy dancing and much more. If you’re at the full moon party with kids then I recommend arriving early (sometime in the afternoon) and leaving before the real crazy begins which is probably around 1 am.

koh phangan full moon party

Boat trip to Ang Thong National Park

The Ang Thong National park is an archipelago of 42 islands jutting out of the sea which are straight out of an exotic travel brochure. The area was the inspiration for The Beach by Alex Garland. Most tours will take in the stunning Emerald lake and include the chance to snorkel in hidden coves. If you can coax the kids away from the beach a short hike into the jungle on one of these limestone towers is well worth it.

Pre book your tour to the Ang Thong National park here.

piper quinn in life jacket and pink cover up on a boat trip in koh samui. She has a huge smile on her face

Where to stay with kids on Koh Samui

There are a great many Koh Samui family friendly hotels ranging from dirt cheap to uber luxurious. You first need to decide if you want to rent a villa or stay in a hotel. We’ve done both on Koh Samui and each have their own pros and cons. Having a villa gives you absolute freedom to come and go as you please, prepare your own food and sleep off the jet lag as and when you like. Having extra private space as a family is also great when kids want to let off steam or have a meltdown. I would say a villa with a pool is a must as you’ll need to cool off during the day.

stunning view out to the sea of an infinity pool at a villa in Bophut koh samui

Hotels are great if you want to be totally pampered. Most will be next to beaches with huge pools, play areas and even kids clubs. Plus you’ll get all your food prepared for you (including amazing breakfasts) and someone to clean your room daily. I’ll always opt for a hotel if I want to completely relax.

tables and chairs lit up with fairy lights on a white sandy beach in koh samui

We stayed in this gorgeous villa near Bophut  it had everything we needed for our visit and was in a great location just outside of Bophut. It had a breathtaking infinity pool which the kids played in for hours and a lovely sunken sitting area for relaxing in the evenings. We even had enough space for daily yoga sessions.

interior of a glamorous sunken sofa at a holiday villa in Thailand

What are the best hotels on Koh Samui for kids

Outrigger Koh Samui

colonial feel outrigger hotel in koh samui

We booked into the 5 star Outrigger hotel in Maret near Lamai Beach. It manages to combine traditional Thai style with an old world charm. All the rooms were huge with everything you would need for a relaxing stay, it’s home to three excellent restaurants, a beautiful pool area with shallow section for  kids and a small private beach with perfect soft sand.

Find out the best prices for your stay at the Outrigger Koh Samui.

Intercontinental Koh Samui

curved outdoor sofa with white and green cusions surrounding a firepit on a white sandy beach

Another favourite western brand is the Intercontinental. And this is one of the best Koh Samui family friendly hotels if you have a big budget. Although not exactly traditional Thai, you always know what you’re going to get during your visit. The Intercontinental on Koh Samui is pretty hidden away from the main action near Taling Ngam beach. A stay here feels like the ultimate in luxury. For kids it has several pools, a great play area, kids club and plenty of family friendly dining options.

Find out the best prices for your stay at the Intercontinental Koh Samui.

Crystal Bay Beach Club

green roofed villas at the crystal bay resort koh samui

For a stay steps away from one of the most beautiful beaches on Koh Samui try the Crystal Bay Beach Club. Home to a great pool and with a brilliant restaurant overlooking the sea. This is a great value option for staying on Koh Samui with kids. The hotel has some lovely, large sized rooms, many with balconies and views of the beach.

Find out the best prices for your stay at the Crystal Bay Beach Club.

Where to eat with kids in Koh Samui

You will not go hungry in Koh Samui, the island is full of restaurants ranging from luxurious gourmet delights to shacks on the beach. We like to try a bit of both when we visit. You’ll be able to find all types of food so should be able to easily please even the pickiest of eaters. Don’t be afraid to just pop in anywhere that looks good but to get you started, here are a few of our favourite places to eat in Koh Samui with kids.

Coco Tams

Located on the edge of Bophut Beach, Coco Tams is a gorgeous, relaxed bar and restaurant. The decor is all driftwood and chair swings. You can even find yourself a wooden swing at the bar, much to the delight of our kids! The food is a combination of Thai Specialities and Western favourites. Piper wolfed down her spaghetti bolognese and pizza another night. It’s not the cheapest restaurant on Koh Samui but the prices aren’t too bad.

row of bar swings at coco tams beachside restaurant in Bophut

They also have huge beanbags on the sand underneath the main restaurant area. This is a great place to finish the night with a cocktail while watching the fireshow. Read more about Coco Tams Bophut and check out some pictures.

The Jungle Club

The Jungle Club is a must visit if you’re in Koh Samui with children. Yes you’ll be able to try some delicious food but this is more about the experience than the dining. Located up a very steep hill overlooking Chaweng Bay you’ll get picked up in a truck and driven right to the top. Here you’ll find many wooden areas where you can sit, eat and take in the outstanding views. This is one of my favourite places in Koh Samui to watch the sun go down. There are plenty of options for the kids and also lots of space for them to run around just be sure to keep them away from the edges!

wooden platform with people sat on bright orange bean bags seeminglky floatin in the sky at the jungle club koh samui

The Social

If you’re visiting the Big Buddha then make sure you book into The Social Samui, another great restaurant with stunning views out to see. They have a brilliant kids menu with plenty of Western Classics. The outdoor bar area is equally laid back and our kids loved lazing on the hammocks above the beach. This is Thai style at its best!

outdoor bar area with bean bags and floating hammocks at the social samui

The Social Samui is currently closed. Fingers crossed it reopens when restrictions relax.

Crystal Bay Beach club

The Crystal Bay Beach club located on Silver beach is one of our favourites for long, lazy lunches in Koh Samui. They have a huge menu with options from all over the world and make the most amazing fruit smoothies. The Club often has live music and also a pool if the kids tire of being on the beach.

The Cliff Bar and Grill

Perched on top of the cliff overlooking Crystal Bay, the Cliff Bar and Grill is one for a special occasion. Food is an exceptionally high standard with seafood caught fresh and imported meat ensuring the best quality. It’s all served beautifully and if you can bag a table on the terrace the views will really add to the sense of occasion.

terrace seating area overlooking beach at the Cliff bar and grill koh samui

Alchemy at Lipa Noi

If you’re looking for great vegan food on Koh Samui, head to Alchemy cafe at the Anahata resort on Koh Samui. Die Hard Carnivores need not worry, they can still grab a burger but the vast majority of the menu is vegetarian or vegan and very much focussed on health and wellness. We loved being able to take time over our meal while the kids played in the sand at our feet. It’s absolute bliss.

soft sand at lipa noi beach from alchemy restaurant

Lamai food night market

Most definitely not a restaurant but still an absolute must visit in Koh Samui is the Night Food Market in Lamai. The street food stalls here are buzzing with locals and tourists and the smells are just divine. You’ll find pretty much every food type you can imagine from sweet pancake treats to savoury noodles. It’s an incredibly economical way to eat. I always find that kids love picky street food they can eat as they wander the stalls but if you do want to sit to eat there are plenty of restaurants lining the stalls.

crocodile meat kebabs at a street food stall in lamai koh samui

What to eat in Koh Samui

There are a few local delicacies I think you absolutely must try when you’re visiting Koh Samui with kids. I’ve never met a Thai spring roll I didn’t like and its a great way to get some veg into little ones. If I’m unsure what to choose from a menu, I’ll always opt for a Thai Curry. These tend to arrive pretty spicy but if you’re ordering for the kids just ask for it to be mild. If your little ones are picky then a chicken satay is always a good option, it’s essentially just grilled chicken with a peanut sauce on the side. Piper would always have this with some plain sticky rice.

plate of thai spring rolls

If you’re visiting a street food market, then you must try the fried potato kebabs, they are utterly addictive. Again the ears of grilled corn are a good way to get some veg in the kids.

small barbeque grilling 3 ears of corn

You’ll also find more unusual meats such as crocodile or insects, not for every kid but a fun one for them to see and squeal at!

rows of insect kebabs at food market koh samui

For sweet treats, Piper became obsessed with Ice Cream rolls during our recent stay on Koh Samui. Condensed milk and flavourings are flattened over an ice plate and rolled into thin tubes as it freezes. Its hypnotic to watch and very tasty. Fresh coconuts and coconut ice cream was another firm favourite, perhaps as it was always served in an actual coconut. Fresh made nutella pancakes were a good way to keep her going when we could see she was starting to flag.

two girls waiting at an rolled ice cream stall in bophut

Just a word of warning, if you are staying in a villa and planning to cook for yourselves, western options can be very expensive. Cheese is around £10 for a block and imported meat again was a fortune. Try being a bit adventurous with your cooking and opt for Thai ingredients where possible or it’s probably just as economical to eat out.

Shopping in Koh Samui

I’m sure you’re not thinking of visiting Koh Samui for shopping but it still is a great place to pick up clothes, souvenirs and treats for the kids. Casual t-shirts, floaty dresses and swim wear are so cheap in the markets we never pack much so we have plenty of room in our cases to take things home.

tesco lotus in koh samui with two scooters outside

For more general items there are Tesco Lotus and 7 elevens everywhere for day to day bits and bobs. You can easily pick up drinks, snacks and toiletries. Well known Western brands are very expensive as is any type of suncream and most baby products. If you have specific preferences or may suffer from allergies, these are the things to bring with you.

How to get to Koh Samui

Flying into Koh Samui airport is one of my favourite parts of the trip. I mean, how cute is this airport. As it’s so small there are rarely long queues and if you arrive from Bangkok they’ll be no need to pass through immigration again. Bangkok Airways actually owns the airport and restricts flights from other airlines so flight prices are huge compared to other domestic Thailand flights.

outdoors at tiny tropical koh samui airport

If you want to avoid the huge flight costs then you can always fly to Surat Thani Airport on the mainland and then get a ferry across to Samui. This is a bit more complicated and can take a day to complete the journey but it will save you hundreds of pounds. Especially if you’re traveling with several kids.

Getting around Koh Samui with kids

We always hire a car on Koh Samui, I love that it gives us the freedom to come and go as we please. It’s fairly inexpensive, as is petrol. There’s a very easy to navigate main road that goes all around the outside of the Island, most places are easy to find from that. Download the google map on your hotel or villas wifi before heading out and you wont get lost.

The roads around the main tourist areas such as Lamai and Chaweng can be pretty busy, traffic congestion is nowhere near as bad as Bangkok but all the scooters and motorbikes can be pretty hair raising. I’d only recommend it for confident drivers.

very steep road with yellow danger sigh at the top in koh samui

Off the main ring road around the island the roads can be a bit hair-raising. Especially if you’re heading through the jungle. The one pictured below was crazy steep and at the bottom we had to wait for a massive snake to finish crossing. Slow and steady for the win.

If you don’t fancy driving then taxis and tuk tuks are plentiful around the island. Always agree a cost upfront or make sure the taxi driver switches on the meter. As with most things in Koh Samui travel is more expensive than elsewhere in Thailand but it wont break the bank.

dark red tuk tuk van in koh samui

Many organised activities will include transport from and to where you are staying. This is always a good way to get about.

Many tourists feel hiring a scooter is part of the Thailand experience with kids. It always makes me very nervous. having watched other road users and seen many accidents. I would not be confident scooting around with a child on the back. It is a cheap way to get around so if you do chose to hire a scooter, make sure it is with a reputable company, you are properly insured and everyone has a well fitting helmet. If you are on a scooter you can often buy bottles of gas from one of the shacks on the side of the road.

piper quinn wearing a bright blue scooter helmet striking a pose

How long to spend on Koh Samui with kids

We’ve visited Koh Samui several times over the past ten years and never feel we have long enough on the island. Our last stay was almost two years and we still didn’t tire of the place.

Although a lot of people pop over for a couple of days to enjoy the nightlife and beaches I think it’s best to go a bit slower with kids. Aim for five days at the very least, even more if you want to add some day trips.

neon love sign on chaweng beach at night, it is lit up in bight colours

What to pack to visit Koh Samui with kids

A good thing to remember when taking the kids to Koh Samui is that you can buy most things in the night markets. Clothes, bags and sunglasses are all great value. That said they’re not always the best quality and you’ll probably want to arrive with well loved essentials.

Water Shoes are an absolute must for Koh Samui. Whilst the sea bed on some Samui beaches will be soft and sandy, many are pretty rocky. I’ve seen so many kids with nasty cuts on their feet.

piper quinn stood on a large boulder on a beach wearing a white t shirt and watershoes

Suncream is something I’ve always found to be extremely expensive all over Thailand. My daughter is also allergic to most brands so we pack plenty of bottles of P20, you’re likely to use more than you think. The same goes for aftersun, insect repellent and essential medicine like calpol and piriton.

Cover ups. You’ll want to visit many sacred places during your visit to Koh Samui with kids so you’ll need to dress modestly. Long sleeves or shawls are required for temple visits and I recommend long shorts or dresses. Beach wear is a no go. Whilst the rules are not as strict for children I think it’s important to teach them to be respectful of other cultures from an early age.

girl in long shawl at a temple in koh samui

You’re unlikely to visit anywhere with a strict dress code but a few nice outfits are a good idea for evenings out. The rest of the time kids will be more comfortable in basic shorts, leggings and t-shirts. It’s pretty much always hot, even in rainy season and you’re always at risk of burning. Loose, long sleeve, flowing fabrics will help give a little extra protection. As will a long sleeved rash vest for days on the beach.

How to stay safe on Koh Samui

Whilst we’ve never felt particularly at risk on Koh Samui we have had a few hair-raising moments. There is little crime on the island apart from petty theft. Avoid this by keeping your valuables safe, use a money belt and lock precious items into your hotel safe. Make sure you are most aware in busy locations, markets and busy beaches still require you to remain vigilant.

Always double check what you buy from market stalls is what is given to you. Display sunglass models or bags might not be quite the same as what you’re handed in the box. Just have a quick check before you walk off.

We came across several snakes in Koh Samui, most are harmless but some will not be. If you’re out in the jungle, give them plenty of space or in your hotel ask reception to come and remove them. We arrived back to our room one evening to discover a black snack curled under Pipers shoes we had left on the terrace. A quick call to reception as we cowered in the room got it removed pretty quick.

snake on our terrace in koh samui

Be extra careful in the sea and on hikes trails can be slippy and unmarked. There have been deaths from tourist taking unnecessary risks to reach a photo spot. The sea tends to be pretty calm but make sure you keep an eye on the kids at all times. Get out of the water if you see any sea urchins or jellyfish. Always wear a life jacket if you’re on a boat trip.

This Koh Samui with kids travel guide includes a lot of information. Make sure you pin or bookmark it so you can come back to it later.

koh samui with kids pin image

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