A Travel Price Comparison for Thailand Koh Samui vs. Koh Tao for Nightlife, Resorts, Scuba Diving & Snorkeling, and Beaches

Should you visit Koh Samui or Koh Tao?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Koh Samui or Koh Tao? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Koh Samui

Koh Samui is a lush, laid back, and beautiful resort island. Many visitors also come here because of it's amazing beauty. Visitors also love the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Koh Tao

Koh Tao is a beautiful, tropical, and popular island. Many visitors also come here because of it's amazing beauty. It's also popular because of the shopping, nightlife, and food.

Koh Samui and Koh Tao: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Cons
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty


How is Koh Samui different from Koh Tao?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Koh Tao and Koh Samui. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Food?

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Koh Samui and Koh Tao can be difficult as they are each unique in their own way.

Koh Samui has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Food on the island is fresh and delicious. You'll find fine dining restaurants as well as hole in the wall dives where you can enjoy local flavors. There are also international restaurants if you need a break from the curries. Beachfront restaurants offer a beautiful setting and sunset dinner cruises are a not to be missed experience. Authentically local dishes usually include some form of coconut but there are also other common Thai dishes available almost anywhere like curries or Pad Thai.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Koh Tao makes for a great culinary experience. You'll find a huge ex-pat community on the island, and with them they bring a variety of international cuisines. There are also local establishments that sell the typical Thai dishes with lots of seafood, curries, and noodle dishes. It's fun to enjoy a beachside restaurant that lets you sit right by the water looking off into a tropical paradise.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao


Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Nightlife?

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find comparable options between Koh Samui and Koh Tao.

Koh Samui has a colorful and one-of-a-kind nightlife scene. All night beach parties, cheap bars, and lively dance clubs all give this island its party atmosphere. Young travelers from around the globe head here to enjoy music, cheap drinks, and world class fun. For the most active nightlife, head to Chaweng Beach, Lamai Beach or Bophut Beach.

Koh Tao offers plenty to do in the evening. While most people head for the island for its scuba diving, when the sun goes down everyone heads to the beach to party. The island has a very active nightlife scene with full moon parties, dance clubs, beachside bars, and more. Head to Sairee Beach for the most active nightlife and entertainment options.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao

Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Resorts?

Koh Samui and Koh Tao offer a relatively similar set of luxury resort options.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Koh Samui is a great choice. The island is filled with countless resorts, hotels, and private villas that you can rent. You can choose from beachfront properties or resorts that are located in the hills, which offer beautiful views. The resorts often have pools and range from five star all the way down to budget-friendly.

Vacationers can choose from a number of terrific resorts in Koh Tao. While it's mostly famous as a diving destination, there are also a diversity of resorts, from luxury to affordable, available on the island. The beaches are beautiful and many resorts offer scuba diving packages as well.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao

Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

There's scuba diving or snorkeling available in both Koh Samui and Koh Tao.

Many visitors partake in scuba diving or snorkeing while visiting Koh Samui. It's easy to arrange snorkeling or scuba diving trips through hotels or travel companies, but it's also possible to snorkel right off the shore in places like Chaweng Beach. Due to the island's popularity, the coral isn't always the healthiest, but the water is clear and you'll likely see some interesting sea life just off the shore.

The scuba diving and snorkeling in Koh Tao is not to be missed. The island is Thailand's most famous scuba diving destination for it's affordable certifications and prolific dive shops. There are a variety of dive sites near the island, but with fame and popularity come challenges. The coral and sealife is feeling the pressure of the high number of tourists, but the training you receive here is affordable and well-established.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao

Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Beaches?

For a relaxing beach holiday, both Koh Samui and Koh Tao are good choices.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Koh Samui. The white sand beaches are lined with coconut trees and look out on crystal blue waters, making this a perfect tropical destination. There are lively activity-filled beaches as well as quiet retreats where you can enjoy a peaceful setting away from the crowds.

With world-famous beaches, Koh Tao is a very popular vacation destination. The white sand beaches have a mellow vibe with beautiful blue waters. This is a true tropical paradise with beachside cafes, easy snorkeling, and warm water. The beaches range from quiet and isolated to high energy and vibrant.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao


Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Hiking?

If you're looking to go hiking, Koh Samui and Koh Tao both have various trails.

Many visitors go to Koh Samui for the hiking trails. Hikes will take you inland through the beautiful rainforest. There are hidden waterfalls as well as Buddha gardens and ridge trails with breathtaking views. Hikes range from easy to challenging, so make sure you understand the skill level required before you set out.

Koh Tao is a popular spot for hiking. Hiking is the best way to enjoy the inland beauty of the island. There are paths that take you through the jungle covered land to viewpoints and remote areas. Many paths are rustic and not always well maintained so it's helpful to ask a local for directions beforehand.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao

Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Shopping?

If you're looking to go shopping, Koh Samui and Koh Tao both offer plenty of spots.

Koh Samui has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. The resort areas have the most interesting shops and you'll find the most options around Chaweng. There are boutique shops as well as some malls. You can sometimes negotiate prices down in independently run stores, but some places advertise fixed prices.

Koh Tao is a great destination for shopping. The main beach areas of Mae Haad, Sairee, and Chalok Baan Kao have the highest concentration of clothing and dive equipment shops. Because it's an island with limited access, prices can be a bit high.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao

Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Families?

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Koh Samui or Koh Tao.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Koh Samui. The island is one of the slightly calmer, family-friendly options in Thailand. It has a number of activities that all ages can enjoy including water parks, water sports, and temples to explore. Snorkeling is also fun and there's an aquarium and zoo that you can check out.

Koh Tao is a family-friendly place to visit. The island is popular for its affordable scuba diving certifications, so there are a number of options for families with older kids who'd like to get certified. It's a more laid back and smaller island than some of the nearby places, so it's possible to find quiet beaches where your family can relax. Some of the quieter beaches include Sai Nuan and Ao Luek.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao

Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Couples?

With fun activities for couples, both Koh Samui and Koh Tao make for a good place to visit.

Koh Samui is a great resort island if you're traveling as a couple. Dinner cruises, beachfront restaurants, and beautiful sunsets all make this island a romantic destination for couples. There are also spas, resorts, and fine dining restaurants that you can enjoy.

Koh Tao is a very popular place to visit for couples. This laid back island offers a relaxing honeymoon destination for couples who want to learn to scuba dive and enjoy a bit of tropical paradise. There are beachside restaurants, beautiful blue waters, and white sand - everything you need for your own piece of paradise.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao


Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

For backpackers, both Koh Samui and Koh Tao are fairly comparable places to visit.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Koh Samui. The island feels a bit more like a holiday destination than a backpacker destination, but it still has a lively nightlife and affordable accommodation around Lamai Beach. It's also a nice place to go for yoga or Muay Thai classes.

Koh Tao is a mecca for backpackers and budget travelers. The island is an oasis for backpackers who want to enjoy the mellow island life, cheap scuba diving, and beachside parties. There are plenty of affordable places to stay and countless opportunities to meet other backpackers. The island is also well connected to other nearby islands.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao

Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao better for Public Transit?

Koh Samui and Koh Tao both offer public transit to get you around.

While Koh Samui offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. Songthaew, the Thai version of a bus, and taxis or motorbikes are the best ways to get around the island.

Public transit is generally limited in Koh Tao. You can rent a motorbike or bicycle to explore the island. There are also taxis and taxi boats available.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao

Is Koh Samui or Koh Tao a more walkable city?

Koh Tao is more walkable than Koh Samui.

Koh Tao is a very walkable destination. The island is smaller than many in Thailand, and the small towns are usually no more than 5 kilometers apart. It's also possible to walk around most small towns.

Koh Samui is generally not very walkable. The roads have a good amount of traffic and generally aren't designed for walking.

Koh Samui
Koh Tao

Should I spend more time in Koh Tao or Koh Samui?

How long in Koh Samui or Koh Tao?

Both Koh Samui and Koh Tao have a number of activities to choose from. You can spend a similar amount of time exploring either.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Koh Samui is 3-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Koh Tao is 2-7 days.


  • How many days in Koh Samui or Koh Tao? Ideal Length of Stay
    Koh Samui 3-7 
    Koh Tao 2-7

One day in Koh Samui or Koh Tao?

In Koh Samui, you'll find nightlife and food. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. This resort island offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

You'll find scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping around the island of Koh Tao. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


A weekend in Koh Samui or Koh Tao?

In Koh Samui, you'll find food and scuba diving and snorkeling. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

You'll find shopping and nightlife around the popular destination of Koh Tao. Hikers are also drawn to this area. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this island has to offer. This island offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Koh Samui or Koh Tao?

Koh Samui is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Koh Samui has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

You'll find nightlife and food around the mellow island of Koh Tao. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this island makes for a great vacation. It's also a relaxing resort destination. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this island has to offer.

A week in Koh Samui or Koh Tao?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Koh Samui. It's also a relaxing resort destination. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.

Koh Tao is a popular choice for travelers. One week here is typical. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Koh Tao, one week is sufficent for most. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Which city is cheaper, Koh Tao or Koh Samui?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Koh Samui is $43, while the average daily cost in Koh Tao is $29. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Koh Samui and Koh Tao in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Koh Samui $18
    Koh Tao $11
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Koh Samui $36
    Koh Tao $22
Compare Hotels in Koh Samui and Koh Tao

Looking for a hotel in Koh Samui or Koh Tao? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Koh Samui


Hotels in Koh Tao


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Koh Samui $13
    Koh Tao $6.78
Typical Local Transportation prices in Koh Samui

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Koh Samui:


  • Scooter Rental
    $2.00
  • Gas for Scooter
    $1.07
  • Airport Taxi
    $12
  • Taxi- Na Thon Pier to Lamai Beach
    $11
  • Minibus- Airport to Chaweng
    $3.20

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Koh Samui

Also for Koh Samui, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • The Red Baron Luxury Yacht Cruise from Koh Samui with Return Transfer: $181
  • Guided Zipline Adventure in Ko Samui with Round Trip Transfer: $87
  • Koh Samui Paradise Park Farm Admission Ticket with Return Transfer: $58
  • Private Transfer from Choeng Mon Beach to Samui (USM) Airport: $41
  • Koh Samui Airport (USM): One-Way Private Hotel Transfer: $23

Typical Local Transportation prices in Koh Tao

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Koh Tao:


  • Motorbike Rental
    $5.07
  • Chumpon to Koh Tao Ferry
    $17

Is it cheaper to fly into Koh Samui or Koh Tao?

Prices for flights to both Koh Tao and Koh Samui change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Koh Samui $15
    Koh Tao $7.24
Typical Food prices in Koh Samui

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Koh Samui:


  • Casual Lunch (for Two)
    $5.73

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Koh Samui

For Koh Samui, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Cooking Class with Herbal Garden by Amari Koh Samui: $55
  • Koh Samui Jungle Kitchen - Half Day Cooking Class: $77
  • Jungle Kitchen Cooking Class in Koh Samui: $89
  • Red Baron : A Sunset Dinner Cruise from Koh Samui with Return Transfer: $122
  • Koh Samui Red Baron Sunset Dinner Cruise with Return Transfer: $131
  • 4-Hour Koh Samui Red Baron Sunset Dinner Cruise: $131

Typical Food prices in Koh Tao

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Koh Tao:


  • Sit Down Lunch (for One)
    $5.33
  • Breakfast
    $4.00
  • Casual Breakfast (for Two)
    $3.20
  • Fancy Dinner (for Two)
    $13
  • Pancake
    $1.87
  • American Breakfast (for Two)
    $7.46
  • Dinner at Bam Bam (for Two)
    $7.20

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Koh Samui $8.20
    Koh Tao $21

Tours and Activities in Koh Samui

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Koh Samui.

  • Full Day Ko Samui Island Boat Tour: $87
  • Full-Day Koh Samui Jungle Mountain Adventure Tour with Lunch: $64
  • Full-Day Tour to Koh Phangan by Speedboat from Koh Samui: $93
  • Full-Day Tour to Koh Samui Island by Boat with Lunch: $87
  • Full-day diving experience for beginners (no license): $212
  • Gulf of Thailand Fishing Challenge Tour from Ko Samui: $52
  • Ko Samui Angthong Marine Park Full Day Tour : Snorkeling & Sea Kayaking: $82
  • Ko Samui Angthong Marine Park Full Day Tour with Snorkeling & Sea Kayaking: $82
  • Ko Samui City Tour including Wat Phra Yai, Lat Ko Viewpoint, Hin Ta Hin Yai Rock: $29
  • Ko Samui City Tour including Wat Phra Yai, Lat Ko Viewpoint, Hin Ta Hin Yai Rock: $29
  • Ko Samui City Tour including Wat Phra Yai, Lat Ko Viewpoint, Hin Ta Hin Yai Rock: $29
  • Koh Nangyuan Snorkeling and Koh Tao Tour by Catamaran Cruise from Koh Samui: $92

Typical Entertainment prices in Koh Tao

For Koh Tao, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Kayak Rental (One Hour)
    $6.66
  • Snorkel Rental
    $2.67
  • Kayak and Snorkel (2)
    $2.67

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Koh Samui $3.62
    Koh Tao $5.58

Typical Alcohol prices in Koh Tao

Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Koh Tao from other travelers:


  • Beer
    $1.73
  • Bottle of Wine
    $9.86


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Koh Samui and Koh Tao, we can see that Koh Samui is more expensive. And not only is Koh Tao much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Koh Tao would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Koh Tao and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Koh Samui would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Koh Samui than you might in Koh Tao.


When is the best time to visit Koh Samui or Koh Tao?

Both destinations experience a tropical climate with warm weather most of the year. Instead of summer and winter seasons, they usually have a rainy season and a dry season.

Should I visit Koh Samui or Koh Tao in the Summer?

Both Koh Tao and Koh Samui are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Koh Samui attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and tropical climate. Koh Tao attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and tropical climate.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Koh Tao. It's quite rainy in Koh Samui. In July, Koh Samui usually receives less rain than Koh Tao. At this time of the year, Koh Samui gets 143 mm (5.6 in) of rain, while Koh Tao receives 174 mm (6.9 in) of rain.

In July, Koh Samui is generally around the same temperature as Koh Tao. Temperatures in Koh Samui average around 24°C (76°F), and Koh Tao stays around 24°C (76°F).


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Koh Samui 24°C (76°F) 
    Koh Tao 24°C (76°F)

Should I visit Koh Samui or Koh Tao in the Autumn?

Both Koh Tao and Koh Samui during the autumn are popular places to visit. The warm tropical climate attracts visitors to Koh Samui throughout the year. The warm tropical climate attracts visitors to Koh Tao throughout the year.

December to February is the dry season in Koh Samui. October to December is the rainy season in Koh Samui. October and November is the rainy season in Koh Tao. Koh Tao gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Koh Samui. Koh Samui usually gets less rain in October than Koh Tao. Koh Samui gets 240 mm (9.5 in) of rain, while Koh Tao receives 276 mm (10.9 in) of rain this time of the year.

Koh Samui is around the same temperature as Koh Tao in the autumn. The temperature in Koh Samui is usually 24°C (75°F) in October, and Koh Tao stays around 24°C (76°F).


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Koh Samui 24°C (75°F) 
    Koh Tao 24°C (76°F)

Should I visit Koh Samui or Koh Tao in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Koh Samui and Koh Tao. Plenty of visitors come to Koh Samui because of the warm tropical climate that lasts throughout the year. Plenty of visitors come to Koh Tao because of the warm tropical climate that lasts throughout the year.

December to February in Koh Samui is the dry season. February to June in Koh Tao is the dry season. In January, Koh Samui usually receives less rain than Koh Tao. At this time of the year, Koh Samui gets 51 mm (2 in) of rain, while Koh Tao receives 94 mm (3.7 in) of rain.

In the winter, Koh Samui is around the same temperature as Koh Tao. Typically, the winter temperatures in Koh Samui in January are around 22°C (72°F), and Koh Tao is about 22°C (72°F).


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Koh Samui 22°C (72°F) 
    Koh Tao 22°C (72°F)

Should I visit Koh Samui or Koh Tao in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Koh Samui as well as Koh Tao. Koh Samui attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and tropical climate. Koh Tao attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and tropical climate.

Also, February to June in Koh Tao is the dry season. Koh Samui usually gets less rain in April than Koh Tao. Koh Samui gets 55 mm (2.2 in) of rain, while Koh Tao receives 74 mm (2.9 in) of rain this time of the year.

In April, Koh Samui is generally around the same temperature as Koh Tao. Temperatures in Koh Samui average around 24°C (76°F), and Koh Tao stays around 25°C (77°F).


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Koh Samui 24°C (76°F) 
    Koh Tao 25°C (77°F)

Typical Weather for Koh Tao and Koh Samui

Koh Samui Koh Tao
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 22°C (72°F) 51 mm (2 in) 22°C (72°F) 94 mm (3.7 in)
Feb 22°C (72°F) 11 mm (0.4 in) 23°C (74°F) 63 mm (2.5 in)
Mar 23°C (74°F) 24 mm (0.9 in) 24°C (75°F) 57 mm (2.2 in)
Apr 24°C (76°F) 55 mm (2.2 in) 25°C (77°F) 74 mm (2.9 in)
May 25°C (77°F) 164 mm (6.5 in) 25°C (78°F) 189 mm (7.4 in)
Jun 25°C (77°F) 145 mm (5.7 in) 25°C (78°F) 174 mm (6.9 in)
Jul 24°C (76°F) 143 mm (5.6 in) 24°C (76°F) 174 mm (6.9 in)
Aug 24°C (76°F) 140 mm (5.5 in) 25°C (76°F) 206 mm (8.1 in)
Sep 25°C (76°F) 196 mm (7.7 in) 25°C (77°F) 158 mm (6.2 in)
Oct 24°C (75°F) 240 mm (9.5 in) 24°C (76°F) 276 mm (10.9 in)
Nov 23°C (74°F) 335 mm (13.2 in) 23°C (74°F) 380 mm (15 in)
Dec 23°C (73°F) 134 mm (5.3 in) 23°C (73°F) 118 mm (4.6 in)


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Koh Samui vs. Koh Tao Travel Comparison

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