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Cruises to Koh Samui

Koh Samui (Photo:lkunl/Shutterstock)

About Koh Samui

Just 25 years ago, Koh Samui -- located 310 miles south of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand -- was a sleepy backwater where inhabitants made a living from fishing and coconut farming. What a difference a couple of decades make! Thailand's third-largest island (koh actually means "island" in Thai, and many locals leave it off of the name) was "discovered" in the late 1980s by the backpacker crowd, who spread the word about its white-sand beaches and clear waters. Budget lodgings quickly replaced beach shacks, and luxury resorts, tourist operators and souvenir hawkers soon followed.

Today, the population is more than 62,000, with an additional 1.5 million tourists visiting per year. Cruise ships anchor at Nathon Pier on Ang Thong Road, the island's old commercial center, which is also a ferry port. Cruisers tender from their ship to the pier. Though maligned in guidebooks, the town can make for a relaxed afternoon off the ship, with its old Chinese shop houses built by itinerant traders, plus restaurants, Thai massage spots and stores.

For the more adventurous, there are plenty of beaches and sights around the 95-square-mile island -- including Grandmother Rock and Grandfather Rock, which are known for their slightly X-rated shapes.

  • More about Koh Samui

  • Why go to Koh Samui?

  • Koh Samui Cruise Port Facilities?

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Insignia
Insignia

15 Night
Southeast Asia CruiseDetails

206 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
May 18, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Regatta
Regatta

77 Night
World CruiseDetails

385 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Oct 4, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Celebrity Solstice
Celebrity Solstice (Photo: Celebrity)

13 Night
Thailand & Vietnam CruiseDetails

2,149 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Nov 3, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Seven Seas Explorer
Seven Seas Explorer

63 Night
World CruiseDetails

229 Reviews
Leaving:Tokyo
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Oct 18, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Virgin Voyages

11 Night
Asia - South EastDetails

2,298 Reviews
Leaving:Bangkok
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jan 16, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Repositioning CruiseDetails

356 Reviews
Leaving:Mumbai
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Feb 5, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Vietnam & Thailand CruiseDetails

2,149 Reviews
Leaving:Hong Kong
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Southeast Asia CruiseDetails

356 Reviews
Leaving:Bangkok
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Feb 19, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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168 Night
168 Night World CruiseDetails

367 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Jan 7, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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70 Night
World CruiseDetails

300 Reviews
Leaving:Auckland
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Mar 25, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Asia - South EastDetails

2,298 Reviews
Leaving:Bali
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Feb 7, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

14 Night
Secrets Of Southeast AsiaDetails

480 Reviews
Leaving:Bali
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Mar 18, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Far East Discovery HolidayDetails

1,067 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Dec 23, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

91 Night
Grand Pacific ExplorerDetails

480 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Sep 17, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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28 Night
The Philippines Malaysia & Far East CollectorDetails

1,067 Reviews
Leaving:Hong Kong
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 6, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Koh Samui

Why go to Koh Samui?

Pros:

With luxury resorts facing a beautiful beach, Koh Samui has a sophisticated feel

Cons:

Insistent hawkers and large crowds are a drawback for many tourists

Bottom Line:

A relaxing day spent in idyllic surroundings is enhanced by inexpensive food and beachside massages

Koh Samui Cruise Port Facilities?

The port at Nathon consists of three piers, so be sure to note a landmark at the foot of your pier so you're not watching the day's final tender sail away from the wrong one. Once off the pier, you're in the center of town, with all the basic services you'll need.

There is no cruise terminal at Nathon, but as you exit the pier, the harbor road offers up a Coffee Island that will provide both caffeine and free Wi-Fi fixes. Head to the right along the harbor (Chonwithi Road) for a 7-Eleven (with a mailbox), an internet facility and an ATM; keep going for three blocks and you'll hit a beach -- though it's not the cleanest, due to all the nearby marine traffic.

If you go straight ahead from the center pier, there will be a pharmacy in the first block (left side) and a French bakery and Irish pub where the road deadends. The second street inland from the harbor has old wooden shop houses (the best ones are to the right); peek inside, and you'll see ancestral photos hanging in places of honor. The third street in from the harbor is the main commercial street, Thawi Ratchaphakdi Road, which has multiple banks, a Watson's pharmacy, restaurants, shops and Thai massage spots. There are also shops selling all sorts of Thai products, including clothing, shoes, T-shirts, woven bags and souvenirs. There's even a fascinating storefront featuring temple offerings. Going right on Thawi Ratchaphakdi Road, you'll also find a covered food market, which is most lively in the morning, and the gateway to an interesting little Hainanese temple; both are on the far side of the street.

Good to Know?

If you visit a public beach, you'll be greeted by a parade of hawkers selling food, clothing, crafts and pedicures. Most are friendly, but it can get a bit tedious. If you agree to a pedicure or foot massage from one of the roving suppliers, be absolutely certain that you set the price ahead of time and both parties are clear on the amount. There have been some reports of problems, though we didn't experience any.

Shorts and bare arms aren't considered appropriate at Thai temples, so be sure to dress conservatively, or carry a shawl to throw around your shoulders.

Don't drink the local water; ice cubes, however, are usually safe and made with purified water.

The unlabeled liquor and water bottles you see displayed for sale along the roadside aren't homemade local hooch -- they contain gasoline. It's sold that way by roadside entrepreneurs as a convenience for scooter-riders.

Getting Around?

On Foot: All of Nathon town is walkable from the pier, but to see the island's best beaches and other attractions, you'll need transportation.

By Taxi: Taxis, van drivers and tour companies will all be waiting at the pier, clamoring for your business. Prices are negotiable, so be sure to bargain. It's also a good idea to have a short conversation with your potential driver to confirm that you can communicate. Expect to pay around $20 per person for a full car or van to tour Samui's sights for the day; drivers will charge more per person if there are just a couple of you.

By Bus: Songthaews, small open-air trucks with benches, circle the island's ring road. You can flag one and negotiate a fare, which should be 60 baht or less, depending on how far you're going.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Thailand's currency is the baht. For currency conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.

While dollars and euros are readily accepted on Koh Samui, ATMs are also plentiful. You'll find bank ATMs within easy walking distance on both of Nathon's main commercial streets, which run parallel to the shore, though there are more choices on Thawi Ratchaphakdi Road. There are additional ATMs throughout the island, located at banks and the ubiquitous 7-Elevens. Credit cards are usually accepted by larger businesses but it's a good idea to ask first. For the best conversion rate, make sure your credit card purchases are charged in baht, not converted to dollars.

Language?

Most locals who interact with tourists speak at least some English, and business signs are often in both Thai and English. When locals greet you, they'll hold their hands palm-to-palm, as if praying to you. Just simply return the gesture. If you are a woman, "hello" is "Sah-wah-dee-kaaah!" If you're a man, it's "Sah-wah-dee-krop!" "Thank you" also differs according to the speaker's gender: "Kahp-koon-kaaah" for women and "Kahp-koon-krop" for men.


Koh Samui Cruise Reviews
Beautiful place to tour and finish off at Chewang beach.Read More
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Ralphy669
Loved Koh Samui. Beautiful Island and the beaches are amazing. Food was very good and if you eat where the locals go it is very inexpensive and authentic dishes.Read More
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gthornh
Fun time with animalsRead More
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Hififile
by this point in the cruise, I was tired of negotiating taxis, public transport, and the idea of a giant bus excursion didn't sound nice. So, I tendered to shore first thing possible and while the town was waking uRead More
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TravelDreamer75

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