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Cruises to Koh Samui

Koh Samui (Photo:lkunl/Shutterstock)
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.

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164 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Los Angeles
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Kauai, Honolulu ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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120 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
San Francisco
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Honolulu, Maui ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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DAY 1: Singapore

14 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Koh Samui, Bangkok ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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DAY 1: Singapore

15 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
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Da Nang, Nha Trang ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Phuket, Koh Samui ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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21 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Kelang, Penang ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
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Kota Kinabalu, Nha Trang ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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24 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Bangkok
Visiting:
Koh Samui, Kampot ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Kelang, Penang ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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15 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Bali
Visiting:
Singapore, Koh Samui ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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21 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Kota Kinabalu, Nha Trang ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Phuket, Langkawi ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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30 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Tokyo
Visiting:
Shimizu, Osaka ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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28 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Koh Samui, Bangkok ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Bangkok
Visiting:
Koh Samui, Singapore ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Da Nang, Nha Trang ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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100 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Melbourne
Visiting:
Dunedin, Akaroa ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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15 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Koh Samui, Bangkok ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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28 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Koh Samui, Bangkok ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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28 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Tokyo
Visiting:
Shimizu, Kobe ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking Ocean Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

14 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
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Da Nang, Nha Trang ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

15 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Koh Samui, Bangkok ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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27 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Airlie Beach, Cairns ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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28 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Hong Kong
Visiting:
Manila, Boracay ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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27 Night
Cruise to Koh Samui

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Koh Samui, Bangkok ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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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

Sun Princess
Mitchlin
Sail Date: Nov 2019
We enjoyed Koh Samui, we took the shuttle bus into town, shopped, ate and drank. Once again I regret not seeing more of Koh Samui and would probably recommend a driver or a tour.... Read More
Sapphire Princess
gthornh
Sail Date: Feb 2019
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
Norwegian Jewel
kcdionysus
Sail Date: Mar 2019
Didn’t see enough of Ko Samui as there were issues with the tendering.... Read More
Sapphire Princess
Piermaster
Sail Date: Jan 2019
Interesting tour of Ko Samui visiting two Buddhas and watching monkeys picking coconuts. Weather was against us.... Read More
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