Phuket vs Koh Samui

Updated: December 8, 2016

Recommended

Where To Go: Phuket or Koh Samui?

Karon Beach in Phuket.

Karon Beach in Phuket.

Both islands are great so this is not a choice with a clear answer or definite recommendation.

One of the biggest factors in your decision will be the weather and what time of year you’re visiting.

I go into month by month variations below but in general the weather on Phuket is better from November until January. The weather is better on Koh Samui from May until September. The weather is very good in both locations from February to April. The weather is awful on both islands in October – when a visit to Koh Samet or Hua Hin would be a better choice.

If you only plan to visit one island or have one week or less then I recommend Koh Samui. It has a more Thai feel, better handles the crowds (busy without feeling overwhelmed or insanely touristy), and has consistently better food.

If you have more than 10 days to spend in south Thailand and are open to the idea of seeing another island then split your time between Koh Samui and Phuket. There are more than 6 direct flights per day between Phuket and Koh Samui and the flight lasts about 55 minutes. If you book far enough in advance fares are very cheap.

Chaweng Beach in Koh Samui

Koh Samui has some of the best beaches in Thailand.

Phuket vs Koh Samui

Phuket

  • Busy touristy atmosphere
  • 10 to 12 good beaches
  • Good weather from December to June
  • 62 direct flights from Bangkok per day
  • 1h 20m flight time from Bangkok
  • Airport is 60 minute drive from best beaches
  • Many day trips and activities
  • Good thai food takes some effort to find
  • Many large beach resorts
  • Very family friendly
  • Few restaurants or bars on the beach
  • Lots of nightlife
  • Very safe but some seedy areas in Patong

Koh Samui

  • Relaxed touristy atmosphere
  • 3 or 4 great beaches
  • Good weather from January to August
  • 24 direct flights from Bangkok per day
  • 1h 10m flight time from Bangkok
  • Airport is 10 minute drive from best beaches
  • Few day trips and activities
  • Good thai food is easy to find
  • Many small and medium-sized resorts
  • Very family friendly
  • Many restaurants and bars on the beach
  • Lots of nightlife
  • Very safe but some seedy areas in Lamai

Phuket and Koh Samui Weather by Month

Kata Beach in Phuket.

Kata Beach in Phuket.

Weather in January

  • Koh Samui: The tail end of the wet season. The big storms are long gone but the island can still get rain every day (particularly at the beginning of the month). Even when it does rain the clouds disappear quickly and the sun returns.
  • Phuket: Consistently great weather, sunny skies, little rain, calm seas. Probably the least humid month on Phuket.
  • Recommended: Both good, Phuket slightly better.

Weather in February

  • Koh Samui: Great weather from start to finish. Blue skies, calm seas.
  • Phuket: Hot and dry, calm seas. The best month for weather on Phuket.
  • Recommended: Both great.

Weather in March

  • Koh Samui: Perfect skies, seas, and sun. The best month for weather on Koh Samui.
  • Phuket: Great weather with temperatures and humidity on the increase.
  • Recommended: Both great.

Weather in April

  • Koh Samui: Getting hotter but still blues skies and calm seas.
  • Phuket: Sunny weather with patches of rain. Heat and humidity can make some days uncomfortable.
  • Recommended: Both good, Koh Samui slightly better.

Weather in May

  • Koh Samui: Hot, blue skies. A slight uptick in the amount of rain.
  • Phuket: The start of the rainy season but most days will still have plenty of sun. Hot.
  • Recommended: Koh Samui

Weather in June

  • Koh Samui: Hot, humid, largely blue skies. Mostly dry.
  • Phuket: Weather is wet with many sunny breaks. Seas are getting rough and many beaches have red flags discouraging swimming. Hot and humid.
  • Recommended: Koh Samui

Weather in July

  • Koh Samui: Hot, humid, largely blue skies. Mostly dry.
  • Phuket: Rainy season but sunny days still common. Seas are rough.
  • Recommended: Koh Samui

Weather in August

  • Koh Samui: Hot, humid, largely blue skies. Mostly dry.
  • Phuket: Rainy season but sunny days still common. Seas are rough.
  • Recommended: Koh Samui

Weather in September

  • Koh Samui: Hot, humid, largely blue skies. Mostly dry with rains beginning at the end of the month.
  • Phuket: The wettest month on Phuket. Sunny days still possible. Seas rough.
  • Recommended: Koh Samui

Weather in October

  • Koh Samui: Very wet and rough seas.
  • Phuket: Wet and rough seas.
  • Recommended: Both islands have pretty bad weather, but most days will still have some sun. Many people love visiting during the rainy season when prices are low and tourists few. (Incredibly good deals on all hotels.)

Weather in November

  • Koh Samui: The wettest month on Koh Samui. Rough seas, lousy weather.
  • Phuket: Still rainy season but getting drier in late November.
  • Recommended: Phuket

Weather in December

  • Koh Samui: Still rainy season at the start of the month but weather gets gradually better over the course of December. Seas can be rough at the beginning of the month. Blue skies and dry days are common by late December.
  • Phuket: Weather is great with sunny skies, calm seas, and warm temperatures most days.
  • Recommended: Phuket
Silver Beach on Koh Samui.

Silver beach, Crystal Beach beach on Koh Samui.

See Also