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Christmas in Koh Samui

Published 30 March 2016

Ross Jennings

Ross Jennings

Ever considered unwrapping your Christmas gifts on a beach in Koh Samui? I’m not going to lie, the thought hadn't really crossed my mind. The idea of full-moon parties mixed in with Thai food and the festive season didn’t initially appeal to me, but I was pleasantly surprised when my family and I decided to give it go. With the Santa season just around the corner your chance for a balmy Christmas on the beach are in sight, especially if you want to try somewhere different like Koh Samui.

Initial attempts at Christmas tree decorations

Koh Samui has hotels, hostels and B&Bs galore: all you need to do is work out whether you want something peaceful, luxury or hectic. Some places will celebrate Christmas and other won’t, but if you’re dead keen on bringing out a tree and piles of presents then I’d recommend renting a villa or flat.

Our Koh Samui beachside villas

Sacrificing a Christmas tree and our own space wasn’t an option (!!) so we went for DIY tranquility and rented a couple of beachfront villas on Koh Samui’s north coast. Plonked right by the water and surrounded by a vibrantly coloured garden, initially our villas wasn't Christmassy at all. In fact, we were all set on decorating a tropical bush until we chanced upon a fake Christmas tree in one of Koh Samui’s large supermarkets. Red baubles, fairy lights and a few other make-shift decorations later, and the villa had been transformed into a tropically-festive visual spectacle.

Our Koh Samui Christmas Tree

As for getting around the island you won't face any trouble as, even though it's Christmas, taxis and tuk-tuks will be everywhere. Renting a car or scooter will give you more freedom and allows for a few more festive explorations. We rented a car (with the odd scooter trip in there), which meant constant Christmas tunes on all excursions – unsurprisingly, the tuk-tuk drivers seemed reluctant to put on our Christmas mix-tapes. It was a bit of an odd contrast when accompanied by the sight of coconut trees whirring past your window.

Festive scooter trio

The other big issue when it comes to Christmas abroad is the food. What do you eat?! The easy option would be to forgo tradition and accept that our figgy pudding would just be a pudding and our turkey was actually going to be a lobster; however, we thought it’d be more interesting to see if Koh Samui could offer anything Christmassy. The big hotels with their festive buffets seemed relatively enticing, but we ended up at a restaurant run by an expat Chef-duo known as 'The Larder'. The result: a phenomenally impressive five-course Christmas lunch complete with turkey, mince pies and a few Anglo-Thai fusion dishes.

Christmas Day line-up on the verandah

Entering the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park

Although food plays a prominent part of Christmas, it’s always great to have something active planned for after lunch to make you feel less guilty about all the self-indulgence. Fortunately Koh Samui has plenty of that: water sports, waterfall hikes, jungle walks… the list goes on. There are plenty of solo activities like kite-boarding or water-skiing, but we opted for something we could all get involved in: renting a boat.

Beach life. Second day in the marine park

Boat excursions can be organised with any of the tourist agencies around Chaweng, Lamai or Bophut's beaches and can last from a couple of hours to a couple of days. We opted for a three-day sailing adventure around the national marine park just west of Koh Samui. Deserted beaches and islands offered endless scope for exploring; however, each day inevitably ended with some solid sunbathing sessions and cocktails on the beach, a brilliant way to top off our coconut-filled Koh Samui’n Christmas.

View across the marine park islands


Experience Koh Samui on our recommended Thailand Island Hopping Escorted Journey


You might also like:

How to Travel Respectfully in Thailand

A Beginner's Guide to Island Hopping in Thailand

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