side by side comparison of the beaches in Koh Chang or Koh Samui

Koh Chang or Koh Samui: Which island is Better?

Are you researching Thai islands and trying to decide between visiting Koh Chang or Koh Samui?

This island comparison guide will tell you everything you need to know and help you decide!

Koh Chang is located in the eastern part and is situated close to the Cambodian border. The island is famous for its remarkable landscape, featuring many secluded beaches, national parks, and beach towns.

Koh Samui is the second largest island by population in Thailand and is a known tourist destination. The island also features many nice beaches surrounded by well-developed beach towns.

In this island comparison guide between Koh Chang and Koh Samui, I’ll cover each destination’s best things to do, hotels/resorts, the local cuisine, nightlife, and overall atmosphere in each island!

stunning calm beach shoreline full of dense green jungle int he background in Koh Chang

Koh Chang or Koh Samui: Main Differences

Both islands are absolutely stunning, with plenty of beaches, many activities, and charming traits of their own. However, there are many differences between Koh Chang and Koh Samui.

The biggest standout between Koh Chang and Koh Samui is the overall atmosphere of each island!

Koh Chang offers a more authentic Thai island experience and is laidback; there are many secluded beaches and parks, and it’s a calmer destination, especially compared to Koh Samui.

However, Koh Samui sometimes feels like a city because it is well-developed. Along with its beaches, you’ll find shopping malls, a wide variety of restaurants, and anything you need really. Koh Samui is an ideal mix between a city and an island.

Koh Chang Highlights

  • Authentic Thai Island
  • National Parks
  • Not Touristy
  • Very laidback
  • Excellent seafood

Koh Samui Highlights

  • Well Developed
  • Exceptional Resorts
  • Stunning Beaches all around
  • Wide variety of things to do
  • Great for families
clear sand, foamy ocean water and large rocks at the end of the shoreline at Lamai Beach in Koh Samui

Koh Chang or Koh Samui: Things to Do

Both stunning islands offer visitors many things to do, from relaxing at one of their many beaches to fun day excursions to temples, snorkel/diving trips, jungle adventures, and more!

For the most part, most activities you can experience in Koh Chang, you can also experience in Koh Samui as well. Though Koh Samui still offers more things to do, it is the more well-developed island of the two.

A stand out between both islands is the beaches. Koh Samui’s beaches are surrounded by beach areas, so they are nearby restaurants, beach clubs, bars, etc.

Whereas Koh Chang’s beaches are more secluded, they too have restaurants nearby, but it’s nowhere near the level of infrastructure of Koh Samui’s beaches. Also, Koh Chang’s beaches are far less crowded compared to Koh Samui’s.

Below, I’ve shared with you a shortlist of the best things to do on each island. However, sites vary, of course.

WINNER: Koh Samui wins; it has more things to do, but Koh Chang is more relaxing!

beach at sunset with several boats anchored at Ko Mat Sum island, also known as Pig Island, one of the best Koh Samui Day tours to experience in Koh Samui

Things to Do in Koh Chang

Have a Beach Day: The beaches in Koh Chang are exactly what one’s looking for on a calm/relaxing island. The best beaches in Koh Chang are Lonely BeachWhite Sand BeachKlong Prao Beach, and Kai Bae Beach.

Visit the Bang Bao Pier: The charming Bang Bao Fishing village is a lovely area admired for its coastline views, seafood restaurants, shops, and extensive pier area; ideal for watch sunsets from!

Snorkel/Diving Trip: With the island’s healthy coral reefs and gentle tides, Koh Chang is an ideal place to go snorkeling or diving, a perfect day excursion to experience in Koh Chang

Visit Klong Plu Waterfall: Located at Mo Koh Chang National Park, you’ll find this beautiful waterfall, and it’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot day.

Viewpoint Hikes: No matter which island you’re visiting, the best way to see it is from a viewpoint. Make sure to visit one of Koh Chang’s many viewpoints: Kai Bae Viewpoint, Rasta Viewpoint, and White Buddha Viewpoint.

Things to Do in Koh Samui

Have a Beach Day: Koh Samui is known for its beaches, and it’s the main reason many choose to visit; some of the best beaches in Koh Samui are ChawengLamaiBo Phut, and Lipa Noi Beach.

Island Hopping: With its location in the Gulf of Thailand, there are many other islands nearby, including Koh Phangan, Ko Tao, and Pig Island, to explore.

Day Trip to Ang Marine Park: Ang Thong is one of Thailand’s best national parks; Ang Thong Marine Park is a collection of 42 unique islands to explore. Located not far from Koh Samui, visiting Ang Thong Park is a must when in Koh Samui!

Night Markets: A few notable night markets in Koh Samui are Lamai Night MarketChaweng Walking Street, and the Night Market Fisherman’s Village.

Explore Fishermen’s Village: The Fishermen’s Village is a picturesque walkable area by Bo Phut Beach; it’s full of boutique shopping, great restaurants, and beach bars with stunning sea views.

TIP: If you visit Koh Samui and want to go to its neighboring island, Koh Pha Ngan, here’s how!

several pigs walking on the beach shoreline along with a long tail boats on the water and a sunset at Koh Samui Pig Island

Koh Chang or Koh Samui: Hotels & Resorts

Both islands offer a wide variety of accommodation types that suit both travel styles and budgets. However, if you’re looking for luxurious accommodations, Koh Samui is more known for that.

Here are several of the best areas to stay on each island; all areas mentioned have beaches, shops, and restaurants nearby.

Below, you’ll also find that I’ve included a list of the best hotels on each island by budget for you to choose from!

WINNER: It’s a TIE for hotels within both islands unless you’re after luxurious stays

Where to Stay in Koh Chang

KC Grande Resort – 5 Stars / A luxurious modern resort right on the beach with plenty of amenities and conveniently located just a short walk from cafes and the town night market

GajaPuri Resort – 4 Stars / Located right in the heart of town, this resort provides guests with private bungalows, and some even come with a pool

Oasis Koh Chang – 3 Stars / Located slightly south of the main town area on the west, this wooden jungle vibe resort is ideal for those looking to relax within the authentic surroundings of Koh Chang

Pajamas Koh Chang – Hostel / Ranked #1 hostel on the island, Pajamas offers both dorm rooms and private room accommodations. They’ve got a nice pool, bar, and spacious communal area, and it’s located near many restaurants.

Koh Chang Areas

White Sand Beach: Located close to the pier, Koh Chang’s most popular area is known for its long stretch of white sand. Offering many mid-range accommodations that line the beach.

Klong Prao Beach: Situated on the East coast of Koh Chang, this beach area offers a variety of three to four-star beachfront resorts. Also, the beach is only a 5-10 minute walk from most hotels here.

Kai Bae Beach: Kai Bae Beach is perfect for those looking for a more remote, secluded area. In the area, you’ll find many mid-range and luxury hotels. While the area is calmer, it’s only a 5-10-minute drive from many restaurants, bars, and shops.

crystal clear water on a white sandy beach in Koh Chang

Where to Stay in Koh Samui

Kimpton Kitalay – 5 Star / Famous for its spacious rooms, many restaurants, a luxurious spa, and much more. The Kimpton Samui is in an excellent location on Koh Samui

Samui Resotel Resort – 4 Star /Cozy resort with spacious rooms and a stunning rooftop located along Chaweng Beach, near many restaurants and shops

Lub d Koh Samui – 3 Star / A perfect hotel for a younger crowd, located right on the popular Chaweng Beach, Lub D Samui is close to the central part of Koh Samui

P&T Hostel / Those visiting on a budget, look no further. This is the cheapest and highest-ranked hostel on the island. They’ve got everything you need, even a restaurant

Koh Samui Areas

Lamai Beach: A Calmer beach area with several restaurants, shops, and hotels nearby. The area is full of expats and, on average, has a more mature crowd.

Chaweng Beach: This is the most popular area to stay in on Koh Samui. Countless bars, restaurants, shopping, hotels, and hostels are nearby. On the extensive long beach shoreline of Chaweng, you will find several restaurants and beach bars.

Bo Phut Beach: Also, the area of the Fisherman’s Village, Bo Phut Beach is a calmer area full of couples and families visiting. It’s only 15 minutes from Chaweng Beach and Central Samui, the island’s main shopping mall.

fresh Thai coconut being served at a restaurant in Lamai Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Chang or Koh Samui: Restaurants

Both islands offer various cuisine options catering to all visitors’ tastes and budgets. But still, Koh Samui, being a more developed island, offers a larger selection of cuisine types compared to Koh Chang.

From local Thai restaurants, street stalls, fine dining, and American fast food chains, you can find all the foods in Koh Samui.

Koh Chang has its fair share of excellent restaurants, especially in popular areas like White Sand Beach and Klong Prao. Koh Chang is more known for its local Thai restaurants than Koh Samui.

No matter where you choose to visit Koh Chang or Koh Samui, make sure to visit one of the many night markets for some tasty Thai street food!

Night Markets in Koh Chang: Night Food Market and Koh Chang Weekend market

Night Markets in Koh Samui: Fishermen’s Night Market, Chaweng Night Market and Lamai Night Market

WINNER: Koh Samui wins this category; Koh Samui’s restaurant selection is far greater

several locals and tourist seated eating many different foods at the Fisherman's Night Market in Koh Samui, Thailand

Where to Eat in Koh Chang

Mordi E Fuggi: The typical Italian restaurant serving wood-fired pizzas, pasta, and more; highly suggest their seafood pasta

Nong Bua Seafood: The name says it all: this is the best seafood restaurant on the island; crab, fried fish, and many local Thai seafood dishes are served here

El Barrio: Mexican restaurant serving skillet hot fajitas, various taco types, nachos, and more; the drinks were great here

Burger Station: Sometimes you’re just craving a big juicy burger; that’s exactly what this place offers: big burgers with delicious potato wedge-style fries. Might I add, it’s cheap to eat here

Where to Eat in Koh Samui

Kawin’s Kitchen: Excellent local Thai restaurant serving delicious local food with exceptional presentation

Cabezas Muertas: Mexican restaurant serving all the favourites, tacos, quesadillas, toastdas and more!

Raw & Spirtz: A Chic appetizer bar serving oysters and many other small apps & drinks

The Oyster Bar x: A classic Oyster Bar serving exceptional Lobster, small bites & more

views of neighbouring island Koh Phangan from a restaurant in Koh Samui

Koh Chang or Koh Samui: Nightlife

Regarding the nightlife on both islands, Koh Samui has a more vibrant nightlife scene, with a wide range of bars, clubs, and beach parties that cater to different tastes.

Beach areas in Koh Samui, like Chaweng, Lamai, and Bo-Phut, are well-developed, all with bustling nightlife compared to Koh Chang.

Koh Chang isn’t known for its nightlife options. The island has a few; there are many cozy beach bars to check out, and some restaurants offer fire-show entertainment in the evening on the beach, but that’s the extent.

Koh Samui not only offers a wider variety of nightlife for those looking to party, but it also offers a greater variety of things to do at night for families. In Koh Samui, you can experience movie night on the beach, go-karting, and more.

By the way, watch out for these scams in Thailand; they can happen anywhere you visit!

WINNER: Koh Samui is the clear winner when it comes to nightlife on both islands

Nightlife in Koh Chang

Lighthouse Nightlife: A small local nightclub offering nights with DJs, live bands, foam parties and more

Yak Yak Bar: Laidback bar offering live music and many pool tables

Sky Bar Koh Chang: Local street-side cocktail/beer bar offering a wide variety of drinks

Nightlife in Koh Samui

ARK Beach Party: Ark Beach Bar hosts a beach party that has become quite popular on the island, right on the sand, with a live DJ playing music

CoCo Tam’s Restaurant: Known as one of the best restaurants in Samui, CoCo Tam’s is a fun restaurant with beach seating and fun fire show performances.

Bar Hopping in Chaweng: There are countless bars/nightclubs in Chaweng to visit. It’s the most lively area on the island and a must-visit for those looking to party

Lamai Beach Bars: At Lamai Beach, there are open-concept beach bars, basically a bunch of outdoor bars with live music and street food vendors around

RELATED: 11 Things to Do in Koh Samui at Night

fire performer performing along the beach shorelines in Koh Samui, Thailand

Best Time to Visit Koh Chang or Koh Samui

Another difference between these two Thai islands is the weather trends, which are slightly different for each island.

So knowing it’s best to know when to visit either island to fully experience everything Koh Chang or Koh Samui have to offer!

Koh Chang is located on the eastern side of Thailand. The best time to visit Koh Chang is during the dry season, which runs from November to April. During this time, you can expect sunny weather with less rainfall and calm seas, making it perfect for beach activities and water sports.

From May till October, the rainy monsoon season happens in Koh Chang, and there is rainfall, storms, and fewer sunny days during this time.

The best time to visit Koh Samui is December to September; during this period, you can expect less rainfall, lower humidity levels, and plenty of sunshine to best experience Koh Samui.

October and November are the rainy seasons in Koh Samui; during these times, there’s rainfall and occasional storms.

the famous golden Big Buddha in Koh Samui along with the many colourful steps to climb up to it

Koh Chang or Koh Samui — Final Thoughts

Are you still debating between Koh Chang or Koh Samui after reading all the comparisons mentioned above?

While both islands are beautiful in their own many ways, the atmosphere is very different, and this should be a deciding factor for which island you’d personally prefer to visit!

Koh Samui won most categories because of how well-developed the island is, and that’s precisely why it’s one of Thailand’s most visited islands.

But Koh Chang is the clear winner for those looking for a more relaxing vacation and would prefer an authentic Thai island experience!

Whether you’ve decided to go to Koh Chang or Koh Samui, use my guides for Koh Chang and Koh Samui to find out how to get there!

several palm trees and luscious green mountains along the beach in Koh Chang, Thailand / Is Thailand Cheap

Which island is bigger Koh Samui or Koh Chang?

Regarding the size of the actual ground, Koh Chang is far larger than Koh Samui.

However, regarding population size on both islands, Koh Samui has a far larger population than Koh Chang.

Is Koh Chang touristy?

No, Koh Chang isn’t touristy; despite having many hotels, the island has kept its authentic Thai island charm.

How many days do you need in Koh Samui?

Plan to spend at least four days in Koh Samui; the island offers plenty of things to do and many beaches to visit.

How many do you need in Koh Chang?

Plan to spend a minimum of 3-4 days in Koh Chang to enjoy your time.

The island offers a wide range of activities, and with how relaxing it is, you’ll want to reserve a day to unwind!

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