Phuket VS Samui - where to vacation

Phuket VS Samui - where to vacation

Comparing Phuket and Samui can be exactly in the same sense as to draw a parallel between, for example, Sevastopol and Koktebel, Sochi and Loo, Sukhum and New Athos, Kemer and Olympos, mainland Greece and Crete.

In all of these pairs, the first position is characterized by developed infrastructure, transport accessibility, and a high anthropogenic load. The second is provincialism, slower pace of life and the possibility of secluded recreation. The answer to the question of whether Phuket or Samui is the best of the Thai islands is determined by the type of vacation the tourist prefers.

Features of Phuket and Samui

The formation and development of the tourism industry in Thailand began with Phuket. Here already in the late 1960s and early 1970s began the construction of basic infrastructure: a bridge connecting the island with the mainland, paved roads, hotels. The proximity of location to mainland Thailand (0.41 km at the narrowest point of the strait) predetermined the status of Phuket and opened up broad prospects for tourist development of the area.

bridge to phuket

On the island of Koh Samui, separated from the nearest province of Surat Thani 27 kilometers of the sea, in the 1970s, there are only a few dozen bungalows, and go to him not every tourist will dare. Thus, the transport accessibility of Phuket, on the one hand, and the isolation of Samui, on the other, have set the objective prerequisites for the differentiation of their tourist potential. The first has become a large, popular and crowded resort. The second - quiet and, in a certain sense, melancholic. This trend persists today and, in all likelihood, will not change in the future.

Characteristic features of Phuket:

  • large island with a permanent population of over 300,000 people;
  • The tourist center of southern Thailand with its own airport, which has international status and receives flights from hundreds of cities;
  • well-developed shopping infrastructure;
  • There is a system of municipal transport that allows you to save on travel around the island;
  • unique natural reserves around, of interest to tourists, including divers.

What is Samui:

  • The population of the island is 6 times less than that of Phuket;
  • Transport accessibility (plane, ferry), but there are certain difficulties - waiting for the ferry, extra travel time, expensive flight exclusively by Bangkok Airways;
  • The issue of proximity to the sea, which is traditionally relevant for a resort holiday, is replaced by a more pragmatic - the proximity to the supermarket;
  • For $700 a month you can rent a whole house and live in the middle of the jungle;
  • It is comfortable to rest almost the whole year except for October-November.

The price of the question

Although there is a slight variation in prices and service costs on both islands, in the end, by offsetting some items of expense by others, the total cost will be about the same. For example, other things being equal, you can find accommodation on Koh Samui significantly cheaper. However, transfers to the island, transportation costs within the island, the cost of food will largely offset this difference.

accommodation on samui

On the other hand, as the high season in Phuket is extremely short, and on Samui there is an opportunity to rest comfortably all year round, respectively, if we compare the rest on both islands in January, then on Phuket will be more expensive. If in June - it is cheaper.

The difference between Phuket and Samui can be formulated as follows: in the first case, the vacationer pays for a civilized rest and level of service, in the second - for the "bounty" exotic and the possibility of recreation in the style of "eco".

Natural and climatic conditions

In terms of climate comfort, the island in the Gulf of Thailand has more even weather throughout the year. The rainy season is not so pronounced: the sky drips a little throughout the year, and the peak of showers is in October-November. The sea is calm most of the year but with high and low tides. In January it gets noticeably cooler here: the air temperature during the day does not rise above +25 degrees C.

Samui and Phuket

Phuket, being on the other side of the Malacca Peninsula, is heavily influenced by the Indian Ocean. The comfortable period from December to February is replaced by a terrible humid heat of +40 degrees C in March and May. The skies get cloudy. It can rain every day, but not for long. The main disadvantage, given the beach orientation of the holiday, as well as the recreational value of diving, scuba diving and excursions to the surrounding islands, is the sea, which storms 9 months a year, making it impossible to the main types of tourist activity.

It should also be remembered that Phuket was severely affected during the 2004 tsunami. This is due to the peculiarities of the geographical location of the island, which is not protected from the Indian Ocean. Although ocean floor ruptures (earthquakes) can also occur in the Pacific Ocean, which is even more earthquake prone, nevertheless Samui is deep in the Gulf of Thailand and is protected from possible tsunamis by numerous Pacific islands and the Indochinese Peninsula.

On the other hand, not to scare away tourists from Phuket, it should be noted that such cataclysms occur once in a hundred years: in our lifetime we are unlikely to see again what happened in 2004.

Accommodation and infrastructure

Phuket's economy has seen tremendous financial investment over the decades. Therefore, this island objectively provides a wider choice of accommodation options and better infrastructure needed by vacationers.


It is not wrong to say that Phuket is one big tourist town with jungle islands in its central part. Samui is more accurately described as a jungle island, with small settlements stretching along the coast. Nevertheless, both islands have numerous accommodation options, ranging from very budget to the luxe segment in its Thai interpretation.

Phuket's shopping areas are superior to those in Samui in size and range of goods on offer. Although today on Koh Samui there are Central Festival and other shopping centers that provide the opportunity to buy quality products, clothing, food.

However, they are all concentrated in the areas of Chaweng, Bophut and Natong. There are also numerous 7eleven, Family Mart, small private stores. The main road infrastructure of both islands is the ring road, passing in close proximity to the shore.

Pastime opportunities

It is often said that there is a lot to do in Phuket, but on Samui it is boring. This is not true. There is just a lot of talk about the former, but the latter island has a long history. Cultural attractions on both islands are traditionally represented by Buddhist temples and other places of religious significance.

Samui vacation

Just as in Phuket, Samui has a zoo, aquarium, butterfly garden, numerous eco-attractions:

  • waterfalls;
  • botanical gardens;
  • conservation marine park;
  • safari park;
  • fishing village for lovers of ethnographic excursions.

Aquatic activities are practiced on both islands. However, for snorkeling and exploring marine life, the waters of the Andaman Sea are of greater interest.

Which is better?

As we saw, Phuket and Samui have more in common than different. You can have a good rest on both islands. The choice between them is largely a matter of individual preference and the idea of an ideal vacation.

To put an end to the question of what is better, let us remember the famous aphorism of J.-P. Sartre: "hell is other people. If you agree with the French philosopher, then Samui is right for you, where if you want without too much financial cost and effort you can spend time alone with family or in a small circle of friends. If you want more civilization around, and do not mind to be in a crowd of the same tourists, then your option - Phuket.

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