We visited Thailand in high season so it was quite busy. Tourists were French, German, Russian, Asian (Japanese, Chinese, Korean), a few Americans, British, Swedish, etc. English was the language used by everyone to communicate with the locals. Some stall owners at the markets spoke only enough English to do business.
We noticed, especially on the Junk Boat tour, that the French and Germans love to get dark tans. We were questioned on the tour as to why we didn't want to tan! Accompanying many of these tans were leathery skin, which we can do without.
The water out of the taps is not drinkable so bottled water is used, including when brushing teeth.
Hotel laundries are expensive so many of the tourists take their laundry to the small laundries nearby and have them washed and ironed for a fee per kg.
Koh Samui was a smoker's paradise. Cough, cough, cough. There are apparently no smoking bans anywhere and often we suffered from smoke wafting over our table while eating in a restaurant or sitting in the hotel bar.
The roads were in good condition but there was an obvious lack of traffic cops and good sense when driving. I'd guess there were tens of thousands of motorbikes just on the island of Samui. Most did not wear helmets and were driven on the hard shoulder. Many of those who showed a lack of common sense when driving a motorbike were tourists. When driving a car one often has a motorbike passing you on the left and right side of the car. (In Thailand you drive on the left side). When trying to turn left there is often a motorbike on the left side and they seemingly ignore turn signals on cars! We rented a car on two different days to tour the island with, fortunately, no incidents.
We loved shopping in all the outdoor markets! Bargaining is done and we quickly learned to offer a lower amount than we wanted to pay. It was rare for a seller not to be willing to bargain.
There was a wide variety of restaurants with a huge difference in prices. There were French, German, Swedish, European restaurants, McDonalds. Most seemed to include Thai food as well, but the best Thai food was in those that served mainly or solely Thai food. There was a local restaurant which became a favourite of ours and was run by a group of Thai women. The restaurant is called Koh Kaew and is on the main road at the turnoff to Hin Ta Hin Yai Rocks. Meals and drinks were delicious and cheap. My Tripadvisor review on this restaurant has been published: Koh Kaew Restaurant
I was worried about food poisoning before we went but was careful and therefore never became ill from anything I ate or drank. (Had a cold but that's a different issue.) Several of the wedding guests/family got food poisoning but I believe this happened due to eating food from street vendors in Bangkok. Everyone did a long stopover in Bangkok before going to Samui except for us.
We enjoyed the weather, lovely beaches, warm water (about 29C/85F), high temps were mainly 30C/86F. It rained once during the day and few times in the middle of the night. It was mostly sunny but we did have some cloudy or partly cloudy days.
All of the family went home before us and we spent the last 3 days on our own. We wandered around the nearby area looking for cottages/houses to rent for next year. We found one and have booked it for next January.
My Tripadvisor reviews of this trip which have been published so far:
Review of Fenix Resort
Review of Rocky's Resort
Review of Happy Elephant Restaurant - Bophut
The Big Buddha resides at Wat Phra Yai , which is located on Koh Fan. Koh Fan is joined to Koh Samui by a short causeway.
At Wat-kiri-wongkaram you will find the well-preserved, mummified body of the monk named Loung Por Ruam. He was placed here 25 years ago and looks remarkably good.
These fascinating rock formations have been carved by nature's elements to resemble male and female body parts. Called Hin Ta Hin Yai, this area is perhaps one of the most photographed places in all of Koh Samui.