Hiya, if you want value for money, heaps to do, great shopping, fantastic Thai food, accessible beach, you need Phuket. If you like European food, tired and rundown hotels, so-so beaches, try KS! We have been to Phuket several times (Merlin Beach and Novotel) and went to KS in June this year for a wedding. Our hotel Nora Beach (5 days) was lovely, but if that's the best KS can offer for MORE than we paid to go to Merlin beach in Phuket for 14 days, then I know where I will be going. KS reminded me of Bali in the mid-80's, olkd, tired, run down, terrible footpaths, poor roads, average hotels along Chaweng Beach, lovely properties along Bo Phut, and a much nicer beach but even more $$$$ than the equivalent in Phuket. Unless you walk along the beach at night, we struggled to find food that wasn't European-influenced (you can get a great schinitzel or bratwurst, Indian, Irish or English, but very little authentic Thai). A lot of the resorts were full of Dutch, French and Germans (one couple were the only English in the hotel). Our friends got married at Anantara which was lovely, and was more what we would have chosen to stay at (Merlin Beach equivalent) but it was way too expensive! We also found the shopping more expenive than Phuket (CD,s DVDs, tshirts, bags etc). Hiring a scooter was great because the taxis - no tuk tuks - were too expensive and it was costing us 200 baht to go for a five minute trip. In Phuket you could go from Patong Beach to Phuket Town (about 30 mins) for the same price. Their equivalent of tuk tuk is similar to the buses you get on Phuket, and they charged the SAME as the airconditioned taxi. Overall too expensive, we won't go back there, but would definitely recommend Phuket for cleanliness, great food, great hotels, plenty to do. And dona't believe it, Phuket is just as lovely as KS, but it's better looked after, better developed and overall just better value! Hope this helps...
Phuket is Government subsidised at the moment hence the cheaper rates.
Prices went up post tsunami on Samui as it benefited from the influx of tourists.
The comments about food relate to Chaweng.There are plenty of beach side Thai restaurants where you can eat very well and very cheaply.Just look where the locals eat and that's where you will find the best food.
If what you are looking for a crazy party scene... Patong beach, Phuket is where you find it.... but plenty of other beaches and nice areas on Phuket. Also take a look at the Khao Lak area, North of Phuket....
I like Samui.. again... it has nice and not so nice areas...
Right now the weather may be a little better on the Samui side...
It's definately a personal preference thing and there are immeasureable points to consider. Do a search on this and the Phuket forum of things you might like to do/see/eat/drink/party/relax/etc etc, theres countless tips.
Personally, Its Samui for me. Depending on when you go, you can get similar deals to Phuket, for example I'm off again next month and staying at the Baan Samui in the centre of Chaweng we got a stay 8 nights pay for 4 with breakfast included. Also there is Asian food to be found everywhere and some of the best sea food I have ever eaten.
Some people prefer the more developed and crowded Phuket with its hustle and bustle but I find its much more westernised there than Samui, also if you like staying in hotels full of ozzies then Phukets your go.
Good Luck with your decision.
I agree it depends on what you are after. We are a couple, aged 27 & 30 travelling on our own. We have stayed in Phuket (Kata Beach Resort), Koh Samui (Central Samui Beach Resort & Kandaburi), Phi Phi (Holiday Inn) & Koh Phangan (Blue Hill) and think Koh Samui has the most to offer.
We like quality accom, good food, plenty of sun at the beach and ability to walk everwhere. Everything just seems a bit nicer in koh Samui.
We found Phuket more suited to singles, footy trips etc. Still great, just not as nice as Koh Samui. We are going back for our third trip to Samui in February. 10 nights at Kandaburi then 2 in Bangkok (Pathuwan Princess) for shopping.
Good luck, you wont be disappointed wither way - have a great holiday!
I agree with chooki..Having been to Phuket on a few accasions,I found Samui more relaxed..I enjoy the party scene in Samui,Green mango was terrific..No footy clubs..If you want shopping Bangkok is the best bet..full mon dance party was interesting..Will be checking out geckos for New Years..Not fair to compare the both as they have differant qualities..
I find both expensive compared to many other places and for us personaly far too commercial, but I appreciate many 'do' seek the burger bars, pub scene etc.
But do remember it is a large country with lots of choices for beaches, islands, inland locations.
Crazy beach party scene? Hotels full of Ozzies?? Footy clubs? Please tell me where, we never found any of these!!!! Seriously though Wye, both destinations are different and offer different things, you need to decide what you want most. Maybe try both, then you can choose for yourself.... yes Phuket is more 'Westernised' but if you mean the roads are better, the public transport is better, the choice of great cheap food on the streets is better, well I guess it is! We personally found KS to be like Bali in the mid-80's - been there, done that! Enjoy your holiday either way though, you will love Thailand, and the people, and the fabulous foot massages, and the Tom Yam Goong soup.....
“A lot of the resorts were full of Dutch, French and Germans (one couple were the only English in the hotel)”….so? …How strange to meet people from other countries when abroad …care to explain?
As far as your feelings regards Phuket and Samui if you ever come to England(maybe you have been?) I would most definitely recommend you choose Blackpool over St Ives in Cornwall…it fits all of your requirements…great roads too !
How we all differ
We always spend 4-5 days on Thong Nai Pan Noi on Koh Phangan which is even more relaxing and well worth a few days.