Chinese New Year, February
Visakha Bucha, May
February is a typically dry but comfortable month; the hectic mayhem of Christmas and the Western New Year have passed, but things are gearing up for the Chinese New Year festival, usually held now.
Chinese New Year
With a large population of ethnic Chinese, the Chinese New Year is celebrated with family dinners, fireworks, religious blessings and the giving of gifts. As this is a lunar festival, dates change each year but it's usually in February.
April is a very hot month, so expect a lot of dazzling sunshine and stupefying heat plus a big influx of visitors arriving for Songkran.
Celebrated from 13 to 15 April, the Thai lunar new year is welcomed with water-throwing celebrations. Once a gentle dousing, it's evolved into a full-on drenching, though Songkran on Ko Samui is still not as wet and wild as Bangkok’s and Chiang Mai’s.
A hot and pretty dry month, May is also a quiet time to arrive on the island, though at the time of Visakha Bucha you may find bars and shops not selling alcohol.
The main stages of Gautama Siddharta – Buddha – his birth, enlightenment and death are celebrated at temples across the island. Worshippers go to Buddhist temples to make merit, attend sermons and hold candlelit processions around the main halls. As this is a lunar holiday, dates vary.
Things are pretty tranquil and pedestrian on Ko Samui in June, so expect some good hotel deals, fewer elbows on the beach and less fighting for tables at restaurants and bars.
Koh Samui Regatta
Sometimes held in late May, this five-day race around the island sees elegant sail boats from across the world riding the Samui winds. Spot the vessels from the beach at Mae Nam or go to applaud the race teams at the opening and closing ceremonies.
Things get busier in July as the high season kicks in, so you'll see prices going up and more bods on the beach. The weather is hot, with the occasional shower.
The start of the rainy season is the also the beginning of the Buddhist Lent when young men traditionally enter monasteries. As it's a lunar holiday, dates vary, but it is held in the eighth month of the lunar calendar. Alcohol in bars and restaurants may be restricted .
August is high season and schools are still on holiday, so the island is hopping. Showers could be blowing in, but the mercury is high.
Samui Food & Product Fair
Sample some of Samui’s culinary creations at this two-day celebration. The first day features free tastings of Samui-grown fruits, dishes from hotel restaurants and vendor specialities. The second day includes cultural dancing displays and Thai-style fanfare. Host sites and venues vary each year.
It's shoulder season time and the start of the month sees kids back in school, so it's quieter and a good time to pitch up.
International Reef Clean-Up Day
Project AWARE (www.projectaware.org), the environmental foundation of the dive industry, organises this international event that relies on volunteers to remove rubbish from the reefs and beaches. Samui’s dive shops offer discounted rates to divers who want to participate in picking-up refuse.
Welcome to the low season. It can be a gamble: the rains can be heavy, but they may not show, and the island is really quiet and prices are low.
A southern Thai tradition, Chakphra commemorates Buddha’s return to earth with a procession of a Buddha statue through the streets or waterways and is celebrated in Na Thon town. A lunar holiday, marking the end of the rainy season and the end of Buddhist Lent.
Held on the full moon of the 12th month of the lunar calendar, this religious festival honouring the goddess of water is celebrated in Samui at Wat Phra Yai (Big Buddha Temple), at the ferry jetties in Na Thon and at Chaweng Lake in Chaweng. It sometimes falls in October.
Christmas holiday season and New Year is peaked out on Ko Samui, so book accommodation months in advance, often for a week-long minimum stay. Air tickets are scarce and the weather can be rough.
New Year's Eve
Chaweng is the place to be to bid adieu to the old year and welcome in the new one. Hotels host firework displays, drink specials and DJ parties and there's something going on across the island.