How to Be a Responsible Traveller in Koh Samui

Estimated read time 10 min read
There are many different definitions of sustainable tourism (or eco-tourism) that have been developed over recent years. However, it is still mainly about making those simple choices which help lessen your negative impact on the surrounding environment. Below you will find all of the information you need about how to book eco-friendly flights, tips on choosing eco-friendly accommodation, the best eco-friendly places to visit in Koh Samui and maybe some things you should avoid.

Booking Eco-Friendly Flights

Sustainable travel Koh Samui
Photo Credit: Fuel Freedom Foundation

Reduce your ‘carbon footprint’ before leaving your home destination by booking the most eco-friendly flights you can. You can do this by:

  • Booking direct flights. It’s the take-offs and landings that produce the most carbon emission. So fly direct when you can.
  • Check the carbon offset of your flights. Trying to use an airline which produces lower emissions is a great way to help lighten your carbon footprint before you begin your journey. You can check the airline company’s website for this information or click the following link to calculate your Flight carbon footprint.

Tips on Choosing Eco-Friendly Accommodation in Koh Samui

Samui Thialand Eco-friendly travel guide

Individuals need to make radical changes to the way they travel, book accommodation and conserve energy in order to keep Koh Samui an environmentally sustainable holiday destination for the future.

An eco-friendly and sustainable traveller must consider many variables when choosing accommodation that is committed to responsible tourism. Below is a checklist of things to take into consideration when searching for responsible eco-friendly places to stay in Koh Samui.

  • Is the accommodation employing local staff and using locally sourced products? The more an accommodation hires from the surrounding community and uses locally sourced products, the more contribution this business is making towards improving the local economy. Are the accommodation staff foreigners or local people? Do they use local food suppliers and help support the local economy?
  • Do they have a sustainable water source (and do they conserve water in a sustainable way)? Most hotels and villas in Koh Samui utilize notification cards in rooms, where you will be able to notify the staff not to clean towels or linens on a daily basis if it’s not needed. Are they collecting rainwater when they can? Does the water come from a renewable natural resource? Do they use low-flow toilets and showers to help reduce water usage?
  • Does the accommodation utilize renewable natural resources for energy? Accommodation that utilizes alternative energy sources such as solar or wind power is making a solid effort to engage in sustainable tourism. Does the accommodation try it’s best to conserve energy or use any other natural methods for producing energy?
  • Does the accommodation promote recycling? An eco-friendly traveller always tries to recycle as much as possible — so you want your accommodation to provide an easy way for you to do so. Does your accommodation have a recycling plan? Is the waste from laundry, kitchens and other working areas being discarded in the most eco-friendly way?
  • What else does your accommodation do to assist the surrounding local community and help preserve the environment? Choosing the best eco-friendly place to stay can also be determined by the charitable causes which an accommodation is involved with. What charitable organizations and causes is the accommodation involved with? Do they help contribute to the overall sustainability of the local community that surrounds it?

Do you know? Starting in 2018, when you stay at our villas in Samui, we plant a tree for you! So far, we have planted over 2,000 trees!

Eco-friendly Restaurants in Koh Samui

Eco-friendly vegan restaurants Koh Samui
Photo Credit: Wild Tribe Superfood Cafe & Juice Bar on Facebook

It’s not always easy to find true eco-friendly restaurants in Koh Samui that employ local staff, make sure all food is sourced locally from sustainably grown produce, have a recycling plan and ensure only environmentally friendly products are being used for cleaning. Below is a short list of eco-friendly restaurants in Koh Samui who are known to operate in a responsible and sustainable way:

  • Greenlight Cafe & Bar Koh Samui
    The menu here features a variety of hearty choices for health-conscious eaters. They offer a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free meals in addition to more traditional options. All of their ingredients are organically grown and locally sourced. Many of them come straight from their very own garden!
    Address: 3/28 Moo1 Fisherman Village, Bophut | Phone: +66 95 615 7230
  • Yogi Cafe
    Yogi Cafe offers healthy, tasty and delicious Vegan wholefood. Most of their dishes are Raw and all Vegan. Their mission is to bring awareness of the benefits of Raw and Vegan Food by offering delicious food, smoothies and juices at their restaurant.
    Address: 62/4 Moo 4, Phangka Beach,Thaling  Ngam | Phone: +66 86 059 1117
  • Wild Tribe Superfood Cafe & Juice Bar
    Wild Tribe cafe offers cleansing programs which incorporate juices, superfood smoothies and raw food, allowing your body to detoxify, while providing all nourishment and nutrition needed for an active daily life. They also share their expert knowledge at open workshops and classes, devoting a huge part of their effort to well-being education.
    Address: 129/1 Moo 3, Maret, Koh Samui | Phone: +66 80 009 7486
  • Funky Vege Cafe
    A small and friendly vegan food cafe right on the main street in Lamai. Here they use only locally sourced ingredients to create delicious Thai and western style dishes including fresh smoothies, juices, raw cakes and vegan cheese.
    Address: 105/8 Moo 6, T.Maret Koh Samui | Phone: +66 92 936 8645

Eco-Friendly Tours and Guides in Koh Samui

  • Sightseeing and getting around. Walking or riding a bicycle is the most environmentally friendly methods to get around during your visit. But sometimes you will need to make use of a motorbike or car to get you where you need to go. Just try to rent an electric scooter or hybrid car which both use less fuel and produces less carbon emission.

    Eco-friendly bicycle tours Koh Samui
    Photo Credit: Samui Bicycle Tours on Facebook
  • Make sure you only support responsible wildlife foundations and animal sanctuaries. There are plenty of opportunities in Koh Samui to visit wildlife sanctuaries and have your photo taken with different exotic animals. But make sure you do some research on the sanctuary before you visit – to make sure it treats their animals fairly. And to make sure they are actually making suitable contributions to help sustain the local environment where those animals come from (such as elephant trekking tours, tiger zoos, monkey sanctuaries, etc).

    Eco-friendly tourism koh samui Thailand
    Photo Credit: Samui Elephant Sanctuary
  • Always book Eco-friendly tours and guides. Be sure to choose local tour operators which are truly Eco-friendly and do not harm the surrounding environment during their tours. Try your best to research the actual tour group before you make a booking to see if they are really as eco-friendly and sustainable as they claim to be.

    Eco-friendly activities Koh Samui Thailand
    Photo Credit: Koh Samui Tours on Facebook
  • Volunteer with local conservation programs and learning groups. One of the most sustainable things you can do when visiting Koh Samui is volunteer some of your time with local environment conservation initiatives like the Samui Elephant Sanctuary, Samui Dive Tribe and Pariah Dog (street-dog) Foundation.

    Green eco-travel guide Koh Samui
    Photo Credit: Samui Clean on Facebook

Buy local and help support the local economy. The minimum wage for local workers is very low compared to the high cost of living in a beautiful place like Koh Samui. So try making an effort to shop at local markets, with local people, to buy locally made products like souvenirs — rather than those that have been imported. This is a great way to help support the local community so they can have a sustainable future.

Eco-friendly sustainable travel tips Koh Samui
Photo Credit: Samui Times News

Check out these initiatives when you are in Samui:

  • Eco Koh Tao
    Eco Koh Tao’s aim is for the preservation and conservation of marine environments through education, awareness and action. This organization provides educational expertise in marine ecology & ecosystems. Every 2 weeks they conduct a beach and dive site clean-up around Koh Tao island just off the coast of Koh Samui.
    Email: [email protected]Phone: +66 (0) 91 727 7579
  • Samui Elephant Sanctuary
    Koh Samui’s first and only true ethical elephant sanctuary where elephants bathe and play together in a natural habitat. Observe how elephants rehabilitate into forest life after decades of abuse during a during a day at Samui Elephant Sanctuary.
    Address: 2/8 Moo 6 Bophut Koh Samui | Phone: +66 (0) 95 269 8343
  • Samui Dive Tribe
    Samui Dive Tribe is involved with numerous conservation projects around the island including shark tagging, reef construction and ecological monitoring.
    Address: Fishermans Village, 24/36 Moo 1, Bophut, Koh Samui | Phone: +66 77 310 934
  • Pariah Dog Koh Samui
    Pariah Dog does a great job with the local street-dogs. Their mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home as many of these homeless dogs as possible. Visitors are always welcome to volunteer.
    Address: 4169 Tambon Taling Ngam, Amphoe Koh Samui | Phone: +66 (0) 97 291 08 41
  • Samui Clean
    Samui Clean is a volunteer group dedicated to cleaning up Koh Samui. Every week they organize groups of volunteers to clean up different beaches around the island.
    Email: [email protected]Phone: +66 (0) 61 667 3433

Things to avoid in Koh Samui to be a responsible traveller:

  • Refuse unnecessary plastic packaging. Everyday packaging such as plastic bags and drinking straws can cause major problems for the natural tropical environment of Koh Samui. Try to stay aware of your plastic consumption when buying things and do your best to reuse whatever plastic materials you may already have.

    Eco-friendly travel tips Samui Thailand
    Photo Credit: Correia Patrice Adobe Stock Photos
  • Make sure you put your rubbish in the bin. You may not always find a rubbish bin or designated place to leave your rubbish when touring around different areas in Koh Samui. So if you can’t find a bin nearby, take your rubbish with you and discard it properly when you get the opportunity to do so.

    Animal conservation eco-friendly Koh Samui
    Photo Credit: Creative Commons Deposit photos
  • Don’t pay to have your photo taken with unlicensed animal touts on the street. It’s common to see locals in Koh Samui charging money to have your photo taken with exotic animals such as monkeys, rare birds or elephants. Whenever you pay unlicensed animal keepers to take a photo, you are helping support the continued exploitation of wild animals for tourism profit. If you want to take a photo with an exotic animal, make sure you do it with a responsible eco-friendly organization.

    Eco-friendly sustainable travel guide Koh Samui
    Photo Credit: Tanner in Thailand
  • Don’t disrespect local traditions and customs. An eco-friendly traveller should always be aware of the local customs and traditions where they visit. The population of Koh Samui is predominantly Buddhist, so educate yourself on how to act accordingly when dealing with local Buddhist people and don’t forget to dress conservatively when visiting sacred Buddhist temples around the island.

Being a responsible eco-friendly traveller ultimately depends on the decisions you make while travelling. Try to make choices and travel plans that help conserve the area you are visiting in order to sustain the well-being of both the local people of Koh Samui and their environment.

See our villas in Samui. Inspected and selected by

Nathan Pepperell

From New Zealand. Digital Nomad. Lived in Thailand for 5+ years.