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Why now is the time to visit Koh Samui before The White Lotus crowds descend

Simon Calder’s Travel

The Thai island Koh Samui is about to be hit by the “White Lotus Effect”.

Filming for the third series is currently underway and when the show is finally released in early 2025, the island will become one of the most coveted destinations in the world. So now is the time to book that trip before prices go bananas.

As with the first two series, filmed in Maui, Hawaii, and Taormina in Sicily respectively, much of the show will be filmed in the Four Seasons Resort. The Koh Samui outpost of the famously upmarket US brand is a fantastical, tropical haven set on a hillside in the north-west corner of the island – all polished teak, cultivated jungle and a perfect arc of private beach.

But with prices currently starting at £1,000 for one night (and this is before it becomes one of the most famous film locations in the world), you need very deep pockets to stay there.

A private pool at the Ritz Carlton, Koh Samui

(Fiona McIntosh)

The good news is that there are plenty of other fabulous places to stay on Koh Samui, from family-friendly hotels, to Airbnb villas and some surprisingly swanky youth hostels.

The producers of The White Lotus have made a clever choice. Thailand’s second-largest island is rapidly becoming known as the most upmarket island in the country. Whilst it’s historically been best-known as a launching pad for Full Moon wipeout parties on Koh Pha Ngan, a 40-minute ferry ride away, things have changed.

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Koh Samui’s best restaurants have just been added to the Michelin Guide, it has its own boutique airline Bangkok Airways (which means you don’t have to suffer through that stomach-rolling ferry ride from the mainland), and it has the highest concentration of five-star hotels outside Bangkok.

Ang Thong Marine National Park, shot from the highest point of Mae Island

(Getty Images)

This was made blindingly clear to me when we were whisked from the airport (which itself looks like an open-air resort hotel) to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Koh Samui for three days of Hollywood-grade glamour. Let’s put this in context for a moment: the last time I was in Koh Samui thirty years ago, I slept on a palm mat in a beach hut. We didn’t have air con, but we did have a bottomless supply of cockroaches.

This time, I stayed in an Ultimate Pool Villa on the 58-acre Ritz Carlton estate, with panoramic views across…

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