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Located in the gulf of Thailand, 80 Kms off the coast of Surat Thani and about 560 Kms south of Bangkok, is the magical island of Koh Samui.
The island, Thailand's third largest and measuring 21 kilometres at its widest point and 25 kilometres in maximum length, is one of a group of 80 tropical islands, most of them deserted. A mountain ridge runs east to west and most of the inner-land comprises forested hills. The rich hues of wild vegetation are dappled throughout with the contrasting greens of coconut palms and emerald paddy fields.
With a land area of approx. 280 sq. Km, Koh Samui has a local population of a mere 34,000.
Samui was the bohemians' paradise - carefree, exotic with an abundance of white sandy beaches and swaying tropical palms, indeed paradise on earth. The lack of accessibility kept Samui basking in the sunshine away from the rest of the world and especially mainstream tourism. Back then, you could get a room on the beach for as little as 200 Baht.
The local population consisting mainly of Buddhist Thais is very friendly. Until the recent arrival of tourism, coconut farming and fishing were the main sources of income. The latter are still practiced though to a lesser extent. The fish you'll eat in the many restaurants and hotel dining rooms come from the surrounding Gulf of Thailand waters.
The largest and most popular beaches on Samui are Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut and Maenam. For those looking for a quieter place to spend their holiday or business trip, there are another 20 or so beaches to choose from.
As to the activities and if you are not a beach or water sports type, there is still a lot to do and visit (Buddhist temples, boat trips, waterfalls, ...).
Koh Samui is the rare gem of the Gulf of Thailand. Conserving the idyllic simplicity of a tropical hideaway, it is mostly characterized by its powdery white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and welcoming locals where you will delight yourself in a late-day Robinson Crusoe experience in comfort.
Getting there & around
The easiest and fastest way to reach Koh Samui is by air from Bangkok, Phuket or Singapore with Bangkok Airways, the only airline to serve Koh Samui.
Samui airport must rank as one of the most beautiful in Asia and further. Its tropically planted gardens burst forth with flowering glory and greenery, year round.
You can take the Ferry from Dongsak on the mainland. The ferry arrives into Lipa Noi and takes about 1 hour.
A 50-kilometre ring road skirts Samui's coastline, giving ready access to all beaches and the little administrative centre of Nathorn with its beachside huddle of houses, shops and restaurants. The best and safest form of transport is a self-drive air-conditioned vehicle (car or 4 wheel drive jeep); motorbikes can also be hired (be cautious of traffic hazards and wear a crash helmet). You then have the freedom to explore the island and its treasures at your own pace.
It takes about an hour to drive around the island if you don't stop along the many beaches or take some of the side tracks (all of the rough trails crossing the mountainous interior are strictly 4WD or dirt bike trails).
Sights, Scenes & Sports
Against the backdrop of hills, the beaches of Koh Samui stand as one of the most sought after palm-fringed tropical destinations. The most popular spots are Chaweng and Lamai. Both are on the East coast where each day greets you with a spectacular sunrise.
In such an idyllic setting the temptation is simply to laze peacefully on the beach and soak up a tropical sun tan. But if you want more there are amenities for water sports, such as windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling. The coastal waters are exciting to explore and are especially rich in shoals of brightly coloured fish and exotic coral formations.
Principal among Samui's natural sights are two picturesque waterfalls, Hin Lat and Na Muang.
Island hopping is another attraction and boats can be easily hired for trips to Koh Pha Ngan (the nearest and largest island next to Samui), and to the smaller islands of Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan, where beautiful bays with colourful coral formations offer excellent conditions for snorkelling.
A more adventurous full day excursion can be made to Ang Thong Marine Park, a group of 40 islands northwest of Samui. Here you will see spectacular limestone formations, caves, blue lagoons and amazingly beautiful beaches.
Dining and entertainment
Most beach resorts have their own restaurants and there is vast and varied choice of places to eat, drink and enjoy. Fresh seafood and tropical fruits are the natural specialties of Samui, though you will find menus sufficiently varied to cater to all tastes. International favourites as well as spicy Thai dishes are available. We recommended you to use the Dining Guide as a reference when selecting your evening venue. Local markets and restaurants also offer great value for money with their traditional Thai food and specialties from all regions of the country.
Thailand, and therefore Samui, is fast becoming a country to be visited all year round. Samui benefits from a good weather season of about 10 months of the year.
The 'dry' season is from January till May and July through to September. Temperatures regularly reach 30 to 35 degrees till May and then 35 to 40 degrees till September with odd showers from July to September.
The 'wet' season is from mid October to mid-end December when temperatures are around the 25 to 30 degree mark. Brief tropical rain showers may occur late December and early January.
All in all, Samui, like most of Thailand, is a place for all seasons.
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