The 247sqkm (95sqmi) island, 496km (310mi) south of Bangkok, is
Surat Thani's major tourist attraction. Koh Samui, with numerous
lovely beaches and bays, measures some 21km (13mi) at its widest
point and 25km (16mi) at its longest. A 51km (32mi) ring road
largely encircles the island.
Koh Samui is a favorite with young and old, singles and
families, Thais and International visitors.
The local Thai population of some 35,000 are an extremely warm
and friendly people, displaying ready smiles. Not so surprising
really when you realise that they have the good fortune of
enjoying Samui's laid-back lifestyle all year round.
Features and attractions include natural beauty, waterfalls,
national parks, inland mountains, coral reefs, extensive white
sand beaches, scuba diving, four-wheel-driving, elephant
trekking, mountain tours, island tours, national park tours,
accomodation, night life, zoos, parks, gardens, temples, wats,
restaurants, markets, fishing villages, buffalo fights, working
monkeys, snake farms, butterfly farms, bungalows, 5-Star
accomodations, PADI & BSAC dive courses, land & house rentals
Samui's best beaches line the northern and eastern coasts. The
most popular beaches are Chawaeng and Lamai where the most
attractive accommodation is found.
Besides beaches, other island attractions include the Hin Lut
and Na Muang waterfalls, the phallic rock formations at the
southern end of Lamai Bay, a massive seated Buddha image on Fan
isle, and Naton, the island's major seafront settlement with
shops, restaurants, tour agencies and hotels.
Climate and Weather
Unfortunately visitors are sometimes incorrectly informed
about Koh Samui's seasons prior to their departure. Not everyone
is aware for example, that we do not have the same rainy season
as does Phuket.
February is high season on the island, as people from colder
climates take refuge in Koh Samui's balmy tropical weather. With
the monsoon passed, this is a great month to take in the sun and
the surf before the weather really heats up. Daily high
temperatures average 25C and although the humidity is high in
this region the heat is seldom unpleasant, fanned as Koh Samui
is by the gentle sea breezes of the Gulf
Generally speaking, between the months of January and September,
most days will be filled with sun, except for the occasional
downpour, which usually doesn't last long. The frequent showers
(not monsoons) come in October, and last until sometime in
December. Water sports enthusiasts should note that the sea can
get rough at this time, and visibility can be affected.
The Beaches of Koh Samui
Koh Samui is known for its incredible beaches, but there are
also beautiful forested interiors, quiet coconut groves, sleepy
little villages and happening nightspots. While some of the most
visited spots are described here, there are lots of other places
to see on the island, but they generally aren't marked by signs.
The best way to experience them is to get off the main road and
explore, either by car, motorscooter, bicycle or foot.
Nathon is no longer the biggest town on the island, but it
continues to be the island's primary connection point to the
mainland. All government offices and banks are here, (the post
office is at the north end of the oceanside road) along with the
pier and ferries destined for Koh Pha-Ngan. Shops here are a bit
less expensive than Lamai and Chaweng, owing mainly to the
cheaper rent. Most shops are on the inland road, which is a one
way going south. But the oceanside road has a number of good
restaurants for breakfast or lunch, and the middle road gives a
lovely glimpse into Samui's local world. Old teak Chinese style
shop houses line this lane which is spared most of the traffic
of the outer roads. While nightlife in Nathon is limited to the
7-11 and a few karaoke bars, there is an excellent seafood
restaurant just north of the community center on the oceanfront
Located along the northeastern side of Koh Samui, Chaweng is
the longest beach, about nine kms, with the main strip of soft,
sandy shore stretching five kms. It's not only the biggest
beach, it's the liveliest. All the attractions are easily
accessed by the road which runs parallel to the beach.
Central Chaweng Beach has the greatest concentration of venues,
and most of the nightlife attractions are located here. A good
choice of music venues ranges from traditional Thai to jazz,
rock to reggae and many of them keep going until dawn. Food
lovers can find just about anything, whether it be Thai or
western, and there are some very good seafood restaurants.
Chaweng has the greatest number of dive shops on Koh Samui, many
of which organise night dives off the beach. Despite all the
activity, however, Chaweng still maintains the classic image of
a palm-fringed tropical beach.
Koh Samui's second most popular beach, Lamai is a little
looser, a little quieter and offers all that Chaweng can offer,
but on a slightly smaller and more intimate scale. Measuring
about 4 kms, (or half the size of Chaweng), Lamai shores are
home to several huge, smooth boulders, some of which amazingly
resemble beached whales. The fascinating rock formations extend
into the sea, along with a flourishing coral reef that thrills
snorkelers. There are some real home-style al fresco places with
Thai and western food, the saloons offer live bands, video
features and a variety of food styles, and there are few discos
which start swinging at about midnight.
Lamai has a broad selection of bungalow type accommodation,
ranging from the budget end of the scale to the magnificent, the
latter with landscaped gardens, swimming pool and seclusion. The
farther out of town you go, the more peaceful it becomes. Along
the narrow road that runs a few hundred meters from the sea, one
can shop for sundries, souvenirs and much of what is offered in
Bophut is one of Koh Samui's oldest settlements and remains
a quaint little fishing village, with several of the seafront
shophouses converted into restaurants. There is a gigantic and
magnificent sitting Buddha statue on a promontory. It is a
commanding landmark that can be seen kilometers away, and
inspiring, especially when an evening sunset casts a majestic
silhouette on this 'Phra Yai' against an orange tinted horizon.
The sleepy fishing village of Bo Phut offers two shops and a
bicycle rental. There's a morning market for early birds. The
placid waters are fine for swimming, though the shores may have
coarse sand. A marvelously meditative region that provides
reliable retreats for thorough rest and relaxation.
Taling Ngam Beach
Talingnam and Pagoda wrap around the southwest rim of the
island, beginning from the auto-ferry at Thong Yang Bay to meet
Lamai on the other side. This is the least developed Koh Samui
tourist area, assuring the most seclusion. Surrounded by the
clearest of Koh Samui's gorgeous blue-green seas and filled with
colorful reefs, it's the place for excellent underwater sports
and aquatic enjoyment. Talingnaam Beach, facing West, is a
perfect spot for watching vibrant Samui sunsets on an uncrowded
Big Buddha Beach
To the east of Bophut and takes its name from the twelve
metre tall statue sitting out on an islet connected to Koh Samui
by causeway. This is part of the Koh Fan temple, which is the
focal point of this area; there is no town as such, although
there are plenty of little shops and restaurants around the
temple. The beach itself is very quiet and peaceful and waters
Two kilometres to the west of Bophut. There is a largish
village here with several small restaurants and some dive and
wind surf centres. Maenam has a smooth white beach running for
four kilometres along the calm, scenic bay. This a pleasant,
secluded spot for swimming and sunbathing and attracts families
and honeymooners. For nightlife you need to travel.
Choeng Mon Beach
Situated eastwards past Big Buddha. A remote and quiet part
of the island it has several smaller capes and bays, some of
which have been developed into self-contained resorts. Owing to
the geography of Choeng Mon Beach there is no central village:
this really is where you can get away from it all.
Thong Krut Bay
It is at the south side of the island. There is a tiny
village here and some inexpensive accommodation. This is also a
jumping-off point for Koh Taen, also known as island of No Dog,
and an unscheduled boat service will ferry you across the three
kilometre stretch of water where the tourists wishing to stay
overnight can find bungalow accommodation.
Bang Po Bay
Fringed with coral reefs and with its calm sea is one of the
better places for snorkeling. There is some attractive bungalow
style accommodation to be had here.
Just south of Nathon is one of the best places to catch the
sunset. There are a couple of good bungalows on Lipa Noi and a
nice seafood restaurant called Big John's. But the real wonder
of Lipa Noi is the shallow water. You can wade out for two
hundred meters and the water is never more than waist deep. The
velvety feel of the ocean bottom here attracts local children as
well as visitors in the late afternoons.
The Chaweng strip affords a wide choice of fun places.
Outdoor cafes and bars light up the sky, adjacent to the
futuristic disco palace. Too much fun! Open bars beckon for some
leisurely chats. The Jazz Junction, which is at Chaweng Beach
Road, offers quiet elegance, divine cocktails, cool jazz, smooth
grooves and sunshine soul. In North Chaweng, at the Island
Resort's Rock Island Pub, you get great music and a cozy
atmosphere. Another interesting place is the Blue Samui for an
authentic Samui culinary experience too, topped with a cool
drink in an open-air, natural-style bar restaurant.
At The Club a different atmosphere greets you warm candlelight
and electric music, acid jazz, soul, funk, mellow grooves, etc.
and a rare feeling of oneness with the crowd. How about some
light entertainment? Then come to the Coffee Boys or the Coffee
Girls for Samui's own brand of cabaret show on Soi Palmburger.
Another show of note is Christy's Cabaret.
The Green Mango Club & Restaurant is the biggest party place and
is on the inland side of Chaweng's access road. Dancing starts
at 10 p.m. and lasts until the wee hours of the morning. The big
dance floor throbs. The Reggae Pub in Chaweng, noted for its
logo with the face of Bob Marley, is another trendy nightspot.
As the name connotes, Reggae music is the fixture here and live
bands lead expressive dancing. The Doors Pub, with its
unassuming exterior and decor, will surprise you with great
music and never ending fun. Named after the popular band of the
60's headed by Jim Morrison, The Pub offers good tunes and good
times. Another top disco attraction is Santa Fe. The high-tech
interiors liven the atmosphere, the play of lights and super
music, inject inspiration to dancing souls
Koh Samui has two modern hospitals that offer a 24-hour
emergency service and the service is first class. There is also
a smaller hospital called the Chaweng Hospital. Standards of
medical care here are not as high as at the two major hospitals
and therefore it is recommended that visitors only attend to
minor conditions at this facility.
The big hospitals are all connected with SOS International for
emergency medical evacuation flights home and have patient
transfer services to larger hospitals in Bangkok. Additionally,
many hotels are linked by a 24-hour service to the hospitals.
Ambulances are available if needed, but the response times to
emergency calls are typically very slow and in no way comparable
with the medical emergency network in the western world.
Therefore, in an extreme emergency, it may be wise to consider
transporting the patient to the hospital yourself instead of
waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
The language barrier between the medical staff at the hospitals
and the visiting tourists is always present, however, in the
face of the economic weight of the local tourist industry,
special care has been taken to ensure some competence in the
English language by both doctors and nurses. Besides the
hospitals, Koh Samui has also a network of community doctors who
operate small clinics similar to that of a dentist.
Bangkok Airways has eight non-stop flights daily from
Bangkok to Koh Samui. Departures are from the early morning
until mid-afternoon. While departure times might change every 6
months, the changes are likely to be minimal while the frequency
is basically maintained. Flight time is around 1:10hr.
Bangkok Airways has two flights daily from Phuket to Koh Samui.
Departures are in the late morning and the mid-afternoon. Flight
time is 40min.
From Bangkok you can travel by rail, leave the capital
Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station on Rama IV Road in the
evening or at night and arrive at Phunphin Station in Surat
Thani the next morning. Train fare roundtrip is Bt1,300 for an
air conditioned 2nd class sleeper.
From Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal on Pinklao - Nakhon
Chaisi Road (in Thonburi) to a ferry terminal for Koh Samui at
Donsak; 779km, non-aircon 172 Baht, 20:45; aircon 288 Baht,
20:00, 2nd cl 204 Baht, 19:30
Koh Samui can be reached by ferry, speedboat and car ferry
Ferries from Donsak near Surat Thani city depart for Koh Samui
at 8:30, 10:00. 14:00 and 17:00. Sailing time is slightly over
one hour. Departures on Koh Samui are at 7:30, 10:00, 14:00 and
16:30. The fare one way is 40 Baht; children pay half. There are
additional trips on public holidays.
Express boats from the Tha Thong (Thong Pier) in Surat Thani
connect to Ko Samui. Most of the boats also continue to the next
island, Koh Phagnan, though the late afternoon trips typically
only go to Koh Samui. Departures at Tha Thong are at 7:30, 12:00
and 14:00. The trip takes 2 hours to Ko Samui, slightly more
than 3 hours to Koh Phangan (with a half hours stop over at Koh
From Koh Samui, departures are at 7:30, 12:00 and 15:00.
The fare for the one way trip between Tha Thong and Koh Samui is
80 Baht, the one way fare from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan is 55
Baht (Tha Thong direct to Koh Phangan is only 105 Baht). The
express boats are of the Songserm Borikarn Company, 121/7 Hua
Chang Bridge, Phayathai Road, Bangkok, Tel 251-8994, 254-7318.
Transportation on Koh Samui is available either by rented
motorcycles or jeeps, or by passenger pickups (minibuses) which
circle the island. Typical prices include: Naton dock or ferry
dock to Ban Mae Nam 10 Baht; to Ban Plai Laem 15 Baht; to
Chawaeng Beach 20 Baht; to Lamai Beach 15 Baht.
The Big Buddha
Samui's most popular attraction, The Big Buddha sitting 15
meters tall was built in 1972 by the local society to give
visitors a place to pay respect to The Lord Buddha. This
monumental landmark is placed on the island's Northern shore.
Blue Stars Sea Kayaking
Explore the secret caves and hidden lagoons of the
spectacular Marine National Park, famous from the movie "The
Beach". Blue Stars offers daily kayaking and snorkeling tours
using the world's no.1 recreational kayaks so adventure seekers
of all ages can enjoy this memorable experience. Day tours
include hotel and boat transfers, meals, soft drinks, all
equipment, English/German speaking guides, dry bags for cameras
Office at The Gallery La Fayette, near the Green Mango
Tel: (077) 413-231.
Treasure Island Mini Golf
Kohh Samui's newest attraction! Treasure Island offers 18
holes of adventure mini golf designed to create a challenge for
players to better the course record or just for an enjoyable
time for the whole family. The place is beautifully landscaped
and the course takes you on a different adventure at every hole.
A club house between the 9th and 10th holes that serves beer,
soft drinks and ice-cream, giving you a break before continuing
on to the last 9 holes. Open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
with the last tee off at 11:00 p.m.
Samui Golf Club and Driving Range
Samui's only Golf Club. Here you can enjoy the use of a 250
yard driving range, and a putting green. There are
professional golf teachers on hand and the golf pro shop has
equipment for rent and for sale. There is also an exquisite
restaurant with a great view.
Hin Lad & Namuang Falls
Explore these refreshing waterfalls in the hills just off the
main road 3 km and 11 km respectively from Nathon Pier. Namuang
actually consists of two waterfalls - the smallest one with a
fall of 18 meters is accessible by a car or motorbike and ideal
for swimming. The larger one with a fall of 80 meters demands a
20-minute walk into the hills.
Naga Pearl Farm
Visit the Naga Pearl Farm and discover how pearls are
cultured. A 30-minute boat ride from Ban Thong Krut landing will
bring you to Koh Matsum and the Naga Pearl Farm. After you learn
about pearl culture, you will enjoy eating Thai food and spend
the afternoon on the white sandy beach. Don't miss the Naga
Pearl Shop, located at 81/1 Ban Thong Krut, where all varieties
of pearl and pearl products are offered. Pearl shells and
special handicrafts are very nice souvenirs to bring back home.
Set on a scenic hillside and with a spectacular view of the
sea, the Butterfly Garden is located on the southeast part of
the island at Laem Set beach. The garden is home to dozens of
lovely butterflies and other tropical species. This popular
attraction is a must see during your visit.
Hin Ta & Hin Yai
Grandfather and Grandmother Rock - two of the island's
most natural phenomena, located at the southernmost point of
Lamai. These rocks attract numerous tourists coming to Koh Samui
because of their uncanny resemblance to the male and female
Namuang Waterfall 1 & Elephant Trekking
Located on the 4169 ring road The Nammuang Waterfall is one
of the nice natural environments on Koh Samui. Why not do it on
the back of one of these amazing animals. Short or long rides
available, all ages welcome.
The Samui Aquarium
Located at Laem Set Beach - coming from Lamai simply make
the first left past the Fishing Village. Tel: (077) 424-017
A great place to start or end your tour. Thailand's only
privately owned aquarium. Check out the Asian Bengal and Leopard
Tigers too! They don't swim but you'll enjoy them tremendously.
A photograph and memory of Koh Samui you will always remember.
The famous mummified monk sits in this temple. Sitting
cross-legged on the floor as if in a meditation position, this
monk has been dead for over 20 years and still remains in the
same position today. What is so amazing about this body is the
fact that he has deteriorated so little over the last 20 years,
and still sits preserved in this temple, built especially for
Ang Thong Marine National Park
The park comprises some 40 islands northwest of Koh Samui
covering some 250sqkm (97sqmi) of which 50sqkm (19sqmi) is land
mass. The most attractive islands include Koh Wua Talap
(Sleeping Cow island), Koh Mae Koh (Mother island), Koh Prayat
(Economical island), Koh Sam Sao (Tripod island), Koh Nai Pud
(Mr Pud's island), and Koh Wua Teh (Kicking Cow island). Most
islands are limestone masses reaching heights of up to 400m
(1313ft), fringed by beaches and tropical rain forest.
The park office is on Koh Wua Talap where bungalow-style
accommodation is available. Popular sites include Hat Chan
Charat (Moonlight Beach), a high viewpoint and the Tham Bua Bok
(Wating Lotus Cave, named after spectacular stalactite and
stalagmite formations). An emerald saltwater lake known as Thale
Nai on Koh Mae Koh is the park's major attraction; to reach it
requires a strenuous climb, but the resultant view is well worth
Visitors wishing to stay overnight on Koh Wua Talap should make
advance bookings at the Ang Thong Marine National Park Office,
145/1 Talatlang Rd, Surat Thani city, Tel (077) 28-3025 or the
National Parks Division in Bangkok (Tel 579-0529, 579-1842).
Ang Thong Marine National Park is reached most conveniently from
Naton Pier on Koh Samui. Boats leave the pier everyday.
This 191sqkm (74sqmi) island directly north of Koh Samui can
be explored largely by motorcycles along dirt trails.
Attractions include the Tan Sadet Waterfall some 30km (19mi)
from the district office, the Laem (Cape), Hat Rin (Rin Beach),
some 12km (8mi) from the district office, and the Paen National
Park, 4km (3mi) from the district office.
Koh Samui's northern neighbour, Koh Pha-Ngan is more tranquil,
and has equally good beaches and fine snorkelling. Its renowned
beach parties at Hat Rin are popular with backpackers, though
not with the local police. The island is a half-hour boat ride
from Koh Samui.
For those of you who want a little more than just sitting by
the pool and reading a book, Koh Samui has some outstanding
action and adventure activities to participate in. Imagine sea
canoeing through the magical hongs of Angthong National Marine
Park, Scuba Diving in the Gulf of Thailand, Horse Back Riding
along the beaches and Elephant Trekking through Samui's verdant
jungle folige, there is Sailing, Deep Sea Fishing, Snorkeling
..... the list is endless.
Koh Samui has it all. In the daytime on the main beaches you can
hire a jet ski, go para gliding or just take a stroll and soak
up the sun and atmosphere. This place has something for
everybody to do and participate in.
Clothing, Leather goods, Thai silks, Antiques, Pearls,
Crafts, Souvenirs and Resort wear begin a long list of tempting
products. You can buy Designer label products here and the not
so authentic versions. Thai handicrafts from all regions of
Thailand can be purchased and if you go to the Koh Samui Hemp
Store, you'll find eco-friendly, handmade products.
Gold Nielloware - a Thai product originally intended for
court use and historically made only by special order, can also
be found at many locations along with Celadon, originally royal
crockery stoneware. Khon masks of demons and monkeys, characters
from traditional Thai Kohn dramas, are also represented here.
Baskets - There is a Thai basket for every purpose and you can
probably find it on Koh Samui. Seashells and seashell products
are also abundant in a number of shops. Authentic Antiques,
Wood carvings, indoor and outdoor Bronze wares, Teakwood
furniture, Porcelain, Buddha images, Pottery, Paintings and
countless other decorative items are on sale.
Silver, Gold and Jade items, Colored gems and very finely
finished Jewelry products can also be found. Reputable stores
will give you a certificate of authenticity and value.