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Introduction

koh samui

koh samui

© All Rights Reserved houzz

Ko Samui (เกาะสมุย) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. It is the third largest island in Thailand and has a population of about 47,874 people making it very underpopulated. This island started as the originally hippy backpacker destinations in the 1970s and because of the influx of massive tourism the island has changed. Although many backpacker places can still be found, most of that scene has relocated to the nearby island of Ko Pha Ngan.

One of the major advantages of Ko Samui is that it is larger with more tourist options and has an international airport. Also there is an excellent road system around the island making it easy and cheap to get around. If looking for great diving, beaches and fun, Ko Samui is an amazing place.

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Geography

The island is located only 35 kilometres northwest of the mainland, in the Gulf of Thailand. It is the largest of about 60 islands that cover the area. The island is in a circular shape and about 15 kilometres from tip to tip. Most people live along the coast because the center of the island is very dense mountainous jungle. The highest point on the island is Khao Pom, which is 635 metres. The major port is in the town of Nathon on the southwest coast of the island.

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Cities

  • Nathon is seat of the regional government and commercial hub for Samui locals. If looking for cheap food or supplies this is the town to go to. There is an old Chinese district that is interesting.

Beaches

With the growth of tourism most beaches on Ko Samui have turned into towns aimed to make foreign tourists happy. Therefore during most trips one never really has to leave the area around the beach.

  • Chaweng Beach is a large beach on the northeast coast. It is the most crowded and tourist friendly beach on the island. Along the beach there is lodging ranging from budget bungalows to luxury villas. 100 metres from the beach there is a bustling town with all kinds of western and asian food options, including a Starbucks.
  • Lamai Beach - Just south of Chaweng Beach is this smaller beach that is a little more chill and cheaper then its neighbour to the north.
  • Maenam Beach is on the north coast of the island giving this beach amazing views! Its golden sand beach is stunning and is usually less crowded then the east coast beaches. The area is still heavily Thai making food and housing more reasonably priced.
  • Bophut Beach - Known as the Fisherman's Village this beach has a more chill vibe and is a good place to relax.
  • Bang Rak Beach is home to Big Buddha, which makes it a is very relaxed beach and close to the airport.
  • Choeng Mon Beach is one of the smallest tourist beaches on the island, although it lies in a nice secluded bay on the north eastern tip of Koh Samui. This is a nice place if looking for some peace and quiet.
  • Ao Tong Takian Beach - Also known as Silver Beach, for its white sands, this small cove just north of Lamai Beach has always been popular with the ganja fans for decades.
  • Lipa Noi Beach is the only good swimming beach on the west coast of coast of the island. Looking due west it has amazing sunsets every night. Also this is one of the least touristy beaches on the island.

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Sights and Activities

Koh Samui Temple

Koh Samui Temple

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  • Big Buddha is an impressive 12-metre-high statue of Buddha. The Buddha rests at the top of the dragon-steps at the Wat Phra Yai temple on Bang Rak Beach.
  • Wat Khunaram - This nice temple has the mummified remains of Loung Pordaeng, a monk who died while meditating.
  • Ang Thong National Marine Park - Take a wonderful day trip to this beautiful national park.
  • Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks are at the south end of Lamai Beach and amuse tourists by their similarity to a penis and vagina.
  • Hiking - Explore the mountainous jungle of the interior of the island with a guide and see some impressive forests, gardens, water falls and rubber plantations.
  • Na Muang Falls are some pretty falls in the center of the island.
  • Muay Thai Boxing - Watch regular matches at several of the more popular beaches.
  • Animal Activities - Go for an elephant trek, check out a crocodile or snake farm and maybe go watch a monkey show. For the more relaxed person maybe a few hours in a butterfly garden would be nice.

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Events and Festivals

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Weather

Like much of Thailand, Ko Samui has a warm tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity. Temperatures during the day average between 29 °C and 32 °C (May - September being the warmest time) while nights are mostly around 24 °C or 25 °C. Unlike much of Thailand though, there is not a very dry or very wet season. Rain is possible during most of the year and most of this falls during October (300mm) and especially November (400mm). Then from December to March, there are still heavy rainshowers possible, while from April it becomes drier regarding the amount of rain, but there are more days with rain (around 20 versus 12-14 during December to March), meaning less intense rain.

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Getting There

By Plane

Boat to Ko Samui

Boat to Ko Samui

© All Rights Reserved xiaohu

Samui Airport (USM) is a privately owned airport approximately 2 kilometres from Chaweng Beach. Interestingly the airport has no indoor area, except for the gift shop. There are domestic flights to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phuket and U-Tapao. There are also international flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The airlines that fly in and out of Samui Airport are:

By Boat

There are several ferry ports on the island, with main ferry entrance being at Nathon. Several smaller ferry ports are at Bang Rak Beach and Maenam Beach, which have boats going to and from Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao.

By Bus

After getting to the mainland it is very easy to get buses to any major city in Thailand.

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Getting Around

By Car

With sealed roads it is very easy and cheap to get around the island in the back of a pick up truck.

By Boat

Apart from tours or chartering a boat, there are no internal passenger connections.

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Eat

All of the beaches being like little towns they have plenty of eating options.

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Drink

If looking for a large night life it is best to stick to the bigger and more crowded beaches.

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Sleep

Most beaches have a range of accommodation from budget to luxury.

View our map of accommodation in Koh Samui or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are countless internet bars across the country in big and small towns. Internet cafés are widespread and most are inexpensive. Prices as low as 15 baht/hour are commonplace, and speed of connection is generally reasonable, but many cafes close at midnight. Higher prices prevail in major package-tourist destinations (60 baht/hour is typical, 120 baht/hour is not unusual). Keyloggers are all too often installed on the computers in cheap cafes, so be on your guard if using online banking, stock broking or even PayPal. Remember that in the smaller towns and more traditional areas the owners and staff of internet bars prefer if customers take off their shoes at the entrance and leave them outside. This might seem strange although this gesture goes a far way to make friends and give a positive image of foreigners to Thai people.

Outside the most competitive tourist areas, free Wi-Fi is not as common as in neighbouring countries in many budget hotels and guesthouses and they may charge small fee for Internet by LAN or Wi-Fi even if you bring your own laptop. Wi-Fi is commonly available in cafes and restaurants serving Westerners.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international code for Thailand is 66. 999 connects to all emergency services. Standard GSM emergency number 112 is supported in mobile networks. 911 for Tourist Police Department, English available.

For mobile phone users, Thailand has three GSM mobile service providers - AIS, DTAC and Truemove - which may be useful if you have a mobile phone that will work on either one or both of the GSM 900 or 1800 frequency bands (consult your phone's technical specifications). If you have one, you can buy a prepaid SIM card for any of the Thai carriers in any convenience store for as little as 50-200 baht and charge it up as you go. Using your own mobile phone while on holiday with a Thai pre-paid SIM card can save a lot of money and lets you give your number to family back home, so they can have an emergency contact number.

Post

Thailand Post is the Thai postal service that deals with all local and international mail in Thailand. The business is operated from local post offices. Post offices are easy to recognise with their red white and blue motifs and the words 'Thailand Post' in English and Thai above the entrance. They are open from Monday to Saturday, usually 8:30am to 4:30pm (main ones until around 8:00pm), though keeping shorter hours on Saturdays (usually until 1:00pm). They are generally closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Each post office offers a comprehensive service which includes an Express Mail Service (EMS) and parcel post. They also have a price calculator for letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. They also have a track and trace system and money transfer services. If you want to send packages, it might be a good idea to check with private courier companies like DHL, TNT or UPS, as they are fast, reliable and generally quite competitively priced.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 9.5342253898258
  • Longitude: 99.9353742599487

Accommodation in Ko Samui

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Ko Samui searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Ko Samui and areas nearby.

Ko Samui Travel Helpers

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This is version 41. Last edited at 3:18 on Aug 2, 17 by sleepBot. 8 articles link to this page.

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