Nestled on the east coast of Thailand in the Gulf of Thailand, lies an island which has become known as a tourist destination, competing with the older and better-known spots in and near Bangkok and Phuket. The island of Koh Samui is one of a group of small islands, many seen in major motion pictures and photo galleries exemplifying the tropical paradise so many of us yearn to find.
The island is around 230 square kilometers, large enough to boast at least twelve beautiful beaches, an international airport, and several small towns bustling with activity. It is surrounded by at least 60 smaller islands, which comprise the vast Ang Thong National Marine Park, which is reputed globally as a true snorkelers’ and divers’ paradise.
Koh Samui is not only about beaches and beachfront activity; the island has a mountain at the center which rises over 2, 000 feet. This provides some fantastic views of the island, the sea, and the many surrounding islands of the archipelago, and some nice waterfalls are there for exploring.
Hotels, restaurants, bars, and nightlife vary from beach to beach. For those looking for the livelier spots, Chaweng Beach and Lamai Beach will fit the bill. For those looking for quieter, more romantic spots, Bhoput, Big Buddha Beach, and Na Thon are recommended. Hotels are widely advertised on the Internet, with detailed descriptions and rates, ranging from simple Inns to world-class luxury hotels who charge the rates to prove it.
The weather is tropical, meaning HOT. January through March tend to be around 30C, while later in the year it can be as high as 36! Pick your time carefully, and beware the rainy season – this peaks normally in November, but no two years are exactly the same.
As they say, getting there is half the fun… Flights to and from Bangkok are almost hourly, and quite expensive by local standards. Regular flights are also available from Hong Kong, Singapore, and other airports in Thailand, including Chang Mai and Phuket. Many prefer the lower-cost and more scenic bus/ferry method of travel for the final leg of their trip.
Busses leave Surat Thani airport continuously, taking you for a paid-combination to the ferry, most arriving in the port of Na Thon. If possible, it has been recommended to take the Seatran combination – the ferries are much larger and more comfortable. Be careful of the ferry you take; this part of the world is notorious for overcrowding ferries, especially at peak season and around holidays.