Koh Samui is a beautiful tropical island, located in the Gulf of Thailand, amidst azure blue water and an archipelago of small green islands ringed by white sand. The coconut island’s allure is its relaxed lifestyle. Buildings are no higher than the palm trees and bars and restaurants are mostly small and personal. Besides lying on the beach and the usual water activities, a visit to the monkey school – where monkeys are trained to collect coconuts from the tall palm trees – is a great way to enjoy yourself. The markets along the main Chaweng Beach are a must, offering great value and a chance to take a break at one of the excellent restaurants the island has to offer.
Coming after Phuket and Koh Chang, Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest island at 247 sq. km., and in the last decade it has become one of Southeast Asia’s premier tourist destinations.
Samui sits in the Gulf of Thailand, surrounded by other smaller tropical island gems like Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao, and is located 84 km. east of Surat Thani, the provincial capital on the mainland. With soft-sand beaches shaded by towering palms, delicious fresh seafood and a vibrant nightlife, Samui has a magical formula that seems to cast its spell on everyone. Many visitors are content to laze their days away on the beach, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the turquoise waters, but for action enthusiasts there are plenty of choices like diving and snorkelling, windsurfing and paragliding, beach volleyball, off-road driving, and other similar activities.
One of the island’s most appealing features is the loop road, which makes a 50 km. circuit around the island, giving a glimpse of superb beaches on the north, east and west coasts. It runs past sleepy fishing villages and through seas of coconut palms, passing Samui’s most impressive waterfall and tempting turn-offs into the highlands along the way. Other attractions on or near the road include a butterfly garden, snake show, a monkey-training centre, and health spas dedicated to pampering the body.
There is plenty on Samui to keep even the most jaded traveller happy for a long time, but for anyone spending even a few days here, an opportunity not to be missed is a trip to the emerald islands of the Mu Ko Angthong Marine National Park, which offers another perspective of a tropical paradise and also the infamous full moon party on neighbor island Koh Phangan only a short boat ride away.