Koh Samui is the 3rd largest of Thai islands and the main island of 50+ islands that make up the Samui Archipelago. It is believed fisherman from the Thai-Malay Peninsula and Southern China first inhabited the island 1000 years ago.
The islands first appeared on Chinese nautical maps 324 years ago. Where the name Samui comes from is vague, some say it is derived from the word "Mui", a local tree, others say it’s derived from the Chinese word for "safe haven", "saboey". Either way it has a nice ring to it and sounds pretty cool.
The first roads did not appear on Samui until the late 60’s. Previous to this locals traveled by foot or boat between villages, enjoying a simple life having little contact with the outside world.
Samui remained largely unknown outside of Thailand until the first backpackers arrived by boat in the 70’s. The island became a fantasy paradise for travelers in the know. The opening of the airport in the early 90's put Samui on the International tourist radar.
As the second most popular tourist island destination in Thailand, Samui has accommodation to suit all comers, from budget bungalows to luxurious 5 star resorts and private villas. Testament to the islands rapid progress is the presence of big name hoteliers, such as W, Six Senses, Banyan Tree, Conrad and Four Seasons. Even with the recent economic turmoil, Samui is still moving forward as a luxury island destination.
Dining on Samui is a pleasure that truly appeases the senses. Organic fresh produce and the best seafood we’ve ever tasted, all prepared by some of the finest chefs lured to the culinary arts. Food is a big part of life in Thailand, and that’s easy to see when you take a tour of the islands here. You can barely walk 10 metres through a built up area without passing some type of food outlet.
Samui has great mid-range to high-end eateries, but don’t pass up what you might not normally think is a "good place to eat". Thai road-side food restaurants have some of the tastiest meals you’ll eat on Samui, at an unbelievably cheap prices. Besides the gastronomic delight, our restaurants have some of the best views and romantic locations, complimented by a unique ambience one can only find on Samui.
As Samui is basically an island almost fully dedicated to people being on holiday the nightlife entertainment is vast and varied. From up-market cocktail bars, romantic drinks on the beach, to lively bar-beers and base heavy clubs. Most of the entertainment is based around Chaweng and Lamai, both have venues from one extreme to the other. The less populated tourist areas have many bars that do get lively, but with most you can enjoy a quiet drink amongst other like-minded tourists and at a cheaper price.
The greatest attraction for Samui tourists is with out doubt our fantastic beaches, there are many to suit all tastes. The sad thing is many people don’t experience anything but the beach and the resorts around them. If you scratch the surface of Samui there’s a whole other world of interesting things to see and do. Yes Samui is a tourist island, but you can also experience authentic Thai life here, something you rarely find in Thai resort destinations. Only minutes away from the likes of Chaweng or Lamai you can see village life as it has gone on for 100’s of years.
There are wonderful examples of Thai Buddhist temples right across the island.
Beautiful waterfalls, jungle treks, mountain viewpoints where you can enjoy a bargain priced lunch with great views across the island.
There is plenty for kids and adults alike with the crocodile farm, snake farms, zoo/aquarium and butterfly garden. For those who’d like a bit of adventure, there are an abundant variety of tours and activities to enjoy, some more rigorous than others.
The Koh Samui Archipelago was actually the inspiration for Alex Garland’s cult book and screenplay, "The Beach". Although most of the filming was done on Phi Phi Island in the Andaman Sea, Samui and the Ang Thong Marine Park is where the idea came from. If you do anything when you visit Samui, a tour of the Marine Park should be top of the list. There are many tour operators all with a similar itinerary of swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and a tour of the emerald lake.
For those that would prefer something more off the beaten track, just off the coast at the southern tip of the island are the small islands of Tan and Matsum. Not many tourists make the trip to these islands. There’s a boardwalk running through a mangrove forest on Koh Tan, a pristine beach to chill-out on or kayak off and great snorkeling on reefs alive with fish and corals. If you’re looking for something a little more private, perhaps romantic, why not charter a yacht for a sunset sail around the island? If you’re in a group or have more time there’s some great options for 2 and 4 day tours aboard a fully crewed yacht. The prices are fairly reasonable considering.
A major draw card for some is the world-class diving. There are opportunities to dive with the magnificent whale shark, visit massive pinnacles rising from the sea floor, beautiful coral reefs, rock formations, and many species of tropical fish. The Gulf of Thailand is an idyllic spot for diving, as it is sheltered from the open ocean. It’s possible to dive all year round here, although you might be taking a chance in November, the absolute best time of year is May through August. Due to the calm conditions it is also one of the best places to learn to dive. There are many dive companies on Samui, Phangan and Tao, all with courses for beginner to advanced diver. Around Koh Tao is where most of the best dive spots are located. Some people base themselves on Koh Tao for the diving, others prefer to do full day trips from Koh Samui, options are aplenty.
Everywhere you go on Samui, be it the high street or on the beach you can be sure to find a good massage. For therapeutic indulgence this was once the sum of it. Not anymore, Samui now boasts some of the world’s best spa facilities, many are part of the big brand hotel resorts, like Banyan Tree, Anantara, Six Senses. In addition to the hotel option we now have many fully dedicated spa facilities opening up right around the island, even on the high streets of Chaweng and Lamai.
So there’s plenty to do here on our beautiful island, whether it’s taking it easy or being active there’s an abundance of choice.