The natural beauty that you expect from an island paradise can be found in Ko Samui, Thailand. It has powdery-white sand beaches, majestic blue green water, calm wind, lush hills and forests. Because of these outstanding qualities, Ko Samui has managed to share the same limelight with the more sophisticated and trendy Phuket.
The island, which is situated on the east coast of Thailand’s lower southern gulf, was originally a hidden jewel of the backpacker community. However in recent years, it has undergone some development in hopes of making it a certified tourist destination that caters to families and luxury travelers.
Part of Samui’s charm is that it offers something for everyone. You are treated to a wide range of choices when it comes to accommodation, eating, drinking and shopping. You can find modern shopping strips, western-oriented bars and commercial chains like McDonalds and Starbucks. However, if you prefer a more authentic traveling experience, you can opt to visit the numerous food stalls and restaurants that offer cheap local cuisines and delights.
In Samui, there are crowded beaches filled with tourists clad in their bikinis enjoying beach and the sun; but there are also isolated spots for people who search for calm and serenity. Hat Chaweng is undisputedly the most popular beach on the island, thus it is the most populated. This beach is an ideal spot to meet other people if you’re travelling alone. Lamai is another crowded beach in the eastern part of the island. Both Chaweng and Lamai have the most bars and restaurants; and therefore, offer the most exhilarating nightlife.
Hat Boa Phut Beach is quieter compared to Chaweng and Lamai. Often described as romantic beach, Bo Phut is an ideal spot to get away from the crowd and loud music. There are a couple of pubs on this beach that offer a more relaxed and mellow entertainment. If you explore the northern end of the Ko Samui, you can find other secluded beaches like Mae Nam and Hat Bang Rak (Big Buddha Beach).
Although cheap, fan-ventilated cottages can still be found on the island, there are more lodging places that fall into the mid-range and high-end categories. The beaches are near each other and each one is equipped with villas and beachfront resorts with lavish rooms and elaborate pools. If you find it difficult to decide, take your time and check as many beaches and resorts as you can. Do not settle for the first place that a driver takes you. Public transportation drivers usually earn commission from resorts and hotels if they bring in guests.
Koh Samui has an international airport with flights to and from Bangkok and other international destinations operating on a daily basis. You also have the option of taking a ferry to the island if you’re coming from the mainland towns like Surat Thani. You can hire a taxi from the airport to transport you to the beach of your choice. Cheaper transportation options include taking the locally-designed bus, called Songthaew, and motorcycle taxis. Make sure to research the prevailing rates for local transportation as drivers tend to overcharge tourists. If you are staying for a longer period of time then consider renting a car or scooter to go around the island more conveniently.