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Overview

Two tourists arrived on Thailand’s third largest island via a coconut boat from Bangkok in 1971 and stumbled upon paradise – porcelain white sand beaches with palms blowing in the wind; clear green seas sparkling in the sunlight with ripples made for floating; a picture-perfect background of lush green hills and rich brown roads interspersed with rough wooden structures. More than 40 years later, Ko Samui is still going strong. Part of an archipelago that includes 80 smaller islands, Ko Samui has retained a legendary status among travelers to Asia for the past quarter century. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that the rough-hewn huts expanded ...

Two tourists arrived on Thailand’s third largest island via a coconut boat from Bangkok in 1971 and stumbled upon paradise – porcelain white sand beaches with palms blowing in the wind; clear green seas sparkling in the sunlight with ripples made for floating; a picture-perfect background of lush green hills and rich brown roads interspersed with rough wooden structures. More than 40 years later, Ko Samui is still going strong. Part of an archipelago that includes 80 smaller islands, Ko Samui has retained a legendary status among travelers to Asia for the past quarter century. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that the rough-hewn huts expanded into classy resorts and spas and the wander-the-world backpackers were joined by throngs of upmarket holiday-goers, placing the island firmly on the map with similar getaways such as Goa and Bali – hippy island paradises still providing all the creature comforts of home. Today Ko Samui offers something for everybody – the cheap fan bungalows share beachfront property with places boasting beautifully decorated rooms, crisp white sheets, lush gardens and lavish pools. There are crowded beaches where young boys peddle coconuts and mangoes to oil-slicked bikini-clad tourists and jet skis churn up white wash on clear seas. Some arrive, planning to stay a week, and three months later are still entranced. Others look around, say “it’s done,” and move on. Popularity doesn’t come without a price – more people means more traffic, more noise and more rubbish. Whatever your opinion, however, no one can deny Ko Samui is a beautiful place. You’ll have to visit for yourself to decide whether it’s worth staying.

Joe Cummings
About the Expert

Joe Cummings has contributed to more than 35 guidebooks, maps, atlases, phrasebooks and photographic works, including his bestselling Lonely Planet Thailand and Buddhist Stupas of Asia: The Shape of Perfection.

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Joe Cummings for Triporati

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Now Happening in Ko Samui

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Ko Samui, or often simply Samui as it is referred to by locals, is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus in Thailand. It is located close to the mainland town of Surat Thani in Surat Thani Province.
  • Language: Thai
  • Currency: Thai Baht
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December through May (the dry season)