Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest island and the largest in the south-east of the Gulf of Thailand. Koh in the Thai language means island and there are around eighty islands surrounding Samui: Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao and Koh Tan are the closest and also inhabited. Samui is more than 280 sq. km. in area and has a population of approximately 34,000.
The most popular beaches are Chaweng beach, Lamai beach, Bophut beach and Maenam beach. The Samui interior is a tropical jungle with hills up to 600 metres high.
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You can economize by making the trip from Bangkok (or elsewhere) to Samui by taking the train, and if you have the time, it can be good fun. Most people opt for a second-class berth in a fan-cooled or air-conditioned compartment, while a private first-class cabin for two can be very romantic! Either way, the cabin service is usually quite good
While the trip is long and the noise of the train may wake you up often, new friendships are sometimes made during the journey. Don’t forget to take a bottle of water and tissue paper on board with you. The conductor will waken you prior to your early morning arrival in Suratthani, but you might want to take a small alarm clock with you in case.
NOTE: If no sleeping berths or (reclining) seats in second class carriages are available, think very carefully before buying a third class train ticket. The seats are straight backed and fairly rigid, and the carriages can get very full and warm. It might be the longest journey of your life.
When you disembark at Suratthani, employees of the bus company will be waiting to stow your bags in the correct bus that will take you to the ferry pier for the boat ride to Samui.
When you board the ferry, if you’re still sleepy, you can buy a seat in the “VIP” aircon lounge for 40 baht. The seats recline and are very comfortable.
These Rail-Bus-Ferry tickets can be purchased at the train station in Bangkok. For the return trip from Samui, you can buy them on the island at Songserm and other travel agents.
While it has certain drawbacks, the bus is easily the most economical way to travel, and an adventure in itself. You can buy tickets and board at the major Bangkok public bus stations, or if you are stopping at Khao San Road, you can catch an overnight bus departing in the evening, to all southern destinations including Samui. You will stop very early in the morning at Suratthani, which is the mainland access city to Samui, where you will transfer to another bus for the trip to the ferry that crosses to the island.
Be aware that not all buses are the same. Spending a few baht more can make a significant difference in comfort. The most comfortable are probably the overnight “Super VIPs.” These air-conditioned double decker vehicles have toilets, seats that lean back quite far with leg rests at the bottom, and they also supply blankets for the journey. All buses stop at least once for refreshment, but little or no food or drink is served on board. An evening video is almost always shown on an overhead TV, and played at volumes that may make sleep difficult. However once the film ends around 10:00 pm, if you’re lucky, you may sleep through much of the night.
Khao San Road:
Known to readers of every budget traveler’s guide, this little corner of the city is the first stop for many first-time travelers to Thailand who wish to spend a little time in Bangkok before continuing their journey. Catering especially to “backpackers”, most find Khao San Road a very hospitable place, and the easiest way to ease into the country with a minimum of culture shock. All the merchants and travel agents speak English, there are second-hand bookshops, coffee shops and inexpensive guesthouses, and many spend a few very comfortable days there chatting with travelers from all over the world before moving on to their next destination.
Tour buses run directly from Bangkok to Samui, and Samui to Bangkok via the vehicle ferry from Donsak in Suratthani Province.
If you are planning to drive to Donsak Ferry pier and put your vehicle on board, plan to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to the departure of the boat you wish to take, so that you are not too far back in the queue.
The direct flight from Don Muang airport in Bangkok to Samui is by far the most convenient way to come. Samui Airport is privately owned and operated by Bangkok Airways and the price of the ticket is high by comparison to other comparable destinations throughout the country, however the airport is a sight for sore eyes (and sore bodies.) This delightful little facility has won International awards for its environmentally friendly design and bucolic charm.
Note: Bear in mind you will be required to pay a 450 baht per person surcharge upon your departure from Samui airport, payable in baht.
An economical option to consider is a flight from Bangkok to Suratthani with Thai Airways. The cost of the ticket is substantially less than the Bangkok Airways direct flight to Samui. However from Suratthani you will still have to take a bus from the airport to the ferry for the 1 hour 20 minute boat ride across. Because of the ferry and flight schedules, this itinerary seems more practical going than coming.
December to February (main season) it can get up to 30C(86F). Sometimes brief tropical rain, mostly in December.
March to June, it becomes very hot, up to 40C (114F), rarely raining.
July to September (main season) is hot, but some days it also rains.
June, October, November are rainy seasons, but it does not generally rain every day. In contrast to other regions of Thailand, Samui does not really have a well defined rainy season but sometimes there are sunless periods of 2 or 3 days, especially during November (monsoon).
The Big Buddha
Samui’s most popular attraction, The Big Buddha sitting 15 meters tall was built in 1972 by the local society to give visitors a place to pay respect to The Lord Buddha. The graceful image was built a very scrupulous to the visitors. The monumental landmark is placed on the island’s Northern shore.
Hin Ta – Hin Yai
Strangely shaped rocks at south Lamai, Hin Ta-Hin Yai, small rock formations on the bay’s southern promontory, which never fail to raise a giggle with their resemblance to the male and female sexual organs. A local story tells of an old couple whose ship was wrecked in the bay. Their body’s were washed ashore to create the rocks
This has beautiful surroundings that has attracted three royal heads before.Na Muang Waterfall is located about12 km south from Nathon Town. There are 2 waterfalls Na Muang one is 18 meter high and can be reached by vehicle.
Na Muang two is about 80 meters high and can only be reached by a 30 minute walk. The waterfalls are the most scenic on the island
Hin Lad Water fall
Hin Lad Waterfall is located 2 km south of Nathon. He can be reached by a 3-4 kilometer walk down a country foot walk. In evergreen, rain forest setting with palms and creepers, the waterfall have several levels with a cool pool for a fresh water swim.
Secret Buddha Garden
The secret Buddha garden is hidden in the hills of Samui. You can see several statues, temples, and waterfalls which are build by one man in the last 20 years.
A house made of teakwood without any nails at Ban Thale is the oldest house on the island. It was built approximately 150 years ago, is constructed of teak planks and shows off many beautiful woodcarvings.
It’s one of the most frequently visited attractive place on Samui, Butterfly Garden is home to dozens of species of southern Thailand situated at the bottom of the hill south of the island. Apart from the numerous species of butterflies on display, there are also other About features in the garden: The bee house, a Thai style house which allows the visitor to observe the activities of bees. The insect museum, rare insects from Thailand and other countries are displayed here. Another great place for family and friends to visit.
A definite must see for all those visiting the island. Shows featuring snakes indigenous to Samui as well as Centipede, Scorpion and Cock Fighting shows, Informative and entertaining. Great for the entire family and worth looking for. Follow the signs seen throughout the island. Show times are 11.00 and 14.00 everyday.
Naga Pearl Farm
Visit the Naga Pearl Farm and discover how pearls are cultured. At about 30 minute boat ride from Ban Thong Krut landing will bring you to Koh Matsum and the Naga Pearl Farm. After you learn about pearl culture, you will enjoy eating Thai food and spend the afternoon on the white sandy beach. Don’t miss the Naga Pearl Shop, located at 81/1 Ban Thong Krut, where all varieties of pearl and pearl products are offered. Pearl shells and special handicrafts are very nice souvenirs to bring back home.
Many of the holidays celebrated during the course of the year are Buddhist, but some other very important ones such as the Monarch’s birthday, are not religious in origin. Except for the closing of government offices and institutions, and occasional one-day prohibitions on the sale of alcohol, these holidays will not affect leisure activities very much.
Buffalo Fight Festivals Unlike bullfights in Spain, bulls are fighting bulls in Koh Samui buffalo fights. On Samui Island, buffalo fights are held only on special occasions such as New Yearâ€™s Day and during Songkran, April 13 to 16. The animals are decorated with jazzy ribbons and gold painted leaves on their horns. Holy water is used to bless the bulls before the fights. On fight days, two rounds are organized, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Songkran (Thai New year)
On April 13-15 every year the streets of every town and village on the island are lined with giggling teenagers armed with an arsenal of water guns, buckets. barrels , dippers, hoses and all manner of delivery vehicle with which to launch their often icy-cold liquid missiles. This exciting festival has long time tradition of Thai ancestors due to the weather in April is the most hot in year round. Splashing water is the best way to decrease hot and made their grand child to be happy and cooperation.Moreover, this beautiful tradition could shows a very good unit of Thai society, almost of the members of family will back home to visit their relatives. At the mean time, is the time to live with their family and their real relaxing after their working almost whole year. In additions, during this time bring to The Family Day and it’s the Thai New Year in Thailand.
Loy Krathong (Light festival): have floats, will dazzle
Thailand’s waterways rivers, klongs, even hotel swimming pools will be ablaze with dazing lights on the evening of Nov. 14, when the Kingdom celebrates “Loy Krathong” one of the year’s most-awaited festivals.
“Loy” means to float, and “krathong” means a leaf cup. Kratong is decorate by many kinds of flowers, candles with light, incences to float in the canal, river,or sea after pray to get forgive from the God of river that sometime made dirty and thanks for give water to use.
This moniker seems apt as most floating objects you see during Loy Krathong nights are flowers formed like cups, if not artificial petals that look like cups in many angles.
It is a most colorful festival. In most areas where it is celebrated, you will see Thai women resplendent in colorful attire, hair festooned with flowers, and gaily-dressed men, also fully garbed, gather with floats in their hands wherever there’s water.
Scuba Diving in Koh Samui?
Check out our Koh Samui dive guide and start planning your next dive trip!