Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island and is located off the East coast of the mainland in the Gulf of Thailand. island is part of Surat Thani province and lies thirty five kilometers north east of Surat Thani town. The island was probably first inhabited about fifteen centuries ago. Samui can be found on Chinese maps back as far as 1687 under the name of Pulo Cornam. Nobody really knows where the name Samui came from, although Koh is the Thai word for island. It has been suggested that the name is an extension of Mui, the name of the native trees or from the Malay word, Saboey, that means safe haven. The islands capital, Nathon, is on the west coast and is the major port for fishing and inter-island transportation. Nathon is the seat of the local government and the commercial hub for the locals.
The island is rich in natural resources and attracts in excess of 1.5 million visitors a year. The main attractions of Koh Samui are its colourful coral reefs, white sandy beaches and untouched mountains. Samui’s beaches are referred to as towns (or villages) these days as hotels and restaurants have sprung up around beaches over the years, the most well-known being Chaweng, Lamai and Bophut. Historically the island’s economy has been based around fishing and coconut harvesting, however, that was overtaken over by tourism in the early 1980’s. The island has its own privately owned international airport with daily flights to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Although around 10% of the island has been developed, Koh Samui still has numerous untouched beaches and remote spots to enjoy. The island has world class spa facilities, five star hotels and resorts, from luxurious villa to budget style accommodation, hundreds of local restaurants serving local faire and fresh seafood as well as international standard five star restaurants galore.
Koh Samui has a vast amount of local attractions, superb nightlife and is only a stone’s throw away from neighboring Koh Phangan, world famous for its monthly full moon parties that are on every backpackers ‘must do’ list. Beyond Koh Phangan is another popular island Koh Tao, famous for its diving and to the west is Ang Thong National Marine Park that can be enjoyed by day trips on boats that also offer stunning sunset cruises. The laid back approach to life in general and the friendly locals have made Samui a popular retirement destination as well as a second home in the sun for people from every corner of the globe.