The tropical Thai island of Koh Samui, located in the Gulf of Thailand, is the country’s third largest island, but second in terms of popularity, welcoming a record 1.7 million travellers in 2013.
Visitors from around the globe travel to Samui to enjoy a unique paradise comprising beautiful beaches, forested interiors, world-class resorts, and a choice of leisure pursuits including shopping, spas, golf and vibrant nightlife.
Koh Samui International Airport is the main point of arrival for most visitors. Visitors can arrive from several other Thai cities including the capital Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Pattaya, and Phuket. The island is also linked via non-stop flights with other regional destinations, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Kunming.
The island is also accessible via ferries from the Thai mainland departing from either Chumpon or Suratthani province, the latter of which also has a busy domestic airport, which is another popular gateway for visitors to Koh Samui.
The maturing of Koh Samui as a tourist destination has brought with it numerous world class resorts including the likes of Four Seasons, Six Senses, Conrad, W, Banyan Tree and Intercontinental.
In the past decade, the market for holiday homes on the island has also enjoyed substantial growth, catering manly to westerners who have decided to call the island home, as well as for investors looking to receive a stable return. Koh Samui is now home to a range of properties, including apartments, hotel-branded residences, and some of the world’s most luxurious villas.
The majority of the tourist amenities are centred around the east coast hub of Chaweng – home to the island’s only full scale shopping centre, Central Festival, as well as a bustling nightlife and street shopping strip. The beach areas along the north coast, namely Bophut and Maenam, are smaller and offer a busy but charming tropical lifestyle. The south and west coast, meanwhile, are the island’s least commercial areas. Fishermen can still be seen going about their daily lives, and visitors are often delighted by the slow pace of life and peaceful atmosphere in this part fo the island. Despite seeming isolation from the more developed island amenities, Chaweng is just 30 minutes drive from the south coast, and getting from the southern part of Koh Samui to the airport only takes around 40 minutes.
Getting to Koh Samui
By air – international
Hong Kong: 3hr 15min
Singapore: 1hr 45min
Kuala Lumpur: 1hr 30min
Penang: 1hr 30min
Kunming: 2hr 45min
By air – domestic
Bangkok: 1 hr
Chiang Mai: 1hr 45min
Donsak (Suratthani): 1hr 30min