you are looking for long, white sand beaches, majestic green
coconut palms everywhere, warm, azure blue crystal clear water
- in short, a place that matches everybody`s concept of a tropical paradise,
then Koh Samui is ideal for you. The beautiful little island in
the gulf of Thailand - until some years ago an insider spot - is becoming
more and more popular among travellers, and big tour operators and large
hotel chains have established themselves there, but even mass tourism has
not managed to spoil the island`s idyllic charm. The pace
of life here is still very calm and relaxed.
The beautiful island is located in the deep south of Thailand, about 100 kilometers north of Koh Phuket, but on the other side of the Isthmus of Kra, the narrow mountainous strip of land that connects Thailand and Malaysia. Koh Samui ("Koh" means "island") is only the most well known of a veritable archipelago of 80 islands in the south of the Gulf of Thailand (or Gulf of Siam, as it is still sometimes called). Among the other inhabitated island of the archipelago are Koh Phangan, which has approximately the same size as Samui and is located north of it (you can see it from Maenem Beach) and Koh Tao, also north of Samui island.
Most of the visitors to Samui Island come for swimming, sunbathing, or just doing nothing. The coral reefs around the island are, however, very good for snorkeling and scuba diving, and boating and fishing are also available (Samui is less suitable for wind surfing; the only two good beaches for it are Chaweng and Lamai). If you are not into marine sports then a little sightseeing may be interesting; Samui Island does not offer spectacular architecture or immortal monuments of art, but there are mountains, waterfalls, charming half-forgotten forest Wats (buddhist monasteries), and lovely little islands and islets around Koh Samui.
Hotels and Accomodation
It does not matter whether you are mainly interested in budget accomodation or looking for an international luxury hotel with all the frills - you can find both on the island. All over the island, in every little cove and on every little beach you can still find simple, very inexpensive bungalows. Most of the international hotels are located either on Chaweng Beach (a very long, extremely beautiful beach with powdery white sand and clean, crystal-clear water) or on Maenam Beach (yellow sand, but also nice, hotels: e.g. the Paradise Beach). For instance, in Chaweng you find the Imperial and the Central Samui (both of them are first-class, the Central is the newest and has a very large landscaped hotel garden). Also noteworthy is the Princess Village on Chaweng which consists of twelve beautiful ancient Thai teakwood houses that were transported from Ayutthaya (the old capital of Thailand) to Samui and rebuilt here. (Inside, the bungalows are modern and offer all the necessary amenities like bathroom, air condition, etc.)
The best (and also most expensive) hotel on the island is the Meridien Royal Palm on the west coast. It has been built on cliff and offers spectacular views of the blue sea and the rocky little islets of the Ang Thong Marine Park.
Life on the island
is still very quiet, much more so than for instance on Phuket. There are
schools on Samui but the more well-to-do families prefer to send their
children to the colleges and universities on the Thai mainland.
The main produce of the island are coconuts (which are processed for copra production), tropical fruit, and bamboo. Fishing is of course also a major source of income and recently the tourism industry (most of the accomodation offered on Samui is still owned by locals, not by large hotel chains) has become more and more popular.
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