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Koh Samui Thailand


Koh Samui Island, Thailand


General Travel Information for Koh Samui Island, Thailand

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Koh Samui, is one of the most idyllic islands in the world. No building is taller than a palm tree, the waters are clear, and warm, the beaches are clean, long and uncrowded. It has, as an Island changed enormously over the years, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Having said that though the island has managed to retain a lot of its mystique and charm.

With an area of only 250 square kms, Koh Samui which is 400 km south of Bangkok ranks as Thailand's third largest Island after Phuket and Koh Chang. It does not seem that big when you are actually there but it would only take around 1 1/2 hours to drive around in a car. Most of its 33,000 or so inhabitants live close to the water front and a lot now work in the tourism sector.  

Years ago the main business of Samui was Coconuts, and the elder (or the brightest) son of the families there, were given an inheritance of the coconut plantations that lie inland and in the hills, the other offspring were given the beach front property as it was then of no value. Well, how things have changed, coconuts still thrive but the most popular and highly priced land, is in fact that which was given to the 'other' son - the beach front !

Today you have an enormous variety of accomodation ranging from 5 star to the small bungalow variety, and even houses can now be rented, so there is pretty much something for everyone.

The best beach in Koh Samui is without a doubt Chaweng, it is a long and sandy beach which is still not overly crowded. Vendors roam up and down their patches selling you everything from t-shirts to fresh fruit to ice creams or barbecued chicken. It is interesting to see peoples reactions to these vendors, some people are rude to them, others actually end up making friends with them. Our view is that they are providing you a service, they do not push their wears on you in a harsh manner, in fact they will just walk by if you do not seem interested. When you consider that you are lying on the beach of an idyllic island in paradise and along comes a vendor with fresh mango or chilled coconut juice ! Wow great - you didn't even have to call room service never mind pay room service rates !

Personally I do not understand why people are rude to these vendors, and it actually pays to be nice to them. When we were last there, the vendors as always got to know you a little, and we had decided which ones to buy from. We bought fresh mango every day and the vendor would actually let us taste a little to ensure that it was ripe enough. One day, he didn't even bother to let us taste, he tasted it instead, and then declined to sell it as it was not ripe enough and too sour !

Chaweng centre is one main street, with bars and restaurants on either side, it is a small town, and is a little dusty due to the fact that they are rebuilding the roads. The work can be a little inconvenient but nothing that would make you cancel your trip. The island is still growing to try to accomodate the amount of tourists, but there is not yet (March 2000) a shopping mall, so all the shops are actually stands that are on the main street within Chaweng. Here you will find everything that you expect, shirts, sarongs, fake and real watches, artifacts, souvenirs and other such items. You will be able to negotiate at most of the stands and area almost expected to do so.

The restaurants are bountiful and well priced with every variety of food from Japanese and Indian to English and everything in between.

The night-life is also excellent, with some great places to spend the evening, from high techno dance, to live jazz music. There are quite a lot of girlie bars, however unlike Phuket these are not in your face and are very friendly. Thai Kick boxing is also on offer most nights as are special parties that are announced by a jeep carrying speakers riding down the high street.

On the island there is a lot to be done, specialty spas are available such as the Tamarind Spa which offers excellent massages, in a very quiet and green setting, the prices here are excellent and well worth it. There is a shooting range, crocodile farm, snake farm, monkey show and many other activities that try to attract you away from the beach. The waterfalls make for a beautiful day out and can be booked through any of the local operators or agents in Samui. Side trips are also worthwhile thinking about. Kho Tao, a very small and almost untouched island is only a quick boat ride and has excellent diving.

Getting around Koh Samui is easy, you can either rent a motorbike for roughly 200 Baht a day, or hire many different forms of jeep. You officially require your drivers license to rent a vehicle, so make sure that you bring it. There are also jeep taxis that cruise the streets looking for passengers, it will normally cost you just 20 Baht to go anywhere within Chaweng, although the prices can increase after midnight to up to 50 Baht, especially if you are leaving a night spot. 

I am afraid that we do have to sound one word of caution on motorbikes in Koh Samui, and please do take this seriously - DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE and think twice about getting a bike. There are many deaths of people on motorbikes, who may be drunk and crash or some other disaster occurs. When I was there last an unfortunate guy fell of his bike and spent his whole holiday on crutches. Even if you know how to ride a bike, it is still dangerous, the roads are not in the best condition, some of the other drivers are not always the best drivers either. Please do take care, after all for the cost of a taxi which is only 20 Baht per pax is it really worth it.

The sea at Koh Samui off Chaweng is beautiful, most of the time it is as flat as a pancake and clear as crystal, sometimes it can get a little rough in the rainy season, although never for very long. It is very safe for children.

So there you have it, you can read in more detail in our other sections of the site about the restaurants, nightlife, and hotels on Koh Samui, and we also have a lot of pictures in our picture galleries. Use the left frame to navigate.

We just hope that you enjoy one of the most beautiful and relaxing places on earth!

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