History of Ko Samui
According to the evidence found on Samui Island, historians believe that it was first inhabited by man at most 1,200 years ago. In 1940s, the island was still isolated from the outside world. Those wishing to travel to Samui had to travel from Surat Thani for approximately 6 hours. As in-land transportation was not well established, it took several hours for people to walk through the lush jungles to the beach. It was only in the early 1970’s that Ko Samui became a dream destination discovered by backpackers.
With the development of infrastructure, an increasing number of travelers were attracted to the island. Samui’s concrete ring road was finished in 1973 by the order of the government. Passing beautiful beaches around the island and connecting sub-district areas, the road facilitated tourism. The Tourism Authority of Thailand explored the island in 1980 and realizing the high tourism potential of Samui, a plan to develop and promote tourism on the island was implemented. As a result, it has become and will continue to be a popular tourist destination in Thailand.
Today’s Ko Samui
Ko Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand, approximately 84 kilometers east of Surat Thani Province, or approximately 700 kilometers south of Bangkok. Known as the Coconut Island, Ko Samui is one of the most famous and popular attractions of Thailand. With an area of 247 square kilometers, Ko Samui is the third largest island of Thailand after Phuket and Ko Chang (of Trat Province). The topography of the island is that of a plain with a mountain range in the middle and 7 important streams. In addition, there is a 50-kilometer paved road that encircles the island. Moreover, the area of the island stretches to a group of 48 surrounding islets.
Despite the fast pace of development, Ko Samui has been able to maintain its charm its classical image of a tropical beach resort fringed by coconut trees. Travelers to the island can enjoy a mixed blessing of vibrant day and nightlife along side with tranquility which can easily be found across different parts of Ko Samui as the archipelago is a peaceful home for fishermen and a natural den for seagulls and other rare birds.
Hat Chaweng and Hat Lamai are Ko Samuis most beautiful and most popular beaches. Both have a huge selection of accommodations suitable for every budget. Please note that room rates increase during the high season, from December to July, when Samui sparkles. The nightlife of each beach is different: Hat Chaweng is better for couples, women and families, while single men are drawn to the beer bar culture of Hat Lamai. These resorts, as well as Na Thon (Samui’s main town), have communications, exchange and car/motorcycle hire facilities. Other beaches include Hat Choeng Mon, Hat Mae Nam in the north and Hat Na Thon, the island’s major seafront settlement where shops, restaurants and tour agencies are concentrated.
Apart from its many lovely beaches and tranquil bays, Ko Samui is also noted for its high quality coconuts that grow densely everywhere. The best time to visit Ko Samui is from February to April when the sea is calm. The Southern dialect and the standard Thai language are spoken while English is widely understood in tourist areas.
Getting to Ko Samui
Bangkok Airways flies from Bangkok to Ko Samui 13 times daily. The flight takes about one hour and 10 minutes. It also offers daily flights between Phuket and Samui. For more information, call its Bangkok office, 0 2229 3456, 0 2229 3434, Samui office, 0 7742 2512 - 9 or Samui Airport Office 0 7724 5601-8.
Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal for Surat Thani several times daily. The trip takes about 11 hours. For further information, call 0 2435 1199, 0 2435 1200 (air-con), 0 2434 5557 - 8 (non-air-con).
From Bangkok, take Highway 4 (Buddha Monthon Road) through Phetchaburi and Chumphon Provinces and then drive on to Highways 41 and 401 to Surat Thani Province. From Surat Thani, visitors can take their cars to Ko Samui through a vehicle ferry at Donsak Pier. The trip takes 1.30 hours.
Several trains leave Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station for Surat Thani daily. The trip takes about 12 hours. Train / bus / ferry combination tickets are also available. For more information, call Hualamphong Railway Station, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020.
From Surat Thani to Ko Samui
1.1 An express ferry boat of Songserm Travel departs from Tha Thong Pier in Surat Thani at 8.00 a.m. and arrives at Na Thon Pier in Samui at 10.30 a.m. every day. For the return trip, the boat leaves Na Thon Pier at 2.00 p.m. and reaches Tha Thong at 4.30 p.m.
1.2 Express boats of Seatran Express operate three times a day between Ban Don and Ko Samui. Departure times are 7.00 a.m., 12.30 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. The trip takes two hours.
2. Ferry Boats of Seatran
Seatran Ferry, which can accommodate 60 cars and 400 passengers, operates several trips per day between Don Sak (Surat Thani) and Ko Samui, from 5.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. The trip takes about 1.30 hours.
3. Night ferry
A slow night ferry leaves Ban Don Pier nightly at 11 p.m. and reaches Na Thon Pier at Samui around 5 a.m. (6 hours). For the return trip, the boat leaves Na Thon Pier at 9.00 p.m. and arrives at Ban Don Pier at 4.00 a.m. (7 hours).
Getting around Ko Samui
Samui is an explorer’s dream to discover something new. Offering a wealth of diversity of landscape, vistas, flora and fauna, and yet small enough to seek adventure in its many out-of-the-way places, Samui is best seen by taking songthaews (red local bus) which operate around the island. The fare starts at 20 baht, depending on the distance of the destination.
Taxi Meters are available for getting around Ko Samui. The taxi fare is shown on the meter with a surcharge of 90 Baht to the driver.
Note: if you have any problem with taxi services on Ko Samui, please report to Public Bus Passenger Protection Center, Suratthani Provincial land Transportation Office, Ko Samui branch. or Call 1584
By a rented Jeep
Rented Jeep, 4WD, is available from many family-owned agencies and some well known large companies. The vehicle will serve as the basic means of transportation taking visitors around many hillside natural and man-made attractions which are easily accessible from the ring road. Some of these vehicles come with insurance, but the coverage is limited. Always ask for details first. The minimum price is from 800 baht.
A more flexible way to get around the island, rented motorcycle costs approximately 200 baht / day. Beware, as roads other than the main roads on Ko Samui are quite rough in some parts.
Getting to nearby Islands from Samui
1. Ko Pha-ngan
1.1 Na Thon Pier (Ko Samui) -- Thong Sala Pier (Ko Pha-ngan)
Songserm Travel Co. operates ferry boats and express boats between Na Thon Pier on Ko Samui and Thong Sala Pier on Ko Pha-ngan, four times a day. The trip takes about 45 minutes for express boats, and one hour for ordinary ferry boats.
1.2 Bo Phut (Ko Samui) -- Hat Rin (Ko Pha-ngan)
There is a ferry boat leaving Bo Phut for Ko Pha-ngan twice daily at 9.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. The return trips depart Hat Rin on Ko Pha-ngan at 10.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m.
2. Ang Thong Islands
Visitors can hire a boat on Ko Samui to Ang Thong. The charge depends on the boat size and number of passengers. The trip takes 1.30 hours. It is also possible to join a full-day excursion organized by tour operators in Ko Samui.
3. Ko Tao
Boat services for Ko Tao are available at Na Thon Pier of Ko Samui.