It is hard to imagine a more perfect tropical island than Koh Samui, where the lush mountainous interior leads down to endless swathes of coconut groves, and a shore fringed with white sandy beaches and ancient granite boulders. Calm, clear waters are always warm and inviting, and numerous surrounding islands offer their mysteries to explore. Local inhabitants are well aware of the treasure of the island, and environmental protection has always been a priority, most obviously reflected by the ban on towering hotels, which seem to soar up on most holiday hot spots. Local planning on Koh Samui requires that no structure be above the height of a coconut palm, and along the shores, restrictions are even stronger. Apart from offering everything one could wish for on a tropical island, what makes Koh Samui most special is her people. Thailand is the only country in the world to be predominantly Buddhist, and the religion is strongly reflected in the culture. Not only are the locals immensely tolerant and welcoming, but genuinely happy with their lives. The economy on the island is vibrant, with investment and income flooding in from the tourist industry, and the families who started out as poor coconut farmers only a generation ago, have been elevated to wealthy land barons. Warm smiles and laughter are a part of every day life here, and immediately contagious. The perception of life on Koh Samui as a utopian ideal is widespread amongst tourists, and justifiably so. Little wonder that so many visitors fall in love with the island, return yearly, build their fantasy homes here, or in many cases settle on Koh Samui.
Amongst the many attractions to visit on the island are several beautiful waterfalls in the jungle, where you can swim in the refreshing pools, surrounded by lush, shady foliage. Many of the temples, or Wats are worth visiting, the most popular being the Big Buddha temple, Wat Phra Yai, where Thailand’s largest seated Buddha figure looms over an island peninsula on the northwest coast of Samui. If your visit coincides with Loy Kratong, the festival of light in November, or Songkran, Thai New Year in April, don't miss the huge celebratory festivals held at the Wat. Please remember when visiting temples, to remove your shoes at the entrance, and to dress and behave respectfully. Climbing on, or defacing Buddha effigies is a criminal offence, and swimwear is not considered suitable attire in temples. Monks are celibate, and it is not acceptable for women to touch them, even for a group photo...
Natural erosion has
created the incredible sculptures of the grandmother and grandfather
rocks on the coast south of Lamai, which bear uncanny resemblance to
aroused genitalia. High in the mountains you can visit Heaven's garden, where a collection of sculptures has been created
around a series of cascading waterfalls. The artist, Nim Thongsuk,
created the sculptures, which are based on Buddhist scriptures, between
the ages of 77 and 91.
family fun can be found at the monkey theatre, aquarium, butterfly
crocodile farm, snake farm, elephant trekking sites, and zoo, where you
can pet and bottle-feed the tigers.
Samui offers an incredible abundance of dining opportunities, with restaurants offering superb cuisine from all over the world. The local produce is excellent, and having your own kitchen affords you the possibility of shopping in the local markets for seafood, fruits, and vegetables, many of which you may have never tried before. Early birds should check out the morning market in Maenam, while Nathon, Laemdin in Chaweng, and Lamai have farmers markets open from dawn until dark. The best fish markets are considered to be Nathon seafront, and Big Buddha outside the temple, where you can buy fresh catches directly from the fishermen, or their wives. The Tesco-Lotus superstore offers all the supplies you may need, is open daily from 6am until 23:00, and is located on the ring road west of Chaweng. Nearby shopping options include Big C and Makro cash and carry, both a few hundred metres north along the ring road. Additional Tesco-Lotus stores can be found in Lamai, and Nathon. Tops supermarket in Chaweng offers a wide range of imported groceries, and a good selection of produce.
In-villa chef service is included at many villas, in which case the staff can shop for the requisite provisions. At villas where a dedicated chef is not included, chef service may be arranged, subject to availability and applicable fees.
Massage is an essential part of life in Thailand, and may account in part for the relaxed demeanor of the natives. Numerous massage parlours and beach masseuses can offer Thai or oil massages, and there are many luxury spas offering a wide range of treatments around the island. It is very easy to organize massage in the comfort of your home by contacting any of the spas or parlours directly, or through the individual villa manager or staff.
All the holiday essentials are widely available around the island. Chaweng offers the greatest range of boutiques, with everything from clothes, books, souvenirs, and art, to drug stores and opticians. Lamai and Nathon also offer similar arrays of goods, with many bargains to be found, or made after some haggling. Tesco-Lotus superstore stocks a huge array of goods in its air-conditioned halls with the luxury of fixed prices. Local market festivals are held regularly at temples and vacant lots around the island, and are popular with locals and tourists alike. The evening ‘Walking Street’ events are held every Friday in Bophut Fisherman’s Village, and Saturday in Lamai, during which streets are pedestrianised, and filled with ad-hoc stalls selling food, clothes, and bric-a-brac, and are a popular family outing.
Restaurants, bars, and clubs are found all over the island, from the beaches to the hilltops, but the largest and busiest nightclubs are found in Chaweng and Lamai. The most popular spots in Chaweng are Full Circle, The Green Mango, The Reggae Pub, Q-Bar, Bar Solo, and Ark Bar. Lamai’s hotspots include Beach Republic, Bauhaus, and the air-conditioned club, Sub Club. Nikki Beach Club on Lipa Noi beach offers dining, lounging, drinking, and partying day during the day and night. Besides special events, the Sunday Brunch is the most popular weekly event at Nikki Beach Club.
full moon parties at Koh Phangan are legendary, while half-moon and
black-moon parties are held on Chaweng lake. Numerous operators run
speedboats to the full-moon party all night long, from Samui’s northern
shores, which we can arrange transfer to on request. Cabaret shows,
traditional Thai dance performance, Thai boxing, and Karaoke bars are
amongst the many other alternatives for after dark entertainment.
Land based sporting activities are widely catered to on Koh Samui, with the impressive 18 hole championship Santiburi golf course, Royal Samui 9 hole, and Bophut Hills 9 hole now open, as well as 2 driving ranges, and several mini-golf courses. Lawn tennis, and clay courts are available, together with coaching. There is a motor cross track, with both ATVs and dirt bikes, and a Go-cart circuit. Two bungee jumping centers offer adrenaline charges in Chaweng and Lamai. Samui shooting sport provides an impressive arsenal of weapons to test your marksmanship. Ten-pin bowling can be found in Chaweng Centre and Tesco-Lotus Chaweng. Mountain bikes are widely available for hire, and both horses and elephants provide less strenuous off-road transport. Thai boxing can be studied at a training academy, and practiced at the stadium. Pool is probably the most popular sport on the island, with many halls, and tables in most bars.
There are numerous operators offering rentals of sea kayaks, windsurfers, and catamarans. Larger yachts are available for tours and charters, details of which can be found at www.samuiholidayhomes.com/services.htm, together with details of SCUBA diving options.
Major annual festivities on Samui include New Year, Chinese New Year in February, Songkran (Thai New Year) in April, Samui Carnival in July, Samui Food Festival in August, and Loy Kratong, (the Thai day of atonement), in November. Sporting events include Samui Regatta in May, and Samui Tennis Open in June.
has three well equipped, modern hospitals, all employing Western
doctors, and a cosmetic surgery clinic. Several alternative health
centers offer a variety of treatments, including Ayurvedic therapy,
acupuncture, cleansing and fasting programs, yoga, reflexology, and Tai
chi. In the event of diving accidents, a hyperbaric chamber centre is
available for emergency recompression. Local dentists offer the latest
treatments at local prices. Over the counter medication is available
from the island’s many drugstores, including the international chains,
Boots and Watsons.
The weather on Samui although tropical, is moderated by the shelter of the Gulf of Siam, which keeps the island free of major exposure to monsoons, typhoons, and cyclones. Average air temperatures range from 23 to 33 degrees centigrade, and there is generally a refreshing sea breeze to be found on the northern and western shores.
Average maximum sea-air temperatures
Check the current weather on Samui at www.tmd.go.th/en/province.php?StationNumber=48550.
Cars, Jeeps, and motorcycles are widely available for rent, as are taxis and limousines. Mountain bikes, cross bikes, and ATVs compete with elephants and horses for off road trekking. Ferries operate regular services to the mainland, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan. Koh Samui is best reached by air on Bangkok Air flights, from Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Hong Kong, or Singapore, a full schedule of which, together with online reservations, can be found at www.bangkokair.com. Thai Air also operates 2 flights a day, tickets for which can be booked directly at www.thaiair.com. Flights from Kuala Lumpur are available from www.fireflyz.com.my.
The most fantastic islands in the Gulf of Siam can be found in the Anthong National Marine Park, which can be visited on speedboat tours for snorkeling and sea kayaking amongst the 40 undeveloped islands. Of the inhabited local islands, the most developed are Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, which can only be reached by ferry or speedboat. Both islands are favoured by divers and backpackers, although higher standard accommodation is also available.
* Koh Samui, Ko Samui, Kho Samui, or Koi Samui, are common ways of spelling the name of Samui island, Thailand's idyllic tropical holiday destination. This phonetic adaptation of the Thai language sometimes causes confusion, as does the root of the name Samui itself, generally thought to stem from the Chinese Saboey, meaning safe harbour or safe haven.
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villa rental specialists for luxury properties on Koh Samui, Thailand.