Koh Samui is an island on the east side of the Bay of Thailand. It is the second largest island after Phuket and is one of the main tourist destinations in the country. The island is absolutely packed full of sandy beaches. These are idyllic coconut palm tree lined affairs, the stuff of dreams. Whilst offshore there is an abundance of coral reefs. The makes for great scuba diving and has resulted in plenty of tourist facilities. People have lived here for 1500 years yet its name remains something of a mystery.
In addition to the tourist industry a large part of Samui’s economy comes from coconut and rubber exports. As with all island paradises economic success has diminished the once pristine environment. The main tourist area along Chewang beach is highly developed, though other parts of the island still remain unspoilt and tranquil. The centre of the island consists of an almost uninhabitable tropical jungle mountain called Khao Pom, over 2,000 feet in height.
The lowland and coastal areas are joined by a single 30 miles long road, running round the coastline. The old capital, Nathon is to be found on the northwest coast of the island. If you know how to ride, hiring a motorbike here is the best way to get around. Plenty of the roads are almost empty. Be careful and wear a helmet at all times. There are too many accidents on Koh Samui. These are often caused by inexperienced riders, plus a mixture of alcohol and sunshine.
The island is surrounded by approximately sixty smaller islands, comprising the Ang Thong Marine National Park. This includes many other well known tourist destinations, namely, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao, and Ko Nang Yuan.
Koh Samui is served by a private airport owned and operated by Bangkok Airways. The airport is a delightful small terminus and one designed with nature in mind. It has won several awards and handles 1.3 million passengers per year. There are approximately 17,500 hotel rooms on the island.