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
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
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.
For many reasons, the least suitable for exploring, but the safest and
easiest way to get to the destination is to go by taxi. The official taxi
service time is until 9.00 p.m. Visitors are recommended to negotiate strongly
for the fare and keep in mind that negotiation should always be dome before
boarding. Note that the fare at night will be escalated.
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.