Covering an area of 427 square kilometers, Koh Samui is the third largest island in Thailand. It is rich with natural resources, white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees. The dynamic tourism industry on Koh Samui has everything to offer to suit any taste, be that trekking in the wild, diving, snorkeling, windsurfing or even joining the nightlife entertainment. Koh Samui is located some 84 kilometers east of the provincial capital. The island measures some 21 kilometers at its widest point and 25 kilometers at its longest. There is a 51 kilometer ring and largely coastal road encircles the island.
Traveling around the coastline of Koh Samui by boat is undoubtedly the best way to see the fantastic beaches, bays and spectacular coastal scenery of the island. The sickle shaped beach of Lamai in the south of Samui is held in high esteem by many island visitors.
History of Koh Samui
The island was probably first inhabited about 15 centuries ago, settled by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula and Southern China. It appears on Chinese maps dating back to 1687, under the name Pulo Cornam.
The name Samui is mysterious in itself. Perhaps it is an extension of the name of one of the native trees, mui, or from the Malay word Saboey, meaning “safe haven”. Ko is the Thai word for “island”. Until the late 20th century, Koh Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand.
The island was even without roads until the early 1970s, and the 15 km journey from one side of the island to the other involved a whole-day trek through the mountainous central jungles. Koh Samui has a population of about fifty-five thousand and is based primarily on a successful tourist industry, as well as exports of coconut and Durian (Tropical fruit).
Getting Koh Samui by Bus
The bus is the cheapest but least comfortable option to get to Samui. Buses leave from Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal and take around 12-13 hours, again it is well worth avoiding any hassle by buying a combination ticket. Expect to pay around 800 baht for a VIP bus*, and certainly spending a few baht more can help to make your journey a little more comfortable. It is possible to get private bus services from Khao San Road, but their reliability and quality tends to vary hugely.
It is worth taking the overnight bus, as you may get more peace on board when the video gets switched off. You can get a bus or combo ticket at relatively short notice at one of dozens of travel agents on the Khao San road or in the Sukhumwit area. Alternatively take a taxi to the Southern Bus Terminus (across the Chao Phraya river), where buses leave hourly to the South, between 6am and 9pmSimilar multi-leg arrangements can easily be made from travel agents in Phuket and Krabi and even on Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
*First class air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal daily. There are also “Super VIP” buses with only 30 seats operated by private companies and 1st class super VIP buses with 24 seats.