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Koh Samui Island

Koh Samui Facts

  "Koh" translates to "island" in Thai
  In Thai language: เกาะสมุย
  Island size: 228.7 km²
  Location: Gulf of Thailand
  Coordinates: 9°30′N 100°00′E
  Province: Changwat Suratthani
  Sub districts (Tambon): 7
  Archipelago name: Mo Koh Samui
  Distance from Bangkok: ≈ 700 km
  Population: ≈ 64,000 (officially)
  Main town: Nathon
  Most popular beach: Hat Chaweng
  Highest elevation: 635 m
  Time zone: ICT - UTC+7
  Country calling code: +66

Important Numbers

  Police emergency: 191
  Tourist Police: 0 7742 1281
  Tourist Police - Emergency: 1155
  Fire Department: 106
  Bangkok Hospital: 0 7742 9500
  Samui Hospital: 0 7742 1232
  Immigration: 0 7742 1069

  Info about Samui in Thai language is found here
  Hotel or resorts on Samui are found here

Short History

Koh Samui has been settled for about 1500 years and the first inhabitants were fishermen. The island is found on 500 years old maps from the Chinese Ming Dynasty. Fishing and coconut plantations have been the major source of income on the island, but today the tourism is the main income for the inhabitants of the island. The people of Samui are called "Chao Samui".

Samui Island

Koh Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand (bordering the South China Sea in the Pacific Ocean). The island is a "Amphoe" or district in the Surat Thani Changwat or province. Samui is divided into seven "Tambon" or administrative regions: Maenam, Bophut, Maret, Taling Ngam, Namuang, Lipa Noi and Angthong.

Koh Samui became a backpackers destination in the late 70's. Today, all kinds of tourists from all over the whole world are visiting this easygoing "paradise". Samui is surrounded by more than sixty other islands, some small and inhabited, some are larger such as Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

Other popular destinations in the area are: Koh Nang Yuan (three small islands, connected with a beach, next to Koh Tao) and the Angthong National Marine Park (located between Koh Samui and the Suratthani mainland).

Koh Samui sunset
FISHING BOAT IN SUNSET - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

Going here from Bangkok

There are several options to choose from:

By Flight

There are many daily flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport - Thailand's international airport, situated just outside Bangkok. (it opened in September 2006). Bangkok Airways flies directly to Samui Airport. A flight schedule with Bangkok Airways is found here.).

Thai Airways and Air Asia also flies to Suratthani. From there, just catch the waiting bus or a taxi for an hour long trip to the ferry pier in Donsak.

Plane from Bangkok Airways
BANGKOK AIR PLANE - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

By Bus

If you prefer a more economical way to travel, we recommend a so called VIP bus from the well-known Khao San Road or from the Southern Bus Terminal at Boromrat Chonnani Road. The so-called VIP buses are more comfortable, and has less seats than a regular A/C bus. You can buy a ticket in almost every travel agency in Bangkok. The ferry ticket is normally included in the price.

By Train

Another comfortable way to travel is the night train from Hualamphong, the Bangkok railway station, to Surat Thani. The sleeping cars have rather comfortable beds. To travel by railway is a little more expensive than by bus, but you will probably get a better sleep. Upper beds are less expensive than the lower ones. The lower beds are also a little wider.

A private "first class" train compartment for two people is also available. Then you are able to lock the door for privacy. There is also a small water sink in this compartments. The ideal choice for couples!

By Ferry

The fastest ferries departures from the two main piers in Donsak on the main land. There are three operators:

  Lomprayah - Catamarans. 45 minutes to Samui.

  Seatran - Car ferry. About 1,5 hours to Samui.

  Raja Ferry - Car ferry. About 1,5 hours to Samui.

A ferry ticket is about 160-350 baht for passengers (Lomprayah is more expensive than the car ferries) and 500 baht for cars. The ferries are passing the Angthong Marine Park and you will see many of the small surrounding islands from the ferry, if you don't fall asleep.

You might also take the Lomprayah catamaran which departures from Chumphon. They also offer bus rides from Khao San Road (Banglamphu) in Bangkok.On smaller ferries (such as the ones operated by Songserm), you might be contacted by Thai guys trying to convince you that "their" resort on Samui is the one to choose. It can be a blank or a prize in that "lottery". You can easily book a Koh Samui room or bungalow here.

Tong Takian Beach
AO THONG TAKIAN BEACH - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

Money and ATM's

Nowadays there are many exchange offices (mini banks) and ATM machines on the island which accepts all major credit, electron and debit cards such as VISA, MasterCard, Amex etc. You will also find many banks on all the major beaches and in Nathon.

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Maps of the Islands

You'll find maps of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao here

To do in Samui

Thai Boxing Stadium

The Lamai Stadium is located in South Lamai, between Ring Road and Lamai Beach Road. Another ring is found in a bar area in the middle of the Beach Road (so called lady boxing and free to watch). The Chaweng Stadium is the main arena on the island and located rather close to Reggae Pub. There is action several times a week. Sometimes you can see "farangs" (westerners) vs Thai guys in the ring. We also recommend Ratchadamnoern and Lumpini stadiums in Bangkok if you want to see "the real thing" even if there might be good fights on Koh Samui too.

Samui Shooting Range

Pistols and machine guns! Location: Main Road. Close to Chaweng.

Go Kart

Three types of go karts to choose from. Found at Bo Phut Main Road. Lots of fun!

Bungy Jump

This adrenaline pumping activity is found at Chaweng, rather close to Reggae Pub and the Chaweng Lake.

Buffalo Fighting

A couple of arenas is located around the island. This is a Thai and local tradition with a long history.

Butterfly Garden

Here you will see amazing butterflies and other tropical insects. It is located in the South-East at Leam Set.

Magic Garden

It is located in the center of Samui. Many interesting sculptures made of cement, by the hands of a fruit farmer.

  Further activities and sports are found here


The harbor town on Samui is named Nathon. You will find banks, post offices, restaurants, stores and shops here, but it is not as popular as some. Nathon also has a rather long pier where boats arrive from the mainland.

Thai spirit houses
THAI SPIRIT HOUSES - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

Things Change

Some tourists started to come here in early 70s, when the only business here were coconuts and fishing. I went to Samui first time in 1989-90. Electrical power cuts were then so common, you didn't even notice them. Of course prices were lower (Khao phed gai; fried rice with chicken was 10 bath) But as Samui has become a very popular tourist destination, prices is of course higher today, even if they still can be considered as very reasonable. Many hope that Samui stay at least a little more relaxed then Phuket and Pattaya but time will show.

Flowers after rain
FLOWERS AFTER RAIN - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

Samui Attractions

Koh Samui is not a place where you will find the "most famous" Buddhist wats (temples) or statues etc. I would suggest cities such as Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Chaing Mai, Sukhothai or Ayutthaya. And if you are looking for really big hotels and a busy nightlife, I would recommenced Patong beach in Phuket or maybe Pattaya. But Koh Samui is perfect if you want a place without really big hotels, resorts and discotheques or clubs, but where you still can find great beaches, places to eat, bars and even a couple of nightclubs.

Most people who has visit Koh Samui chooses to go back and some returns again and again... You can easily book your Koh Samui tours and activities online here.

A Thai traditional roof
THAI TRADITIONAL ROOF - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org


To be honest, you will not find a "Niagara looking" waterfall on Samui, but it can be a nice experience anyway.

Na Muang Waterfall

Located about 10 km south of Nathon. It is about 80 meters high. You have to walk for a while to get here.

Hin Lad Waterfall

Located 2 km south of Nathon Town. Take a walk in the forest and enjoy a soft drink or why not a refreshing Thai beer such as Singha, Beer Chang or Leo afterwards.

Big Buddha

Wat Phra Yai is a more than 12 meter tall Buddha statue, first built in 1972. It is located on a small island but today connected with main land with a bridge. Please show respect and wear proper clothes and shoes while visiting. This is not just a tourist attraction, but also an important Buddhist symbol for the local Thai people here. In 2005 and 2006, Big Buddha has been extended with a Dharma wheel and a traditional Suphannahong boat.

Hin Ta Hin Yai

The grandfather and grandmother rocks located on south Lamai beach.

FOOD VENDOR - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

Welcome to Samui Island

Nightlife and Bars

On Samui you'll find a few nightclubs and discotheques. We would like to recommend;

  Ark Bar - Next to central Chaweng Beach.

  Green Mango - Soi Green Mango, in Chaweng.

  Reggae Pub - Next to the Chaweng Lake.

  Sound Club - Central Chaweng.

  Bondi (Chaweng) - Chaweng Beach Road.

  Fusion Club - Lamai Beach Road.

  Bondi (Lamai) - Lamai Beach Road.

There are also smaller pubs and bars all over the island. Enjoy! So called girlie bars are rather common and often a little more expensive. If you are a man, do not be to surprised if one of the girls wants to follow you to your room. Normally she is not too serious if she say that she is in love with you though. She is doing it as a work to support herself and often also her family.

Beach on Koh Samui
BANG POR BEACH - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

Be Aware

Messing with drugs is not only bad for your health. Thai prisons ain't hotel rooms. You will end up in a hot room with no beds and no privacy. Remember that HIV/AIDS exists even on Samui. It is a serious matter in whole Thailand, even though campaigns by the government and authorities has slow down the number of infected people each year.

Around the Island

To Walk

Nice and a healty way, but use a lot of sunscreen and be very careful in the traffic.

By Bicycle

Just rent it. It's cheap. But be very careful if the traffic is intense.

By Motorbike

Motorbikes are the most common for transportation in Samui. From 100 cc (smaller bikes such as; Honda Click, Honda Wave, Honda Dream, Yamaha Nouvo, Yamaha Mio etc), to Harley Davidson. Prices are from 120 baht per day and up. Please, for your own safety, use a helmet and do not ever drive drunk!

By Pickup Taxi (Songtaew)

From early morning to 7 pm. Price: 20-50 Baht, but it's more expensive at night after 6 PM. After this time you will have to negotiate about the price.

By Car

You can rent a jeep or a car. Prices starts from about 700 Baht a day.

By Taxi

Convenient! But most of them do not use the taximeter. Ask for the price in advance. The prices usually start from about 100 baht and up to 600-700 baht for a from Nathon to Lamai or similar distance.

Beach on Koh Samui
SUNSET AT BANG POR - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

Your Safety

Many people dies every year in Samui traffic! The roads can be dangerous at nighttime. It is stupid and like playing Russian roulette to drink and drive here. IMPORTANT! Please, do always bring your insurance with you! Some hospitals require it if you end up in an accident.

We don't want to scare anyone but i you're renting a bike, please:

  Use the crash helmet while driving. Even short distances.

  Don't drive next to your friend/partner. Drive in front of, or behind.

  Don't drive too fast.

  Don't drive after consuming alcohol.

  If you are an unexperienced driver, please consider to take a taxi or songthaew (pick-up taxi) instead.

Also, try not to leave your precious belongings in your room when you go out. Burglaries are not common but can occur. Especially between 5pm and 8pm there might be some mosquitoes outside. Please protect yourself with cloths or repellents as cases of dengue fever are reported occasionally.

Koh Samui Photos

  Our Samui and Thailand photos are found here
  Photos of Thailand sent to us are found here

Palm trees in Lamai
PALM TREES AT DAWN- Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org


Most beaches has white sand and are fringed with coconut palms. Many resorts and hotels are located just a couple of meters from the beach. The most popular are:

Chaweng Beach

A 7 km long beach in the North-East of Samui. The most well-known and developed, but also one of the best. You can rent anything from a simple bungalows to a five star hotel room here. There are plenty of high standard resorts here. The sand is invitingly white, but it can be a lot of people here, especially at high season.

ENJOYING HOT CLIMATE - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

Lamai Beach

Not far as long as Chaweng but more quite and some people would say charming. The Southern part of the beach is somehow more inviting than the Northern, because there are not as many stones and coral there. Lamai is located in South-East of Samui, about 10 kilometers South of Chaweng. A little North of Lamai you will find Ao Tong Takian beach. It has become rather popular, and a few resorts are located there. Photos of Lamai beach are found here.

Maenam, Big Buddha and Bo Phut

In the North of Samui you will find these fine beaches. You will also find the small but very beautiful Chong Mon beach in the North-East and Bang Por beach in the North-West. They are not as crowded as Chaweng and Lamai. A large range of hotels and bungalows are found here and it is close to the Airport, Pier(s) and Big Buddha too.

On Samui you can stay in anything from a rather spartan bungalow to a luxury hotel. You can easily find and also book a hotel, bungalow or resort from here

Scuba Diving

Koh Samui, Koh Tan and Koh Tao has many excellent diving sites. There are many schools who provide professional education. Snorkeling and wave diving is also fun. You can buy equipment in many diving shops on Koh Samui and Koh Tao. The diving section is found here

Koh Samui exclusive villas - Online booking

Maps and Guidebooks

There is much more to do on Samui. You can get a free map and guide in every travel agency there. We recommend Lonely Planet guide books. They provides the best travel guides we have seen.

Respecting Thai Culture

Thai people are normally very friendly and have high tolerance. Just remember that if you come from another country; Thai people are very proud of the monarchy and the King and also of course their religion (About 95% are Buddhists). Also remember that Buddha images, temples etc are considered as holy. Please enter a temple with respect and wear appropriate clothes (no shorts). Don't point your feet to someone while sitting and don't touch people's head. At Koh Samui and other "tourist places" the inhabitants are normally used to "western lifestyle", so there are no problems as long as you just show the same "respect" as people show you.

Keep Samui Clean

Please throw finished bottles and other waste in a garbage can. Let coming generations be able to explore Koh Samui as well. If everyone respect the nature and wildlife on Samui it will remain a small "paradise" on earth for a long time!

Sailing in the Gulf of Thailand
SAILING OUTSIDE SAMUI - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

Dogs and Cats

Most of the stray dogs and cats are "friendly and harmless" in Thailand, but of course there are always a few exceptions. There are still some stray dogs and cats at Samui beaches and villages. Do you want to help to make their life's better? Please visit and/or support the Dog Rescue Center

Where to stay?

There are many hundreds of different accommodations alternatives available on the Samui island. Hotels, resorts, apartments and villas. Prices starts from a few hundred baht and up. Koh Samui today, has many resorts with international high class standards. Many of those "boutique resorts" has facilities as restaurants, spas, fitness rooms, jacuzzis and pools. You will find a lot of accommodation options with a wide price range from our Samui hotel reservation.

Thai visa
DETAIL OF A THAI VISA - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

To Extend your Visa

To extend a visa on Koh Samui, just go to the Koh Samui Immigration Office. It is located 2 km South of Nathon town on Thaweeratphakdee Road. If you need to go for a visa run, there are buses, minibuses to Malaysia and Myanmar (Burma) via Ranong. Nowadays there are also flights to Malaysia. Berjaya Air flies to Kuala Lumpur and Fire Fly flies to Penang. You can easily book tickets from the travel agencies on the island.

  Hotels in Koh Samui

Please keep Koh Samui clean and save some water if you can. Thank you!

Buddha statue at Wat Khao Hua Juk
IN WAT KHAO HUA JUK - Photo by Jens W - Kohsamui.org

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