Koh Samui is a tropical island lying in the South China Sea within the Gulf of Thailand. It is situated at 15.5 miles from the coast and it is the third biggest island of Thailand, having an area of 88.3 sq mi. In less than two decades, it has become a major holiday destination in Asia, thanks to its numerous white sandy beaches lined with coconut trees, gorgeous sunny landscapes, Buddhist temples, hiking paths, diving spots, night life, etc. The locals and travelers may miss the days that the island was in a more natural state and only known by backpackers and a few adventurers. Instead of the major tourist destination it is today. Whatever opinions people might have it’s still an ideal place to experience and discover with family, friends or on your own.
Chaweng Beach : 3 km of fine sand in a semi-circle edged by coconut trees, resorts, restaurants, shops, beach clubs and other entertainment places. Chawengeng nights are usually wild. Not everyone will be comfortable in this environment. It comes down to personal preference. Night life focuses around Soi Green Mango and its many neighboring bars and nightclubs for clubbers and party-goers. A hot ambiance is guaranteed.
Bophut Beach: 2 km long. Bophut reputation is mainly due to its old «Fisherman’s village ». At its edge there are old wooden houses, shops, bars and trendy restaurants… The laid back and peaceful atmosphere attracts many.
Lamai Beach: On the eastern coast of the island, it is the second in size. More relaxed than Chaweng, it has a beautiful strip of white sand, coconut trees and crystal-clear water. It is the most tropical of all the seaside resort places on the island. A lot of resorts, guest houses, restaurants and entertainment sites on the beach and the main street keep visitors satisfied.
Choeng Mon Beach: Located in the north-west corner of the island. Choeng Mon beach is crescent shaped. It is edged by fine sand and coconut trees. Peaceful and family-focused, this quality hotel provides high-end rooms to budget bungalows. Clients are mostly French and Russian. The main street has a wide array of shops, spas, restaurants, and a few entertainment places for going out and having a good time.
Big Buddha Beach and Bang Rak: a few clicks from the airport, it is the departure point for boats to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Once a month speed-boats going in and out take clubbers to Koh Phangan’s famous Full Moon party, on the neighboring island. It is described as a long white sandy beach, with coconuts, a few resorts, fishing harbors and little marinas.
Lipa Noi Beach is on the south coast. Relatively spared from mass-tourism, Lipa Noi has the reputation of being the best place to watch the sunset. With its fine and white sand, its few resorts, bungalows and restaurants, Lipa Noi is a dream for couples in search of tranquility.
Maenam Beach: Maintains its traditional features and continues to attract authenticity seekers. Its long white sand beach, edged by coconut trees, makes it an ideal vacation site. Recently, some of the most expensive resorts in Samui were built here. Taling Ngam: Known as the most remote beach on the island. If you crave total immersion, far from civilization, Taling Ngam is the place. Those who want a comfortable change of scenery will go to the Baan Taling Ngam resort.
Nathon : The island’s main harbor. The city has maintained its authenticity, with old wooden houses and an industrial atmosphere. A lot of markets, shops and restaurants on the main street warrant a stop, be it only for a few hours.
Bang Kao beach, Ban Hua Thanon beach, Na Khai beach, Laem Set beach and Thong Krut beach are all on the south coast. With their postcard scenery look (for the majority), they remain wild, with few tourists (except in the high season). Swimming is not always ideal, because of the shallow waters. But they’re perfect for sun-bathing and relaxing. A few resorts, bungalows and restaurants will welcome you anytime.
Hua Thanon and Bang Kao are among the least developed sites in Samui, and they have many authentic fishermen's villages. You will find a few seaside resorts along the two south-western beaches.
There are two seasons in Samui: tropical hot from December to September, and a short rain season from November to mid-December. The rest of the time precipitation doesn’t last long. As opposed to most parts of southern Thailand which has a six-month wet season between May and November, the climate on the island is relatively dry all year round
ATM and money exchange
The most popular banks to tourists are usually open from 09:30am to 04:00pm. You will find the best exchange rates there. It’s very easy to find small bureaus de change open till 10pm in Lamai or Chaweng. There are plenty of ATMs in busy places. The most common cards are Visa, MasterCard and American Express. The daily withdrawal limit is 20,000 THB. You may withdraw more depending on the agreement you made with your bank. There is a 150 THB commission for each withdrawal, on top of your bank’s commission
Samui has four private hospitals: Samui International Hospital; Thai International; Bandon Hospital; and Bangkok Samui Hospital. The government hospital is in Nathon.