Koh Samui has been settled for about 1500 years. The first inhabitants here were fishermen. The island is found on 500 years old maps from Chinese Ming dynasty. Fishing and coconut plantations has been the major source of income on the island. Today, tourism is the main income for the inhabitants of the island. The people here are called "Chao Samui".
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 sub districts (administrative regions): Maenam, Bophut, Maret, Taling Ngam, Namuang, Lipa Noi and Angthong. Koh Samui has been a backpackers destination since late 70's. Today, tourist from the whole world go to this easygoing "paradise". It is surrounded by more than sixty other islands, some small and inhabited, some are larger such as Koh Phangan and Koh Tao (divers island). Other popular destinations in the area are: Koh Nang Yuan (next to Koh Tao) and the Angthong National Marine Park (located between Koh Samui and the Suratthani mainland).
Top 10 Places To Visit on Koh Samui
In light of its spectacular Andaman waters with their clear water and coral reefs, rich animal and plant life, top-notch resorts and intense party scene, Samui has set itself apart as one of Thailand’s most popular resort destinations. There’s plenty to do in the towns as well as out and about on the water, underwater and in the forest. The monthly Full Moon parties that take place on a neighbouring island are an absolute requirement for all full-throttle partiers. All of this together makes for a first-class holiday in one of Thailand’s most coveted locations.
Temple of the Big Buddha
Wat Phra Yai is Samui’s Temple of the Big Buddha, with its signature 12 metre tall Buddha statue. Built in 1972, this iconic temple sits on a little island that is connected to the main island by a bridge. The temple grounds also house a centre for meditation, another draw for inspired visitors. When visiting any temple in Thailand, it’s important to follow the standard rules of dress and etiquette which includes wearing long pants, sleeves and removing your shoes before entering the actual temple.
The beaches of Samui are its greatest attraction, and each one is known for its own specific qualities. Ao Tong Takian is also called Silver Beach due to the glimmer of its sand and shimmering water; Lamai Beach is a popular family destination in light of the abundant water sports and activities; Choeng Mon offers higher-class accommodation in a remote setting and Chaweng Beach rallies as the most popular among tourists, with its peripheral of exciting activities like Muay Thai boxing and bungee jumping.
Nothing beats an evening at a beachside restaurant where you can enjoy a laid-back dinner right at the water’s edge. Samui’s fresh seafood makes way for all kinds of top-notch cuisine–be it gourmet Thai food or international fare. More authentic and highly affordable Thai food can be hunted out on the streets from local vendors, and in the opinion of the locals, the spicier the better.
Partying and nightlife
The tourism industry has paved the way for a varied nightlife that spans all the major developed districts. Clubs can be found at Lamai Beach, with tourist-grabbing exhibitions and shows to hold your interest. This is also the seedier side of the island with its fair share of go-go bars and the periphery of business that comes along with it. Live bands and slightly more upscale bars and clubs can be found at Chaweng Beach. A more laidback scene is on Big Buddha Beach with western-style ambiance and expatriate-owned establishments.
Full Moon parties
Even if they haven’t attended one, almost every visitor to Samui will hear about the notorious Full Moon parties held once a month on neighbouring Pha Ngan Island. Locals taxi boatloads of partygoers out to this island in preparation for the heart-pounding party that rage all night in honour of the full moon. There’s a variety of music playing, and peddlers take advantage of their corner on the market by selling all sorts of souvenirs, food and other ingestibles at exorbitant prices. The popularity of this monthly party has led to the addition of further weekend parties to mark less memorable phases of the lunar cycle.
There are several waterfalls on Samui that many tourists choose to visit. Na Muang Fall 1 flows over a very tall cliff and spills into a rocky pool; while it isn’t great for swimming, it makes for wonderful scenery. Its counter, Na Muang Fall 2, is located nearby and is easily accessed by groups of elephant riders and trekkers. Another option is to head to Hin Lat Fall, which is a great place to enjoy a cool, freshwater plunge for a change of pace from swimming in the ocean.
Koh Samui is a world-class diving destination and the fabulous offshore coral reefs pose a great opportunity for all skill levels. Beginners can enrol in accredited training courses at many dive shops in Bo Phut, Chaweng and Lamai. More skilled divers prefer diving at Sail Rock or Ang Thong National Marine Park, an impressive 40-island archipelago that boasts a pristine natural environment. The ultimate diving destination in Thailand, Koh Tao isn’t too far away either.
If you’re looking for an escape from the hectic tourism scene, head to the south side of Samui where groves of coconut trees and quiet Muslim fishing towns have staved off the development that has come upon the rest of the island. It’s possible to find a secluded beach to while away some hours, and there are also some unique temples and chedis to investigate.
Adventure sports are an everyday pastime on Samui. The whole family will appreciate elephant rides in a jungle setting, and multiple agencies can arrange tours. Closer to town, kids will enjoy spending some time at the go-kart track. Samui Shooting Range is located in Chawang, as is the bungee jumping pavilion. The latter sits off the beach road near the Reggae Bar.
The display of wildlife at Samui ranges from insects and butterflies at the Butterfly Farm to the raging buffalo fights scheduled at local stadiums. There is a snake farm, crocodile farm and an aquarium all on the main island. The nearby Ang Thong National Marine Park has wild gibbons living in lush, jungle surroundings amid quiet lagoons and limestone cliffs.
At any given time, the Chaweng strip is certain to be disrupted occasionally by roaming pickup trucks with crackling PA systems blaring out advertisements in Thai and English for local Thai boxing bouts. Grab a flyer for times and locations, which vary.
Koh Samui Nightlife
Many of Samui's hotels and resorts have cultural shows featuring Thai dance that can be magical. If you like sequins and glamour, Samui puts on some entertaining katoey (drag queen) shows as well. Christy's Cabaret (tel. 08167-62181) at the north end of Chaweng puts on a gala extravaganza of high camp that's free of charge. Come well before the show starts at 10pm to get a good seat, and be prepared to make up for the free admission with a purchase of a cocktail.
For night life you also can visit another beautiful place like Krabi, this wonderful place is for daytime but also for nightlife a beautiful place but also for the lovely Krabi women.
For bars and discos, Chaweng is the place to be. There are classier clubs, such as Mint Bar, in Soi Green Mango, which hosts international DJs in a stylish setting, and the fashionable Q Bar up on the hill, a little remote from the main center. Solo Bar, on the beachfront road in the center of Chaweng (next to Starbucks), throws the best party Samui has to offer every Friday from 2pm to 1am, with free barbecue. Because it has DJs spinning great sounds, a pool table, and six plasma TV screens showing major sporting events, people tend to gather at Solo early before going on a walkabout, reconvening later at Solo Club just behind (part of the same enterprise), which stays open till dawn.
A somewhat dubious legend among a certain crowd in Chaweng is the nearby Green Mango, which bangs out cheesy house music while commercial sex workers cruise for foreign business. Just Jonno's (tel. 08578-99451) is a bar/diner at the entrance of Sala Samui Resort in Choeng Mon that provides a refreshing alternative to Chaweng bars. Appealing less to grungy barflies and more to yuppies, it fills a much needed gap in this isolated corner. It plays cool house music in the evenings and offers a free Full Moon BBQ with English-style beef burgers cooked by Jonno himself.
For live music on Chaweng, go no farther than Beatles' Bar, in Fisherman's Village, which sees gatherings of local expat musicians, or Coco Blues Company, on Chaweng Beach Road, a popular blues club-cum-restaurant with New Orleans-style atmosphere. Irish-owned/managed Tropical Murphy's, across from McDonald's in south Chaweng (tel. 07741-3614), is a slice of Ireland, with an authentic pub atmosphere, a full range of beers, and good tasty British grub. Live music on the second floor boosts the ambience but doesn't hinder conversation.
On Sunday afternoons, be sure to truck on over to the Secret Garden Pub, on Big Buddha Beach (tel. 07724-5253), for barbecue food, cheap beer, and a succession of local and guest musicians performing blues and rock songs. The crowd is more or less evenly split between tourists and expats, and it's all very relaxed and family friendly. There are also accommodations available at the attached bungalows.
Over at Lamai Beach, there's everything from beer bars of the sleazier variety to mud wrestling, lady Thai boxing, and a few decent music venues. Fusion breaks the mold with acid jazz, funk, soul, and drum 'n' bass nights; and down at Sub Club, decent DJs, a good drink selection, and professional dancers (not go-go girls) whip the crowd up into a frenzy till the small hours. Sports fans may be impressed by the gigantic screen that looms over the beer garden here. Bauhaus has cheap drinks and holds foam parties and attracts football fans to its screens in high season.
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