The largest and most well-known islands of the Chumphon Archipelago, Koh Samui was first popular with backpackers visiting in the 1970s, and after opening of the airport in the late 1980s, became increasingly popular with higher spending travellers.
It’s a beautiful island in the Gulf of Siam, off the east coast of Thailand, with jungle covered mountains, and lush rolling hills, down to sandy beaches that hit the clear warm waters typical of the tropics. The island has been inhabited for generations by Thais that made their income from agriculture and fishing, and lived in small coastal communities, and until just a few decades ago, there were no roads. Samui people developed their own culture, and they are famously friendly and welcoming to visitors.
Today’s Koh Samui looks very different to the one back in the 1970s: the tourism sector is the largest contributor to the local economy, and development on the island has been rapid, especially in the last two decades. Each year new hotels open, attracting more and more visitors. Despite this, the island remains charming, and has some stunning resorts that blend well into the local environment, and are secluded, away from the busier towns on the island.
Most visitors arrive on the island for a beach holiday, and will not be disappointed. There are opportunities for snorkelling and other non-motorised water-sports in the clear turquoise seas around the island’s shores, and further afield visitors may take a boat out to Mu Koh Ang Thong National Park, a collection of protected islands with lush green interiors, blue lagoons, and stunning white-sand beaches.
The interior of Koh Samui has a number of towns, from brash Chawaeng to slightly more traditional Bo Phut, meaning modernity is never far away. This is perfect for those looking for a secluded island beach stay, but with the convenience of access to modern amenities should they be required or desired. For something more natural, opportunities are plentiful for hiking through the rain forest covered hills, to cascading waterfalls and stunning viewpoints.
The Chumphon Archipelago generally has its wettest months in October and November, therefore if planning a tailor-made holiday to Thailand during the summer, this is the best region for a beach stay. February and March are however the driest months on average.
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