Ko Samui

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Ko Samui
Lipa Noi Beach
Lipa Noi Beach
Ko Samui is located in Thailand
Ko Samui
Ko Samui
Coordinates: 9°30′N 100°00′E / 9.500°N 100.000°E / 9.500; 100.000Coordinates: 9°30′N 100°00′E / 9.500°N 100.000°E / 9.500; 100.000
Country Thailand
Province Surat Thani
 • Total 228.7 km2 (88.3 sq mi)
Highest elevation 635 m (2,083 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 62,500
 • Density 270/km2 (710/sq mi)
Time zone ICT (UTC+7)
Country code +66
Bo Phut Beach

Ko Samui (or Koh Samui, Thai: เกาะสมุย, Thai pronunciation: [kɔ̀ʔ samǔj]), is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus, Thailand. Geographically in the Chumphon Archipelago, it is administratively part of Surat Thani Province. Ko Samui is Thailand's second-largest island after Phuket, with an area of 228.7 km2, a population of over 63,000 and an annual tourist population of 1.5 million.[1] Abundant tourist resources, white sandy beaches, coral reefs, and coconut trees are present on the island.[2]


The island was probably first inhabited about 15 centuries ago, settled by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula[3] 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"[citation needed]. Ko is the Thai word for "island".

Until the late-20th century, Ko Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand.[citation needed] The island was without roads until the early 1970s, and the 15 km journey from one side of the island to the other could involve a whole-day trek through the mountainous central jungles.

Ko Samui's economy now is based primarily on a successful tourist industry, as well as exports of coconut and rubber.

Economic growth has brought not only prosperity, but also major changes to the island's environment and culture, a source of conflict between local residents and newcomers from other parts of Thailand and elsewhere.[4] Reflecting Samui's growth as a tourist destination, the Cunard ship MS Queen Victoria (a 2,000-plus passenger ship) docked at Samui during its 2008 world cruise.[5]


Sunrise, Ko Samui

Ko Samui is in the Gulf of Thailand, about 35 km northeast of Surat Thani town (9°N, 100°E). It is the most significant island in the Chumphon Archipelago. The island measures some 25 km at its widest point. It is surrounded by about sixty other islands, which together compose the Ang Thong Marine National Park (Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park) and include many other popular tourist destinations, including, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao, and Ko Nang Yuan.

The central part of the island is an almost uninhabitable tropical jungle mountain called Khao Pom, peaking at 635 m. The various lowland and coastal areas are connected by a single 51 km road, running mostly along the coastline and encircling the bulk of the island. On the northwest coast of the island is the old capital, Nathon. Although Nathon spreads over a large area, the actual port and main business district is relatively small.

Nathon is the major port for vehicular and goods transportation from the mainland, it is the centre of the fishing industry, and remains the seat of the regional government. The majority of governmental functions are based here, as is the public hospital. Being the location of the main port and the closest inhabited area to the mainland provided the impetus for Nathon becoming the commercial centre for Samui locals. More recently, the decline in dependence on the local coconut industry, the continued growth and development of the tourist industry, and the northeastern location of the airport, has seen the slow move of the commercial centre to Chaweng.[citation needed]


Ko Samui features a tropical monsoon climate under Köppen’s climate classification. However, the city only has one true dry season month. Average monthly precipitation in February falls below 60 mm, the threshold for a tropical dry season month. The climate is warm and humid for most of the year. However, in comparison to Phuket and most of the rest of southern Thailand, Samui's weather is relatively dry. The heaviest precipitation is typically seen in the months of October and November.[6] For the rest of the year, given the tropical climate, rain showers are brief; 20–60 minutes duration is typical. The island sees on average just under 2000 mm of precipitation annually.

Climate data for Ko Samui (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.0
Average low °C (°F) 24.2
Rainfall mm (inches) 86.2
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 11 5 4 8 16 15 15 15 16 20 20 15 160
 % humidity 83 82 82 81 80 78 78 78 80 85 85 82 81.2
Source: Thai Meteorological Department (Normal 1981-2010), (Avg. rainy days 1961-1990)


Ko Samui is an amphoe (district) of Surat Thani Province, subdivided into 7 subdistricts (tambon). The complete island is one city municipality (thesaban nakhon). The district covers the island, as well as the Ang Thong archipelago and some other small islands nearby.

1. อ่างทอง (Ang Thong) 6 villages
2. ลิปะน้อย (Lipa Noi) 5 villages
3. ตลิ่งงาม (Taling Ngam) 5 villages
4. หน้าเมือง (Na Mueang) 5 villages
5. มะเร็ต (Maret) 6 villages
6. บ่อผุด (Bo Phut) 6 villages
7. แม่น้ำ (Mae Nam) 6 villages
   Map of Tambon


Historically, the island's economy has been based around subsistence agriculture and fishing, with coconuts as the main cash crop. From the 1980s onwards, tourism has become an economic factor and is now the dominant industry. Ko Samui transport links have made it a destination for tourists seeking to explore the other islands in the area.


The old Samui international airport

Samui Airport is a private airport built and owned by Bangkok Airways, which is still the main operator and was the only airline with services to Ko Samui from mainland Thailand since the airport's construction in 1989. Due to its use of locally produced palm leaves and a natural, open-air cooling system, the terminal complex received an Environment Impact Assessment Award under the guidance of Dr Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth. In 2009, the airport handled 1.3 million passengers and 17,707 aircraft operations.[7] The airport is now additionally served by Thai Airways International to Bangkok, Firefly Airlines to Kuala Lumpur and Penang, and SilkAir to Singapore.[citation needed]

Flights from Samui to Phuket and other Thai destinations are available, and in 2012, the Thai government announced the possibility of a second Ko Samui airport due to complaints of high airport fees.[8]

Following the reopening of Don Mueang airport in early 2012, Air Asia offered flights from Kuala Lumpur to Surat Thani Airport. Flights began on 6 February 2012.[9]

Several ferries connect the island with the mainland, including two car/passenger ferries (Raja Ferries and Seatran), and connect Don Sak to piers in the west of the island, in Lipa Noi and in Nathon. Public buses to all parts of the mainland operate from a new bus station north of Nathon. Songthaews circle the ring road like a bus service with fixed fees in daytime only, and private so-called "taxi meter" taxis are available throughout the island, From 12 August 2014 taxis drive on meter fare only, but are allowed a surcharge of 50 baht.[10]


The expansion of tourism in Ko Samui has resulted in growth in building resorts, bungalows and luxury private villas on the island. This economic growth has led many businessmen from all over the world to invest in Ko Samui. With over 260 resorts and bungalows [11] in Samui, counting from the end of year 2009, it has become Thailand's second largest resort business behind Bangkok and surpassing Phuket.

Events and festivals[edit]

  • Buffalo Fighting Festival: One of the best-known festivals on Ko Samui is the Buffalo Fighting Festival, which is held on special occasions such as New Year's Day and Songkran. Unlike Spanish bull-fighting, the fighting on Ko Samui is fairly harmless. The fighting season varies according to some ancient customs and ceremonies. The buffalo are beautifully decorated with ribbons and gold-painted leaves. Before the contest, which lasts just two rounds, monks spray the buffalos with holy water. The winning owner typically takes home millions of baht in prize money.
  • Samui Regatta: The Samui Regatta is a sailing tournament held every year. The tournament is internationally known and competitors come from as far away as Australia, Singapore, Japan and China. The event began in 2002.
  • Ten Stars Samui Art Party: A recurring cultural event bringing together art lovers, local Thai and international artists, and their new, original artworks. The annual event, hosted at various high-end resorts and other high-end venues on the island, focus on building the art community on Ko Samui, with presentations by featured artists.
  • Triathlon Event: The International Triathlon Union organizes this event every year. This event draws more than five hundred participants from around the world.

Local food[edit]

Much of the local cuisine is derived from Malay, Indonesian and Indian cuisines. Favorite dishes from the south include Indian-style Muslim curry (massaman), rice noodles in fish curry sauce (khanom chin), and chicken biryani. Local food products of Ko Samui and Surat Thani Province include salted eggs and rambutan.

Medical care[edit]

Samui has four international private hospitals: Samui International Hospital on Beach Road in north Chaweng; Thai International off Lake Road in Chaweng; Bandon Hospital on the Ring Road; and Bangkok Samui Hospital in Chaweng Noi. The government hospital is in Nathon.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Samui hotels cash in on tourism boom". Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  2. ^ "Koh Samui". Amazing Thailand. Tourism Authority Thailand (TAT). Retrieved 2014-12-07. 
  3. ^ Joe Bindloss, Steven Martin, Wendy Taylor. Thailand's Islands and Beaches. Lonely Planet. p. 199. ISBN 1-74059-500-9. 
  4. ^ "Danger in Paradise". Astoriasamuivillas.com. Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Weather in Thailand". Travelfish.org. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  7. ^ "Koh Samui Airport, Thailand". airport-technology.com. Kable. 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Samui may get second airport | Bangkok Post: news". Bangkok Post. 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  9. ^ "AirAsia's new routes from Kuala Lumpur to Thailand, Indonesia". Budget Airline Guide. Budget Airline Guide. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  10. ^ NCPO announce that all taxis in Koh Samui must use meters (Samui Times 2014-08-08).
  11. ^ SamuiBatik.com - The Travelers Resource to Ko Samui - (2011)[dead link]
  12. ^ Koh Samui Hospitals (Thai Visa Samui)


External links[edit]