Ko Samui Halal Travel Guide
Covid-19 Situation in Thailand
Ko Samui (เกาะสมุย), often called just Samui (สมุย) is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, about 700 km (430 mi) south of Bangkok and 80 km (50 mi) from the eastern coastline of Southern Thailand.
Ko Samui is all in all a fairly big island, the second biggest in Thailand after Phuket. The most popular and commercialised beaches are Chaweng and Lamai, while the northern beaches and their adjacent villages of Mae Nam, Bophut, Bang Rak (Big Buddha) and Choeng Mon are more peaceful choices, and the west coast beaches are still (comparatively) quiet.
Clockwise from Nathon on the west coast, the main beaches are:
- Nathon — Samui’s port and administrative centre, but with little to attract the tourist
- Laem Yai — set on the northwest tip of the island, a secluded beach overlooking the islands of Ang Thong
- Mae Nam — a quiet and beautiful beach on the northern coast
- Bophut — known for its Fisherman’s Village, laid-back but growing fast
- Bang Rak — at the northeastern tip, home of the Big Buddha
- Choeng Mon — quiet north shore beach
- Chaweng — the largest and most-developed beach, with a curious mix of luxury hotels and backpacker guesthouses and a hopping nightlife
- Lamai — Samui’s “second” beach south of Chaweng, more backpackery than Chaweng, but full of hotel tourists and a vibrant night life too.
- Samui South Coast — the small beaches of Ban Hua Thanon, Na Khai, Laem Set, Bang Kao and Thong Krut
- Lipa Noi – an upcoming beach area south of Nathon
An island of great natural beauty and variety, Samui is home to some 50,000 full-time inhabitants, 90% of whom are Buddhist. The palm-fringed shoreline and coconut and fruit cultivation of the coastal lowlands rise to a central granite massif, the slopes of which are cloaked in virgin rainforest.
At 247 km², Samui is the second largest island in Thailand and the largest island in an archipelago of over 80 (mostly uninhabited) islands which form the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a kayaking and snorkelling paradise. At 25 km (16 mi) long and 21 km (13 mi) wide, Samui is big enough for serious exploration by the adventurous and fit, but can be circumnavigated in just a couple of hours by motorbike or car.
The island was probably first inhabited about 15 centuries ago, settled by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula and south China. The origin of the name Samui is mysterious.
Until the late 20th century, Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand. The island was even without roads until the early 1970s, and the 15 km (9.3 mi) journey from one side of the island to the other involved a whole-day trek through the mountainous central jungles.
In the early 1970s the first backpackers travelling on the back of a coconut boat arrived on Ko Samui. For years after that the island just had a few bungalows and a trickle of travelers. Things started to change in the early 1990s when tourists started arriving in full boats and since then the place has grown substantially. Samui is now the second most popular island destination in Thailand (Phuket is first). Ko Samui may not be the country’s most beautiful island but it is still an oasis of natural beauty with its white sandy beaches, dazzling coral, luscious lagoons, picturesque waterfalls, swaying coconut trees, and crystal clear water. The water at Bophut Beach, though, is often murky, especially around December.
Unfortunately, development on Ko Samui is starting to take its toll and the beaches of Chaweng and Lamai are overcrowded in the high season.
Samui’s weather patterns are a little different from the rest of Thailand. In Apr-Sep, when most of the country has its monsoon, Samui stays fairly dry, but from Oct-Dec, it’s wet in Samui and drier elsewhere.
Ko Samui – like other places on the Golf of Thailand – has an unusual 12 hour tide pattern. During summer the tide is low at daytime and high at night time, while in winter it is always high at daytime. Beaches are much wider at low tide, and the difference can be huge in places with shallow water. In some places the beach may be very narrow during high tide.