The south of Thailand has nothing to do with the ancient kingdom of Siam that has so captivated travelers. Here they do not come to look for the magnificent profusely decorated temples, nor the beauty and authenticity of the tribes of the north or the landscapes of endless rice fields. In Ko Samui, rice fields give way to coconut plantations, tropical forests and steep cliffs that rush over deserted beaches and hidden coves.
Dotted with rocky and leafy islets, dreamy beaches and magnificent coral reefs, Ko Samui represents an idyllic destination of stunning beauty, ideal for forgetting everyday problems. Until just over ten years ago, the two most essential enclaves of luxury destinations in Thailand were Pattaya and Phuket. However, the massification of the Pattaya-Phuket axis -excellent in terms of infrastructure, but saturated with tourism- turned Ko Samui into the refuge chosen by those who were looking for a less exploited tropical paradise and, therefore, much calmer and relaxed.
The surface of this paradise barely covers the 250 square kilometers, half of the island of Ibiza. Ko Samui is part of a group of islands called Muu Ko Samui or Samui archipelago, although they are better known as the islands of the Gulf of Thailand. Around Ko Samui (Ko means “island” in Thai) there are about 80 more islets, of which only six are inhabited.
The Big Six
Arrived at the island, the problem that is posed to you from the beginning is: where to start? If one wants beaches, it is not an exaggeration to say that here you have the most vibrant and most varied beach catalog that can be found in this part of the world.
Indeed, Ko Samui offers more than 30 recognized beaches. But there are six – the Big Six – the most famous, those that appear in luxury destinations Thailand: Chaweng, Lamai, Maenam, Bo Phut, Big Buddha, and Choeng Mon.
Chaweng is the longest beach on the island, and also the one with the highest concentration of bungalows and hotels. Seven kilometers of white sand and a crystal-clear sea. In its central area, you can enjoy an authentic hodgepodge of restaurants, bars, nightclubs. The possibilities for water sports here are endless: water skiing, diving, paragliding, catamaran sailing, kayaking. The alternative to Chaweng is Lamai, immediately South, more familiar and, therefore, more relaxed.
For its part, the Big Buddha beach owes its name to a huge golden statue of Buddha, 12 meters high, which dominates the coast of the island, located with its back to the sea and on top of a mound. Here is the monastery of Koh Fan, where monks live who receive with great hospitality to all tourists who are attracted by this strange scenario.
Beyond the beach pleasures
The interior of the island is mountainous and difficult to access, but it is ideal for practicing trekking, hiring the services of a specialized guide beforehand. The southern part of the island is the least wild and where the large coconut plantations that dominate the landscape of this area settle. There are few and very scattered villages, although all of them are endowed with a unique charm.
The island of the sleeping cow
Located just 30 kilometers northeast of Samui, Ang Thong Marine Park is made up of some fifty secluded islands – Koh WoaTalap, Koh Mae Ko upholstered by vegetation, green lagoons, caves – unique rock formations. A ferry departs every morning from Nathon, the capital of Samui, to the marine park. The ferry moors at Koh WoaTalap, known by the natives as “the island of the sleeping cow.” There, a steep path that crosses a dense jungle leads to a splendid natural viewpoint from which the green rocks of Ang Thong look with all majesty.
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