Koh Samui information
Map of Koh Samui
Koh Samui Information
Ko Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand, about 35 km northeast of Surat Thani town. The island measures some 25 km at its widest point. It is surrounded by about sixty other islands, which compose the Ang Thong Marine National Park (Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park) and include other tourist destinations (Ko Phangan, Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan).
The central part of the island is an almost uninhabitable jungle mountain, Khao Pom, peaking at 635 m. The various lowland areas are connected together by a single 51 km road, running mostly along the coast to encircle the bulk of the island.
The old capital is Nathon, on the southwest coast of the island. It remains the major port for fishing and inter-island transportation. Nathon is the seat of the regional government, and the true commercial hub of the Samui locals. It has a charming pace, and is almost small enough to walk everywhere. The old Chinese shop houses along the middle street whisper of an exotic history.
Ko Samui features a tropical monsoon climate. 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. Ko Samui, being in Surat Thani Province, is warm and moist 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 . For the rest of the year, since the weather is tropical, when it does rain, it usually doesn’t last long; rain showers of 20–60 minutes are typical. The city sees on average just under 2000 mm of precipitation annually.
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. The construction of a stable, high-speed internet connection in recent years has also made the island a feasible location for IT-based enterprises, which are beginning to provide a certain degree of economic diversity. The island's climate and accessibility make it particularly attractive for international investors. Koh Samui transport links have made it a destination for tourists seeking to explore the other islands in the area.
Ko Samui Airport is a private airport originally built by Bangkok Airways, which is still the main operator and was for a long time the only airline with services to Ko Samui from mainland Thailand. The airport is additionally served by Thai Airways International. Several ferries connect the island with the mainland, including the car ferry from Don Sak to a pier in the west of the island, south of the main town Nathon. Public buses to all parts of the mainland operate from a small bus station located in the south of Nathon. Songthaews (tuk-tuk style buses) circle the ring road, and private taxis are available throughout the island although these are often criticized for failure to use meters and flagrant overcharging.
The original inhabitants of Ko Samui, known as 'Chao Samui', are predominantly Buddhist, unlike areas of Thailand further south, where Islam has a strong influence.
In the past, most made their living in coconut farming. Nowadays, work in tourism has taken over.
Many locals have become wealthy from selling off land they have owned for decades. As a result of the extensive development of the island, many Thai-Chinese have come to Samui from the capital of Bangkok (Khrung-Thep). Most of the manual labor needed to keep up with the island’s growth has been provided by people native to the country’s poorer north-eastern region. As a result, there is a wide cross section of economic classes on the island.
The south of Thailand is a melting pot of Buddhists, Thai Chinese, Muslims and traditional sea-faring gypsies. Ko Samui does not seem to suffer from the religious tensions in communities along the southern border of Thailand, and in general the locals live in harmony. Outside of the tourist areas, the Thai language is spoken with a thick Southern dialect which can be difficult even for northern Thais to understand.
With this broad mixture of cultures, Ko Samui is always celebrating some tradition or another, including some western ones.
Resorts & bungalows
After the exploding tourism in Ko Samui there has been a 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 in Samui, counting from the end of year 2009, it has become Thailand's second largest resort business behind Bangkok and surpassing Phuket.