Koh Samui: An Island Paradise
At 250 kilometres, Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest island, as well as the largest island in the Chumphon Archipelago. It is 21 kilometres wide and 25 kilometres long, making it large enough for serious exploration by the fit and adventurous. However, it can also be explored in its entirety in only a few hours by automobile or motorbike.
The island was thought to have been initially inhabited more than 14 centuries ago by fishermen from Southern China and the Malay Peninsula. It can be seen on maps as far back as the 17th century, although at that time it was referred to as Pulo Cornam. It is unknown how its current name came about, but Koh Samui is believed by some to be a version of the name Mui, which is a type of tree on the island.
The name may also be a deviation of the Chinese words for “safe haven”. Regardless of the origins of its name, Koh Samui is a highly popular boutique island that is a favourite of travellers of all ages and from all walks of life. Situated in Thailand’s lower gulf, it has a classical tropical atmosphere and is home to some of the country’s best resorts and beaches.
Attractions and highlights of this remarkable area of the world:
The primary attraction in Koh Samui is the vast array of beaches from which visitors can choose. Mesmerising shorelines that are well-maintained and free of rubbish and provide the perfect environment for Sun worshipers everywhere. The following are some of the most popular beaches among holidaymakers.
This beach is highly favoured by Koh Samui visitors and it is the island’s longest and most beautiful beach. Surprisingly clear water, powder soft sand and gentle breezes make it perfect for both swimmers and water sport enthusiasts. At the southern end of the beach, photo opportunities abound and here, stunning views of the northern hills can be seen. However, it is wise to arrive at Chaweng Beach early to secure a spot, as the sand quickly fills up with couples and families, many of whom plan to spend the entire day in the area they have staked out.
Lamai Beach is another popular sun and fun location in Koh Samui and over the past few decades has been somewhat transformed into a party beach and an ideal “hippie hangout.” Although it does not become quite as crowded as Chaweng, it is still good to arrive early at this beach as well, as it is favoured by tourists and locals alike.
MAE NAM BEACH
Those in search of a quiet beach should consider the beautiful Mae Nam shoreline. This tranquil beach is situated on the northern end of the island and is perfect for sunbathing, swimming and those who prefer shallow water. It is also a popular starting point for diving tours and unlike some of the other beaches on the island, it is located very close to bars, shops and restaurants. The perfect place for relaxation, anyone looking for peace and quiet should visit Mae Nam Beach.
ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
Those who want to enjoy sightseeing and visiting cultural and historical landmarks will find that there is more than meets the eye in Koh Samui. For example, visitors may choose to spend the afternoon at the Wat Khunaram Temple, which is the most famous of all the island’s temples. Its popularity is due in part to the mummified monk on display within the Temple. The mummy is encased in a glass casket, where it sits upright and locals who are devoted to this shrine often stop by with incense and flowers.
THE BIG BUDDHA
One of Koh Samui’s most well-known attractions is the “The Big Buddha,” which sits 15 metres tall and is a famous landmark on the north coast of the island. Many travellers stop to have their picture taken in front of the massive statue and there is a picnic area adjacent to this interesting landmark.
HIN TA AND HIN YAI
Also known as the Grandpa and Grandma Rocks, the Hin Ta and Hin Yai are natural rock formations that make up the island’s most discussed landmark. Although they have never been changed or tweaked by the human hand, the rock formations bear a striking resemblance to male and female sex organs and because they sit side-by-side, this has become an extremely comical place to take pictures or simply marvel at the amusing way in which these rocks formed.
KAYAKING AND SNORKELLING
Plenty of day trips are available to those who are ready to stir from their beach chairs and do something a bit more vigorous. Snorkelling and kayaking excursions can be booked every day of the week, some of which include stops at the picturesque island of Ang Thong and the marine park located there, which inspired Alex Garland’s novel “The Beach.” Deep, clear waters and coral gardens full of various tropical fish make snorkeling and kayaking great activities for holidaymakers.
Visitors who enjoy spa services will be pleased to discover that Koh Samui has become a sort of wellness hub, with various retreats peppered throughout the island. Regardless of whether one is interested in a massage and manicure or a full detox and other holistic treatments, they can be found on the island. For a different type of spa experience, a trip to Tamarind Springs maybe the perfect choice. The Springs are an oasis of calm within Lamai’s jungle clad hills, which are not far from the main activities of the island.
Gaps between the area’s giant boulders have been ingeniously transformed into steam caves, while cool water runs over the base of the rocks, creating an invigorating experience for those who want to take a cool plunge after their sauna-like experience. Indulging in spa services amid the backdrop of palm trees and the chorus of tropical birds is an experience no visitor will forget.
Other Koh Samui island attractions include an aquarium, butterfly garden, monkey theatre and snake farm. There is also a wide selection of entertainment venues offered by the island’s restaurants and clubs, which open every evening. Regardless of the activities and landmarks in which one is interested, a holiday in this beautiful, tropical paradise will never be forgotten.