This beautiful 247-square-kilometre island is one of the most famous attractions of Thailand. A 51-Kilometre ring road encirc les the island, which has numerous lovely beaches and bays, and is almost literally an island of coconuts and forested hills. Samui's best beaches line the northern and eastern coasts. The most popular are Haad Chaweng and Haad Lamai where, generally, attractive accommodation can be found.
Besides marvelous beaches, other interesting attractions include the Samui Butterfly Park; the Monkey Center; the Hin Lat and Na Muang waterfalls; the phallic rock formations at the southern end of Lamai Bay, and a massive seated Buddha image on Ko Fan. There is also elephant trekking on the island and many parks and natural attractions which include the coral beds at Laem Sed and Tong Takien, the Hin Lat and Na Muang waterfalls. The island's major sea front settlement is at Nathon where shops, restaurants and tour agents are located.
Koh Samui is just 21 kilometers at its widest point and 25 at its longest. Its hinterland consists of Forest Hills of limestone and granite, and the shoreline is made up of countless palm-fringed beaches and bays.
The best (and most developed) beaches are at Chaweng and Lamai on the East Coast, where you can now find a very wide range of accommodation, and both restaurants and night-spots to suit every taste. Bophut and Maenam, on the calmer north coast facing Koh Phangan, are also popular beaches offering a quieter, gentler holiday experience.
Koh Phangan (world famous for its monthly Full Moon Parties) is just 20 minutes away by Catamaran from Maenam beach. Koh Tao is two hours and Ang Thong National Marine Park -a compact archipelago of small and virtually untouched islands which are best explored by sea kayak is available for daytrips.
The Ang Thong National Park comprises some 40 islands northwest of Koh Samui and covers an area of 250 square kilometers of which 50 square kilometers is landmass. Most islands comprise limestone masses reaching heights of up to 400 metres and fringed by beaches and tropical rainforest. The park office is located on Koh Wua Ta Lap. Popular attractions include a high viewpoint, secluded beaches, Tham Bua Bok - a beautiful cave with spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations, and an emerald saltwater lake known as Tale Nai on Koh Mae Ko, which entails a strenuous climb. Another popular venue is Koh Sam Sao where an extensive span of coral reef and huge rock arch offers scenic views. A one-day tour package to Mu Koh Ang Thong is organised by many travel agents on Koh Samui and the majority of tours depart from Nathon early every morning.
Koh Samui can be reached by boat from Surat Thani town or by ferry either from Don Sak - some 7 kms from Surat Thani town. There are direct flights into the island which has its own international airport.