Travel to Koh Samui, a tropical haven located in the Gulf of Thailand

Imagine long stretches of beautiful soft sand, lined with bountiful coconut palms that front lush virgin rainforests abundant with flora and fauna. Sounds like paradise? No, it’s Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island and one of its longest established and best known tourist destinations! Visit Koh Samui for those amazing beaches and stay for the pristine national parks, fabulous cuisine, party atmosphere (if you want it), and luxurious resorts.

Koh Samui’s popularity as a tourist destination began in the 1970s when a boatload of backpackers decided to check out the island. Back then accommodation and tourism facilities would have been very basic, but that’s what the backpackers liked. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Koh Samui really came into the spotlight for mainstream international travel, and the island’s tourism services and accommodation options have grown tremendously since then. Today there are upscale resorts, luxurious spas and cuisine that you could easily say is world-class. But, Koh Samui hasn’t completely let go of its backpacker origins so if this is the kind of budget experience that you want, you should still look to this island for cheap places to stay and affordable, though excellent places to eat.

Ang Thong National Park

With plenty of top class resorts, hotels and vacation rentals to stay in, there’s no shortage of accommodation on the island, and no shortage of tourists. You can still find the more authentic Thai experience when you visit Koh Samui; you just have to know where to look. Head to the south or west of the island for the quieter towns where you’ll see far more local faces than tourists. Here you can stay in a picturesque bungalow and sample the food at a local family-run seafood restaurant after spending a day on a near-deserted beach.

The beaches are the main feature to entice tourists to visit Koh Samui but the island is not just for beach lovers. Swim in its waters and enjoy the lagoons, corals and fish that you’ll see when snorkeling or scuba diving; head to its national parks to see the unspoiled beauty of the island up close, then experience culture and history when you wander in and out of the temples. You can also visit Koh Samui for some great shopping in its markets and of course there’s the nightlife which we’ve only just touched on so far.

Restaurants at Bophut fisherman village © M.V. Photography / Shutterstock.com

Like many of Thailand’s top tourist destinations, Koh Samui is not afraid to offer raucous nightlife. There are clubs, bars, cabarets and more to check out, and with mostly affordable prices it’s easy to enjoy a whole night of fun without busting your wallet. The nightlife doesn’t have to be raucous though, if you prefer something a little more understated and quiet – there are plenty of quieter places to go for a great night out, whether you just want to sit and sip a few drinks or take in some entertainment.

The great thing about Koh Samui is that it does still appeal to all tastes and ages, from young to old and everyone in-between!

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I'm Peter, the founder of Thailand-Guide and someone who decided to share my experiences travelling in Thailand. There are so many amazing locations to chose from that you're probably going to want to know a little more about each place before deciding where to go, that's where I come in with travel guides and the top things to do in each destination.

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