With its 247 km², Samui is the third-largest island of Thailand and the largest island in the Chumphon Archipelago, that has over 80 (mostly uninhabited) islands which form the Ang Thong National Marine Park. The island is a “Amphoe” or district in the Surat Thani province.
Samui is divided into seven “Tambon” or administrative regions: Maenam, Bophut, Maret, Taling Ngam, Namuang, Lipa Noi and Angthong. Koh Samui has been settled for about 1500 years and the first inhabitants were fishermen only; for many centuries fishing and coconut plantations have been the main source of income on the island, but today the tourism is the major income for the locals. Until the late 20th century, Samui was an isolated, self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand.
The island was even without roads until the early 70s, when the first backpackers arrived on Koh Samui, of course by boat. For many years after that the island had just a few bungalows and a trickle of tourists. Things started to change in the early 1990s when tourists started arriving on full boats and since then the place has grown substantially.
Samui is now the second-most popular place as an island destination in Thailand (the first is Phuket). Koh Samui may not be the country’s most beautiful island, but it is still an oasis of natural beauty with its white sandy beaches, corals, lagoons, waterfalls, coconut trees and crystal clear water. Today, all kinds of tourists from all over the whole world are visiting this easygoing “paradise”. Samui is so adaptable that its fans span the travelling categories: fortnighters, honeymooners and families, united in their love of sand and sea.
The newest arrivals are health tourists lured by wellness centers that concoct rejuvenating tonics of fasting, yoga, meditation and ocean breezes. Koh Samui is a celebrity: it has been in the tourism business longer than almost any other Thai island, but rather than becoming passé, it’s embraced a new generation of resort goers, many of them upscale. Award–winning holidays here include fine stretches of sand clogged with beach loungers, rubbish-free roads, world-class international cuisine, luxurious spas and beach bar parties. Behind the glossy veneer there’s still a glimmer of the girl from the country. Look for steaming street-side food stalls beyond the beach, backpacker shanties plunked down on quiet stretches of sand and secreted Buddhist temples along the backstreets. To really get away, head to the south or the west of the island where you’ll find authentic Samui family-run seafood restaurants, tourist-free towns and long stretches of refreshingly wild and shaggy coconut palms.
Samui’s weather patterns are a little different from the rest of Thailand. In April through September, when most of the country has its monsoon, Samui stays fairly dry, but from October to December, it’s wet in Samui and drier elsewhere. The driest season is from January to March. The temperatures are usually the same, but rainfall fluctuates drastically.
Introducing Lamai Beach
Lamai Beach is Samui’s second-largest resort area after Chaweng. It is quieter and less bustling than its big sister, but still with plenty of accommodation, dining and shopping options, and some great spas and tourist sites to explore. The general atmosphere is laid back and Lamai has cheaper tourist facilities than Chaweng and the area is slowly being rejuvenated. Lamai is a popular holiday destination on the central east coast of Samui Island. Hosting the widest beach in Samui, it is a lively resort town yet quieter than Chaweng’s hustle-and-bustle scene. Its ever-growing popularity has brought a great choice of interesting venues regarding its dining, shopping and nightlife entertainment scene. Lamai’s superb beach is the main attraction here, yet it must be noted that its southern part is more suited for swimming than its northern part due to the shallowness of the water. Manmade (mostly temples and pagodas) and natural attractions (Hin Ta & Hin Yai, Samui Overlap Stone) give visitors excellent sightseeing excursion opportunities.