Koh Samui Holidays
Beautiful Koh Samui, located in the Gulf of Thailand east of the mainland, is the second largest island (after Phuket) in the Thai Kingdom. It's an oasis of natural loveliness, typified by palm-fringed white sandy beaches, lush jungle interiors and spectacular waterfalls. Koh Samui holidays promise something for everyone, whether it's a tranquil beach paradise, a lively party scene, or diving amongst dazzling coral reefs.
Featured Koh Samui Hotels
It's true that for some time Koh Samui was best known as a backpacker destination with low-budget accommodation. However, in recent times it has broadened its appeal much more, and there are increasing numbers of upmarket resorts hidden along the coasts, especially around the quieter areas to the south and west. There are peaceful uncrowded beaches ideal for family holidays, and ample opportunities for exploring unspoilt areas for the more energetic and adventurous.
Variety of Beaches
By far the most popular beaches, and the centres for night life and partying, are Chaweng and Lamai on the east coast. Although those looking for quieter Koh Samui holidays may prefer to avoid these, it's still worth visiting Crystal Bay and Coral Cove, two delightful spots between the two, with clear waters and some of the island's best snorkelling. There are also some fascinating rock formations here, including the unique and colossal Elephant Rock, providing a stunning view of the Gulf of Thailand from its summit, and the bizarre and suggestive Grandfather and Grandmother rock formations south of Lamai.
For a different beach experience, Mae Nam is a beautiful and tranquil beach on the north coast, with gorgeous views and calm shallow waters perfect for swimming, and also the start of the Mae Nam hiking trail, seven miles of beautiful ocean views, pristine jungle, tropical blooms and secret waterfalls. A few miles east of Mae Nam is Bophut, which not only has one of the island's finest beaches, but is also home to the charming Fisherman's Village, one of the oldest places on the island. Full of historic and quaint wooden homes built by the original Chinese settlers, it also has a delightful "walking street" lined with elegant cafes and boutiques.
Just next to Bophut is one of Koh Samui's best known attractions, Wat Phra Yai or Big Buddha Temple. Set majestically on a small rocky island, Koh Faan, reached by a causeway, the temple features a 12-metre golden statue of Buddha, in a pose depicting his journey to enlightenment. The Big Buddha is often the first landmark visitors see when arriving by air.
More beautiful white-gold beaches can be found in the south-west corner near Taling Ngam Bay -- the roads leading down to them are surrounded by palm forests, and the beaches have spectacular views of the near-by small islands. Near here is the island's most famous temple, Wat Khunaram -- famous because of its mummified monk on display, seated in an upright glass case, before which devotees place flowers and incense.
One of the favourite attractions for holidays to Koh Samui is the gorgeous Ang Thon National Marine Park, a protected archipelago of pristine islands off the north-west coast, displaying dense jungle, towering limestone mountains and fertile mangroves, with many hidden lakes and secret coves to explore. With their abundant marine life and rich variety of exotic wildlife, the islands are a paradise both for hiking, and for water activities including diving, snorkelling, sailing and sea-kayaking. The islands are mainly visited on day-trips or by boat charter from Koh Samui -- there are no hotels, but tents and simple bungalows can be rented for an overnight stay.
Inland, there is an abundance of magnificent waterfalls to explore, including, in the centre, the famous Na Muang Falls, called "purple" because of the purple hue of their rock faces. Although they can get crowded at the base, there is an almost hidden footpath leading up the side, to a number of secret and beautiful waterfalls which you can have almost to yourself. Further north, an especially gorgeous site is the stunning Hin Lad Waterfall, reached by a dense evergreen jungle trail and surrounded by dazzling flowers in spring. At the beginning of the trail is the Hin Lad Waterfall Temple, with a lovely garden containing sculptures and a meditation area.
The ideal time for holidays to Koh Samui is the driest period, January to March, or, even better, June, just before the peak tourist months in July and August -- though in fact the rainy season September-December is the best time to enjoy the waterfalls. Whatever time you choose, the island offers a unique and totally relaxing alternative to traditional beach holidays. The attractions are so diverse and varied, that whatever you look for in Koh Samui holidays, you are virtually guaranteed to find it here.