October 2012
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Ko Samui is an island in the Gulf of Thailand – Part 3

Ko Samui which is often called just Samui is an island in the Gulf of Thailand.

Overview of Ko Samui

• Ko Samui is about 700km south of Bangkok and about 80km from the eastern coastline of Southern Thailand.
• Ko Samui Island measures some 25 km at its widest point.
• It is surrounded by about sixty other islands.
• These islands comprise of the Ang Thong Marine National Park (Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park) and include other tourist destinations (Ko Phangan, Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan).
• The central part of the island is an almost uninhabitable jungle mountain, Khao Pom, peaking at 635 m.
• The various lowland areas are connected together by a single 51 km road.
• These run mostly along the coast to encircle the bulk of the island.

Places to Visit in Ko Samui

George Conradie
• 76 Greenwood Way Pinehurst Durbanville.
• ? +27219764007.
• The island’s first and currently only, professional standard golf course.
• It was opened in 2003.
• It offers a gorgeous location in the hills above Maenam, belonging to the santiburi Resort.
• Two driving ranges exist, one of which is in Lamai and another next to the Bandon International Hospital.

Ang Thong National Marine Park
• The Ang Thong archipelago is a dream of Koh Samui and Surat Thani.
• It is rarely visited Thailand in the order of years the great parks, usually because of inaccessibility.
• Samui is very popular and often even kayaks in many berries.
• You can hike to the top of some of the islands and campsites near the headquarters of the park.

Buddha Footprints
• Although the Buddha footprints can be a bit hard to find, it’s well worth putting in the extra effort to get there.
• It is located on a hilltop shrine near the Butterfly Garden.
• They are in fact four footprints engraved one on top of each other.
• After you negotiate the 163 steps to the top you are rewarded with one of the most spectacular views on the island.
• Location: Route 4170, 2km west of the turnoff for the Butterfly Garden.

Buffalo Fighting
• This local sport was traditionally held as entertainment after the rice harvest.
• There are several “stadiums” around the island.
• Most being a basic cleared area under the palms with a wall of bamboo matting or coconut leaves to hinder the view of those who have not paid for a seat.
• Men pay about 100 Baht, women entry free.
• The fight ends when one animal runs away, usually well before either animal gets hurt.

Chinese Temple to the Goddess Zhao Mei Guan Im
• This is a single building, with a small altar and beautifully decorated with colorful paintings that tell stories of Zhao Mei Guan Im.
• One must pay particular attention to the painting on the stone altar just to the right of the temple building as it is extremely well done.
• Its location is at the southwest end of Koh Samui with wonderful views of Koh Tao (Turtle Island), Koh Mud Sum and the mainland.
• From here you can watch the long-tail fishing boats and observe the sunset from the beach just below the temple grounds.

Hainan Temple (Chinese)
• This brightly colored gem of a temple built in 1862 is in the center of Nathon.
• As you walk down Thaweerat Phakdee Street (Route 4169) look for Soi Angthong 4.
• You can actually see the temple compound from there, but take a closer look and you’ll also see two fierce looking golden lions guarding the main gate.
• The main building is surrounded by a walled garden and the traffic noise is virtually nonexistent inside.

Hin Lad Waterfall Temple
• This is wonderfully small, peaceful temple to the left of the Hin Lad Waterfall trail.
• Cross over the bridge and stop for a moment of reflection while you feed the fish.
• The Buddha statue sits far back to the right in a small, natural, niche formed from the side of a huge boulder and has lush vegetation surrounding it.
• This place is well shaded and calm making it perfect for a stop after the hike to the waterfall.

Hua Thanon
• Just South of Hinta Hinyai, this fishing village has been home to a large proportion of Samui’s Muslim population.
• It still retains a quaint, old-Samui feel, with rickety teak wood houses lining the road.
• It has some decent seafood restaurants and ethnic clothing and jewelery boutiques.
• Whilst you may not see too many long-tail boats setting off to cast nets these days, it’s worth checking out the teak houses put to modern usage, with the play station arcades and cars parked in the front rooms

Laem Sor Pagoda
• This pagoda is to be found at the southernmost tip of Koh Samui, which is also the end of the Bang Kao Beach.
• Its golden hue, glowing in the sunlight, makes for an astonishingly beautiful contrast to the Columbia blue sky and the turquoise sea behind it.
• The entrance is guarded by two ‘Yak’ (meaning giant) warrior statues with immense swords, colorful clothing and scary faces.
• Buddha stands in the doorway to the rear of the statues.
• This one is always a great photo opportunity as there is absolutely nothing obstructing your view and it all fits on one photograph.
• It is located eleven kilometers south of Lamai.

Lamai Overlap Stone
• It is a challenge to get up to these impressive balanced boulders, but the spectacular views on arrival make it worthwhile for the adventurous traveler.
• The steep, rough, dirt-track road leading to the viewpoint should only be attempted on a dirt bike or with a 4×4, and the last stretch may have to be walked, depending on conditions.
• Alternatively it is a hard 20-minute climb on foot, but there is a refreshment stall at the top and it is an exhilarating experience.

Best time to visit / climate

• 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.
• The driest season is from January to March.

Location on Google Maps

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How to get there?

1. By Plane
• Ko Samui Airport (USM) is a private airport originally built by Bangkok Airways.
• They have near-hourly departures to/from Bangkok and tickets are expensive by Thai standards, with advance bookings costing 3000-4500 baht one-way, while a walk-in booking may be twice as much.
• There are also daily flights to/from Phuket for 2000-3000 baht, Pattaya, Singapore and Hong Kong; two daily flights from Chiang Mai.
• A feature of the International Departure Gate is a courtesy corner which provides food and drinks for all passengers in a cosy sitting area.
• Awaiting boarding becomes rather comfortable with food, drinks and wifi provided.
• In addition to Bangkok Air, Ko Samui is served by two flights a day from Bangkok with Thai Airways as well as by Berjaya Air and Firefly from Subang airport and Penang International Airport in Malaysia.
• Ground transportation from the airport is readily available.
• A seat in a minibus for the 20-minute ride to Chaweng costs 120 baht/person; a faster taxi will cost 300-500 baht.
• A cheaper but less convenient option is to fly to Surat Thani by Thai Airways and low cost airlines by Air Asia and Nok Air (Depart from Donmuang Airport )and connect by road and then ferry.
• Or fly to Nakhonsithammarat by Nok Air then take bus and catamaran boat by Lompayah.

2. By Boat
• From Surat Thani train station and Surat Thani Airport (URT), there are combined bus/ferry services to Ko Samui cost 200-300 baht – some entail a 60 minute bus ride to Donsak pier followed by a 90 minute ferry crossing, others a 30 minute bus ride but the ferry takes extra time.
• Tickets are sold by numerous agents that meet each train and airport.
• It should cost certainly less than 300 baht even if bought this way.
• Raja Ferry Port operates services between Donsak pier and Lipa Noi pier on the western side of Samui.
• It includes a free air conditioned deck and several comfortable seats.
• This ferry also transports cars, so can be used should you decide to come with your own transport.
• There are fewer options for transportation there, and songthaew/taxi drivers may be more reluctant to bargain.
• Songthaew transfer from the pier at Lipa Noi on Samui to either Chaweng or Lamai will cost 100 baht per person.
• Taxis will be more expensive, with initial asking prices of up to 500 baht.
• Numerous ferry services are direct from mainland Surat Thani including an express boat.
• Lomprayah offers a combined bus/high speed catamaran ferry service from Bangkok to Ko Samui which takes about 11 hours and costs around 1250 baht.
• The bus pauses in Hua Hin and then stops at Chumphon, where it connects with the ferry, which calls at Ko Nang Yuan, Ko Tao and Ko Pha Ngan on its way to Ko Samui.
• While the route may be more scenic and the ferry itself is comparable to Seatran, the entire way to Samui will take more time, and will cost more too.

Some Travel Books about Thailand

Lonely Planet Discover Thailand Thailand PhotoMazing Thailand

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers)

Hotels at wikitravel.org
Hotels at krabi- kosamui.org
Hotels at kosamui.com

Blogs / Sites about Thailand – Ko Samui

Blogs at wikipedia.org
Blogs at krabi- kosamui.com
Blogs at kosamui.org
Blogs and reviews at lonelyplanet.com

Images and photos of Thailand – Ko Samui

Images at google.com
Images at krabi- kosamui.com
Images at krabi- kosamui.org
Images at tripadvisor.in

Videos of Ko Smaui

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