As Koh Phangan’s larger and calmer cousin, Koh Samui is the most accessible of the islands in the Gulf of Thailand, with an airport and ferry service. Koh Samui has rapidly established as one of the world’s top tropical destinations. Koh Samui is palm-strewn and striking with an international reputation as an offbeat hippie haven. Koh Samui is also able to provide an enviable and growing range of luxury accommodation with infinity pools, heavenly forests settings or beach front locations.
It’s not the backpacker draw it once was, with the backpackers preferring the party scene on Koh Phangan but Koh Samui’s tropical culture has everything from coconuts on the beach to designer boutiques in the towns. If you’re into your films, Ang Thong National Marine Park might remind you of "The Beach", a Leonardo Di Caprio movie, with a striking postcard vista littered with soaring cliffs and hidden lagoons.
Na Muang Falls, meanwhile, will take you away from the bulk of the crowds, and to a mammoth 30-meter waterfall that leaps over purple rocks and provides the perfect cool-down swimming spot at its base. Then there’s the diving, the elaborate local cuisine, a nightlife that drops only a fraction short of the mayhem on nearby Koh Phangan, plenty of opportunities to indulge in Thai Massage and traditional therapies and even quad bikes and motorbikes to take you buzzing about it all at your own speed.
If you happen to be in town for a festival like Songkran – the incredible Thai New Year celebrations – you’re in for an extremely moist treat, with locals soaking each other to the bone throughout the day with a barrage of buckets and water guns, while the annual Light Festival has a much more mellow outlook, with dazzling colors and picturesque floats blending with traditional dress in a photographer’ paradise.
Koh Samui certainly has more in the way of luxury than other islands in the gulf of Thailand, and perhaps the best local cultural offerings, too. It’s getting increasingly pricy compared to other parts of Thailand, but most agree the striking sights are well worth the cost.
One noteworthy benefit of Chawang Beach over most others in Thailand is that it does not run parallel with a road so vehicle noise is non-existent and the annoying touts you regularly encounter are significantly reduced making Chaweng Beach one of the few major beaches you can relax on.
Koh Phangan is an island in the Gulf of Thailand in South East Thailand. It is famous for its full (and half and black) moon party at Haad Rin Beach and as a backpackers destination. Ko Phang…