Thailand is full of sublime vacation spots - there is the gentle beauty of the northern capital Chiang Mai, the energy and excitement of Bangkok, and the breezy hedonism of the tropical island of Phuket with its beaches, grand hotels and wide array of watersports.
But few have the charm and vibrancy of Koh Samui. Until just a few decades ago, this island in the Gulf of Thailand was the sole preserve of native fisherman and coconut farmers, until some intrepid tourists hitched a lift on a coconut boat and soon the secret was out. Now Samui is one of the countrys prime holiday destinations. But what makes it so special?
The first thing Koh Samui has going for it is the location. Set like a jewel in the Gulf of Thailand some 700 kilometers south of Bangkok, its convenient to get to, but remote enough to be off the beaten track and retain much of its unique charm. You no longer have to hitch a ride on a coconut boat, with the airport and regular ferries Koh Samui travel is now a breeze.
Koh Samui has a lot to offer and this is reflected in the varied type of traveller that is attracted to its beautiful shores. There are an abundance of first-class 5 star resorts located all over the island and if it is a luxury holiday you are searching for then you will not be disappointed.
For those on a budget then do not despair as the choice of accommodation is just as broad, head to the beaches where you can still find traditional wooden bungalows, ideal for listening to the sound of whispering surf, and at very reasonable prices.
You will not have any problem finding somewhere to stay, whether you are on a budget, seeking tranquility, desire a deserted beach or want to sit admiring the stunning views from your balcony.
What you pay for a room is entirely up to you, pay international prices at the most luxury resorts with so many facilities that you never have to leave, or chill out in a basic beach hut for under 300 baht a night. Especially popular nowadays are boutique resorts that offer their own unique style and ambience and are small enough to be able to provide a high level of personal service.
Chaweng Beach is one of the most popular on Samui and fulfills the dream of a perfect tropical island - long white sandy beaches fringed with coconut trees and a translucent sea lapping at the shore. Its ability to cater to a diverse range of visitors has seen it grow into a location replete with fast food joints, pubs, cocktail lounges and a bevy of accommodation options.
At one time the beach was full of cheap beach huts and a destination for backpackers, now it is mostly higher end resorts and upmarket hotels. If you want a buzzing cosmopolitan environment, then Chaweng is for you.
Further along the coast is Lamai with a reputation for attracting long-stay visitors due to budget resorts and a relaxed air. For peace and quiet then try Bang Rak and, if you fancy something a bit livelier, Bo Phut is right next door, they both have lots of budget and hotels at moderate prices.
Mae Nam has a good selection of lodgings with lots of small, family-owned bungalow resorts as well as a few 5 star hotels. You can even still find wooden bungalows for rent on the beach. Choeng Mon is only a small part of the island but has some of the most select hotels on Samui and is still relatively undeveloped offering a peaceful and pleasant spot to hang out for a few weeks.
On the southern coast is the unspoiled region of Taling Ngam where you can still see traditional fishing villages with a few very up-market hotels scattered here and there. There are also some excellent hotels and resorts, including smaller villa estates on the beach at Bang Por, however it is more of a residential area.
If you really want to get away from it all then head to Laem Set, on the southwest coast, as it has a few top resorts, and yet even quieter are the small bays of Natien and Maret where you will find several first-rate resorts.
So if you yearn for a spell on a sequestered tropical island with all the facilities you could ask for to make a great holiday, check out Koh Samui hotels. Soon you will be calling it just Samui and you will have made it part of your life.