Koh Samui – facts


It is believed that the first settlers on Koh Samui were fisher men from the Malay peninsula and Southern China back in the 500’s AD. The first historical documents that include the island of Koh Samui were some Chinese maps from 1687, on these the island was referred to as Pulo Cornam.

Koh is Thai for island and most islands in Thailand has Koh included in their names. The word Samui is believed to refer to a tree called Mui, which is common on the island, but experts are not sure. Another theory is that it is an evolution of the word Saboey which means sanctuary in Malay.

Up until the later parts of the 20th Century Koh Samui was an isolated, self-sufficient island which had very little contact with Thailand’s mainland. Before the 1970’s there weren’t even any roads on Koh Samui and getting from one side of the island to the other took at least a full day of trekking through wild jungle terrain. It is remarkable to think of how much things have changed on Koh Samui in only 50 years.

Nowadays Koh Samui is prospering and all the incomes come from the tourism industry. Some claim though that these fast, big changes bring threats to the island’s environment and culture. 


The rampaging of tourism on Koh Samui has brought on big scale constructions of resorts, bungalows and fancy villas. There are approximately 18 000 hotel rooms on Koh Samui and the number increases every year. The tourists are mainly from Germany, Great Britain, the rest of Thailand and other Asian countries. 

Flora & fauna

Usually when a place is referred to as beautiful or picturesque it means it has a rich flora & fauna - Koh Samui is no exception to this rule. Koh Samui is a tropical, exotic, almost utopian place with mountains, jungles, lagoons and long, white beaches - all concentrated to a small piece of land in the middle of the ocean. Coconut palm trees sway along the shore line and the diversity of trees, bushes, flowers and other plants is huge. If you want to you can meet both elephants and crocodiles on Koh Samui, along with heaps of other exotic creatures. Wild monkeys playing in the tree tops is a common site. If you like nature you will love Koh Samui.

Getting here - and getting around

Most people arriving to Koh Samui land on the Koh Samui Airport owned by Bangkok Airways and opened in 1989. It’s easy to travel between Koh Samui and places like Phuket, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur etc. via the Koh Samui Airport.

Ferry boats is another alternative for anyone wishing to visit Koh Samui from the mainland, two of the ferries even accept cars on board.

On the island there is a well-functioning net of bus lines that transport you between interesting locations. For more private traveling taxis or rental cars are also offered.

The popular Songthaews, or Tuk-Tuks, are a fun option for shorter trips.