It’s only fitting that the gateway to Koh Samui should reflect the atmosphere and tropical beauty of the island, and the airport is widely praised for its laid back, exotic vibe. Privately owned by Bangkok Airways, it is situated between the two popular resort locations of Bophut and Chaweng Beach in the north eastern part of the island and was completely renovated a few years ago. With over two million passenger arrivals last year, which shows how popular the island has become as a destination.
Visitors arriving on Koh Samui by plane are often treated to fantastic views of Thailand’s Ang Thong National Marine Park, and those lucky enough to have snagged a window seat may also be able to catch a glimpse of the Big Buddha statue – the island’s most famous shrine. Cute, open-sided shuttle buses take passengers from the aircraft to the arrivals terminal where most of the buildings are constructed from bamboo and thatch. Because the airport is so small, luggage never usually takes too long to come through on the carousel; the only delays that occur are if two international flights arrive in close succession, which can lead to queues at immigration.
Koh Samui is well set up for transfers from the airport to most places on the island. It is also possible for visitors to organise a private taxis or minivans to their chosen accommodation and there are car rental counters for Hertz, Sixt, Budget and Avis. For private villa guests, there’s a dedicated Welcome Desk operated by Luxury Villas and Homes who personally meet and greet villa guests on arrival, which guarantees there's no confusion finding a meeting point, even when guests arrive on different flights at different times. The LVH airport pick up vehicles are stationed close-by, which makes transfers smooth and easy, no matter the season or size of group.
As Koh Samui Airport is relatively small, the departures experience is a breeze for visitors travelling back home or moving on to the next stage of their vacation. Even during peak season, the queues for check-in and security never get too long thanks to the airport’s efficient set-up. Once all the security checks are completed, all visitors pass through the airport’s unique “shopping Street” (see below) on the way to the departure lounges where complimentary snacks and beverages are available. Boarding is also a swift and efficient process, as there are plenty of trolley buses to ferry visitors between the terminal and the aircraft.
Airport Shopping Street
Samui Airport is renowned for its chic collection of shops and boutiques, which are laid out as a Thai-style walking street called Samui Park Avenue. Though styled after a traditional Thai walking street, visitors are spoilt for choice with an array of shops that also appeal to international consumers. This breezy outdoor shopping promenade boasts quality outlets such as Jim Thompson, one of the Kingdom’s premier silk retailers, as well as gifts, fashion, and a small book store. A small, regular duty free shop is also among Samui Airport’s retail offerings.
In addition to a selection of shops and boutiques, Koh Samui Airport is also home to several dining options to suit a variety of tastes. Visitors craving one last Thai meal before leaving the island will not be disappointed, as the Blue Elephant restaurant serves a selection of authentic Thai dishes. The Gourmet Food Park also serves Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Western dishes for travellers in search of a range of flavours. The are also Coffee and Tea outlets those in need of a caffeine kick, and a sports bar that overlooks the tropical island interior for travellers thirsty for a refreshing pre-flight beer or a cool glass of wine.
Updates by Wayne Hue