Tourists embrace Koh Samui
Tourists embrace Koh Samui
The flash resorts have moved into Koh Samui but the main attraction is still the island itself, reports James Shrimpton, of AAP.
the calm of a warm afternoon in the Samui township of Lamai, two vans
prowl the streets with loudspeakers espousing the delights of two beach
parties organised by the rival Ark and Reggae clubs, promising music
and fun lasting until 2am.
It's a reminder that while Koh Samui
in recent years has climbed to the top end of Thailand's tourism
market, it still caters to the backpackers and budget travellers who in
the 1970s first "discovered" the then-undeveloped island, on the Gulf
of Thailand 700km south of Bangkok.
Non-fancy accommodation is
still available around Samui from about 400 baht ($NZ17.30) a night,
but on and around the cliffs overlooking the sea is now a growing
warren of resorts with matchless views, five-star furnishings,
exquisite cuisines and infinity swimming pools - at umpteen times the
And these deluxe havens of privacy are attracting more and more attention from the ranks of the rich and famous.
singer Britney Spears was reported staying at one of the newer resorts
during our visit, and we were told that British soccer star David
Beckham had invested in a million-dollar villa here.
We took a
look at half-a-dozen of them and stayed a couple of nights at two: the
Baan Taling Ngam Resort and Spa (70 villas, suites and rooms) on an old
coconut plantation on the west or so-called Virgin Coast, and the
Silavadee Pool Spa Resort (55 villas, suites and rooms) near Lemai in
Both have spacious reception areas atop cliffs
110m or so above the gulf, and both use golf carts to ferry guests from
their tiered rooms to the white-sand beaches below, from which boats
can take them on excursions to small offshore islands for exploration,
swimming and snorkelling.
The immaculately-furnished guest rooms all have stunning sea views, as do diners in the outdoor/indoor restaurants.
itself is Thailand's third- largest island with an area of 228.7sq km,
roughly the same shape as Tasmania but about 300 times smaller.
The weather is tropically warm all year, with an average high of 30degC; September and October are the rainy months.
Tourism has become the number-one industry on Koh Samui.
settled some 1500 years ago by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula, the
island was known as a grower and exporter of kapok cotton and coconut
products before the backpackers began arriving 25 years ago.
trickle soon became a stream as mostly young people from Europe and
elsewhere in the West came to enjoy cheap holidays in the sun - not
totally unlike (at least geographically) the island of Phi Phi Le
featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach, released in 2000.
stream became a flood in the 1990s as the choice of resorts grew,
offering enjoyment to holidaymakers of all ages from Europe, the
Pacific, Asia and North America.
Around the most popular beach areas grew the townships of Chaweng, Lemai, Taling Ngam and the capital, Nathon.