Cruise ships anchor off Nathon. Guests will be taken ashore via the ship's tenders. The town center is within a 10- to 15-minute walk from the landing pier. Taxis are generally available, but fares should be established before departing the pier. Many of them will offer tours.
Printable map to take along.
Watch a destination video.
Thailand's third largest island, Samui, lies 420 miles south of
Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand. The first settlers were islanders
from Hainan Island (now part of China) who took up coconut farming
some 150 years ago. Today, in addition to tourism, coconut palms still
provide a major source of income to the islanders. In fact, up to two
million coconuts are shipped to Bangkok every month.
Most of the population lives in the port town of Nathorn. Located on the western side of the island, it is also the oldest town. While originally all travel was by boat or foot, a main road started in the late 1960s encircles now the island, with several offshoots into the interior. Building the road was first by manual labor since no heavy equipment existed on the island. In 1973, the road was finally finished with the use of dynamite to lower the mountain passes and building machinery brought in along with cement.
Beaches and temples scattered around the island are the main attractions. Na Thon is now a busy tourist town with hotels, seafood restaurants and a number of shops. With the opening of the airport in the late 1980s, tourism on Ko Samui has grown considerably. Yet, the island has retained a casual, do-as-you-please atmosphere, and it is the simplicity which many visitors find so attractive.
The mummified body of Ko Samui's best known monk, Loung Pordang, is on display in this specially built temple. At the time of his death 20 years ago, he was in a meditating pose, which is the same sitting position he can be seen in the temple today.
Secret Buddha Garden
Established by one man over the last 20 years, the site includes Buddha statues, temples and waterfalls.
The Ko Samui Taxi Service is a public taxi service. The drivers, however, are very reluctant to use their meters (unlike in Bangkok), and, especially on popular beaches or entry points to the island, tend to ask foreigners much more than normal fare. Some, say on Na Thon pier, will even show you official-looking papers with "fixed" prices like 600-800 baht for a 25-30 km trip to Chaweng or Lamai beach - this is not true, and once they know you're aware of that, it's usually possible to bargain (for this distance, you should bargain to at least 400, or even better 300 baht for a taxi..
It is also possible to take a taxi tour. Make sure the driver speaks your language.
The cheapest way to get around is by Songgthaew, covered pickups that serve as the local bus system. Try flagging one down going the direction you want. . Approximate fares are 50 baht to the Big Buddha and 70 baht to Chaweng beach.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here
The island cuisine is based heavily on coconuts. Seafood is another good choice. Some of the best restaurants are located along the coastal road.
Central Festival Samui describes itself as 'the most complete and largest lifestyle shopping complex in Samui.
There is a Tesco supermarket two blocks east of the cruise pier.
The local currency is the Thai Baht, which is divided into 100 satang. ATM's everywhere.
The national language is Thai. However, English is widely understood and some Chinese dialects are also spoken.
Holidays in Thailand
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