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Information about Koh Samui
Koh Samui lies 80 kilometers off the east coast of Thailand in the Gulf of Siam. In recent years the island has become world famous for offering a wide range of accommodations while retaining its tropical splendor, bucolic charm, intimacy and easy pace of life. Short flights leave many times a day from Bangkok. You can also fly here direct from Singapore and Phuket.
The adventurous rent motor scooters or jeeps to explore the island, while most are content to use the many public songtaews and private taxis.
The most popular thing to do is sun and sea bathe on the island's many white sand beaches, but activities including scuba diving, sailing, windsurfing and other watersports, tennis and mountain biking and more, are all available at many locations.
Recreation and entertainment options include elephant trekking, watching trained monkeys, a shooting range, mini golf, a snake farm, and an aquarium with a performing bird show. Recommended if your bones can take it is a guided tour of the island's lush and mountainous interior in a four-wheel drive vehicle. You'll be treated to some spectacular flora and panoramic views of the surrounding forest and the sea.
Samui is as lively at night as it is sleepy during the day, especially in Chaweng and Lamai. Many restaurants and nightclubs feature live entertainment and two or three of Chaweng's discos are hugely popular, and often packed into the early morning hours.
Eating on Samui
Thai and Western-style eateries range from simple street carts where you can stop for a plate of Phad Thai (sometimes spelled Pad Thai) at 40 baht, to lavish seafood buffets on the beach at luxury hotels. There are also many pizzerias, European style bakeries, and ice-cream parlors.
Health and Fitness
The island has gained a reputation world wide for being a regional health destination, not only because of its laid back ways, but due to the number of world class spas and and retreats where disciplines like meditation, fasting and yoga can be practiced. There are also several fully-equipped fitness facilities where short-term memberships can be purchased.
Language and Culture
The local language is Thai with a Southern accent. Most make a cheerful effort to speak English, and manage reasonably well. Thailand is a mostly Buddhist country and temples and monasteries can be found everywhere. Koh Samui is no exception.
Safety and Well Being
Until recently social and political upheavals were rare in Thailand, and the Thais have historically enjoyed a largely peaceful existance. In recent years a volatile political situation has heated up from time to time and some protests have taken place, mostly in Bangkok. These have never affected the travel experience on Koh Samui in any way. Nationwide, despite some inevitable social change, most visitors continue to feel that Thailand is an extraordinarily safe place to visit.
There have been no outbreaks of any serious diseases on Koh Samui in recent years, and according to the authorities, Malaria does not exist on the island. There are several hospitals with modern facilities, and medical clinics and pharmacists exist in every small village. While While the water supply is relatively clean, you are advised to drink bottled water.
The Climate and the Seasons
The weather can be unpredictable on tropical islands, but like most, Samui is sunny most days of the year, though showers can occur unexpectedly. Following are some pretty fair generalizations:
Between the months of January and August, most days will be filled with sun. The months of March and April are the hottest. The rains usually come in October, and last until around the end of the year, during time which frequent showers alternate with sunny spells. Water sports enthusiasts and divers should be aware that the sea can be rough at this time, causing a degradation of undersea visibility.
Arriving by Train and Ferry
If you would like to economize a little, a scenic and inexpensive (but more time-consuming) alternative to flying to Samui from the mainland, is to come by rail and boat, a one and a half day's journey from Bangkok. A sleeping berth in an air-conditioned night train is fairly comfortable, or if you've never tried it, a cozy private cabin in first-class can be romantic.
Hotels & Resorts on Koh Samui
One of the things that makes Koh Samui so appealing, is the wide range of accommodations available in every price category. If you wish you can spend part of your stay in one of the many comfortable budget guesthouses close by to SITCA for as little as 800 baht (about US$25) a night. Or, if you feel like splurging at a luxury resort you'll find that many offer exceptionally good value.
Getting to/from Class
If you plan to rent a jeep or motorcycle for the duration of your stay, you will be able to drive to the SITCA Thai Cooking School from most hotels in 30 minutes or less; so where you stay is largely a question of your budget and preferences.
On the other hand if you intend to get around by walking or by taxi, we suggest that you choose a hotel or resort in Chaweng, where you will be just minutes away.
For complete information on all aspects of travel on Koh Samui including accommodations, we recommend visiting the many websites devoted to this.