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Hotels in Koh Samui

On the archetypal Thai Island paradise, Koh Samui Hotels have welcomed visitors seeking perfect beaches and pure azure-blue horizons for a long time. But its true character still shines through, from the dense wild jungle interior to the backstreet Buddhist temples and authentic family run seafood restaurants in the south and west.

History

First inhabited around 1,500 years ago, the island was colonised by fishermen form the Malay Peninsula and South China. The actual name of ‘samui' is something of a mystery, although it might be derived from the Chinese word 'saboey' or ‘safe haven'.

Until the 1970s, Koh Samui was an isolated and self-sufficient place without roads. The nine-mile journey from one side of the island to the other could take an entire day, labouring through the jungle-covered central uplands. Economic growth has been dramatic in the last few decades, bringing environmental and cultural change as well as prosperity.

Landmarks and Culture

There are a number of fascinating statues, temples and religious sites on Samui. At Wat Samret near Th Ban Hua there is an impressive sitting Buddha carved from solid marble. Up at the northern tip of the island on its own rocky islet linked by a causeway, is Wat Phra Yai. This highly impressive modern Buddha, erected in 1972, creates an arresting silhouette against the vivid changing colours of sea and sky.

If you're a temple enthusiast, don't miss Wat Laem Saw near Ban Phang Ka. This imposing building has a venerated old Srivijaya-style stupa.

Beaches and coastline

The longest, prettiest and most popular beach on Samui is Chaweng. It has the magic ingredients that you'll appreciate, such as silky sand, extremely clear water and an iconic view towards a rugged headland at the northern end of the beach.

No visit to Koh Samui would be complete without experiencing Ang Thong National Marine Park. You don't have to be a fan of Alex Garland's novel ‘The Beach' to make your way here, as it needs no celebrity support to shine. The site includes over 40 tiny islands with vertical limestone cliffs, secret lagoons, gleaming beaches and untouched tropical vegetation. It has star quality wherever you look.

Shopping

Retail on Koh Samui is aimed squarely at international visitors naturally, but is diverse, colourful and offers hours of browsing fun. The Hin Ta Hin Yai Market is tailor made for wandering impulse shoppers, as it's packed with little shops and stalls offering all sorts of souvenirs. The chic dress boutique called Vanities has a distinctly upmarket urban feel, far removed from the ubiquitous floaty beachwear elsewhere, while Siddharta is an intriguing French company offering eye-catching garments and fabrics from Bali, Nepal and beyond.

In complete contrast, you might decide to explore the Na Thon Night Market. At this little visited destination the market stirs as the sun fades and you can admire the bustle and the boats near the old pier, while tucking into stir-fried noodles straight from the wok.

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