Koh Samui

Over View

Ko Samui (or Koh Samui, Thai: เกาะสมุย, pronounced `{`kɔ̀ʔ.sàʔ.mǔj`}`) is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus, Thailand. Geographically in the Chumphon Archipelago, it is part of Surat Thani Province, though as of 2012, Ko Samui was granted municipal status and thus is now locally self-governing. Ko Samui is Thailand's second-largest island after Phuket, with an area of 228.7 km2, a population of over 63,000 and a hotel occupancy rate of 73% as the number of visitors increases. Abundant tourist resources, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and coconut trees are present on the island.

The island was probably first inhabited about 15 centuries ago, settled by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula and southern China. It appears on Chinese maps dating back to 1687, under the name Pulo Cornam.`{`citation needed`}`

The origin of the name samui is unknown. It may come from the Sanskrit-Tamil word สมวย, meaning 'sea weather'. Or it may derive from the name of a tree known locally in southern Thailand as ต้นหมุย (full name ต้นสมุย). A third possibility is that it originated from early Hainanese traders to Samui. In Hainanese Chinese, เซ่าบ่วย means 'first island', 'barrier', or 'door'.`{`citation needed`}` As it was their first port of call in Thailand, it became its name and evolved over time to สมุย. Some people believe that the word ``samui`` derives from the Malay word saboey, or 'safe haven'. There is no firm corroboration of any of these theories. Ko is the Thai word for ``island``.

Until the late-20th century, Ko Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand. The island was without roads until the early 1970s, and the 15 km journey from one side of the island to the other could involve a whole-day trek through the mountainous central jungles.

Ko Samui's economy now is based primarily on a successful tourist industry, as well as exports of coconut and rubber.

Economic growth has brought not only prosperity, but also major changes to the island's environment and culture.

Explore the City

The City Maps

Get Updates & More

Thoughtful thoughts to your inbox