Samui is the largest of the many islands scattered around the southwestern corner of the Gulf of Thailand. The island, whose residents used to make their living off of fishing and coconuts, has seen massive development as a major tourist site, probably second only to Phuket in popularity.
There aren't many good dive sites in the immediate area of Samui, but if you want to fly into the Gulf, Samui's award-winning airport is the closest one. But, more than that, many people choose to base themselves on Samui, rather than Koh Tao. Samui has better range of accommodations on offer, especially at the higher end. Then there's more restaurants to choose from, as well as non-diving activities, which can be important if you're traveling with non-diving friends or significant other.
See the Thailand for Visitor's Samui Guide for a complete run-down on all there is to see and do on Samui.
Getting to Samui
The quickest and easiest way to get to Samui is to fly. The island's fabulous airport was built by "boutique" airline Bangkok Airways, which operates dozens of flights a day to Samui, mostly from Bangkok, but also from Singapore, Phuket and Chiang Mai (typically in the high season only).
There are two main ferry companies operating boats between the mainland and Samui. Most passenger ferries leave the mainland from the pier a short distance from Surat Thani town, while car ferries use the port at Don Sak. Passenger ferries arrive at the main pier in Nathon Town, while car ferries arrive at a special-built pier further south down the west coast.
Ferries to Phangan can be caught at either the pier in Nathon Town or at Bophut on the north coast. Lastly, it's worth noting that there is a combination bus / ferry service from Bangkok. Buses take you from Bangkok to Chumpon and from there a ferry travels to Tao, then Phangan and finally Samui. One tour operator to check out is Lomprayah.
Hotels & Resorts
There are several hundred places to stay on Samui, from tourist class hotels to luxury resorts. Our partners have a large selection of Samui accommodations, at the best prices, on the web. Below is a selection of what's on offer.
There are dive shops all around the major beach resorts of Samui. Just about no matter where you stay, you'll find a few shops nearby. Here's a short list of a few of them.
- Discovery Dive Center
- Respected operator located at the north end of Chaweng Beach. Great facilities for those wanting to learn diving, and promised small dive ratios on all tours.
- Easy Divers
- Small chain of dive shops, with five outlets around the island. Offers PADI courses as well as tours to the standard sites.
- Infinity Diving
- Based in Chaweng, Infinity Diving offers beach dives to the Chaweng Reef, but recommends trips to the sites around Koh Tao if you have the time.
- Dive Supply
- Appears to be Thailand's largest chain of diving supplies stores. They're headquartered in Phuket, but have a shop in the Chaweng area on Samui.
- Planet Scuba
- Planet Scuba has shops all over Samui (at least five, I think) and also operate the Samui International Diving School.