Islands in the Gulf of Thailand
Ko samui ("Ko" means island) is both an island and a district of the Surat Thani and has a mountain at its centre. Villagers earn an income, principally from coconut plantations. Beaches around the island are shaded and fringed with coconut groves, interspersed with hotels and bungalows of varying grades and prices. Beaches well worth a visit include Hat Chawaeng, Hat Lamai, Ao (Gulf) Bang Rak, Ao Bo Put, Ao Thing Takian, Hat Choeng Mon, Hat Thong Yang and Hat Nathon.
With plenty of sun, lots of sand and an abundance of water, the best activity is swimming in the sea. Otherwise you can visit the monkey training centre where monkeys are trained to climb trees collect coconuts. Buffalo fighting can also be seen on the island.
Getting there :
Ko Samui can be reached by air, road or rail. Bangkok Airways operates several flights every day to Samui. A one-day trip can be made in an air-conditioned train and buses run from Bangkok in the morning to Surat Thani. The ferry ride to the island takes two hours.
Ang Thong Archipelago
This is a national park of about 42 islands, covering 102 square kilometres, just twenty kilometres from Ko Samui. Geological disturbances over the ages has transformed islands into various shapes, one of which - Ko Mae Ko - has a lake at its centre. Ko Sam Sao has a natural curved bridge.
Snorkel diving at Ko Sam Sao or climbing the mountain to visit the inland lake at Ko Mae Mo.
Ko Phangan is about twenty kilometres from Ko Samui and Ko Tao is 45 kilometres from Ko Phangan. Both islands teem with coconut plantations. Tourists frequent both islands, travelling by ferry boat, to visit the beautiful beaches dotted with budget-price bungalows.
Lots of sun, sand and sea at Ko Phangan; Ko Tao is an ideal location for scuba diving in the Gulf of Thailand and well- known by aficionados of this sea-sport.
Getting there :
There are daily express and fast shuttle ferries operating between Surat Thani and Ko Phangan and Ko Tao at 08:00 and 14:30 hours and a fast ferry from Chumpon to Ko Tao at 8:00 hours, returning at 10:00 hours.
The second largest island after Phuket, Ko Chang is located in Trat province and is a mountainous island rich in forests. Along the plateau and beaches are fruit and coconut plantations, with a beautiful beach on the east side of the island with countless bungalows and hotels, dominated by a big waterfall called Than Mayom. There are 52 satellite islands.
Swimming, sun bathing and scuba diving to the coral reef-, visiting the waterfall and trekking. There are smaller islands to visit such as Ko Kra, Ko Wai, where divers can explore the shallow waters.
Getting there and accommodation :
Laem Ngop pier is seventeen kilometres from Trat where travellers can take a ferry which leaves from the pier several times a day. The trip takes about thirty minutes to Ko Chang and two to three hours to the west beach. Bungalows can be rented from between 200 baht and several thousand baht per night.