Ko Samui is Thailand 's third largest island at 247 sq. km, sits in the gulf of Thailand, surrounded by other island gems like Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao, and is located 84 km, east of Surat Thani, the provincial capital on the mainland, with soft-sand beaches shaded by towering palms, delicious fresh seafood and a vibrant nightlife , Samui has a magical formula that seems to cast its spell on everyone. Many visitors are content to laze the days away on the beach, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the turquoise waters, but for action enthusiasts there are plenty of choices like diving and snorkeling, windsurfing and paragliding, beach volleyball and off-road driving, and other similar activities.
Mu Koh Angthong Marine National Park
Situated about 35 km. west of Samui, this archipelago of 42 islands fits everyone's image of a tropical paradise, with huge limestone rocks covered in virgin rainforest rising out of the aquamarine waters. Most people come here on a day trip tour from Koh Samui, which is easy to organise. There is a fantastic viewpoint on Ko Wua Talap, just above the park headquarters, looking out over the uninhabited, pristine islands. Trips around the park usually include a visit to a delightful concealed lagoon on Ko Mae Ko, as well as the opportunity to paddle a sea kayak around the strange limestone formations. For more information, contact the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department tel: 0 2562 0760 or Mu Ko Angthong Marine National Park tel: 0 7728 6025, 0 7728 6588, 0 7728 0222.
Just 20 km. north of Koh Samui and a short boat trip away, Ko Pha-ngan is mountanious island ringed by secluded bays that offer ideal getaways. Its only town of any size, Thong Sala, has a bank, a post office, supermarket and shops selling beach equipment and souvenirs.
Many of its beautiful beaches are accessible , only by boat, though pick-up trucks and motorbikes also ply the island's rough roads. Its most famous beach is Hat Rin, in the southeast corner of the island, which is the location for the world famous moon parties that attract thousands of visitors each month to dance the night away on the beach. The island's most picturesque beach is Thong Nai Pan, a double bay in the northeast of the island., which has good swimming and snorkeling sport, as well as the island's most comfortable accommodation. A little south of Thong Nai Pan is Than Sadet, the island's most impressive waterfall, which was once a favourite place of King Chulalongkorn.
Tao' means turtle, and the island is named for its shape when seen from out in the waters of the gulf. Smaller than Samui and Pha-ngan, Ko Tao lies about 40 km north- west of Ko Pha-ngan, and is also easily accessible from Chumphon, directly west on the mainland. The island is particularly popular among divers, and has a reputation for some of the most exciting dive sites in the entire gulf. Several dive companies based at Mae Hat, the island's only town, can arrange dives for beginners and experienced divers. There are many peaceful and idyllic beaches on the island such as Hat Sai Ri, the island's longest beach on its west coast, Hat Chalok Ban Kao and Hat Sai Daeng on the south coast. There is also a unique geological phenomenon at Ko Nang Yuan, a tiny cluster of islets just off the north- west coast of Ko Tao, where stunning causeways of sand join the islands, offering visitors the choice of two seas to swim in.
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