Ko Samui (in Thai: เกาะสมุย, transliteration RTGS: ko samui), sometimes written in English transliteration Koh Samui or simply Samui is an island of the Gulf of Thailand located in the southern part of the isthmus of Kra and belonging to the province of Surat Thani.
Located about 25 km from the coast, it is the second largest island of Thailand, with an area of 228 km² and a population of 62,500 inhabitants in 2012. It enjoys many tourist natural resources: white sand beaches, coral and coconut trees .
Nicknamed the "Pearl of the Sea of China", the island has only developed a little late. It was probably uninhabited until the sixth century and then colonized by fishermen from Malaysia and southern China1. It appears on Chinese maps of 1687 under the name of Pulo Cornam. The current name of Samui remains mysterious. It may come from the name of one of the local trees, mui, or the Chinese word saboei, which means "safe harbor". Ko is a Thai word meaning "island". Until the end of the twentieth century, Ko Samui was a self-sufficient and isolated fishing community with little contact with Thailand. It had only dirt roads until the late 1980s and the arrival of the first tourists, and crossing the 15 km of the island required a day of walking through the jungle mountains.
Several ferries connect Samui to the mainland. Public buses serve the island. The songthaew (bus-vans close to the tuk-tuk) circulate on the coastal road, and private taxis are available across the island although they are criticized for their unreliability (odometer and overload).
Ko Samui International Airport (USM) is a private airport originally built by Bangkok Airways, which is still the main operator and was for a long time the only one to offer the link between the island and Thailand. The airport is also served by Thai Airways International. It does not have real buildings available to passengers, except souvenir shops. It has two terminals: one for domestic flights, the other for international journeys.
The airport is located near the Big Buddha pier where ferries depart for Ko Pha Ngan. Fast ferries to Koh Tao and Chumphon depart from Maenam Pier, about 6 km north-west of the airport.
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