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Overview

The 80-island Samui Archipelago, anchored off the southern Gulf of Thailand coast, includes the country's third largest island, Ko Samui, along with nearby Ko Pha-Ngan and Ko Tao, all offering a full range of marine tourism activities. Ko Samui boasts long pretty beaches, happening nightlife and the region's widest range of accommodation from cheap beach bungalows to upscale resorts. Ko Phan-Ngan is legendary for its full moon parties and backpacker vibe, and year after year draws hordes of budget travelers to its ramshackle huts and party atmosphere. Tranquil Ko Tao remains the region's gem. With the area's best diving and snorkeling, it ...

The 80-island Samui Archipelago, anchored off the southern Gulf of Thailand coast, includes the country's third largest island, Ko Samui, along with nearby Ko Pha-Ngan and Ko Tao, all offering a full range of marine tourism activities. Ko Samui boasts long pretty beaches, happening nightlife and the region's widest range of accommodation from cheap beach bungalows to upscale resorts. Ko Phan-Ngan is legendary for its full moon parties and backpacker vibe, and year after year draws hordes of budget travelers to its ramshackle huts and party atmosphere. Tranquil Ko Tao remains the region's gem. With the area's best diving and snorkeling, it has become a diver-certification Mecca. Inland Nakhon Si Thammarat, a virtual citadel of southern Thai culture, offers the region's most beautiful and historic Buddhist monasteries along with exemplary 19th-century vernacular architecture and the south's best-curated national museum. Lying within a half day's drive of Bangkok, laidback Hua Hin features family-oriented beach hotels and excellent seafood.

Joe Cummings
About the Expert

Joe Cummings has contributed to more than 35 guidebooks, maps, atlases, phrasebooks and photographic works, including his bestselling Lonely Planet Thailand and Buddhist Stupas of Asia: The Shape of Perfection.

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Joe Cummings for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Gulf of Thailand (or Gulf of Siam) is a gulf that borders, but is not part of the South China Sea (Pacific Ocean). The gulf is bordered by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Language: Thai
  • Currency: Thai Baht
  • Research: Southern Thailand
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    January through May (the dry season)