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Last updated : Nov 2009
Samui Tours - Excursions
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Diving in Tao island

45 kilometres north of Samui Island lies "Koh Tao" or Turtle Island. In the more recent times, Koh Tao has grown from an off the beaten path resort to the largest dive training centre in Southeast Asia.

It is the smallest and most remote of the 3 main islands in this region that offers lodgings. Koh Tao is a 3 hour boat ride from Samui or 2 hours by speedboat from Bophut and Na Thon. The foremost access is through Chumpon, from where there are both speedboat and ferry service.

Koh Tao is fairly like its bigger islands to the south, Samui and Pha Ngan in geography. Here there are many rocky headlands piled high with huge granite boulders. There are fewer beaches, but they are particularly glorious. Bungalow style accommodations are easily found on the beaches, and like Pha Ngan, most range from remote and old style to the very basic. However, a few of high quality ones are also available. A few rocky tracks have access from a single boat pier in the village on the west coast.

Koh Tao has become well-known by a lot of tourists because of its underwater realm that surrounds the island and there is a growing dive industry on this island. For those having no experience in diving, Koh Tao provides suitable conditions to learn and there are high standard diving shops with experienced international instructors. Day trips to diving sites are rich in underwater life and offer great visibility in warm water.

Nang Yuan Island

Nang Yuan is a small island located just off the northwestern edge of Koh Tao.

This is an ideal site for honeymooners or the last draft of that novel you've been working on. Homely bungalows are also found on Koh Nang Yuan Dive Resort, and there are no distractions apart from the view of Koh Tao and great coral reefs for diving or snorkeling right off the shore. Access to deeper diving is available as well.

Pha Ngan Island

With Samui's upmarket lodgings, Koh Pha Ngan has become the preferred destination for the backpackers and those who are adventurous. This island is almost as big as Samui, in clear view and just 30 minutes by boat from Samui. However, Pha Ngan is less developed, and have a very simple and basic system of rough tracks crisscrossing the island and linking some of the beaches.

There are more than a hundred cheap bungalow style resorts on Pha Ngan, with a good choice of lodgings from very remote and semi-primitive to the reasonably priced, homely places found on Haad Rin beach. Here, you will also find a village with restaurants, bars and discos. This is a renowned site for the Full Moon Party, and thousands of both locals and foreigners congregate on the same beach for the rising of the full moon from the sea.

The island of Pha Ngan can be reached by daily ferry boats from Bophut and Maenam piers in Samui or from Suratthani. These boats call at Thong Sala and Haad Rin where many resorts can be reached by pick-up trucks through rough tracks. A few are only accessed by small boats. Some resorts boast huts that are perched high on the hill and in other off-beat, peaceful surroundings. Only few phones are available on the island and some resorts have to generate their own electricity while others provide oil lamps.

The upmarket Panvimarn Resort commanding impressive vistas over a double-beach bay on the northeast edge is the only alternative to simply appointed, bungalow style lodging.

Koh Pha Ngan is quite stunning, being high and rugged, with rocky headlands of granite boulders separating the many white sandy beaches set in coves dotted with coconut plantations.

Tan and Matsum Island

Just 2 kilometres from the southern fringe of Koh Samui, Koh Tan, or "Koh Katen", is worth visiting by good day trips. Koh Tan has a long sandy beach and good coral reef just off the eastern and southern shores. There are 4 other smaller islands close by. If you become bored with sunbathing, diving and snorkeling, you can go fishing, hiking, bat caves and just plain sight-seeing. Next door is Koh Matsum, which is home to the Naga Pearl farm for shell culturing.

Angthong National Marine Park

This cluster of islands, within sight of Samui to the north and west, geographically varies from the other islands in the area. The Ang Thong islands rise from the water as spectacular walls of rock soaring hundreds of metres high. Besides the small coves and stunning little beaches, erosion over the years has shaped some strange formations.

1 of the islands features a mysterious sink hole, totally surrounded by walls of sheer rock, in its centre. Instead of the regular cruise, get together a group of friends to hire a boat and travel around the islands and beaches during your time.

Fishing Village

The only Muslim community on Koh Samui is Hua Thanon Village. People migrated from Pattani province, which borders Malaysia in the south of Thailand. These people brought their typical high-bowed boats, painted with bright patterns. The village itself is poor and ill-maintained, a reflection on the declining numbers of fish that remain in these heavily trawled waters. The market in the village has the freshest fish directly from the boats. Hua Thanon adds the Muslim element to a patchwork of peoples, as well as Thai, Chinese and Indian, that have together make up Samui's population.
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