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About Samui

About Koh Samui

Koh Samui is a living, working island with distinctive local habits and customs. The first settlers that landed here were Chinese traders and Muslim fishermen, and both of these groups still inhabit the island today living peacefully alongside their Thai cousins. Local markets like the one at Lam Din, behind Chaweng, the Nathon fresh food market, and Hua Thanon fishing village are good places to get an authentic taste of local life. Tourism may be the main source of income on Koh Samui, but scratch beneath the surface and you will find a proud and vibrant local culture. Below are some suggestions for those who are looking for ‘the real Samui’.

Thai Festivals are an important part of daily life on Koh Samui. The larger celebrations are Chinese New Year in February, Songkran (Thai New Year) in April and Loi Krathong (Festival of Light) in November. These all involve processions, temple festivities, food fairs and live performances. There are also regular food and cultural events staged by the Tourism Authority in Nathon, the island’s capital. Check TAT promotions for details. www.tourismthailand.org

Temple fairs take place throughout the year...

Temple fairs take place throughout the year, passing from village to village. Popular with locals of all ages, the bigger ones combine a fun fair with live entertainment, market stalls, and local food. The temple fair is probably the only place where you can buy a new pair of flip flops, watch a Kung Fu film, have your fortune told, and indulge in a bag of deep-fried grasshoppers all in one evening.

Buffalo Fighting is still a popular sport on Koh Samui and champion buffalos can be worth several million baht. The fighting season varies according to ancient customs and ceremonies so it’s difficult to predict when a bout will take place, but if you visit Samui at the right time, there are stadiums in the south at Ban Saket, and also in Ban Makham, just outside Nathon. Unlike the Sanish version, the buffalos fight each other, locking horns until the weaker one submits. The atmosphere around the ring is usually very lively.

Country bars are the preferred venues for many local people on a night out and generally feature live local music, good food and a few drinks with friends. It’s always best to go with Thai people if you want to fully appreciate this local revelry, but foreigners on their own are just as welcome to join the party. Look out for cowboy style logos and bars with a small stage, most of which are located around the main island ring road.

Songkran Festival

Songkran Festival

April is the end of the Buddhist lunar cycle and therefore heralds three days of New Year festivities in Thailand. Songkran is celebrated throughout the Kingdom from 12-14th of the month, and includes both traditional and more modern forms of revelry. Families pay a visit to their local temple to make merit and share food, and later in the evening parties are thrown all over the island. Water is an important symbol of the festival, and on at least one of the days, usually the middle one, local people go out into the street and pour water over each other, often by the bucketful. The original gesture was to pour a cup lightly over someone’s shoulder but nowadays it’s more like the biggest water fight on the planet. In the spirit of the festival, the Koh Samui authorities are asking everyone to maintain an atmosphere of light-hearted fun, and to be aware of the dangers posed to riders and passers-by “Sawasdee Pee Mai".

The Monarchy

The Monarchy

The Monarchy is very closely associated to the Buddhist religion. The Monarchy was responsible for the creation of the unique script of Thai characters.

The Monarchy has been progressive and has encouraged education. Respect for the King and Queen is evident in homes and businesses.

Religion & Culture

Culture

The culture of an area is simply a set of rules affecting the way of life. Culture is something which is both consistent and ever-changing! The relaxed way of life on Koh Samui is reflective of its own unique Culture! There are many factors shaping the culture of this area.

Buddhist

Buddhist

The Buddhist religion has a large influence on the culture of the people. The spiritual nature of the people and the many beliefs bring many religious tones to the culture. Respect for monks and elders is a part of the daily life and culture of the people. Homes and businesses have special areas set aside for daily worship.

The vast majority of the island is Buddhist. There are also a remarkable number of Wats or Temple Complexes on Koh Samui. There are also monasteries here with the largest and most famous being at the Big Buddha. Monks in the mornings can be seen collecting Alms in the villages. The faithful participate in early morning services at the local Wat. They can also be found at other times of the days in the temples worshiping, performing tasks and making merit.

Respecting Thai Culture

Thai people are normally very friendly and have high tolerance. Just remember that if you come from another country; Thai people are very proud of the monarchy and the King and also of course their religion (About 95% are Buddhists). Also remember that Buddha images, temples etc are considered as holy. Please enter a temple with respect and wear appropriate clothes (no shorts). Don't point your feet to someone while sitting and don't touch people's head. At Koh Samui and other "tourist places" the inhabitants are normally used to "western lifestyle", so there are no problems as long as you just show the same "respect" as people show you.

Muslim

A majority of the fishermen are Muslim. The largest concentration being in Hua Thanon where there is a large mosque. The Muslim symbol of the moon and star is easily identifiable throughout Koh Samui. In the Muslin areas veiled women are be seen on the streets and in the markets.

Christian

There is a large number of expert Christians on Koh Samui. St. Anna Catholic Church is in Nathon with regularly scheduled services. The Thais regardless of religion like a celebration and take part in Christmas and other Christian holidays.

Others

There are a number of other religious groups on Koh Samui. Many bringing their wisdom for only short periods of time, the major non-organized religion on Koh Samui is respect for Nature. Living in Peace and Harmony with the environment is a powerful experience. Many visitors have found religion on the peaceful mountaintops or isolated pristine beaches here on Koh Samui.

Family

The family unit is most important to the Thai people. The extended family is typical with married couples living with the parents. Respect always paid to the elder members of the family. During certain times on Koh Samui, many Thais leave the island and return to their families. Many Thai owned and operated businesses are closed due to lack of staff. On Koh Samui, the family is extended to friends and neighbors. This mix certainly has an influence on the culture of the island.

Population Mix

Koh Samui has a personality and culture of its own. There are over 100,000 peoples who make the island their home on a daily basis. A vast majority of those people are Thai, but only a small minority of them was born on Koh Samui. Most are from Northern Thailand, where the weather is slightly milder, especially at higher eluviations. There are many Chinese Thai people running shops and resorts. Most of them seem to be from the Bangkok area. A growing number of foreign residents are also affecting the culture.

Tourism

With the introduction of tourism, the Thai people have taken their culture to the visitors. There are many exhibitions of traditional Thai dance, music and singing. The Thai people love to entertain and they enjoy performing for the visitors.

Weather

Thailand has three distinct seasons: hot, rainy, really hot. Thailand is a lengthy country with many geographic variations from the mountains to the tropical islands. Koh Samui weather is a little different than the rest of Thailand.

Rainy Season

Koh Samui is a tropical island. Inland parts of the island are a dense tropical forest; expect some rain at anytime in any month on Koh Samui. The time of heavier and more consistent rain is October through to mid December.

Dry Season

When the rains stop and the plants grow wild and beautiful is the Dry Season, or as the Thais calls it, winter. Winter on Koh Samui is usually 30C / 85F and sunny. This season is typically mid December through March.

Hot Season

When the ground has dried from a lack of rain and sand dusts the road, the Hot Season has started. The over-head tropical sun is brighter and hotter than usual. Many tropical fruits ripen during this season. This season starts in April and lasts until the cooling rain, which begins in September / October.

Foods

Foods

In Thailand, meals occupy an important place in the all day’s life. It is possible to find (almost) everywhere to eat 24 hours and in the tourist places, multitude of restaurants, by way of the small stands on edge of road to 5 stars "top class". Thai cookery is more and more appreciated worldwide!

Koh Samui is anyway not in rest, you will find there restaurants proposing you dishes of all the regions of the world (or almost...). There are excellent Thai restaurants which propose you dishes of all the regions of the country, without forgetting seafood, that is the local specialty, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Italian, French, German, Swedish, Mexican, and that's not all… If the "Farang" food (Western, so to speak) misses you, you will be able to eat as at home and at an unbeatable price. If your budget is tight, you will be able to have something to eat in small market stalls or on the roadsides, often excellent and for a sum from 35 to 60 baht for the meal. All the bungalows or hotels generally possess their own restaurant also, practical when you do not want to move.

Keep Samui Clean, please throw finished bottles and other waste in a garbage can. Let coming generations be able to explore Koh Samui as well. If everyone respects the nature and wildlife on Samui it will remain a small "paradise" on earth for a long time!

BEWARE
Messing with drugs is not only bad for your health. Thai prisons are not hotel rooms. You will end up in a hot cell with no beds and no privacy. Remember that HIV/AIDS exists even on Samui. It is a serious matter all over Thailand, even though campaigns by the government and authorities have slow down the number of infected people each year.