The Koh Samui Archipelago includes the ever popular Koh Samui, plus two other great islands and even a marine national park. Have more than a few days to explore and soak in the sun? Head to this area in the Gulf of Siam for beautiful beaches and islands.
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Samui is Thailand's second most popular vacation island after Phuket and it's nearly as built up, too. The large island has its own airport, a wide variety of places to stay across all budgets, and lots of bars and restaurants. Though the beaches are not quite as beautiful as those on the Andaman Coast, they offer visitors warm water, soft sand and lots of palm trees. Interior Samui remains mostly mountains and jungle.
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This notorious party island isn't just about getting wasted on the beach and dancing till dawn in the sand. The southern part of the island is known for its parties but Koh Pha Ngan also has some beautiful, quiet beaches with bungalows and high-end boutique resorts. There's no airport here but it's just a ferry ride from the mainland or from Koh Samui.
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Though it was once reserved for divers and backpackers, Koh Tao is becoming more and more popular with more typical vacationers. The island, north of Koh Pha Ngan, is small and less developed than either its southern neighbor or Samui. That doesn't mean you'll have to rough it, though, as there are enough resorts and restaurants to keep you occupied and entertained. There's no airport, though, and the fastest way to get to Koh Tao is by boat from the mainland.
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The three islands of the Koh Samui Archipelago are actually part of one Ang Thong National Marine Park, one of Thailand's protected nature areas, and there are actually 42 separate islands that make up the park. Most are very small and can only be visited on day trips, although a handful offers visitors the chance to camp or stay in National Park bungalows. The best way to see the national park is to arrange a day trip from one of the islands. Most travel agents and hotel concierges sell them.