Koh Samui is one hell of a tropical paradise. It was also recently named as one of the world’s best island destinations to retire at by the International Living Magazine, coming in at 10th place out of 15 countries that were ranked according to factors such as affordability, healthcare etc. Koh Samui is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand and is very famous for its many white sand beaches and clear blue water. It also provides a simple and a slower pace of life. Koh Samui has everything and appeals to a wide audience because it offers something to everyone. Because of this, it has a fast growing expat community of retirees who live and retire in Koh Samui.
Chaweng is the biggest town in Koh Samui with around 6 km of white sand beaches and crystal clear water. There are plenty of hotels and resorts, spas, clubs, bars and shops located in Chaweng as it is the main tourist center of the island. There are many things to do in Chaweng such as going to bars, having a nightout in one of the clubs, having dinner at a restaurant, strolling along the beautiful beach or even playing water sports such as jet skis. There is also a lake behind all the long strips of bars, clubs and tons of massage places and shops which is good for an early morning walk. Near the lake you can find the famous Soi Reggae entertainment area with two muay thai stadiums, a temple and the massive laem din market complex where you can find all sorts of fresh produce. Overall, Chaweng is a good place for those who want an island lifestyle but still have access to all the comforts and facilities that are present in big towns.
Lamai is Samui’s second largest town. There are planty of nice beaches and alot of bars, restaurants and shops. Lamai is basically a smaller version of Chaweng. There are plenty of shops selling jewelry and antiques in Lamai. Nightlife in Lamai is less intense than it is in Chaweng but there are still plenty of bars where you can spend a night out. One of the most popular bars and clubs are Fusion and Seed which is located on the main Lamai road. The beach in Lami is around 4km long and is perfect for swimming. There are also many types of accommodation, spas and health resorts. There are plenty of places to suit all budgets in Lamai so this could be a slightly lower cost alternative to Chaweng while getting similar vibes. It takes around 15 minutes of driving to get to Chaweng from Lamai which is not too bad, especially if you only go out once in a while. There are also many beautiful viewpoints along the coastal road which makes it a very beautiful place to walk and drive around.
Maenam has a backwater village vibe to it, it is also cheaper to live in as compared to other towns in Samui. It is very quiet and doesn’t have nearly as many tourists and comforts as compared to Chaweng, Lamai or even Boput. There is very little nightlife entertainment and they definitely do not open till the early hours of the morning. The beaches are beautiful, however the sand can feel a little more coarse as compared to other areas. There is also a world class golf Santiburi golf course. It is around 10 minutes drive away from Boput. Overall, Maenam is a good location if you are very budget conscious and you want to live in a quiet place and enjoy your own company once the sun sets.
Bophut is an excellent area to live and is very popular for expats. There's the best of both worlds because the majority of the area is quiet however, there's still plenty of restaurants and bars. The beach in Bophut is smaller than Chaweng and it is not the best for swimming; however, Chaweng beach is only a 5-10 minute ride away by motorbike. There are many secluded beaches that you can find, however, you will have to drive a little to find those spots. The Fisherman’s Village is also located in Bophut and it is a traditional area in front of the water lined with many wooden houses which have been converted into restaurants and shops so it is a really nice place to have dinner or lunch. The Big Buddha temple is also located in Bophut and it also provides an amazing view of the ocean. There is also a Tesco and Big C located as well as many accommodation options which makes it one of the most popular towns for expats to live in.
Getting to and from Samui
Koh Samui is located 700km south of Bangkok. You can get to Koh Samui by land, sea and air. The fastest way to get to Koh Samaui is by plane. It is only the only way to get directly to the island without any connections or stops. Flights to Koh Samui used to be expensive because there was only one carrier operating the route, however, there are more daily flights than before and they are also a little more affordable than they used to be. If you want to save a little more money, you can fly to Surat Thani as the flights are cheaper, you can then catch a ferry to Koh Samui which adds around two hours of travel time, if not more if you have to wait for the ferry. Another way to get to Koh Samui is by a ferry and bus tour which combines a VIP bus ticket and a ferry ride which takes you directly to the beaches of Samui from the center of Bangkok. If you have a car, then you have to drive to Surat Thani which could take around 12 hours including the ferry crossing to Samui. If you really want a truly unique and budget friendly experience, you can take the overnight train to Surat which could save you accommodation, and then take the ferry to Samui. However, this may take 17 hours. You should check the airlines website as they usually have sales and discounts which will make it much more convenient for you to get to Samui.
Healthcare facilities in Koh Samui
If you plan to move to and retire in Koh Samui, then healthcare is extremely important. There are both public and private hospitals availble at Koh Samui. Public hospitals in Koh Samui usually cater more to local Thais and generally have long queues for medical treatments. The staff at public hospitals do not generally speak proper English so private hospitals are generally the way to go for expats.
There are many international private hospitals in Samui that will offer almost any medical treatments. The staff are also always friendly and they are all able to speak English. One of the best private hospitals in Samui is the Bangkok Hospital. Bangkok Hospital is internationally accredited and most of their patients are expats and tourists. In general, hospitals in Samui are lower than those in Bangkok and western countries. Bangkok hospital also has a dental clinic so you should not worry about your medical needs. Most exoats have medical insurance which means that they can go to private hospitals with exceptional service for treatments without paying.
Beach Town Life
Koh Samui is a tropical paradise, with year-long warm weather and white sand beaches. Some of the best beaches in the world are located in Koh Samui with crystal blue water. Although Koh Samui used to have a reputation of a simple island without many facilities, this cannot be further from the truth. Koh Samui has seen a huge development as more hotels and resorts are built attracting many other businesses. These days, Koh Samui has everything that you espect a city to have, there are tons of supermarkets, an abundance of 7-Elevens, international schools and hospitald and an hige number of international and local restaurants. There's also plenty to do in Koh Samui such as water sports, driving, golf, jungle trekking and even more. Even though Samui has been dramatically developed, it still maintains the relaxed and chilled atmosphere that people have associated with it in the past. There is also a large expat community so you can socialize and find new aquantances. You will not lack any facilities and you will have access to everything that you will ever need when living in Samui and you will feel like youre on holiday for the rest of your golden years.