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Koh Samui has long been the poster boy of tropical Thailand. With its lapping waves and shimmering, sandy beaches, it's easy to see why each year so many people flock to the palm-shaded Koh Samui holiday rentals that pepper these shores. The most popular sunbathing spots and enticing turquoise bays fringe the whole northern and eastern coast of the island, from the classic hotspot of Bophut to the cotton-coloured powder of Lamai. And when you're done soaking up the rays or encountering the kaleidoscopic coral gardens, the neon-lit bars of Chaweng burst into life after dark, touting bucket cocktails, full moon parties and rows of sizzling Thai street stalls.
Holiday rentals in Koh Samui are a great way to experience this sunny spot in the Gulf of Thailand like a local. Many pads come with panoramic deck spaces over the coastal jungles, or private infinity pools that run right down to the water's edge. This adds a dash of luxury you can’t get in conventional hotel rooms, and means you'll have plenty of room to really sprawl out, relax and forget the rest of the world. You'll also be able to bag spots in the popular haunts on the north and east coasts, whether that means a multi-room villa above the leaning coconut palms of Bophut, or a sprawling apartment just a stone’s throw from the pulsing bamboo bars of Chaweng.
This ravishing island beckons with its bucket list line-up of things to do. Long, lazy sunbathing sessions and glowing pink-red sunsets entice folk to beachfront holiday villas in Koh Samui’s coastal towns. Meanwhile, scuba diving is often top of the menu during the day, with boats of would-be PADI masters heading out to Koh Tao and the reefs of the Ang Thong National Marine Park each morning. Others will be enthralled by the ornate Buddhist temples and shrines that pepper the jungled country and coast. These include the gilded Wat Khunaram with its mummified monk, and the glimmering Big Buddha – a golden landmark on a small island off the coastline. And to dust it all off? Cooking lessons and a smorgasbord of chilli-topped, peanut-infused Thai dishes, of course.
If you've got the right permits and licenses, there's really no better way to navigate around the tropical jungles and winding roads of Koh Samui than by private transport. Motorbikes and scooters tend to be the top choice, and will help you weave past the traffic in busy towns like Nathon, or wiggle down to the hidden coves that pepper the east coast. Alternatively, you can hire a car, which will come with the added bonus of air conditioning, and let you go to and from far-flung Koh Samui holiday villas in comfort. Then there’s the local transportation. These include the songthaew group buses that run on popular routes from the ferry piers to Lamai and Chaweng, and the island taxis that will always need to be haggled over.