Houses, Condominiums, and Apartments in
Koh Samui, Hua Hin, western Gulf of Thailand
Koh Samui and Koh Phangan
Koh Samui is the third largest island (Phuket and Koh Chang are larger) at 247 square kilometers, and is located 20 km off the southern Thailand peninsula approximately 700 km from Bangkok, on the Gulf of Thailand side. Just north of Samui is Koh Phangan.
Koh Samui is much further behind Phuket in its development, though it has been booming since around the year 2000. Like Phuket, Samui has beautiful beaches and scuba diving operations, and is a popular tourist destination including top class hotels, but Samui does not have either the quality or nearly the number of villas and apartments to foreign standards. Samui is more mountainous and better preserved in its natural environment. However, it's infrastructure is strained, and its roads are not nearly the same quality as Phuket's or the mainland's in terms of size.
The main tourist and expat areas are in the northeastern part of the island. Chawaeng is chock full of hotels, restaurants, and nightlife, and it all tapers down with distance from Chawaeng, more or less.
The airport near the northeastern tip has flights connecting to Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, U-Tapao (near Pattaya, many chartered flights), and Singapore. There have been discussions for connections to Hong Kong and elsewhere.
I've driven to Samui (while already in the region), taking the car ferry from Surat Thani province, but flying in is best. Bangkok Airways has a monopoly on flights from Bangkok. For getting around Samui, I would recommend renting a motorcycle and wearing sunscreen. Taxis, motorcycle taxis, and public transport (sawng tao) are not as cheap as elsewhere in Thailand. Forget the "Meter" in the "Taxi-Meter" because it's never used, and instead the fee is always negotiated in advance, which turns out to be much more than the cost per distance in Bangkok.
Koh Phangan island is starting to develop, though there is some resistance due to environmental protection interests.
Ecotourism and scuba diving excursions to other islands usually goes from Bangkok.
I've been working for an investor for building quality villas in Samui. I must say that the construction infrastructure is not nearly as good in Samui as in Phuket and of course Bangkok, and it is a challenge finding architects, engineers and project managers who can put together a whole project with complete quality.
www.Sterling-Thailand.com is Sterling Project Management, which is involved in construction management in Koh Samui.
Hua Hin and Cha-Am
Hua Hin is another rapidly growing seaside area in the Gulf which is a little over two hours from Bangkok. The beaches are nice. Compared to Pattaya and the eastern seaboard, Hua Hin has lower land prices, there is much less nightlife for those who prefer a more peaceful and pure environment, it's much less crowded, and the water is cleaner (runs clockwise in the Gulf, and no big cities or industry downstream). On the other hand, there is a less extensive selection of restaurants and general expat support, though there is still plenty of variety.
Cha-Am is another popular seaside community near Hua Hin you should visit while you're in this area, about 30 minutes north along the beachside highway.
If you like more quiet and better preserved nature, try Prachuab Khiri Khan about an hour further south from Hua Hin. There isn't much expat infrastructure down there, but it's quite livable for many.
In the opposite direction, slightly closer to Bangkok that Hua Hin, is Petchaburi province, a somewhat popular Thai tourist spot which has nice beaches and quite a few expats, as well as a sizeable city nearby of the same name. (Actually, Cha-Am is technically in Petchaburi province near its southern edge, but it's much closer to Hua Hin in its links and ambiance.)
If you have children, then you should also see the section on schools.
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