Ko Samui (or Koh Samui, Thai: เกาะสมุย, Thai pronunciation: [kɔ̀ sàmūj]) is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus, Thailand. Geographically in the Chumphon Archipelago, it is administratively part of Surat Thani Province. Ko Samui is Thailand's second-largest island after Phuket, with an area of 228.7 sq km, a population of over 63,000 and a hotel occupancy rate of 73% as the number of visitors increases. Abundant tourist resources, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and coconut trees are present on the island.
The island was probably first inhabited about 15 centuries ago, settled by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula and southern China. It appears on Chinese maps dating back to 1687, under the name Pulo Cornam. The name samui is mysterious in itself. Perhaps it is an extension of the name of one of the native trees, mui. Some people believe that the word "samui" derives from the Malay word "saboey", or "safe haven", although there appears to be no credible corroboration of this. Ko is the Thai word for "island".
Until the late-20th century, Ko Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand. The island was without roads until the early 1970s, and the 15 km journey from one side of the island to the other could involve a whole-day trek through the mountainous central jungles.
The expansion of tourism in Ko Samui has resulted in growth in building resorts, bungalows, and luxury private villas on the island. The island's total inventory of 17,479 hotel rooms in 2013 will be augmented by an additional 459 new rooms by 2015. A gradual shift in demand is seeing more Asian visitors and families, but the top three source markets have been Germany, the UK, and Thailand, which contribute a combined 27% share. Bangkok Airways continues to modernise its fleet with new Airbuses, phasing out older ATR 72 propeller planes, which will provide an 189,000 additional airline seats for Samui travellers. Concurrently, Bangkok Airways is trying to raise the environmental restriction on daily flights from 36 to 50.