History of Koh Samui
Koh Samui was discovered a few hundred years ago as a spot for sea traders and fishermen passing through the Gulf of Thailand to seek refuge from storms. The early Chinese and Malay settlers looked on in awe at the island’s magnificence, and there are those that speculate the phrase « Samui » is derived from the word ‘Saboey’, which translated means ‘safe haven’ in the original Chinese tongue.
Koh Samui’s Early Documented History
Maps of Koh Samui island go as far back as the early seventeenth century, but sadly there is very little documented history of Koh Samui since most of the local knowledge was passed down through the generations by simple word of mouth.
Property on Koh Samui Highly Desired
More recently land and property on Koh Samui has become very sought after and these early settlers families have found out that it was a very shrewd move all those years ago to settle on this island as property and land prices have risen markedly.
Samui’s Succulent Tropical Fruit Farms
The very first communities that developed here on Koh Samui lived nearly always by the coast, they then later started to plant crops, which flourished in the tropical warm climate. The farming of tropical fruit became a very important export industry for the local community, and even today Koh Samui is renowned throughout Thailand for succulent tropical fruits such as ‘Lang San’, a small fruit, round in shape and similar in texture to a lychee, and lets not forget the infamous ‘durian’ with its pungent yellow flesh and even more pungent odor.
Although the ubiquitous coconut palm tree has come to be known as the recognized symbol of Koh Samui island, it was not until relatively recently that that these coconut palms became the most prolific farmed fruit on the island.
Samui’s Many Varieties of Coconut Palm
Over the course of many years coconut and rubber farmers slowly turned the island into one huge coconut and rubber plantation, with the crops fetching a fair price, Thai traders from the local mainland started to arrive in small numbers to benefit from the island’s growing economy. Koh Samui can now boast to have more varieties of the coconut palm than anywhere other place in the world.
Early Traders Built Property on Koh Samui
In the very early days it could take a person seven or eight hours to reach Koh Samui by boat from Surat Thani on the mainland, many of the people that came to the island decided to stay and build a property on Koh Samui, preferring this to the constant travel back and forth, living alongside their foreign neighbors in what was to become a strong and very independent minded community of island people.
Buddhism established itself as the principle religion, but alongside this a smaller Muslim population flourished and local spirits are still worshipped today in a easy-going fusion of beliefs that adds to Koh Samui’s wonderful cultural appeal.
Cultivation remained the chief source of income for Koh Samui folk until the original foreign backpackers began to come to the island in the early 1970s. Youthful, adventurous travellers from Europe then established Koh Samui as a favored destination, so before long the locals were supplying basic accommodation, food, drink and other services to their newfound foreign friends and customers.
Koh Samui became a bit of a hippy paradise destination during the seventies and eighties, the laid back lifestyle and picturesque natural environment attracting those looking for a real escape. Thatched bungalows started to pop up all over the island, and gradually the infrastructure began to evolve with a more frequent ferry boat service from Surat Thani on the mainland and then finally, the Koh Samui airport was built.
Koh Samui Property Now Big Business
These last ten years have brought some of the biggest changes in the entire recorded history of this island. When both Thai and International investors began arriving to develop five star resorts Koh Samui was soon transformed from a traditional sleepy fisherman’s island into a full-on global tourist destination. As soon as the airport was built Koh Samui’s future as a jet set island destination was sealed and property on Koh Samui is now big business.
The variety and range of the facilities and services constantly expands and already includes everything from internationally recognized chain stores to wireless Internet. Still, despite this fast pace of development this tropical island manages to retain all of its charm. Small quaint local villages and the numerous coconut plantations are still very much in evidence, especially in the southern part of the island, and most of the local people continue to live their lives by what’s known locally as ‘island time’, which loosely translated means « slowly, very slowly… »
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