At 247 sq. kms., Ko Samui is Thailand’s third largest island, which has become one of Southeast Asia’s premier tourist destinations in just a decade. Samui sits snugly in the Gulf of Thailand, surrounded by other gem islands like Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao, and is located 84 kms. east of Surat Thani, the provincial capital on the mainland. Many visitors are content to laze their days away on the beach, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the turquoise waters, but for action enthusiasts there are plenty of choices like diving and snorkelling, windsurfing and paragliding, beach volleyball, off-road driving, and other soft adventure activities. One of the island’s most appealing features is the loop road, which makes a 50-km. circuit around the island, giving a glimpse of superb beaches on the north, east and west coasts. It runs past sleepy fishing villages and through seas of coconut palms, passing Ko Samui’s most impressive waterfall and tempting turn-offs into the highlands along the way. Other attractions on or near the road include a butterfly garden, a snake show, a monkey training centre, and health spas dedicated to pampering the body. There is plenty on Ko Samui to keep even the most jaded traveller happy for a week or two, but for anyone spending even a few days here, an opportunity not to be missed is a trip to the emerald islands of the Muko Angthong National Marine Park, which offers another perspective of a tropical paradise.