Koh Samui airport is many travellers' first glimpse of their holiday island paradise, and we can honestly say that it lives up to expectations. Also known as Samui International Airport, its architects clearly appreciated that for most people arriving in a new destination, first impressions really do count. Designed to blend with its surroundings, the few buildings make use of locally-sourced natural materials. Wooden interiors are elegant and welcoming, and worlds apart from the functional but unattractive concrete constructions you'll encounter in many other locations. Here you'll find low level buildings, lush local foliage and even open air passenger terminals, making for a relaxed stop on any ongoing journey. With unexpected touches like aquariums in the gents' toilets - yes, really - it's little wonder this privately owned airport has received a string of awards and accolades in the twenty five or so years since it opened.
Located just 2km from the popular resort of Chaweng, Koh Samui airport is ideally located for those staying on the island or travelling on to Koh Phangan. Taxis are relatively cheap on Samui, so they're a great choice if you're staying nearby. Alternatively you can book car hire and collect your rental vehicle from the airport on arrival, to make getting to your hotel a breeze. Those travelling on to Koh Phangan will find the airport convenient for catching an ongoing ferry at Big Buddha Pier, and other connections by sea are available within a short distance. If you're going on to a destination a little further afield, you'll find direct flights available to locations such as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Phuket and Bangkok.
While Koh Samui airport sees in excess of one million travellers a year, its laidback design means that you'll nonetheless find it a relaxing and pleasant experience. And of course, if you're flying out you'll be spending a little time there, so the facilities will be just as important. And these are world class, but with a unique local spin. Samui Park Avenue is the latest development to the airport, having opened in 2008. With a selection of dining options and souvenir shops it's given the airport an extra boost, but also attracts visitors itself. So you'll find that you can pick up some delicious Pad Thai while you're waiting for your flight, stop by specially while on holiday to check out the range of sunglasses or swimwear, or even make an appointment for a relaxing traditional massage.
We can't wrap up this low down on Koh Samui airport without giving a special mention to the warm Thai hospitality you'll receive. In busier parts of the world airports can be cold and informal, but new arrivals to this island will soon spot the kitsch 'Welcome to Samui airport' sign - who can resist such a photo opportunity? And while leaving our favourite island is always going to be hard, the complimentary snacks, soft drinks and wi-fi in departures are definitely a consolation... and just another reason Samui airport is our favourite the world over.