Today, one can find luxury villa rentals on Koh Samui and many other fine amenities, but the island was almost inaccessible to tourists until relatively recently.
Until 1940, there were no roads nor vehicles on Koh Samui, let alone luxury villa rentals. Its inhabitants lived there simply and almost without contact with the outside world. People moved around the island on foot or by boat by following the coastline. For example, to go from Maenam to Lamai, it took several hours of walking through the mountainous jungle, and going there and back in the same day was impossible.
Tourism on Koh Samui island was unknown, because there was simply no convenient means to get to the island. The only way of reaching it from the Thai mainland was with the daily connection by night boat, which took more than 6 hours to complete the crossing from Suratthani to Nathon. And even after arriving there, it was necessary to add several hours to reach your final destination on the island.
The first construction plans of a road were abandoned because of the numerous mountainous regions of the island and the impossibility of getting construction equipment to the island of Koh Samui.
But in 1967, Khun Dilok Suthiklom, the “leader” of the island of that time decided that something must be done for the development of Koh Samui, and he asked the government for help.
Two main obstacles were the high hill between Nathon and Maenam and the rocky and mountainous side between Lamai and Chaweng which had to be blown up to allow the road to rise at an acceptable angle. Trees and rocks were removed to clear the way which when finished was a narrow track which made its way round of the island.
The construction of the road began with a long and arduous effort of manual labour of several hundred people to clear a way around the island. The first years before laying concrete, it was not rare that everybody had to get out of cars (except the drivers obviously) to push and to help them get up hillsides.
The sector between Lamai and Chaweng had to be cut in the mountain on a 3 km length, a task which would have been impossible without dynamite and heavy construction machines.
So, heavy machines were brought from mainland. During this period, there were delays in the construction project due to the rainy season and to the monsoon, making the progress of the works practically impossible.
And finally in 1973, an order came from Bangkok to finish this project and the concrete began to pour to finish 52 kilometres of road which made a full circuit of the island. For a long time, this road was only 2 metres in width until it was widened a couple of years ago to face the increase in traffic.
Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a time when the only way to go from one place to another on Koh Samui was on foot or by boat…
(photos & info: www.kohsamui-info.com )
The island still retains its charm and traditions, while offering tourists a relaxing tropical paradise setting for the perfect holiday, with many Koh Samui villa rentals available.