Ko Samui can be difficult to navigate therefore, guidebooks and maps are strongly suggested. "Ko Samui and Southern Islands Travel Map" by Globetrotter will give you the layout you need to survive find your way around the island. The book also provides great photography of Ko Samui. Periplus Travel Maps Ko Samui: Thailand Regional Map is also an extensive map option and was recently updated.

For a more complex guidebook, it is best to buy an entire guide to Thailand. Lonely Planet Thailand is a great pick along with Frommer's Thailand Guide.

To better understand Thai culture, literature on the Buddhist religion will greatly enhance a visit to Thailand. "Buddhism Plain and Simple" by Steven Hagen is a good start for beginners to the philosophy. "The Heart of Buddha's Teaching" by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, is a compassionate read on the moral lessons of the Thai icon.

As far as fiction is concerned, there is one book that stands out for putting Ko Samui and Thailand on many people's maps and for bringing attention to its status as a backpacker's secret. "The Beach" by Alex Garland quickly earned international recognition and conjured even more attention when it was made into a Hollywood movie. The thrilling read will enhance a Thai vacation or get you ready to visit pre-departure.