A southern-Thailand tropical paradise or a southern-Thailand tropical paradise. Which one?

Let’s buy a property on a beautiful Thai tropical island. Thailand’s two largest islands are Koh Samui and Koh Phuket (everyone just calls it Phuket these days). Koh Samui is on the Gulf Thailand, Phuket on the Andaman Sea on the other side of the Malay Peninsula. But which one? Phuket.com has done its best to rate the two. Both are a haven for expats with properties and views to die for, at affordable prices that will surprise you.

When it comes to the beaches the writers say that Phuket has more choices (around 38 beaches) whilst Samui’s beaches, whilst fewer, are very good. You’ll probably find a few more beach chairs and bars on Samui’s beaches and the sand is whiter and finer. But the water is better on the Phuket side, particularly the popular west coast beaches.

For accommodation choices Phuket wins hands down just through sheer volume with 1,200 choices from the cheap guest house all the way to uber-luxury five star properties. Because Samui is a bit smaller your hotel will probably be closer to a beach.

For food, both islands boast excellent cuisine, Thai and International. But Phuket has a secret weapon, Phuket Town, where most tourists are yet to discover and the local southern Thai/Chinese infused cuisine is in a class all of its own.

For culture vultures Phuket is a winner with its rich history and choice. Head to Old Phuket Town. But Samui has plenty of weird and whacky things to see. Head to the Hin Ta and Hin Ya Rocks, naturally formed in shapes of genitalia. Then again go to Phuket in October and soak in the local Vegetarian Festival, arguably one of the most bizarre festivals you will ever witness – really.

For photo fans both islands are stunning and will make you grateful you’re not paying for rolls of film anymore. Phuket, again, simply has more places to get your happy snap but Samui’s size will make it easier to get around and get your postcard beach photo.

Both underwater and on land, Koh Samui and Phuket have plenty to keep you busy. The surf is pretty scrappy on both coasts but there’s plenty of snorkelling and sailing on both islands. For land-based activities Phuket has more variety and plenty of choices for families.

For nightlife there are very few places in South East Asia which will match the sensory onslaught of Bangla Road in Patong. Bars, bars, bars and ping-pong shows (not sure how you can explain this to the kids!?). Samui has a more modest selection for nightlife but can boast one of the world’s essential parties, Koh Phangan’s Full Moon Party each month, just a short boat ride away from the main island of Samui.

The writers of the article seem to believe that, when it comes to lifestyle, Phuket is more ‘upmarket’ whilst Samui is more ‘friendly’. Phuket’s larger array of shopping gives it the big tick for bargain-hunters and high-end shoppers but Samui has more of a boutique feel and a little less commercial.

Bang-for-buck Phuket is always going to give you more choice but Samui, on most back-packers’ bucket list, has better low-cost options. Both are excellent value, prices around the same as in Bangkok.

Both have international airports but Phuket has a lot more connections to international ports whilst Samui’s airport is almost an attraction in its own right – a cute, family-owned affair which resembles a Disneyland ride more than an airport.

For those looking for your very own tropical property, both islands have excellent selections from modest condominiums all the way up to spraying, luxury pool villas. There is a LOT of choice for buyers on Samui and Phuket, in excellent locations nearby established towns, some busier, some more laid back. A building splurge post 2010 is offering real value and a world-class selection for investors or those who think living on a tropical paradise might simply be very cool.

You can find your ideal tropical property at FazWaz.com.