Thailand - Getting to know Koh Samui
Koh Samui might be one of the better known South-East Asian coastal retreats, but that doesn’t stop this gem of an island from delighting both first-time visitors and tempting the initiated back for more. A holiday on Samui is perfect for anyone who wants to avoid Thailand’s more full-on beaches whilst still having nice restaurants, a chilled out nightlife and plenty to do.
Samui is Thailand’s second largest island and, although it’s seen significant development since it first enchanted backpackers 30 years ago, it hasn’t sacrificed its charm, and we can still show you where to find its sparsely populated beaches and tranquil corners.
A visit to Samui can be as chilled or as active as you choose, and with superb hotels, great standards and that typically warm Thai welcome, it’s just as suited to families as it is to honeymooners.
Chaweng and Lamai on the east coast represent the liveliest resorts, while Bo Phut and Choeng Mon to the north are perhaps the most idyllic getaways, with high-end restaurants and hotels spanning from the characterful boutique to five-star opulence. Fisherman’s Village in Bo Phut is a delight, with a mix of small trendy places to dine, family-friendly bars and traditional Chinese shop houses all wrapped up in an original coastal hamlet ambience.
Within easy reach are Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan. The first offers some of the best diving in Asia and, while you may think of the second in terms of full-moon parties, its mix of upmarket accommodation may appeal if you’re inspired to relive those backpacking days in comfort.
Getting off the trail
- If you’re in search of some pampering, Tamarind Springs is an award-winning spa set within beautiful grounds complete with steam caves, rock pools and huge granite boulders. The treatments are sublime, and the surroundings a haven of tranquillity.
- Visit the relatively untouched villages of Hua Thanon and Thong Krut. The first is the only majority Muslim settlement on the island (with a smattering of seafood restaurants); the second is good for catching a spectacular sunset and visiting a shop that offers creations made from pearls farmed on one of Samui’s satellite islands.
- The coast around Samui is frequently breathtaking, so how about chartering a private boat for a spot of island hopping around Koh Tao, Koh Pha Ngan and the Angthong Marine National Park?
- Catch a Muay Thai fight at one of Samui’s three stadia dedicated to the country’s national sport - one that is steeped in both Thai history and Buddhist philosophies of respect and tradition.
Where you stay on Samui depends on what you want from the R&R element of your holiday in Thailand, but this is an island that caters as effortlessly to the needs of families with young children as it does couples seeking romantic seclusion, or those in search of pampering, and anyone keen to explore stunning coastlines and jungle-clad islands.
What to do on Koh Samui
- Hop on a songthaew (a shared mini-bus-style taxi). Connecting the main ports of call, you could visit Bo Phut to see Big Buddha, head to Nathon for the beautiful Na Muang waterfall, stop-off at the Wat Khunaram monastery to see Mummy Monk, and maybe grab some lunch at Rock Salt or the uber stylish Nikki Beach.
- Take a day trip to the stunning Angthong Marine National Park – some 40 islands stretching across Surat Thani province.
- Fancy going home with some impressive new cooking skills? The highly regarded Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts runs half-day courses under the guidance of expert chefs.
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