Thailand Diary – Koh Samui

March 28, 2009Angela

We arrived at Koh Samui from Bangkok after a very comfortable one-hour internal flight on Bangkok airways. The Island is the third largest of the Thai Islands and is a haven for Tourists, although its other industries include fishing and coconut farming; some 2 million nuts are exported to Bangkok every month.

Koh Samui sits in the gulf of Thailand, with soft sand beaches shaded by towering palms, delicious seafood and a vibrant nightlife, Samui has a magical formula that entrances everyone.

The island has many beaches the most popular are ‘ Chaweng, Lamai, Maenam and Big Buddha.

Chaweng beach is located on the eastern coast of the Island with a coastline that is about 6kms long. The waters are clear and suitable for windsurfing, parasailing, snorkelling and other water sports. Many bars and restaurants and shops are situated in this area as are the majority of the tourist hotels. The nightlife is vibrant and you can party into the early hours should you wish.

Lamai Beach is Samui’s second largest beach. The waters are calmer and the coast is marked by granite boulders that jut out from the sea. Also within this vicinity are the Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks, one of the islands top natural attractions.

Maenam is best known for those seeking solitude, since it is smaller and less touristy, while the nearby Bophut offers the best sunset view on the Island.

Big Buddha in the northern coast is quite secluded, making it the perfect hideaway.

Getting around in Koh Samui is easy, the bus service (a large canopied  pick up truck with seats in the back) operates all around the island a regular intervals prices range from 60-90 bahts an average of £1.50. Car hire costs around £25 per day and the most popular form of transport the mo-ped is approx. £8 per day to hire. Taxis are many, they do have meters but most prefer to agree a price before hand.

No matter where you stay you are never far from a village or town and Chaweng Beach is easily accessible from any resort.

Tongsai Bay

There are many trips and tours available on the island. Snorkelling and diving are best done on the nearby Koh Tao and Koh Nangyuan Islands approx 1hour and 20 mins boat ride away. The waters here are crystal clear and the coral reef spectacular. Watersports such as sailing, jet skis and kayaking is available at most hotels within the Chaweng beach area.

The Island of Koh Pha Ngan that can be seen from Bophut beach is popular for the famous ‘Moon Party’ that takes place close to the lighthouse on the most Southern tip of the island. This is not for the fainthearted and alcohol and drugs are in abundance amongst the party revellers until well into the early hours of the morning.

If you prefer something a little more relaxing, the island has an 18 hole PGA golf course or you could visit the Na Muang waterfalls in the national park; the largest waterfall is 80 metres high but beware there is a half hour up hill trek to reach it.

Samui for me felt truly Thai, the island is welcoming, unassuming and relaxed, the beaches are inviting, the food wonderful and the people always have a smile.

Top Tips:

  1. If you want to be within walking distance of shops, bars, vibrant nightlife etc then Chaweng Beach or Lamai are the best locations.
  2. Try an authentic Thai massage from a reputable establishment or hotel, prices start from 500 bahts or around £10 for one hour – not to be missed.
  3. The food is amazing, hotel prices are more than town, but the standard is excellent.

HOTELS VISITED

Rocky’s – 5 Star Luxury Boutique Resort

Fabulous atmosphere, great for weddings, couples with young children or those who just like to chill.

The slogan of this fabulous boutique hotel is ‘When you’re at Rockys you’re family’ – never was a truer word spoken. The hotel is family owned and run with the aid of a general manager ‘Jon Elms’. There are only 35 rooms in total including 3 villas, all are well appointed with attention paid to every detail. The staff and management make you feel at home as soon as you arrive, and by the end of your stay you will know them all personally and they you. The resort is on Lamai beach within sight of the Hin Ta-Hin Yai rocks. The beach is superb, calm waves lap the golden sand and the granite rock formations that the resort is built upon make the setting magical. At night the resort is lit with pretty fairy lights and candles and the meal at the restaurant in the evening was one of the best we had. The hotel is about 25 minutes from Chaweng Beach yet only 5 minutes from the lively town of Lamai, so is ideal if you want a more restful base with the advantage of the nightlife etc on your doorstep but far enough away so as not to intrude. If you like good quality with a very chilled atmosphere in the day, this hotel is superb. The hotel also hosts weddings and I can honestly say that the beach location for the wedding is perfect.

Santiburi – 5 Star Finest

‘True luxury, great for Rest & Relaxation’

In Thai ‘Santiburi’ means peaceful village, an excellent description of this 71-room/villa hotel located on the more secluded Maenam Beach. This resort exudes elegance and quality from the every corner. The rooms are spacious, airy and have a contemporary Thai style. The villas are located in the gardens or some are on the beachfront, many have a private plunge pool and all have a private outside terrace. The hotels has everything you will need on site, with several world class restaurants, a spa, gym, leisure facilities and a fabulous 18 hole PGA golf course just 5 minutes away. The golf course is immaculate with sea views from every hole, for around £60-£80 you can enjoy a full 18 holes including green fees, caddie and golf cart. If it’s total relaxation, pampering and elegance this resort is for you – at a price.

Tongsai Bay – 5 Star Finest

‘Superb for honeymooners’

A resort with a difference, the philosophy here is one of ‘ kindness and respect for the environment’, coupled with sheer luxury.

Tongsai Bay is set on the hillside above the Bay of Tongson. This hotel was Samui’s first 5 star hotel, the emphasis has always been on the natural and eco-friendly yet this does not detract from the sheer beauty and elegance of this resort. The steep hillside is home to 84 cottages or villas, the steps to each room are many, so this is not a resort for people with walking difficulties. Chaweng beach is just 15 minutes away so for those who crave the nightlife or just want to do some shopping. Personally I don’t think I would ever leave my room!

Centara Grand Beach Resort – 5 Star

‘Great for families’

Located in a fabulous position on central Chaweng Beach. The Centara has 203 rooms with 6 room types. Some rooms have a small private pool and are excellent for honeymooners or families with children as the room and pool area are very private and enclosed. The facilities and standards are what you would expect from a good 5 star hotel with several restaurants, a spa and activities centre. Families are made very welcome and the kids clubs and daily entertainment are superb.

Amari Reef  Hotel –4.5/ 5 Star

Good Value for money’

A good hotel with 5 star standards yet fewer facilities than the Centara. The hotel is located at the most northern end of Chaweng beach about 10 minutes from the airport, yet still within walking distance of all the action.

Suites are located on the beachfront, whilst deluxe and superior rooms are located across the road – there is a crossing warden 24hrs a day to ensure guests are safe whilst crossing. The hotel has 3 restaurants one of which is the Italian ‘Prego’ – reputed to be one of the best Italian restaurants in the Chaweng area.

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