Sand in your toes, drinks in your hand, the scent of Tom Yum or grilled fish in the air, the sound of live bands echoing around beach streets, the feel of coconut oil on the skin and relaxed muscles after a 90 minute massage, chillaxing in a hammock, exploring isolated sea coves in a kayak, swimming in warm clear waters…. Koh Samui has it all. This island may take over Koh Lanta or Koh Jum as my favorite Thai destination. It is still a tough call because the later two provide much more isolation and desolate beaches. To me, Koh Samui is the quintessential Thailand experience. There are so many things to do, food to eat, places to stay, this place screams as a top destination. No matter what your style of traveling is, there is something for everyone; from luxurious resorts to hole-in-the-wall beach bungalows. The important thing to know about planning a trip to Koh Samui is to get information and reservations well ahead of time because once you get to the island, you are going to be super overwhelm with options. Thankfully, I had good contacts and did my homework a few months in advance.
To get a nice flavor of the island over a limited eight days, we split our time between two beach areas on different sides of the island and with distinctly different vibes.
Our first stay was at the Mantra Hotel near Lamai Beach, on the east side of the island. This is joint is about half a kilometer up the hill from the central beach area. A fantastic quiet getaway from the sometimes rowdy and busy club/beach scene near the water. We couldn’t be happier here. Check out my review here. Montra Hotel, Lamai Beach.
Lamai has a nice nightlife scene and the night market is worth staying in this area alone. Street vendors, food stalls, musicians and performers pack the walking street area til the wee hours of the night.
To the beach!
It was a rough day on the seas, so no swimming going on here. A few brave souls jumped in, but I must consider that not a very smart thing to do in these turbulent waters. Must wait for the calmness that was going to soon come.
Regardless, we found a nice spot for some drinks and people gazing. The waves come up to our tables.
The food! This is one of my top reasons to head to the Land of Smiles. Endless culinary experiences that blow the taste-buds away.
Muay Thai fight! Don’t bring in your guns.
I highly recommend a visit to Koh Tao. It is a world famous diving spot. We did a tour here and it was packed, but we still found it worth the experience. It is a long haul to this island (hour and a half) and the waves are rough at times. If you are prone to sea-sickness make sure you have your tablets and look at the horizon. A few folks puked on board of our vessel.
For the second half of our trip, we moved to the north coast of Mae Nam beach. This area is more isolated with much fewer bars/clubs and people on the beach. I recommend this area of peaceful isolation or for families that need it quiet and safe. I have done a whole lot of traveling around the world and the Silent Beach Treehouse bungalows are perhaps one of the most enjoyable places I have ever stayed. It is simply awesome. Here is a review: Silent Beach Treehouse
After eight days in Koh Samui, we didn’t want to leave Thailand. However, real life back in the People Republic of China was calling. Our memories will last in our dreams for a lifetime. We can’t wait to get back to this island paradise. If you are fortunate enough to have the time and means to get down to Koh Samui, your trip will be well worth it with a little bit of good research and planning. Until next visit, Thailand, good night….