In a never-ending search for the perfect holiday, I decided to visit Phuket’s little sibling, Koh Samui, located 700 km from Bangkok in the Surat Thani province. Although coming behind Phuket and Koh Chang in size, Koh Samui won’t settle for anything less in terms of attractions and tourists destinations. I have heard a lot about this island – raving about the hotels and resorts and ranting about failed beach holidays. I wanted to know which of these are legit so I decided to go check it out myself.
Getting around Koh Samui the Smart Way
Koh Samui is fairly a big island. It is easy to explore what the island offers and there are many options on how to get around. Many tourists opt for the free and fit way – walking or the next best thing – riding a bike. Here’s a Protip! I suggest the easy and lazy way – motorcycles! Rent motorbikes, from the youthful Yamaha’s and the classic Harleys and feel the breeze as you slip through crazy traffic. And for those who prefer to sit back and leave the driving to the professionals, taxis, buses and trains are available.
Koh Samui by Day
With the sun high and mighty, I want my beach to be peaceful and quiet. The northern part of the island is a perfect choice. Mae Nam, Bang Rak and Choeng Mon beaches have hotels and resorts, both luxurious and affordable, to suit everyone’s budget. Relax and unwind to your heart’s delight, or you could showcase your swing in an 18-hole golf course, read a book under a nipa hut and escape into another world or simply, work on your tan and lie on the sun beds by the pool. I have allotted one day to see Wat Phra Yai, Koh Samui’s golden 12-meter Big Buddha built in 1972. I knew I had to immerse in the Buddhist ways of meditation and prayer. The graceful rituals of offering and lighting incense are tranquil even for a non-Buddhist like me. And as I sit in my corner, listening to the chants of the monks and staring at the sunlit holiness of the Buddha statue in front of me, I began to understand the meaning of steadfastness and enlightenment.
The Beaches of Koh Samui
It is silly to be surrounded by beautiful beaches and keep your sandals on all the time. Toss them out, and feel the fine white sand under your toes before taking a plunge into the ocean. There is nothing like the mixture of the warmth of the sun and the coldness of the water to take your worries away and recharge your body. With the area being less crowded, I got an unobstructed view of the sunset and before I knew it, nature’s beauty has once again taken my breath away.
Dancing and Drinking the Night Away
Once the skies start getting velvety and stars begin to peek through and show their sparkling glory, take cue to be bound for Cha Weng and Lamai. These two beaches are keeping up to their battle against each other on being the Party Central. Hop along Cha Weng’s Reggae Pub, Bar Ice and the epicenter of fun and gratification Soi Green Mango. Stomp your feet in Lamai’s Fusion then move in to Beers Bar or gather with fellow football fanatics in Shamrock pub. For those who prefer something a bit more laidback, chill-in pubs and outback saloons are present too. Whether you prefer to dance or drink, or both, your stresses away, nightlife in Koh Samui is a promising holiday.
Diving in Koh Samui
The typical relax by day and party by night was nowhere near enough for me. Fortunately, Koh Samui offers more. The beauty of the ocean on the surface may be calming for others, but for me it’s reeling me in and inviting me to discover the greater wonder that is underneath. That is one siren song I could not resist. Sail Rock is an internationally renowned dive site In the North of Samui. It is a naturally formed 15-meter high underwater wall filled with pockets, homes to eels and anemones. Diving takes you to a marine park and being under clear blue waters, amidst hundreds of species of fishes and colorful varieties of corals does wonders to the mind and heart and soul.
Hike, Trek, Fall and More
If while you are On the Ring road from Lamai towards Nathon and you being to wonder if you are having premonitions from the gods of nature as to where you should head soon, then you are on the right track. The road signs are pointing you towards Namuang Waterfalls. Let me set the record straight here, many tourists go and leave here disappointed. The key here is having the right expectations. Namuang is no Niagara. Namuang is good for a day’s hike up and elephant trekking through the jungle on our way down. Its magnificent surroundings, safari promises and elephant trekking experience is amazing.
The Samui Spirit
Some people say Koh Samui has become overdeveloped and over-popularized just like its neighboring island Phuket. I actually think, it is underrated and it deserves more credit than it gets. In traveling and in life, in order to get what you want, you have to know how and where to get it. You can’t stay in your hotel bed or in the comforts of your resort and expect the soothing effect of the beach, the excitement of the nightlife or the marvel of the underwater to come to you. You have to get out, throw yourself into your holiday, and submit your days and nights to the call of the island. Sunbathe, dive, meditate, hike, eat, swim, let loose, recharge in Koh Samui, and hopefully be one of those who can’t stop raving about their journey in the island.