Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be offered a place on the Thai Tourist Board Sponsored ‘Famil’ trip through my work – one of the perks of working within travel my friends – it was amazing.
We got to visit Koh Samui, Phuket and Koh Yao Noi – but I’ll save some of those adventures for another time.
Koh Samui was our first stop and it completely blew me away.
It was everything I had ever dreamed ‘island life’ to be like and was not the picture I was expecting – in a perfectly great way – I quite simply, fell in love with the island and could have happily stayed for much, much longer.
Spending three nights in the beautiful Santiburi Beach Resort was a nice change of pace from the hostels I normally stay in – but believe me, if I was paying for this trip, it would be hostels! – but the hotel was not the reason I fell in love with this magical island. While some of my time was taken up with work commitments – you know, visiting hotels we sell and lunching with them in beautiful settings – the majority of my time was spent exploring, relaxing and adventuring with the help of some awesome excursions.
So what did I get up to on Koh Samui Island? How exactly did I fall head over heels for this place? Well, below are the five main reasons – there are probably 100 more little things, but I don’t want to waffle – I fell in love with this island, and you will too.
1. Even the Airport is beautiful, if you can call it an airport?
So we all have these pictures in our heads of destinations all over the world and what they will look like – you know, before you go and google them – it is often rare to get there and have them match the image you had in mind.
I always envisioned ‘Island Airports’ to be a single landing/take off strip, where you would walk to the terminal and be greeted with flowers and music. Everything would be open aired, there would be no sense of time, no stress in the air, you are instantly relaxed.
I always imagined this is what it would be like landing on a Caribbean island, not an Asian island.
The Airport is all open aired for the most part, if you have cleared immigration in Bangkok before connecting down you just walk through a beautiful wooden structure, plants everywhere, smells beautiful – I’m pretty sure you can hear birds singing – and wait by one tiny little conveyor belt – you can imagine a wee man in the back turning it manually – for your luggage popping through.
In the meantime, enjoy some juice from free juice bar and a nice cold towel – essentials in Thailand. You might even get a beautiful hand Garland if your lucky!
What more of a welcome could you want?
2. For those who get lost, rejoice, there is pretty much one main road round the whole island..
I mean, how much more simpler could this be? not much.
So go hire that bike and go for an explore! Worst comes to worst, you will have had one very long bike ride – just think of those toned and tanned legs though?
This also means that nothing is too far away. So even if your accommodation is ’40 minutes away from the airport’ chances are, you are only 20 mins away from the closest town, nightlife and main shopping strips. But the further out your hotel, the more likely the ‘local bars and restaurants’ are indeed, local and authentic! Rejoice!
So for those that can’t read a map, get a little nervous exploring a new place alone – me, sometimes! – You can’t really get lost here – unless you wander into the jungle, then you are on your own my friend.
3. Fisherman’s Village is the perfect mix of traditional meets modern in the best way.
This quiet town in Koh Samui is just perfect.
Koh Samui is not known for its party reputation like it’s sister Koh Phangan. It has kept to its laid-back, island life feel and given you this beautiful town.
During the day this beautiful stretch of town has some gorgeous shops with handcrafted goodies, your typical tourist traps selling fake gadgets and bags, elephant pants and clothing shops – which i love.
So try your hand at haggling. If you want to practice, this is the perfect place to do it. Everyone is so relaxed you aren’t hassled, if you want to look, just look. No rush to buy.
Ever wanted to sit on a beach at sunset, on a beanbag, feet in the sand with a cocktail to then stare at the stars while chilling out to some awesome acoustic music? When have we not!
Well this is exactly what we managed to find.
This was the perfect little restaurant/bar. It was unique, surprisingly, each bar along the beach front had a different set up and this was the only one which had the perfect combination of everything i was looking for.
Everything here will close around midnight or, when there is no one left to serve.
4. For Adventure Enthusiasts, Koh Samui has everything to offer.
Yes, this place surprisingly has some amazing ‘off road’ driving which was one of the excursions i absolutely loved – my butt on the other hand, definitely did not. – the seat belts on the back of this open pick up truck were definitely only there to keep us in the vehicle, not necessarily on the seat.
Scream? Well the drivers are only going to go faster, over more bumps, closer to the edge, or come to a sudden stop. Bring on the thrills!
We took the open back trucks up to Koh Samui’s highest peak mountain. Up water damaged roads from the monsoon, which they decided to leave damaged because it was ‘more fun for thrills’ (i.e there were giant holes and bumps to fall down/struggle to get up) and once finally reached the top – with a good layer of ‘dust’ on us – were welcomed to a beautiful panoramic view on the island. The only other thing up here with you was a local guy selling cans of juice from a cooler in a wee shed.
Or if a keen hiker, head to the Magical Garden in Koh Samui – Yes, literally called magical garden – hidden in the jungle, stop on a hillside climb and venture down the stairs (old school stairs used by giants for sure) and you’ll discover a beautiful waterfall surrounded by mythological and fantasy creature sculptures.
Venture into some of the abandoned outhouses for an eery middle of the woods feeling.
5. You’ll see sunsets that take your attention away from anything else.
Sitting in a beautiful local restaurant in Chaweng, enjoying our last night in Koh Samui we were captivated watching the sun disappear below the horizon. The colours just exploded into the sky and demanded attention.
Everyone left the table – and the conversation – picked up their cameras and enjoyed the sunset. Most of the time cameras weren’t even clicking, we were all just captivated by the beauty of it. It was breath-taking and hands down, one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen – well worth leaving my cocktail and Thai curry for, and this does not happen often.
So what are you waiting for?! Book that ticket!