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Travelling to Koh Samui is like a dream come true for most people. Besides organising where to stay and how to get from the airport to your hotel, many people don’t plan further than that. So today we are here to educate you about five great reasons – beaches, shopping, food, island, rum – to get out‘n’about on the island. There are loads of fun activities and things to do all over the place. Let us help you discover just a few of the many as you begin your journey into the heart of Koh Samui.
As they boast sun-drenched coconut palms, azure waters, soft white sand and incredible vistas, it is no wonder the beaches of Samui are considered world-class. This little island in the Gulf of Thailand has many sought-after beaches for many good reasons, be it partying, relaxing or adventuring. Of course, not all of the beaches in Koh Samui play host to nightly raves, and if a serene slice of tropical calm is what you’re after, it can be found. Many beaches are completely deserted whilst others only offer a shack selling refreshing beverages and delicious local food. In-between you have the ones that provide everything you could ever want or need for a day by the sea: get a massage, have your hair braided, buy sarongs and souvenirs, eat coconut ice-cream, grab a cold beer and lounge under a shady palm tree. Some of the ones we recommend you explore are Chaweng, Lamai, Lipa Noi, Maenam and Bophut.
While smaller shops and stand-alone boutiques can be found dotted here and there across the island, it’s fair to say that the main shopping zones are located at Chaweng, Lamai and Nathon. Whether you’re after high-end or cheap ‘n’ cheerful, shoppers won’t be disappointed with Samui’s range. If a good price and plenty of ambiences are what you’re after, make sure you check any of the small, local markets that pop up all around town and encourage bargaining (just keep it polite and friendly). Otherwise, most department stores offer high-quality genuine products from all the top international brands. The only mall on the island, Central Festival Samui, offers plenty of international brands. For something a bit different, head to the weekly Fisherman’s Village Walking Street market in Bophut on Friday night. Most of the stalls sell the popular items found at markets throughout the Land of Smiles, including T-shirts, handmade jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, beer cosies, souvenirs, knock-off watches, electrical goods and, of course, lots and lots of yummy local food!
Speaking of food, you won’t find any shortage on the island. In fact, you may want to consider packing your ‘fat’ pants and not your bathing suit as there is a lot of good food to be had and you’ll be hard-pressed to stay away from it! Here you’ll find a huge variety of Thai food; you’ll find all the staples, plus local southern food (think spicy!), food from the north (Isaan) and even from next door (Burma). Even if you’re feeling a little homesick, it’s easy to find the whole pantheon of global cuisine from A to Z if you look hard enough. From romantic beachside restaurants to shacks on the side of the road and everything in-between, you won’t be disappointed with the food on offer. For highly acclaimed dining in a modern and friendly atmosphere, make sure you head to MANATHAI, where you can dine on freshly caught fish at seaside restaurant Waterline; try delectable noodle dishes at Pad Thai, or traditional Thai fare with a modern twist at Colours.
Although Koh Samui itself is pretty damn fabulous, if you feel like getting out, there are close to 60 islands nearby, and each is a tropical paradise in its own right. Some of them are just minuscule dots on a map, others a little more substantial. For the true beach lover, a day-trip to one or more of these nearby islands is an absolute must. It’s very easily done, and you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views, fewer people and a real sense of getting off the well-worn tourist trail. In the end, whether you’re in search of a legendary full moon party or a deserted inlet, you can find it. Our top five picks for a great day trip are 1) Ang Thong National Marine Park, 2) Koh Mudsum, 3) Koh Phangan, 4) Koh Nang Yuan and 5) Koh Tao.
Break out the reggae as things are about to get decidedly Caribbean! Did you know that Koh Samui has a thriving local rum scene? That’s right; you can now enjoy a Thai-style Cuba Libre cocktail made with local liquor. Koh Samui Rum is the only place in the Land of Smiles producing Caribbean-style rum. Which means it is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice. They do so in a variety of award-winning flavours: natural, lime, orange, pineapple and coconut. With a beautiful manicured garden and fine-dining restaurant on site too, this place makes for a great trip at any time of day or night.
We have one last tip for you, and it concerns value-for-money, affordable, great-deal accommodation! Check out the following two deals from MANATHAI on Lamai Beach, both offers include daily breakfast, Wi-Fi Internet, tea and coffee and welcome drink upon arrival.