29 May 2024

Ko Samui, and Other Overlooked Thailand Destinations

We just covered Bangkok, but there’s a lot more to Thailand than just the beautiful city of Bangkok with its many temples, palaces, and street festivals. Let’s talk about a little island called Ko Samui.

Samui, as it’s commonly called, is an island located around southern Thailand. It’s an island that’s a lot more laid back than people might expect, making it a great vacations pot if you’re not trying to really get into the bright lights and crazy nightlife of Bangkok.

Now, we call it a “little” place, but the truth is that Samui is actually pretty large. The places that you might want to check out first are Chaweng and Lamai, only because they are indeed the most commercialized. That means that if you’re really not someone that wants to “rough it”, then you’re going to be looking for somewhere decently luxurious, right? Right!

Other places of interest would be Mae Nam, Bophut, Bang Rak, and even Choeng Mon. Those are the beaches that are going to be a lot less lively, giving you a real bit of peace and quiet.

If Bangkok is the center where nothing ever really sleeps, then Samui is definitely the opposite. Wild parties aren’t going to really happen here. Over 90% of the full time residents of Samui are Buddhist, and that means a lot of rest, relaxation, and meditation. We’re not saying that you can’t find a party or gathering on the island, but there’s not going to really be the same focus on wildin’ out and having a good time the way you might be used to. If that’s something that you need, you might want to stick to Bangkok.

This island rests in an archipelago of over 80 islands — together they form the Ang Thon National Marine Park.

Snorkeling is naturally one of the top activities, but generally speaking any outdoor adventure that you want to embark on, you can here. This is not a place where you have to sit in a hotel room when you’d rather be exploring the great open waters. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out what’s going on, what you want to do, and how you want to do it. Hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and even rock climbing can be accomplished while you’re staying on the island. Simple camping can be a pleasure in a foreign country, so don’t count that activity out either. Far too often we expect that everyone is going to want to stay in a hotel, but that’ might not be the case at all. Just make sure that you exercise a little bit of caution as you begin your explorations — you are in a foreign country, so things do work a little different.

If you want to get to Ko Samui, you’re going to need to fly into Bangkok first, then take another flight to Ko Samui. There is a private airport on the island that can handle your departures and arrivals with ease.

When it comes to getting around the island, you’re going to want to think about your budget as well as your comfort level. Some people are already good at moving around on a motorbike, and there’s nothing wrong with renting one. However, they are traditionally known no to carry insurance. That can make things very difficult if something does happen because you have no coverage. There are motorbike-taxis, but they offer some of the same risks — tread carefully.

If you have the money in your budget, we definitely recommend a car — while it’s expensive, you really have the convenience of being able to get around the island at your leisure without being tied down to anyone’s schedule.  You will need an international license, so make sure that you plan ahead for this as well.

There are numerous attractions in Ko Samui to see, including all of the beaches mentioned — Chaweng, Lamai, and Na Thon, just to name a few. There are also numerous waterfalls that you have to see in order to believe that they exist — especially the one at Namtok Hin Lat.

If you’re taking children along, you have to see the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo. It’s located at Ban Ham beach, and it’s got an amazing collection of tropical fish. The children will love it and they can even see real tigers — how incredible is that?

Feeling truly bold? You can have your picture taken with the tiger, if you really want. Nobody is going to make fun of you if you decide that you’d rather not get that close.

How can we talk about somewhere as great as Ko Samui without even touching on the food? If you’re looking for top notch coconuts, you are definitely going to enjoy your time in Samui. This is because Samui has fantastic young coconuts, which the locals do indeed use the entire coconut for various purposes. In addition, there are plenty of seafood options — after all, you will be staying on an island!

There’s a lot of different Malaysian, Indonesian, and Thai influences at play here, leaving something for everyone. If you can handle spicy food, you’ll love the selection in Samui. However, the rise of commercial development has brought in foods that are well outside the natural cultural ring. So you have even less reason to worry that you’re not going to be able to eat something.

Overall, there’s plenty to see, do, and experience in Ko Samui — and it’s all waiting for you! Why not check it out for yourself?