After less than an hour’s flight south from the sprawling city of Bangkok, Julie and Myra, arrived on the small, pretty island of Koh Samui, which Julie says has, “possibly the nicest small airport I have ever seen, with a simple runway, thatched roofed building, vividly-coloured hibiscus, native orchids and views of the golden Kho Hua Jook Pagoda on the hillside.”
It’s easy to drive around the island in about an hour and there are only a few small townships − the largest and most popular being Chaweng, well known for having the best beach and the most attractions. Should you dare to leave the serenity of your luxury accommodation, head to Chaweng's Central Festival which is a good place to while away a few hours in the shops and restaurants. The coastline of Koh Samui is stunning and most of the high end resorts comprise stylish luxury villas which hug the cliffside in a dramatic fashion. It’s hilltop living on a grand scale, with buggies usually the norm to help you get around − very welcome given the heat and humidity. Privacy, amazing vistas, fresh cuisine and spa indulgence are the very essence of a Samui holiday – along with the ever hospitable Thai people of course!
Julie and Myra say that with most hotels clustered in the north east coast, close to the airport, it’s easy to combine a couple of different styled resorts into your holiday – perhaps experience the rustic, eco style of Six Senses Samui with the established elegance of Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui. Or, for a great honeymoon, they suggest teaming Banyan Tree Samui with the impossibly stylish Conrad Koh Samui in the south west, which ensures a sunset view which is an important part of the quintessential romantic escape! Whilst most properties’ beaches are small coves, they can be fairly rocky due to the coral; however the views, private villa pools and main resort pools, more than make up for this. Alternatively, many resorts offer complimentary boat concierge services to beach spots that are otherwise hidden. If a beautiful beach is a must for you, Julie and Myra recommend staying at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui which has an attractive beach with soft white sand.
If you like to include a cultural element into your escape to the sun, this little island can deliver this too. Attractions include the Big Buddha Temple close to the pier and the temple of Wat Plai Laem, the unusual boulder called Elephant Rock and Thai Boxing – if you’re staying at the Four Seasons, you can even try the sport for yourself! Visitors to the island can also enjoy perusing the local markets, discover pretty waterfalls, go fishing or snorkelling, or enjoy a romantic sunset cruise. There is a wide variety of things to see and do, for such a small destination.
When it comes to Thai food and drink, you will no doubt be enticed by the plethora of exotic fruit ‘mocktails’ and the fresh, healthy, yet delicious dishes on offer too. Most hotels and resorts have a signature Thai restaurant offering specialities such as spicy southern flavour-infused cuisine. After several nights of savouring authentic Thai dishes, Julie and Myra decided to try different cooking styles and were impressed by the Wagu Beef, as well as local barbecue and seafood restaurants – they say that The Cliff is a lovely venue, complete with fantastic views.
All of the resorts that Julie and Myra visited offered a surprisingly wide variety of fine International wines, signature cocktails and flavoured ice-creams! They even sampled one of the most rare coffees in the world, the unique Thai Black Ivory Coffee, that is produced from beans that are digested by Asian elephants, then retrieved, washed and ground – profits from sales are used to help protect the species. They agree, it was an interesting experience – if not an acquired taste!