Earlier this month I jetted off on my summer holidays to the tropical island of Koh Samui in Thailand. When we first decided to go to Thailand I knew I wanted to experience the more laid-back, scenic side of the country rather than the busy, city life that areas like Bangkok offer. Koh Samui is the perfect mix of relaxed island life, scenic beaches and market towns with a lot to see and do. It is also within a short boat ride to the neighboring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, which makes it a good base for first time visitors like us, as we could have a taste of Thailand without traveling too much.
Our hotel was in Cheong Mon, which is a quiet market town on the north east side of the island, with a beautiful beach at the heart. From here we explored the island over two weeks, so if you are thinking of visiting, here are my top 5 recommendations to see and do around Koh Samui.
1. Fisherman’s village market
The fisherman’s village in Bo Phut is well known all other the island and we were told to go on a Friday night for the best shopping and they weren’t wrong. Just after 5pm the street running long the beach front was lined with stalls selling everything from traditional Thai food to local handmade products. With a backdrop of the sun setting on the water we browsed, bartered and tasted the delights on offer. I would recommend keeping money close to you as the streets got very packed at times.
2. Boat trip to Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan
After browsing various boat trip leaflets we booked onto the Koh Tao trip as it seemed the best value and we weren’t disappointed. The trip included a boat ride to Koh Nang Yuan where we snorkeled on the most beautiful reef (snorkeling gear was included) and had a chance to visit the view point on the island. Lunch was provided on the island, after which the boat took us to Koh Tao for more snorkeling and a chance to see the some turtles. The whole day cost about 1,600 bht (around £30) each, which I think was great value for what you got to see and do.
3. Eat like a local
I have never been a big Thai food eater back home but decided to jump right in and try the delights on offer in Koh Samui, and I think I might be converted. We started off safe with Pad Thai and simple chicken and noodle dishes, soon building up confidence to try other things. I couldn’t get enough of the fresh sea food such as seabass and king prawns on offer, which were to die for smothered in curry or garlic sauces or dipped in peanut butter. Our favourite restaurant was The Mother in Choeng Mon, having been draw in by the delicious looking food and friendly staff we soon discovered why it was so popular on Trip Advisor. We were recommended Phanang curry, a mid red curry and garlic and pepper chicken, both packed with flavour and spice. And of course the fruit is just so fresh in Thailand especially pineapple and coconut.
4. Visit the Big Buddha
On the very north of the island, just east of the Fisherman’s village, you’ll find the statue of Buddha, affectionately known as ‘Big Buddha’ which is a must see on Koh Samui. When we visited the actual temple was closed for maintenance but the surrounding area alone was worth the short 10 minute taxi ride form our hotel. Be sure to walk up the ornately tiled steps and take in the decorative building that frame the big Buddha.
Don’t forget that you need to cover up if you are visiting the temple, so pack spare shirt to cover your shoulder and chest and some knee length trousers.
We did a little bit of shopping in the many traditional stalls and shops that surround the temple and found some bargains gifts and home wares. Blue Vanilla is a winner, a little cafe come shop filled with quirky home wears and gifts topped off with an amazing view across the bay from their balcony at the back. I picked up the cutest coconut candle and elephant print for my wall at home, but could have spent a small fortune with the amount of home ware I fell in love with.
5. Massage on the beach
This was a funny one but definitely an experience you have to try when in Thailand. We chose to have a back massage on Choeng Mon beach as this was within walking distance from our hotel and at 300 bht (around £5) for 1 hour you can’t go wrong. The Thai ladies who offer the massages are small but don’t be fooled by their size as you’ll soon find out how strong they are. They use their body weight to stretch and iron out any knots from your back shoulders and head, it was amazing how more flexible I felt afterwards. I would suggest warning them of any injuries or sensitive areas you have before the massage as they go quite hard on certain areas.
Hope this little guide has helped if you are thinking of visiting Koh Samui soon! I loved every minute of our stay and would love to go back to explore more.
Where are you jetting off to this summer?