Taking a holiday or Christmas break with the family to the island on Koh Samui in Thailand this winter? This is the perfect winter sun destination only an hours flight from Bangkok. Jam-packed with beautiful beaches and stunning hotels from our favorite detox spot Kamalaya or the Centara Villas for a perfect family friendly setting.
1. TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN KOH SAMUI
Once you take a load off and finally start feeling the sun warm your bones there is so much more to Koh Samui that many tourists don’t get to see. It’s hard to peel yourself off your sun lounger or to drag yourself out and skip the 5 minute walk to dinner but I highly recommend it. You will get so much more sense of the islands culture, nature and even a brush with some of those island smiles you might have heard about. Thai people really are incredibly friendly and they just love kids too so traveling with them is a breeze.
Here are our top 5 unmissable Koh Samui experiences and a few other bits and bobs as usual to add to the itinerary. Enjoy and Chock Di (good luck) as the Thai’s say.
BO PHUT NIGHT MARKET
Let this be your first taste of real Thailand. The fragrant food stalls and brightly colored camper van mini bars are the real attraction here. The shopping is kind of secondary. Come hungry because even the unusual can be delicious. I draw the line at the fried insects but the other barbecued meat and fish delicacies are really something. Don’t be scared of eating from the street. The locals eat here too and the sheer numbers and footfall mean that nothing but nothing gets re heated. It’s all fresh and cooked right in front of you. I just love the coconut ice-cream here with the various candied fruit toppings as well as the miniature quails eggs with soy sauce and pepper. So delicious and healthy. There are some other amazing stalls here selling locally crafted goods. They are worth picking up as you won’t really see them elsewhere. Prepare to bargain however 20% off the price is really the usual. Thai’s will politely haggle but do remember they have to earn a living too. Samui is not the cheapest place to live in as rents run high if you are not from the island itself.
2. TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN KOH SAMUI
HIN YAI AND HIN TA
The name translated means grandma and grandpa rock. There are lots of meanings and folklore attached to this location which I will let you discover for yourself. This beautiful stretch of sea-shore is a great place to spend the day with lots of bays and inlets to explore and sun yourself in. Avoid the tourist restaurants at the drop off point and head down the coast to the right and grab a drink at the tiny wooden Rasta shack. The welcome will be much warmer and authentic and the fruit cocktails are as fresh as it gets with coconuts being sliced right there in front of you. One of my favorite picture was taken here so I thought I would share it. The place has a real air of magic whatever the tales and its well worth a visit.
3. TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN KOH SAMUI
WAT PLAI LAEM
Although you might be lured in by names like Big Buddha and such don’t. This is hard to pronounce but worth writing down. This is the most beautiful temple site in Koh Samui and I know. Believe it or not I have been to around 30 temples on this island so you get the idea I’m not a pro, but I have done my research. The buildings are stunning and the psychedelic colors are really awe-inspiring. The gold leaf the architecture the paintwork and just the calm and tranquility here are awesome to experience too. I have to admit though my absolute favorite part of this site is this little hidden gem in the back. Im not sure if I should call it a shop it’s really an emporium of ALL things shell. I have just never seen anything like it, or heard anything like it. You can sample a sound here. Go when the sun is low and everything is beautifully illuminated. You can thank me later 🙂
4. TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN KOH SAMUI
NA MUANG WATERFALLS AND TROPICAL GARDENS
Providing you are visiting during or after rainy season September – November then you have to make a trip to the jungle. You will be so surprised. Well actually not as surprised after you see these pictures! The interior of this island is like Jurassic park, it’s so thick with vegetation and lush forests filled with exquisite flora and fauna, animals and plants to you and me. There are tons of “safari” tours and elephant rides and such but I would just rent a few bikes and get yourself a map and head for this spot.
5. TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN KOH SAMUI
LAMAI BEACH AREA
After some extensive testing Lamai beach really is my favorite. I can’t say I found an exceptional restaurant in the area although there are lots of average ones. I like to wait for the night market to open here too around 5pm. The fresh grilled fish goes fast so hurry. There are a few highlights in the area though. A short walk through the shops there is an exceptional handicrafts store called Horizon Hut. The owners Nuan and Mai are true artists. They not only hand make all the leather here they also commission local artists and silversmiths to make pieces for the shop. If you are here for a few weeks it is well worth designing and commissioning a piece for yourself. I have a few unique bags from Nuan and years later they are still A. in one piece and B. more beautiful than ever. Nothing beats handmade. Speaking of handmade my personal heaven is also in the area just opposite Tesco (i know right?! crazy) there is a unique health food store and boutique called Lamphu. Ben and his beautiful wife relocated from Bangkok to live a slower paced life and produce amazing organic products and food. 100% certified organic Coconut Oil and lots more can be found here.
Honorary mention here for Coco Splash adventure park. Oscar Chang was a little too young to test this place but it looks awesome and gets a great write-up so if the beach isn’t enough for your little tyke’s you should take a look here…
That’s it. Thats all I’ve got. After over 20 visits to this island I finally feel like this is a good round-up. Avoid tours and explore alone. Even if you don’t have a lot of time you will probably discover more by just heading to one of these destinations. The tigers and crocodiles and elephants etc. are not only cruel to see trained and enclosed but you really shouldn’t encourage their incarceration. No one is better off from these places you’re not learning anything or seeing anything cute that’s for sure. Happy travels and please let me know which is your favorite. If you have one to add please comment below…