Ideal duration: 2-3 days
Best Time: Dec - Mar Read More
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The second-largest island of Thailand after Phuket, Ko Samui is a gem of an island in the Koh Samui (or Samui) Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand. Once a hidden secret of only persevering travelers, Samui Island has transformed into one of Thailand's most visited tourist destinations. Breathtakingly beautiful beaches, a long coastline along the sea, dense mountainous forests, and luxurious resorts define Koh Samui. From the wealthiest holidaymakers to budget travelers, the island has something to offer everyone.
Fifty years back, even getting to the center of the island involved arduous treks through the middle of a thick jungle. Today tourists flock in large numbers for the summers and winters. Head to south Samui if you tend to shy away from crowds. Places like Chewang and Lamai, although famous for their nightlife, may tend to get overcrowded at peak seasons. Adventure activities are fast becoming popular in Koh Samui, but overall the island is still most popular for its resorts and relaxed beaches.
The island looks tranquil, with clear blue waters and white sand beaches surrounded by lush green forests. Whether you love the noisy and happening Chaweng Beach or the lively yet relaxed atmosphere of Lamai Beach or the timeless feel of Bophut's Fisherman's Village, or the tropical beach paradise of Maenam, Koh Samui provides a unique experience, whatever the purpose of your travel is. It is also close to Koh Tao, the world-class scuba diving destination and Koh Phangan, the party island of Thailand.
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Taxi Scams: Two types of taxis can be found in Samui - metered taxis and songthaews (pick-up taxis). Before boarding the metered taxis, ensure the meter is turned on (on distance 0) and never discuss the fare beforehand. Songthaews, on the other hand, are cheaper than metered taxis but have set routes, so they might not take you precisely to your destination. Most drivers are also guilty of applying double pricing. Should you feel that you have been cheated, stay calm, pay the fare, take note of the taxi's number plate and driver's license and report it to the authorities.
Dangerous Driving: Thailand consistently ranks as one of the world's most dangerous places to drive but shows no signs of implementing road safety rules and checks. Due to the increasing number of vehicles and the tropical maritime climate, which, in the low season, spoils the road surfacing, the roads are in poor condition. However, driving in Samui can be very pleasant for experienced drivers. Ensure you pay more attention while driving and ride your rented motorbike slowly, especially at night.
Infamous Jet Ski Scam: One might have heard about the jet ski scams. In this scam, after you enjoy 15 to minutes in the sea and return to the shore, the jet ski owner claims that you've damaged his vehicle, and you are liable to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get it fixed. He threatens to call the police as well. The best way to avoid playing a victim to this is not to rent a jet ski. Instead, if you can't resist it, make sure you take as many photos of the vehicle as possible, including close-up shots, before you ride it.
Nightlife Hazards: Being vigilant at night is most important in any part of the world to avoid troubles. Only carry the cash you need for that night, and better not to get into any arguments with anyone.
Creepy Crawlies:Since Ko Samui is a tropical island, chances are that some unwelcome guests like centipedes, scorpions, or cobras may enter your room. To avoid this, keep your windows and doors closed, and, if you keep your shoes outside, double-check inside them before putting them on. Also, carry a good mosquito repellent as mosquitoes are plentiful in Samui.
Even though there were hardly any tourists on the island, even 50 years back, Koh Samui has always been in the world's eye. Popular from the time when Chinese merchants visited for trade and named it Pulo Cornam on the map, Koh Samui has fast become a haven for tourists from around the world. However, the origin of the name Samui is still a mystery, while the word Koh in Thai means island.
Here is a brief timeline of Ko-Samui's history -
With several world-class restaurants serving both traditional Thai food and trendy fusion creations, Ko Samui has become a culinary destination. Being an island, visitors can feast on delicious seafood. Please note that Thais consider vegetarian food to be anything which doesn't have 'visible' pieces of meat hidden items like fish sauce and pork stock might spring up on you out of nowhere. One should note that most traditional dishes are generally served with sticky rice.
Here is the list of some top-rated restaurants on the island -
1. The Boudoir, Maenam
With magnificent interiors featuring swirling silks, scintillating satins, luxurious textiles, and oriental lanterns, The Boudoir provides one a splendid dining experience. Mainly serving French cuisine, you'll also find cheeses, meats, foie gras and even escargots – and excellent and cheap house wine.
2. Tree Tops, Chaweng
Tree Tops, located in Anantara Lawana in north Chaweng, is one of the top-rated and busiest restaurants of Ko Samui. The place serves red meats, seafood and Thai cuisine – all up to highest standards and is a must-visit place for a fine-dining enthusiast. The area has only eight tables with each table an individual' treehouse', providing a distinct dining experience. Make sure you book in advance as the place is always crowded.
3. Dining on the Rocks, Six Senses Hideaway
Sitting on the top of the high-end Six Senses Samui Resort, this restaurant is built on rocks hosting a vast wooden terrace as well as an open-sided dining room, both overlooking the sea. The place serves both regional and international cuisine, which can be paired up with wine. With 270° view of the ocean, this place is a treat to all the six senses as the name says.
4. 2 Fishes Samui, Bophut
Love Italian food? Then you must head to 2 Fishes Samui located in the heart of Bophut's Fisherman's Village. You get to savour the freshest local seafood prepared by the talented Chef Leandra Panza who has over 25 years of experience in quoted Italian restaurants in various cities. 'Grilled king prawns with hot garlic oil, chilli and lemon' and 'Steamed Red snapper fillet with sautéed kale and hot garlic dressing, olive oil parsley and aged red wine vinegar' are a few of the must-try dishes.
A few places which serve excellent Thai food like the world-famous tom yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup) to pad thai (fried noodles) to the lesser-known Kua Kling (dry curry from southern Thailand) are Saffron (part of Banyan Tree Samui resort, Lamai), Kob Thai (Lamai), Khaw Glong Thai Restaurant (Chaweng) and Farmer Restaurant (Maenam).
Here are a few recommendations for Indians who are looking out of pure vegan hotels: Curry Pot Indian Restaurant (Chaweng Beach road), The Art Club (next to Koh Samui Hospital), Pure Vegan Heaven (Lamai), Jay Tamachad and Wild Tribe.