Koh Samui’s Best Kept Secrets?
By Roam Resorts and Hotels
I love Thailand and I love Koh Samui.
Its hot, casual, friendly and not quite so chaotic as Phuket or Pattaya. A short flight from Bangkok, it’s a perfect holiday or even a short break.
Let’s start with the airport.
Koh Samui’s airport is an experience of either total frustration or tropical sea breeze easy. My first experience with Koh Samui Airport was in April – hot time for Koh Samui. My plane and I am sure 3 others all arrived with in 3 minutes of each other. After you get the open air shuttle tractor transfer to the luggage belt (that is 1 luggage belt) you wait. The ceiling fans try their hardest to push some air through the thronging, hot, impatient gaggle of tourists but it is of little use. It’s hot and its sweaty. Slowly 1 by 1 the bags trickle through. The push towards the belt starts because, in the minds of the impatient, 6 deep tourists, if you don’t get your bag the first time it’s gone for ever!! Eventually your bag comes. You get out of the crowd and make your way to the hotel car pick up point. Easy! Not quite. The pick-up point is not at the first pick up point – which is not really a pick up point but it looks like one. To this day I still don’t know what this first area is for. The hotel car pick-up is around the corner, up a little hill (now with travellator) and around another corner. There you will find your smiling hotel employee with a sign patiently waiting for you. Now you can relax in your air conditioned car, with a cool wet face cloth and a bottle of water.
The next trip to Koh Samui was in November. My flight was the only flight. By the time the tractor shuttle got me to the luggage belt, my bag was pushing through the rubber flappy things. Easy! Bag collected, walk past the pseudo pick up area and wallah – there is my car and the same staff member as last trip – perfect. Relaxed, easy, casual. Just how Koh Samui really is.
Now Koh Samui, like a lot of Thailand, has a very basic road network. Road rules are there but common sense is more the go. As long as you don’t do something stupid you are ok. When crossing the road, never hesitate, just keep walking with purpose. All the motor bikes and cars will miss you. If you stop half way you muck up the flow and that’s when it gets scary. When I think of Thailand traffic, I think of my biology lessons at school and picture all those blood vessels flowing through veins – no real order but every one of them gets to where they need to get to. Sometimes I think it is better than the autocratic structured road rules of the west.
OK so we have survived the airport (not too bad really) and we are now arriving at the resort. I have stayed at many resorts and hotels in Koh Samui but depending on what you are after I have 2 favourites. Sareeraya Villas and Suites at the northern end of Chaeweng Beach and New Star Beach Resort at the southern end or Chaeweng Noi.
Sareeraya Villas & Suites
Starting with Sareeraya Villas and Suites – a beautiful, small 5-star resort right on the beach. The rooms are big with views to the water, some have swim up pools and others enjoy huge balconies to catch the breeze. There is one villa – right on the beach, private pool, uninterrupted ocean views and you literally step off the edge of the pool on to the beach – magic! The restaurant is fantastic with a European Chef but a strong Thai influence. The pool bar has exotic cocktails and the staff, well they are just Thai perfect. There is also a very flash spa and massage service over the road. It is run by the hotel and an ideal indulgence. Sareeraya in a nut shell is relaxed elegance with a touch of Ritz and a lot of relax.
New Star Beach Resort
My other favourite is New Star Beach Resort (NSBR). A little further along the beach but this brings you into a much quieter more relaxed part of Chaeweng. NSBR is built on expansive tropical gardens with a 200 metre absolute waterfrontage on to pristine, warm blue waters of Chaweng Noi Beach. NSBR is the kind of resort where as soon as you drive through the W Seminyak like bamboo driveway, you relax. It just does it to you. The warm welcome, the welcome drink and check in process is all just relaxing.
The golf buggy comes to pick you up and you wind your way around meandering pathways through lush tropical gardens to your pool villa or private cabin.
The villas are huge. Some with private plunge pool, all with verandas and my favourite a hot water outdoor shower (completely screened by rock walls and palms). There is something special about having a shower under a palm tree, sun on your back and the birds in the trees. Robinson Crusoe kind off – except for the hot water I guess!
Stroll along the garden path to the restaurant and bar area. All very alfresco, all very tropical and all very Thai. Perfect in many ways. Of course all of this is with fantastic views and literally 3 steps to the sandy beach.
And I can’t forget the pool – its huge! Ample space around it so you are not sitting on top of others. NSBR too has spa and massage along with outdoor massage while you listen to the sea lapping against the white sandy shoreline – ahh bliss!! Speaking of beach, NSBR shares the beach with its glitzy neighbour – Vana Belle – Sheraton Luxury Collection. So there you go – it’s a great beach.
You can spend all your time at the resorts but you would be crazy to do so. There is so much to see in Koh Samui. Diving, fishing, culture, hiking, shopping and of course eating – there is no shortage of fantastic local restaurants. Don’t be shy and try some of the really local food. You will be surprised. Is the street food safe – yes. Any restaurant/ street stall that serves dodgy food soon goes out of business. It is pretty competitive for your dollars.
I have also walked around a lot of Koh Samui and have never had any issues or felt unsafe at any time. Except for the odd stray dog that seems to be too interested in you – but they are all bark – just keep walking and they soon lose interest.
So there you have it, my very quick thoughts on wonderful Koh Samui.
So to reinforce the feel of Koh Samui :-
It’s hot, casual, friendly and not quite so chaotic as Phuket or Pattaya. A short flight from Bangkok, it’s a perfect holiday or even a short break destination.
Note: New Star Beach Resort has a special on where you can save up to 70% off the hotel’s website rate. Just book direct and use NSdeal70 Promo code to get the discount!