This island was paradise as evidenced from the moment you land in the airport – it has that tropical, open-air concept and the departures area looks like an outdoor shopping mall.  It may seem like a small island but it is divided into different areas or “beach towns” like Chaweng beach, Maenam beach, Lamai beach, etc and there is definitely things to see in each area and three days here was not enough, especially when you want enough time to rest and relax on the beach.  The island is surrounded by the Gulf of Thailand and the water is fairly warm.  August is typically their rainy season but we lucked out as we didn’t really see any rain while we were there (not good for the country) but it was incredibly sticky, hot and humid.

Accommodation

We stayed at Thai House Beach Resort which was a small resort but it had direct access to the beach and was beachfront where a lot of the other hotels are a few kilometers walk to the closest beach.  This hotel is located in Lamai.  It was a nice saltwater beach with not a lot of people but we were also there during their low season so the hotel was pretty empty as well.  They have one restaurant and the food was decent.  They do a themed beachfront dinner every night and then regular a la carte in their main section.  Breakfast was included in our stay and they provided a host of good selection from cereal and pastries to western hot options and Asian/Thai hot options also.  They had a selection of fresh fruit including rambutans, dragonfruit, and mangosteen.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of mango and passionfruit at this time.

The rooms were clean but sometimes they can be slow to tidy your room in the morning.  They do a turndown service and prepare your bed for you in the evening which was something new to me.  The front staff was super friendly J I would totally stay here again as it was worth the price.

They do have their own massage and nail salon but note that it is situated in the open air by the pool.  There is only one outdoor pool which was clean though I didn’t go swimming in it.  We spent half the day chilling and swimming in the ocean.  There are vendors on the beach that come by and sell you things; offer massages and hair braiding; and most importantly, offer cold beverages or fresh coconut juice.  Make the most of those coconuts while you are in the tropics.

The hotel offers airport pick-up and drop-off for an extra fee.

Things To Do

The area around the hotel caters to tourists and has some small stores for shopping, restaurants, and a night market down the road from the hotel.  There are lots of massage parlors offering foot massages which apparently is a big thing in Thailand!

There are food markets within a walkable distance and a Tesco Lotus if you needed to buy food, wanted to eat something hot from their small café area, or get some spices and dried food to take back home with you.  There is a kiosk within the Tesco Lotus that has really good Thai Iced Milk Tea.  I needed by Thai iced tea fix whenever I could.

You must visit the Ang Thong Marine National Park which consists of 42 islands.  This is a guided tour and lasts typically the entire day.  You do have to find a reputable tour company and it can be expensive, but if you can fit it into your budget, I highly recommend you do this.  We went with Samui Boat Charters and they had three different boats running at the same time.  The day starts off at 8:30am with them picking you up from your hotel and then they take you to the center where you get onto the speedboat.  Make sure you have a bathing suit, towel, and a water bottle.  They do provide you with water, soda, and beer for adults on the boat.  You observe most of the islands from the boat but there are three activities planned where you will get off the boat.  Kayaking was our morning activity – this was the first time for me and the waters seems to be a little ‘rough’ so I was terrified.  Everyone kayaks in groups of two but moves as one big group with the tour guide.  Following kayaking, we were able to play in the water and lounge on the beach for a while and enjoy a Singha beer or some water/soda.  We then went for lunch to a restaurant on another island. This is where we saw the other two boats.  The food was amazing and was included in the tour package we got – buffet style Thai food.  They also cater to vegetarians too who get a prepared meal put together for them.

Following lunch, we got to do some snorkeling (again my first time).  The guides are super helpful and will escort you around the waters until you are comfortable.  I saw some fishes and coral but none of the pretty colourful coral.  The last activity involved a hike to see Emerald Lake.  Essentially the hike was climbing a bunch of steep stairs to the top and then going down to get a glimpse of the lake from lower down.

There are so many other areas to check out like the fisherman’s village, Chaweng central festival, Na Mueang 1 Waterfalls, the Big Buddha statue, and Wat Pai Leam.  There is also a shopping centre and Uniqlo in Ko Samui! If you are into parties and a full moon happens to occur during your stay in Ko Samui, consider taking one of the boat trips to Ko Pha Ngan to check out their crazy full moon parties – something I would like to do next time I am in Ko Samui.

Restaurants

Lamai Veggie is a vegan restaurant located in Lamai, within a short walking distance from the hotel.  This is a unique and small restaurant run by Khun Bee and is a "one-woman show".  She lives at the back or upstairs and is super friendly and welcoming.  She will talk to you if time permits or if the restaurant isn’t busy.  It is a vegan restaurant and you are asked to remove your shoes before entering the restaurant.  The menu is small with 1-2 drinks to order from (we had the kombucha); during the low season she has one main meal she makes and it changes every day; and 1-2 dessert offerings also made in-house.  The restaurant is only open for lunch from 10am-3:30pm and she prepares the meal herself.  The vegetarian/vegan concept stems from the fact that the owner is spiritual and follows an Indian spiritual organization called "Brahma Kumari".

If you are looking for some non-Asian/Thai food, Pizzeria Tropicana in Lamai has amazing wood-fired authentic Italian pizzas and the owner of the restaurant is Italian from Italy but has been residing in Thailand for a long time.

Sala Thai was a good restaurant in Lamai and walkable from the restaurant for those wanting some Thai food and amazing pad thai.  The service was very efficient and food was good but make sure you tell them at the time of ordering to not make food spicy as Thai food can be incredibly spicy.  The prawns were cooked a little too soft but it seems to be the standard in Cambodia and Thailand so it may be their cultural method of preparing prawn dishes.  Their pad thai was delicious and they can make it vegetarian if you ask them to.

Visas

Canadian passport holders do not need visas for Thailand at this time.

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