Thailand is quite possibly our favourite holiday destination, its luxury on a budget. Don’t get me wrong there are expensive hotels and places to eat but if you’re looking to do Thailand on a budget it’s totally affordable.
We have been to Ko Samui twice now and loved it on both occasions, we done completely different activities on each occasion and stayed at different areas on the island so I will feature each year separately so it doesn’t get too confusing!
In 2015 we stayed in Chaweng when on our honeymoon, in the Anantara Lawana resort which was amazing. It was at the top of Chaweng road and only a few baht in a tuk tuk down to the main strip. If you read my Bangkok blog you would have read about our mishap with a tuk tuk driver, on Ko Samui the tuk tuks are not the same style as the ones in Bangkok, on the island they are more like an open back pick up truck, often seen with LED lights and music playing, you agree with he driver a price at his window then jump in the back, often they stop to pick up a few fares along the way so your never normally on your own! We also walked back to the resort one day we had been down at the beach, we never done that again in the 38 degree heat!
Anyway I digress, back to Anantara Lawana, well this hotel is the best place we have ever stayed in, it tops The Ritz in Dubai as far as were concerned! We had booked a plunge pool room which was lovely, ill feature some photos below. We stayed in this room for 5 days before being upgraded to a Pool Villa which was just divine!
The first room we stayed in was lovely however come mid afternoon the sun would leave the pool area and leave it in the shade. This wouldn’t be a problem normally however the mosquitos were attracted to the shade and this caused huge problems for someone like me, those pesky little critters love me! The feeling is not mutual! The hotel was great at coming round each night and lighting mosquito burners all round the room however the bathroom was outdoors and at night when you turned on the light they would swarm round the light and bite you so bad! I counted 41 bites one morning and had had enough, we spoke to reception and the manager came to the room to see us, he was the one who told us about them being attracted to the shade. He told us that once a month all of the plants etc are sprayed with an insect repellant to try to keep them at bay however this wasn’t due to be carried out for another week, by which time we would be on our way home. Therefore they decided to upgrade us to a Pool Villa as this was in the sun all day long and the bathroom was only semi outside! This room was beautiful, as was the first but this was on another level. We had a lounge area with fresh delicious fruits put in each day (I recommend you try mangosteen, looks like garlic cloves when you peel it but tastes delicious) a huge bed and then a bathroom with 2 showers, double sink and then an outdoor bath! We also had a large swimming pool with loungers and fresh towels delivered daily. The maid comes in each day and cleans the room too, they are so kind and friendly like all Thai people they do whatever they can to help you. The maids would also write the following days weather report on a banana leaf and leave it out for you. I thought this was such a nice touch!
Champagne and tomorrows weather report!
We didn’t eat at the hotel however the menu looked lovely, we’re just the type of people who love authentic Thai food so we ate in back street restaurants with no name and from street vendors for a fraction of the price of hotel food!
Another beautiful part to the hotel is the private beach, we went down a few times as we love to snorkel and the fish you see in Thailand are amazing! The staff also come around with fruit kebabs and take your order for drinks and snacks which is great, there is no reason for you to leave your sun lounger if you love that kind of thing! On out last night we went to a beach BBQ ran by the hotel, the food was incredible and we got to light sky lanterns at the end of the meal. They had a singer and fire breathers as entertainment, not like the fire breathers you see here right enough, this was something on another level!
Anyway enough of the hotel, onto some of the amazing activities we done on the island!
Sea Walking Samui
This is a must do activity and so much fun! You don’t need to be a confident swimmer as the weight of the mask takes you straight to the bottom of the ocean and you simply walk. We have done this twice now in Samui and loved it both times, first yer we had better weather which does make the water much clearer. Lett, the owner of Sea Walking is great, only 4 people go on the tour at any one time so you have all the help you need when in and out the water. Normally only 2 people sea walk at the one time, the other participants can use the snorkelling equipment on board which i highly recommend you do if you are a confident swimmer! The second year we done this the other couple didn’t enjoy the experience so we got much longer actually sea walking which was great! Lett takes a go pro and takes lots of photos and short clips of you both. You can then buy these on usb/disk for a small fee. On our Honeymoon Letts wife had made us up a gift which was lovely and then in the water they had made signs for us to hold saying “Happy Honeymoon”. So thoughtful and its small businesses like this we love to support as they really go over and above to make your day special!
Chantara All day Junk Boat Tour
Like Sea Walking this is an activity we loved and done on both visits to Samui! Climb aboard this traditional Junk Boat at the Big Buddha Pier, easily booked online and transfers from hotel can also be arranged to get you to the pier! Highlights of this tour were that your towels were provided, soft drinks and water included and served to you all day by the crew, lunch is also included in the price and is delicious, seconds are no problem, extras provided such as fruit muffins, cold towels, ice cream and dim sum. Eric, the owner of the boat is quite the character and remembered us the second year. He is also multi lingual which really makes everyone feel at ease. There is plenty room on board, pick a sunny spot and relax all day in the blistering sun or choose to chill out inside and come out to admire the views when you wish. The views are incredible for the entire tour. You make two stops when on board, the first is to a great snorkelling spot (Koh Ma Reef) , the waters are pristine and snorkelling equipment is provided including flippers. This is also a great time to jump off the top deck if your brave enough! Most people do get off the boat here, even if it’s just to cool off in the hot waters (!) so it can be quite busy however swim away from the crowds and you’ll see some amazing coral and sealife! The crew throw in bread so the fish so they come in their thousands! Be aware they will be swimming very close to your face!
The next stop is Ko Phangan which is a beautiful island, you will spend approximately 1 hour here and you are free to do as you wish. Kayaks are available for hire for a small fee but most people choose to drink the delicious cocktails in the Flip Flop Pharmacy (bar) and go for a swim! There is also traditional Thai Massage available!
You will depart Ko Phangan and cruise back to Ko Samui while the sun sets, beautiful scenery on the whole journey and a memorable tour.
Take a speed boat to Ang Thong National Park
There are many companies offering different packages so its worth shopping about to see what you would like included in your tour. We opted for a speed boat tour which held around 30 people and was a morning only tour meaning we were back at the hotel by lunch however lots of companies provide lunch and can do full day trips. On board we were provided with cold bottled water and fresh fruits, I will always remember the pineapples being delicious in Thailand!
When you reach Ang Thong there is a beautiful emerald lake called Ko Mae Ko, it is encircled by limestone cliffs, but linked by an underground tunnel to the sea. Reaching the lake does involve quite a hard climb with very steep steps, we had done our research before we left and took shoes with us, I don’t recommend you climb this in flip flops! The climb is a series of staircases combined into the natural landscape, it shouldnt take you longer than 40 minutes to reach the top and come back down, however you can spend longer there admiring the beautiful scenery if you wish! Ang Thong is where the film ‘The Beach’ was filmed so it can be busy with tourists however it is beautiful, the island is closed one month per year to allow regrowth so please make sure you check it is open before arranging to travel!
We arent massive party people so each night we would drink in Legends Bar on Chaweng Road, it was friendly, they played good music, the beer was cheap and they served popcorn to you – what more could you want! If partying is your thing, it wont take you long to find the bars and clubs, ladyboys will be more than happy to lead you in the right direction! We did visit Green Mango club and Henry Africa’s which had the option of sitting down for drinks or going dancing! Theres something about dancing in flip flops that just doesn’t sit with me!!
Outrigger Hotel Bo Phut
In 2016 we stayed in Outrigger, I’ll show you some nice photos I captured when at this hotel however we wouldn’t return, we had many complaints and they weren’t handled well. I wont bore you with the details! I do have some good things to say about the resort but overall I wouldn’t stay here again as the problems were all to do with the rooms, the cleanliness and safety (we did switch room only to encounter more problems!)! So here’s the good parts, the Spa is lovely and the girls are very good, I had 4 treatments over the 10 days and could not fault them at all, the pizzas are brilliant and the breakfast menu is delicious and healthy!
Fishermans Village is a nice day out if your staying near Bo Phut, our hotel ran a shuttle bus there and we got a tuk tuk back. There are some lovely bars and restaurants along the beach front where you can relax and have some delicious cocktails. We stayed late to watch the sunset. On certain days they have a night market which we went along to, there were so many nice handmade gifts to buy and so many street food vendors – don’t eat before you go!
The last thing I would like to tell you about is the fantastic tour we went on to visit the temples, big buddha, mummified monk, cock rock (yes you read that right!) and coconut farm! This was something we had never done before on Koh Samui so was a lovely day out for us! When visiting the temples ladies must have their shoulders covered so your best to take a shawl or light cardigan when you go. We had a blessing done by a buddha at the mummified monk, he tied little handmade bracelet onto each of us, he told us to let them fall off naturally. We are both still wearing them nearly 2 years later!
The only part of the tour that we didn’t enjoy was visiting the waterfall. The waterfall itself is lovely but it is also where people ride elephants and also where you will see monkeys tied up and made to perform tricks. At this stop we had some lunch and took the time to relax while the others went elephant trekking. You’ll find it very difficult to find a day trip in Thailand that doesn’t involve some sort of animal attractions and sadly this does mean seeing the animals chained up and kept in pens. This was the only tour available with the least amount of animal attractions. Things may have changed now after the Tiger Temple in Bangkok was closed in late 2015, just be sure to ask the company you book through what animal attractions will be taking place that day!
So there you have it, our favourite things to do and see in Koh Samui.
Any questions give me a shout 🙂
Have you been to Koh Samui, what were your favourite things to do?