Koh Samui is the second largest island in Thailand, located in the Gulf of Thailand. We spent 7 days on the island; we managed to do most of the activities we had wanted to do however we would have loved a few more days to just enjoy the hotel and the beach.
As soon as our holiday was booked, we were all super excited! Henna spent hours researching what there was to do, and created a list of all the tourist hot spots and must see places. The list ended up with so many sites that would’ve taken 2 weeks to see rather than 7 days, but at least we had options!
On the first day we decided to just enjoy the hotel – our private pool, the hotel infinity pool and the beach. It was amazing to just relax and have some down time in such beautiful settings. It was the perfect first day.
However, we are a restless bunch so most of the days were full of adventure! Our hotel helped organise a driver to take us to all the tourist spots on the island that we wanted to visit. This is the option we usually choose wherever we go as we like to explore at our own pace rather than as part of a group tour.
Na Muang Safari Park – this was the first place we visited to see Waterfall 1 and Waterfall 2, which were located in the mountains. On the day we went, the park was quite busy. The locals who worked at the park tried to sell us tickets for the elephant ride, as this is a common attraction all over Thailand. However, we have already done elephant trekking in Bali, so we weren’t really fussed about doing it again, but it was something we really enjoyed when we did it and would recommend it if you haven’t done it before! We only went to the Safari Park to see the waterfalls. We were told that you could either hike or take a ride on an off-road-jeep. When we saw you could ride on top of the jeep, there was no hesitation about which way we wanted to go up! Safe to say it was SO. MUCH. FUN!! Once we reached the top we had to hike to the actual waterfall, so we would recommend wearing suitable shoes! We were all in sandals and it took much longer than it should have! Once we got up to the waterfall it was very, very busy and not the best waterfall we’ve ever seen but there were still plenty of pretty views and picture spots. We got the jeep back down and honestly, we would definitely recommend taking the jeep – it was the best part and only 100BHT per person (approx. £2.00).
Bophut Fishing Village – we then went to Bophut Fishing Village which was a lovely touristy place but it was obvious we were there too early as most of the stalls were not actually open. We stopped off at CoCo Tam’s which was a really cool bar on the beach but again it was too early in the day – the upside: plenty of time to have a little photo-shoot with minimum interruption! We wanted to come back to this area on an evening but never actually got round to it, so we would definitely recommend visiting Bophut at night rather than during the day if you only have time to visit once!
Wat Phra Yai – this was one of the “Big Buddha” temples of Koh Samui. This is a hard-to-miss giant golden Buddha statue set in a temple with a beautiful sea view. It is the main tourist attraction and worth a visit to see the style of a Thai temple.
Chaweng Beach – our next stop was Chaweng Beach which was super busy with tourists and plenty of water-sports. It was a lovely beach but it was the surrounding area that had us coming back 4 out of our 7 nights in Koh Samui. Chaweng Beach Road was a really cool place, full of life at night with bright lights, tons of restaurants and different cuisines, tourists spilling around everywhere and just a great atmosphere all round. We finished off a long tourist day with a 60 minute foot massage in one of the many spas lining Chaweng Beach Road.
Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo – we went here on our third day, primarily for the tigers. On an important note, we were worried about how the tigers may be treated and what state they would be in, even though we did some research and this place was the most recommended place of all the tiger zoos in Koh Samui (our hotel staff even recommended this one). When we got there, there was some confusion in purchasing tickets (whether we wanted to visit the aquarium and watch the animal shows) but we eventually managed to explain that we were only there to see and take photos with the tigers. It was quite expensive so we decided that Dad would take a picture with the adult tiger and the rest of us would take a picture feeding the tiger cub, rather than all of us having a photo with both. The tigers did not show any sign of sedation, in fact, one particularly playful tiger was running around and pouncing providing us with entertainment while we waited. The only thing which we were not so comfortable with was the size of their enclosures; some of them really were quite small and it was sad to see such majestic creatures stuck in a small space. When we were getting our photos taken, we were able to feed the tiger cub and he was just so lovely; we immediately fell in love with him! Once our photos were done, Sana witnessed something which really reassured us about the treatment of the tigers: the little tiger cub jumped up on to his trainer and licked his face in a clear sign of affection and his trainer was very gentle and loving back. This made us so happy! Also, his claws and teeth had not been removed so again, we felt reassured about the treatment of the tigers. It was then dad’s turn to have his photo with the adult tiger. His photo is definitely the most impressive! Again, the tiger did not seem sedated, just very well trained. All in all, we left feeling slightly better than when we arrived.
Anthong National Marine Park – is made up of 42 islands of different shapes and sizes which created a beautiful view from our speedboat. We booked the tour through our hotel. We were picked up in the morning at 8am and taken to the Nathon Pier where we got onto our speedboat. The journey took about an hour before we arrived at one of the first stops where we went snorkelling. There weren’t actually very many fish but it was still fun. We then stopped at Mae Koh where we went hiking up to the viewpoint. The steps were SO STEEP! And to make matters worse it started raining while we were climbing those dangerous looking steps so once we reached the view of the stunning Emerald Lake we decided to go straight back down. It was a stunning place so were devastated that it was cloudy and raining. But, it is definitely worth climbing the steep steps for the view of the Lake. The next stop was Mue Koh where we had lunch, which was actually really nice, and waited to go kayaking. We loved the kayaking trip; we hung back from our group a little so that we could go at our own pace and enjoy the spectacular views and just relax and take in our surroundings. The trip really is worth going on. The only downside for us was that it was a cloudy day, blue skies would have been even more stunning!
Phetch Buncha – this was a Muay Thai boxing stadium located in Chaweng. We went here one evening as we wanted to watch a Muay Thai fight. We got tickets for Wednesday night and it was well worth going for the experience! The atmosphere was electric in the stadium and the audience was mostly tourists, with lots of families. There were 6 fights, the last of which was a ladies fight. Each one was entertaining but they definitely saved the best for last! The women were much less apprehensive and so much more entertaining! We would recommend going along just for the fun experience! Be warned – it gets warm in the stadium and there was no AC! Another warning: some of the fights got quite bloody so if that’s not your thing, we wouldn’t recommend it.
Canopy Adventures – the last activity that we did was zip-lining. Although Henna found where we wanted to do the zip-line, booking this trip was quite complicated. Firstly, it took us 3 days to figure out whether Isha-Ameelia would be too young to take part – we left it with the staff of the hotel to find out for us. Finally we were informed that it would be possible and it got booked. On the day, we were picked up from the hotel in a pick-up truck which we rode on the back of – which was so much fun, especially the off-roading parts! We then had to hike a little to get to a small clearing where we met our instructor. With a bit of an introduction we were all harnessed up, given helmets and set off on a hike to the first platform. The hike was HARD! It was a hot, humid day and hiking through the jungle in sandals is never easy (we never learn!) and by the time we got to the top we were breathless and sweaty! We then took it in turns to practice zip-lining techniques on a small cable before we all climbed up to the platform. There were 15 zip-lines and each one was super fun. Our favourite was the one over the waterfall; it was so stunning! The instructor was amazing and funny and kept us entertained the whole time as well as keeping us safe. All in all it was an amazing experience and we would 100% recommend it to everyone and anyone.
THINGS WE MISSED
As expected, we didn’t do everything there is to do in Koh Samui but here are a few things we would have liked to have done – maybe next time!
- Island hopping to Koh Tao – this is the closest island to Koh Samui and apparently amazing for scuba-diving but we just didn’t have the time!
- Catching the sunset at Lipa Noi Beach
- Going back to Bophut village on an evening
When researching where to stay it can definitely get confusing. We had to decide which side of the island we wanted to stay – Lamai Beach, Bophut, Chaweng Beach etc. and then more specifically which hotel we felt was suited to us.
We had a few top choices but we eventually all agreed on the Banyan Tree Samui in Lamai Beach and we did not regret that decision. The hotel was absolutely stunning and so picturesque! Some of the hotel’s facilities included a beautiful rainforest themed spa, a public infinity pool overlooking the beach, multiple restaurants and water sports including kayaking. One of the most useful and impressive facilities was the buggy service: buggies are used across the hotel to get from one place to another. We used the buggies everyday to get everywhere and were impressed with how quickly they arrived after being called for.
We had a deluxe pool villa – this included a private pool and the villa was a really good size for three people. The bed was HUGE and so so comfy that we had an amazing sleep every night – this does not always happen so when it does, its note-worthy! Another thing we loved about the villa was the huge bath and the AMAZING shower, the size of a small room!
The only bad thing we found about the hotel was the insects, however this can only be expected as the hotel is surrounded by jungle. The hotel provided a repellent spray and housekeeping also sprayed the rooms twice a day.
Finally, another good thing about the hotel was the location. It was very close to Chaweng Beach where we spent most of our evenings. The island itself however is quite small, so we found that everything was quite close by.
All in all, we literally loved loved loved Banyan Tree Samui and would love to go back!
We all love Thai food so obviously we were super excited about the food in THAILAND, and it is safe to say it lived up to our expectations! We had breakfast everyday in the hotel in the restaurant called The Edge, which was amazing and quite possibly our favourite breakfast in any hotel we’ve ever been to. Sairish isn’t keen on eggs for breakfast but the breakfast buffet catered for all sorts of tastes – she had some pretty weird breakfasts (spag-bol, pad Thai etc).
Since we had such heavy breakfasts every morning, we found that we were always too full to even think about lunch so we would usually just have dinner. On the first night, we ate in the hotel restaurant, Saffron, which served Thai food and each dish we ordered was absolutely delicious! We also had room service one night in the hotel, we had a range of food including burgers, pasta, club sandwich, all of which were amazing.
Other dinners included Hard Rock Café on Chaweng Beach Rd which had a great atmosphere with a really good live band playing; Via Voi which was an Italian restaurant with really good pizza and Galanga which served delicious Thai food.
Side note: apparently all the chicken and beef was halal on the entire island – we still asked in all the restaurants and only ordered when they confirmed this.
To finish off, we would like to mention the following as they were great and we would recommend them if you visit Koh Samui:
Banyan Tree Samui – for an amazing and welcoming stay!
Canopy Adventures – for a safe and enjoyable zip lining experience
Na Muang off road mountain tour – for providing an exhilarating transport method to the waterfalls.
We loved our time here and we can definitely say its now one of our favourite holiday destinations. The overall experience was amazing from the hotel, to the food and another good thing was that the locals were all very friendly and helpful. The hotel was stunning and added to our enjoyment. Thailand – we will definitely be back!