By Gwen Taylor
During my second year of university I decided to take the popular backpacker route to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Overall, the entire journey was pretty epic, however one place really stood out for its beauty, adventure and exciting little hideaways… Koh Samui.
I want to share the five must-go places that I experienced whilst staying in Koh Samui for four short days.
How to get to Koh Samui
If you are travelling from another Thai island there are lots of companies offering deals on boat rides to Koh Samui. There is also the option of flying into Koh Samui’s tiny airport, however, , I began in my journey in Bangkok and decided to take the overnight train there, and gosh it was long journey!
When visiting Bangkok train station always buy from the official train station ticket booths. A ticket to Koh Samui will usually cost you around £3.00-£4.00 (150-200BHT) depending on what class you go in. Don’t let ‘sales representatives’ try to sell you a ticket for four times the amount!
Another tip I would recommend is to buy your train ticket a day before you wish to travel – the price isn’t the factor, just the availability.
We arrived early in the morning by train and took a boat to Chaweng Beach (this was included in our train ticket price). Once stepping off the boat we were greeted by a group of taxi drivers, all insisting they could take us to our destination. However, if like us, you are on a budget you can get the local tuk-tuks that are located at the end of the port deck. The tuk-tuks also have colourful signs illustrating different locations to take you to around the island.
So we jumped into a tuk-tuk with six other travellers and headed for our hotel/hostel in Lamai Beach, booked through HostelBookers of course. The tuk-tuk cost us around £2.50 (120 BHT) for a 40 minute journey. That’s the beauty of Thailand, everything is so cheap.
When arriving at the Samui Beach Resort, we checked into our cute little air conditioned bungalow – such a bargain for £6.00 (300BHT) per night – then we decided to go for a walk along the beach.
First Stop: Hin Yai and Hin Ta
On this journey we discovered two famously provocative landmarks, known as the grandmother and grandfather rocks or Hin Yai and Hin Ta to the locals. The two popular landmarks are shaped like male and female genitals… sounds disgusting but it is actually pretty interesting, one of the locals told use that Thai couples struggling with fertility will travel from the other islands to worship the rocks.
Another adorable feature about this landmark is the aqua lagoon surrounding the rocks, so you can swim with the little fish.
Second Stop: A Thai Village and Waterfall
Whilst staying in Koh Samui, we decided to go wanted to see how the local people lived their day to day lives.
So we booked a full day tour for our second day, to visit a Thai village and in the afternoon to take an elephant trek through the Thai jungle. We booked our trip through the hotel reception, however there are a range of excursion companies that you can use prior to your travel or whilst you are there.
We were picked up from our hotel at 8.00am by our tour guide Khem, he was such as helpful and friendly person. We headed for mainland Koh Samui and stopped off at a beautiful waterfall called Namuang.
Here we jumped in from the small rocks above and swam underneath the luscious waterfall – personally, I haven’t been to many waterfalls in my life, so for me this was truly breathtaking!
After this we continued our journey through to the Thai Village. Walking through a small jungle, we met an old Thai woman, who showed us all the different plants and resources used to make the traditional Thai curries.
Together we collected different herbs and plants and headed to the village kitchen to make a Thai green and red curry. Hot was not the word. The stuff you buy in the supermarkets is not the same!
Third Stop: Elephant Trekking in a Thai Jungle
This afternoon was without a doubt one of the best afternoons of my life – after our very hot, but very tasty Thai curries, we got in the truck and headed for a part of the Thai jungle that offered the chance to go trekking on elephants. We arrived at the little wooden hut to be greeted by two brothers, who insisted we called them both Sam – very strange, but we never asked why.
Along with Khem, we headed to a huge paddock where two elephants were playing in a puddle of muddy water. Another guy, whose name we didn’t get, was watering the elephants down with a giant hose. The two ‘Sam’s gave us bunches of bananas and whistled the elephants over. We began feeding the elephants that we were going to ride on, one of the ‘Sams’ said it was to establish trust and develop a friendship with them.
Once they were saddled up, we were all ready to go! From here we trekked through the beautiful Thai jungle on our elephant, Nellie. This is what we called her, sad I know.
This day was such an incredible experience for me, overall it cost us £36.00 (1800 TBH) for the day trip.
Fourth Stop: A trip to play Samui Football Golf
My boyfriend is a huge sports fan, especially when it comes to football. So when the guy on the reception of our hotel recommended to us to try football/golf we had no idea what to expect. So we hailed a tuk-tuk and drove to Samui Football Golf.
We arrived to find a giant coconut statue of a man kicking a football. , excited to play, we checked in at the reception and were given scoring cards, similar to the ones used in golf and a football to take around the course. The aim of the game was just like golf; however we used footballs rather than golf balls and clubs. – This may sound soooo easy to many people; however I can assure you in 35c degree heat it certainly is not!
However the day was fun and cost us around £10.00 (500 BHT).
Fifth Stop: The Best Seafood Restaurant in Koh Samui
After an eventful day playing football/golf, we decided to conclude our last night in Koh Samui by eating at a popular fish restaurant down the road from our hotel, called Pawn’s Restaurant.
All the people we had met during our time in Koh Samui raved about how good the seafood was and some even said it was the best in Thailand. The restaurant was located along the beach and we went during the sunset. – I have never tasted fish so fresh before.
I ate a grilled tuna steak in a spicy sauce and my boyfriend ventured for a shark dish. – Mainly because he is scared of sharks and felt like he was getting one up on them.
We ate like kings at this restaurant and in total the food bill came to £11.00 (550 BHT) for 3 beers, 2 fancy cocktails, 2 mains and 2 desserts … let’s see you get value like that in the UK.
Overall, the food, people and setting was the perfect end to our trip in Koh Samui.
Author bio: Gwen Taylor runs travel blog Eat-Travel-Love.com.
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Thanks to victoriapeckham for the image off Flickr. All other images c. Gwen Taylor.