A Beginner’s Guide to Koh Samui

Koh Samui, an island off the Southeast coast of Thailand, epitomises the natural beauty and quaint island life synonymous with tropical Southeast Asia. White sandy beaches, studded with coconut trees and a clear ocean, Koh Samui is the idyllic island getaway transporting visitors to a world that is picturesque and entrenched in a relaxed beach culture.

Koh Samui is considered part of the southern province of Surat Thani and unlike other popular islands in Thailand, it is relatively dry. With a warm and tropical climate, Koh Samui experiences only a short rainy season providing the opportunity to cater for sun loving tourists, whereas other islands like Phuket encounter rain for almost 6 months in the year. However, be prepared for sudden showers that last for less than an hour which are typical of any tropical island.

Life in Koh Samui revolves around the coast due to the almost uninhabitable mountainous forests in the centre of the island and this beach culture is reflected in the friendly and relaxed demeanour of the residents; their lifestyle, cuisine and past times. The economy of Koh Samui is dependent on tourism, meaning that you can expect all the services and facilities you may require to have a comfortable, safe and enjoyable holiday on the island. The growing popularity of Koh Samui as a tourist destination has seen five star hotels, luxury modern beach villas with private pools and world renowned restaurants sprout up along most of the island.

Fun and activities in Koh Samui are not isolated to the beach and water sports, although there is no shortage of such sporting activities; like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, kite surfing and speed boating. You can also play a few rounds of golf on Koh Samui’s golf course, watch the nature shows or spend a day in Ang Thong National Marine Park. For the shopaholics and foodies, Koh Samui has a plethora of shops, eateries and bars to ensure that all your fancies are catered for, with most establishments catering for western tastes.

For the demanding traveler who wants a mix of culture, cuisine and coastlines, Koh Samui reflects the best that Southeast Asia has to offer. A multitude of cultures coalesce into a uniquely Thai experience coupled with some of the best weather and beautiful beaches in the world. Koh Samui is a one stop destination for any visitor to Thailand, offering a distinctly Asian experience coupled with all the amenities and activities that one would expect on an overseas beach holiday.

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Thai Culture and Etiquette

We may think that we live in a nanny state, but the lengths to which every Thai person will try to avoid any confrontation, contentious talk or possible bad manners during everyday and business life can seem quite staggering to visitors, especially after reading the Thai Ministry of Culture’s guidance on Thai Etiquette -


This is a great article: do read it.

And after you have, do not despair! Foreign visitors (farangs) to Koh Samui will not be expected to know all the intricacies of Thai etiquette, or the proper and right way of doing quite ordinary everyday things. Thai culture offers guidance on how to conduct yourself in a wide range of situations, how to dress and how to converse. Of course these ‘ways to live’ have been handed down from generation to generation, and for the young Thais who are brought up with parents and extended families, especially away from the big cities, these customs are second nature, and probably need no formal teaching.

For example it is not expected that during a conversation there will be loud voices or much gesticulation – which many European visitors may find rather restrictive and alien! Younger people should not hold a conversation over the head of an older person. Your body language and the questions you may wish to ask while speaking to a Thai are very important – no folded arms, no personal questions, no rude language.

There are three things held in the greatest respect by Thais: 1. their Nation 2. their religion and 3. the Thai Monarchy. All must be given the greatest respect and should not be spoken about in a critical or patronising way.

There are of course exceptions to all rules, and you may well see someone clanging his spoon and fork together at the dining table, or speaking over the head of a more senior person. In Bangkok people may have chosen to ignore some of their ingrained codes of conduct but if you venture into the countryside, this will not be the case.

So the main things to remember while you are on Koh Samui are:

• Politeness to everyone is essential
• Do not lose your temper
• Do not shout
• Older people are to be respected
• The head of a person is sacred: not to be touched!
• The foot is not: do not point your foot at anyone, or touch anyone with your foot: it is an insult
• Do not be overly amorous in public
• Keep the bikini and the Speedos for the beach – cover up and dress appropriately elsewhere.

The Thais are amongst the most hospitable and friendly people on the planet, and if you are lucky enough to be invited into a Thai’s home on Koh Samui –

• Arrive on time – too early or too late is a no-no
• Take your hosts a small gift – it will be very appreciated (some cakes or biscuits, perhaps a small bottle of wine)
• Remember to remove your shoes at the door
• Try not to sit with one leg over the other, or both legs totally stretched out. Victorian prim and proper does it.
• Don’t stay too long!

Above all, enjoy your stay in one of our stunning Koh Samui Villas, and should you ever feel you have stepped over the line of Thai good etiquette, just say sorry and move on. As well as being friendly and happy, the Thais are very forgiving of these little farang mistakes.

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Visiting Koh Samui with younger children?

You’re thinking of a holiday, renting a koh samui villa for your family, enjoying the beaches, the sunshine, the sea … But will there be enough things, other than the sand and the rock pools, to keep the children happy during the day?

Oh boy, is there! Here are a few to add to your list of What To Do With The Kids …

At Chaweng Beach there’s the Aquapark for anyone over 5 years of age, where there are giant inflatables to leap onto, and off. This is a designated area cordoned off from the main ocean and all visitors are provided with life vests. Cost is 500 baht per person for a day, and 350 for a half day. By all accounts an exhausting activity!

Coco Splash Waterpark is at Lamai Beach. This waterpark has 7 slides, 4 pools, a Jacuzzi, waterpolo and pool-side activities too such as table tennis. Children under 90cms tall get free entry, children 90-130cms are 350 baht and over 130cms 450 baht. A 4-person family pass costs 1500 baht. There is a restaurant, and the adults can also enjoy a massage.

Samui Frisbee Golf at Maenam is a new venture for all ages that is proving very popular. The course has 9 holes, is very shady, and has separate tee areas for beginners and advanced players. The owner, Nigel, explains all the rules and techniques – and he also runs a pizza restaurant on the side! Costs are 50 baht for children, 100 baht for adults.

Treasure Island Mini Golf is near the Big Buddha at Bophut. This course has 18 holes and is a great way to spend an afternoon. Price: 400 baht for adults, 200 for children under 12.

An elephant trek through some of the backwater jungle areas of the island can be a good family outing, and can be organised through one of the many nature tour groups on the island. Cost will be approximately 700 baht for an adult, 500 for child between 4 and 10 years old for a 30-minute trip is. Or 1200 and 800 for an hour.

Older kids might enjoy the adventure of the Treetop Tour Cable Ride, inland from Maenan close to Magic Garden on one of Samui’s highest mountains. Zip through the treetops, 780 metres of cable, safe, fun and exciting….

Some of the most popular for children are -

Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo, close to the Samui Orchid Resort in the south of the island, where there are plenty of live shows and you can have your photograph taken with a big cat.

Koh Samui Butterfly Garden, close to Buddha’s Footprint in the south of the island, where there are also moths, and insects, and beehives.

The Crocodile Farm, near the airport, is also very popular, especially with boys for some reason! Entrance costs 100 baht for an adult, and 75 for children. There are also snakes, monkeys, caimans, alligators and lizards.

Many Koh Samui villas have been specifically designed for families with younger children in mind. Some villas have connecting doors between the master and adjacent bedroom, others have colourful adventure bedrooms designed and equipped with children in mind. Some have a shallow area in the pool for the younger ones and there are usually plenty of televisions and child-friendly DVDs once they are exhausted by all the outdoor activities!

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The Samui Latin and Jazz Week, 29 September – 06 October 2013

If you’re thinking of renting a Koh Samui villa at the end of September, here’s an extra incentive: The Samui Latin and Jazz week starts on the 29 September, so why not take in some culture as a bit of a break to all that sun, great food, sightseeing and elephant-trekking. If you love jazz, Latin beats, Cuban rhythms, soul songs and saxophones – then Koh Samui is the place to be!

And while enjoying all that, how about helping to support local Koh Samui communities with their green projects?

Then you mustn’t miss The Samui Latin and Jazz Week from 29 September – 06 October 2013!!

All profits from this week of great sounds will go to the Green Island Foundation to help support sustainable community-run projects around the island.

Presented by the Koh Samui Municipality, and organised under the auspices of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, this is a serious coming together of great vocalists and musicians from around the world.

40 great Thai and international artistes will be performing at various locations for eight great nights, from 29 September until 06 October. So if you love jazz, Latino music, scintillating songs and great percussion sounds – just drop in!

Here are some of the musicians who will be performing – Deborah Brown (vocalist) from the States, Saskia Laroo (“Lady Miles Davies”) on trumpet and Peter Beets (pianist) from the Netherlands. Plus Judith Nijland (the Netherlands), saxophonist Rolf Delfos (Netherlands), Nadia Basurto vocalist, and Miquel Rodriques on guitar from Spain, Fabio Deldongo, singer and pianist, from France.

The programme starts on Sunday 29 September at Fair House Villas & Spa, Maenam

8pm preview concert with Deborah Brown;
9pm, Dina Medina & Cabo Cuba Jazz.

Then Monday 30 September at Rocky’s Boutique Resort, Lamai –
8pm Trio Peter Beets ‘Tribute to Peterson’;
9pm Judith Nijland & The Beets Brothers.

Tuesday 01 October – The Drink Gallery, Chaweng –
8-10pm Saskia Laroo with her quartet ‘Jazzkia’.

Wednesday 02 October – The Passage Samui, Laem Yai –
8-10pm Miguel Rodriguez and Nadia Basurto.

Thursday 03 October – Centara Grand Beach Resort, Chaweng –
8-10pm Salsa Night with Nando Vanin.

You can book online at www.samuilatinandjazzweek.com;
by emailing info@samuilatinandjazzweek.com
or in person at each venue.
All concerts have an entrance fee of 500 THB per ticket.

There will be great food available at the venues for these evenings.

Then on Friday 04 October and Saturday 05 October there are two evenings of free concerts at the beachfront main stage of the Amari Palm Reef at Chaweng. These evenings start at 6.00pm and go on until midnight.

Artistes will be numerous, and will include – Nils Fischer, percussion; Rolf Delfos, saxophone; Koran Daniels, saxophone; Kho Mr Saxman, saxophone; Cabo Cuba Jazz quartet; Amik Guerra, trumpet; Fabio Deldongo, vocalist and keyboard and Buntita Prachamorn, vocalist.

The last evening is Sunday 06 October, which starts at 6pm at the Secret Garden, Bang Rak. This Sunday ‘After Party’ session is with Fabio Deldongo, vocalist and keyboard.

Book that Ko Samui villa, your flights – and those jazz week tickets now!

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Luxury Villas in Koh Samui: What to Expect for Your Money

Koh Samui is one of the world’s top destinations for renting luxury villas. The stunning views and unspoilt locations make it perfect for a holiday spent pampering yourself in a tropical paradise.

There are so many different villas out there in all shapes and sizes but if you really want the very height of luxury then this blog post will let you know what to expect from a higher end luxury villa.

Location, Location, Location! If you really want to enjoy this stunning island at its very best then the villa you choose should be situated on the beachfront. There are gorgeous villas dotted all the way around the island and they have spectacular views and often direct beach access, meaning that you can step onto the beach from the villa itself.

To Infinity and beyond! A luxury villa is not a luxury villa without a pool. Whether you want to dive right in and cool off or dangle your toes while sipping a cocktail, an infinity pool is the perfect addition to a luxury villa. Some villas even come with projector screens in the pool area as well as swim-up bars adding those extra touches of luxury.

Facilities Galore! Luxury villas really go all out to ensure that your holiday accommodation is packed full of everything you could possibly need. You can expect to find state of the art televisions and sound systems as well as Wi-Fi for those of you who like to stay connected. They also go all out to make sure that the villa is decorated to offer top levels of style and comfort.

The bedrooms usually come complete with en-suite luxury bathrooms. There are often outdoor as well as indoor showers as well as terrazzo bathtubs. There are also plenty of villas where the bedrooms come with private balconies overlooking the sea for those times when you want to relax away from the rest of the party.

Be Looked After: Many of the villas come with staff that are there to make your stay as relaxing as possible, this can include cooking delicious meals, manning the outdoor bar areas and some villas even come complete with treatment rooms so you can enjoy a relaxing massage or spa session with a professional.

There is all this and so much more available in a luxury holiday villa so why not browse the luxury villas on our website and start planning that holiday.

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Why Koh Samui is the Perfect Family Holiday Destination

Many people might rule out Koh Samui as an appropriate holiday destination to take the youngsters. However, Samui has much to offer a young and active family who want a holiday experience that they will never forget.
Renting a villa can be the most practical accommodation option for those looking for somewhere stress-free to stay. A villa gives you all of the comforts of home as well as the freedom to create your own holiday itinerary and keep the children’s eating and sleeping routines as regular as you wish with no scheduled meal times and no late returning hotel rooms to interrupt sleep.
Most villas are extremely family friendly and come with a swimming pool and cooking facilities as well as televisions and DVD players which are sure to keep the kids entertained when they want a break from the sunshine. Alternatively there are places to take the kids if you need to be inside for a while such as indoor air conditioned bowling alley and cinema with a good range of films for adults and children, at the Tesco Lotus near Chaweng. For the child who isn’t up for Thai food there also a range of western style and fast food restaurants in this area.
There are many activities in Koh Samui that cater specifically to kids, especially those in the slightly older age bracket. As well as swimming in the sea, there are a whole range of sports for children to take part in. There is a carefully designed mini golf course in Choeng Mon as well as a chance to play the quirky hybrid game football-golf which involves using your feet to guide a football round an obstacle course, perfect for an aspiring little golfer or footballer.
If you are a particularly safety conscious family then you may be interested to know that Koh Samui is located in a Tsunami free spot.
If you just want simple family fun in one of the most beautiful and idyllic places in the world then Koh Samui could be just what your family needs.

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Luxury Holidays in a Koh Samui Villa

Everyone wants that holiday at least once in a lifetime where they live like royalty, experiencing the finest lifestyle that a holiday can offer. As much as most people lust after that kind of holiday, most people feel that luxury villas and beachside locations are out of their reach, and of course their price range.
However, an amazing luxury holiday could be well within your sights and your holiday budget. When people think of Thailand they usually think of backpacking students, full moon parties and sleeping on the beach. However, In Koh Samui there is so much opportunity for tranquil relaxation.
There is a whole range of accommodation options available which convey the very essence of calm and tranquillity and if it is a real sense of privacy and freedom that you require then a villa could be the best option for you.
Villas in Thailand offer world class facilities and services ensuring that all your needs are catered for in your own private villa. From the more luxurious beach villas in Thailand to the budget friendly villas, you can stretch out in comfort in your own self-catering villa with the freedom and flexibility to plan your own itinerary. Prices for villas in Thailand may vary depending on your personal preferences, size of your family or travel group and your budget but the wide selection of villas ensures that there is a suitable villa for every traveller’s individual needs.
If you do feel like taking a break from the confines of the villa then there is a lot to explore on Koh Samui from idyllic beaches to amazing restaurants and even hiking and golf if you venture further inland.
There are also a wide range of tours and activities to undertake, such as visiting the Big Buddha Temple which sits majestically off the north eastern corner of Koh Samui. You can also take island tours which take roughly half a day and show you parts of Koh Samui that you might not see otherwise like the monkeys that work at the coconut plantations. For the adventurer in you there are also plenty of opportunities to try your hand at water sports such as water skiing, scuba diving, snorkelling and kayaking.
So renting a Koh Samui Villa could provide that dream holiday that you thought you could never afford. Imagine lazy days in your luxury villa followed by evenings taking in the beautiful surroundings at beachside restaurants, what could possibly be better?

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SilkAir will fly Samui Route

Singapore’s SilkAir is stepping up its flight cooperation with Bangkok Airways to make Koh Samui its third port of call in Thailand.

SilkAir will offer three flights a week from Singapore to Koh Samui under a code share with Bangkok Airways. The regional wing of Singapore Airlines will begin offering three flights a week from the city-state to Koh Samui on Sept 27, using Airbus A319s that feature both business and economy class cabins.

Already serving Phuket and Chiang Mai from its Changi airport hub, SilkAir is moving to tap new traffic opportunities on Thailand’s second-largest island, which is especially popular among Westerners. SilkAir will cooperate with Bangkok Airways, the privately owned airline that dominates traffic Koh Samui’s air traffic, by establishing a code-share partnership on SilkAir-operated flights. The arrangement will include Bangkok Airways’ existing daily flights between Koh Samui and Singapore.

Bangkok Airways also code shares on SilkAir’s Singapore-Chiang Mai and Singapore-Phuket routes. As well, SilkAir will code share on Bangkok Airways’ Bangkok-Koh Samui, Koh Samui-Phuket and Chiang Mai-Koh Samui corridors.

Peter Wiesner, Bangkok Airways’ senior vice-president for network management, said the arrangement for the Singapore-Koh Samui route would allow it to drive more traffic. “We plan to capture traffic from Singapore as well as through traffic from long-haul routes connecting from major aviation hubs such as Singapore’s Changi airport.,” he said.

SilkAir is Bangkok Airways’ latest code-share partner after Thai Airways International, EVA Air, Etihad, Air Berlin, Air France and KLM.

(Source Bangkok Post)

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The Skilful Art of Packing

I am very strict with my packing and have everything in its right place.  I never change a rule.  I hardly use anything in the hotel room.  I wheel my own wardrobe in and that’s it. Charlie Watts

Well done, Charlie!  Wish I could be like that.  Despite travelling back to the UK, and to other countries, several times during the course of a normal year, I never pack my case the same way twice, and I never seem to get it right!

Some trips I come back home having taken out of the case just about a third of what I took: I didn’t after all need the hair dryer, the straighteners, the factor 50 sunscreen, the extra special hair conditioner, the three pashminas, the cocktail dress, the new strappy sandals, the cargo shorts, or – surprise surprise!! – the four different kinds of phone charger / plug adaptor, my Swiss Army penknife (assuming it was in my case and NOT my hand luggage and therefore made it to our destination), or even my GPS …

Some holidays I am immediately off on a search for a long, short sleeved and baggy tee-shirt, because absolutely no one is wearing a slinky see-through and very short cover-up on the beach …   Or factor 50, because this year I packed factor 30 thinking that would do for everyone, but boy, is the sun strong, and the kids are fair skinned …  Or a good pair of walking sandals, because suddenly Himself wants to walk everywhere to find his morning espresso and high-heeled strappy sandals just don’t do hills with cobblestones …

So, here are some questions for you – to which I would appreciate answers!

1.    Should suitcases be shared – or does everyone get their own?
2.    Is it good to start the packing process early?  Should you lay everything out on a spare bed – assuming you have one – about a week in advance of the final, final closure of the zip and padlock?
3.    Or should it all be done in one fell swoop: an hour of constant buzz and flurry ‘twixt wardrobe and dressing table and suitcase?
4.    Do you roll or fold?
5.    Do you take your favourite piece of jewellery, even when you don’t know if where you are staying has a personal safe?  Do you take any jewellery?
6.    Do you take your laptop, and all the paraphernalia that that entails?
7.    Ditto mobile phones?  Do you all take them?  Or just the man-of-the-house?
8.    Do you pack more than one book …  in case the one you’ve just started turns out to be great and gets finished within two days?
9.    Do you take your iPod, plug yourself in, and remain aloof and distant and therefore miss out on the conversations going on around you, plus (thank goodness) the constant blare of the kids’ music?
10.    Just how many toys, books and gadgets do you allow each of your kids to bring?  Do they make the choices?  Or do you, knowing as you do just which ones are more likely to survive the two weeks of Ko Samui’s beaches, pools, restaurants and taxis rides?

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Happy Sun Tans

Some beach somewhere, there’s a big umbrella casting shade over an empty chair. Palm trees are growing, warm breezes blowing.   I picture myself there, some beach somewhere. (Unknown)

I’m glad that the chair’s in the shade!   But how about a hat too, and you still need sun cream even in the shade, and even on Ko Samui.   Did you know that 1% of our wrinkles are due to ageing: 99% are from how we live our life – and that includes too much sun.  Our skin is damaged by both UVA and UVB rays: both can cause skin damage and that means at the very least, wrinkles and dryness.    UVB is the main culprit for sunburn, but UVA does its stuff quietly: this is the one that does the most damage to your skin.

Do you know what the SPF number on your sunscreen actually means?   The higher the number, the more protection and the longer you can stay in the sun.  You must know your skin type, and how long it takes until you burn.  Once you know that, then your ’burn time’ x the SPF No of your cream = the maximum time you can stay in the sun safely.

If you have a fair skin, then you need higher protection than someone with a dark complexion.   Now you can find sunscreens up to SPF 70, but that doesn’t give you carte blanche (no joke intended) to slap it on and bake for hours.  As with most things, little and often is better than one huge dollop.

We’ve thought for years that a good tan looks wonderfully healthy and attractive, but now that we know just what the sun can do to our skins, thank goodness the times they are a-changing, and the look now is tending towards the pale and cool.   Which doesn’t help those of us with built-in freckles, age spots and other blemishes!   Not all of us have a beautiful smooth alabaster complexion, and, frankly, not all of us would be totally happy with that, especially after a couple of weeks on Ko Samui: a little smattering of freckles on honey-coloured skin is still a good way to say ‘Hey!  I had a great holiday!’

Here’s a few of the well-known Do’s and Don’ts, just as a reminder: we want your Ko Samui holiday to be one of the best you’ve ever had, and if your skin hurts, you have a headache or a fever, then you are not going to be able to enjoy yourself to the utmost:

•    Don’t sunbathe in full sun between 11 am and 3 pm
•    Don’t ignore the sunscreen if you are swimming in the sea or your private pool, or are spending the day on a boat.   You will need it more as the sun will be reflecting off the sea, and there may be a strong breeze to increase the drying effect
•    Don’t try to speed up your tanning by using anything other than a proper sunscreen
•    Don’t drink strong alcohol – this will dehydrate you.  But some say that a beer’s OK!  Save it for those sundowners in your Ko Samui villa sala …
•    Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours
•    Don’t forget your sunglasses to protect your eyes
•    Don’t forget that your lips will burn faster than the rest of you.
•    Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside
•    Do make sure you use the right SPF factor sunscreen for your skin type
•    Do use proper sunscreens that you’ve used before – not one you’ve made, put together in your kitchen earlier …
•    Drink plenty of water: both sun and wind will dehydrate you
•    Make sure the kids are well covered up with sun protection tee-shirts, hats and proper children’s sunscreen.

If this if your first holiday in the sun this year, then take it easy too: just a couple of hours out there for the first few days should break you and your skin in to the idea of a daily dose of those rays.  Children should be out there for less time.

If you do get a sunburn –

•    Don’t sunbathe any more that day!  Your mild sunburn may turn to 2nd degree burns, and require medical attention
•    Have a cool shower or bath
•    Gently rub in some aloe vera cream or gel, or the juice from a fresh leaf.   It might be an idea to get some aloe vera gel or cream before you go on holiday, just in case
•    Moisturise with a good moisturiser, like a cocoa butter cream
•    If necessary, take some pain relief.

If you don’t have any cooling aloe vera, then here are some household remedies you might want to try to cool your skin if there is nothing else to hand:

•    mash up some tomatoes, add them to crushed ice, place on the burnt skin
•    slices of cucumber or apple will have a similar cooling effect
•    ditto plain yoghurt, vinegar, tomato ketchup.

If the symptoms are far more severe and include fever, headache, and confusion, then the sufferer may have sunstroke.   This happens when the body has become overheated, and cannot reduce its temperature quickly enough by sweating.  You must lower the person’s body heat immediately by giving cold water to drink, and a cool soak in the bath.  Don’t wrap the person in cold, wet towels or other cloths as this traps the heat in.  If you are at all worried, then please seek medical help.

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