Koh Samui is a melting pot for trotters from around the world, attracting travellers of all kinds for a bunch of things to do. Whether you are a solo-traveller staying for a month, a group of friends travelling for crazy parties, a couple on a romantic getaway or holidaymakers indulging in luxury, Koh Samui is a great host! This is where we wanted to begin our trip with the most chilled-out beaches in Thailand.
Land at Koh Samui Airport, the cutest airport in Asia. If you haven’t already booked your stay, you have two options: Chaweng beach for the hustle bustle, young crowd, parties and Lamai beach for a more quaint vibe and relaxed nightlife.
Begin your first day after breakfast with a visit to Ang Thong National Marine Park. This pristine archipelago of islands has limestone cliffs as high as 400 meters, white sand beaches, dense forest, waterfalls and lakes. It has a rich variety of exotic sea creatures and wildlife. Snorkelling, hiking, sea kayaking or diving are the main activities you can indulge in. As a national park, only government-approved tour boats can enter Ang Thong. These day trips may be booked in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao. Ang Thong is 28 kilometres from Samui and 32 kilometres from Pha Ngan. The entry fee is 200 baht for foreign adults, 100 baht for foreign children, and 40 baht for Thai nationals.
You can also choose the ‘Turtle Island’, the Scuba Diving destination at Koh Tao island. Snorkel with the black-tip reef sharks at ‘Shark Bay’ in Haad Tien, visit the most photographed beach of Koh Nangyuan for about 200 baht return, or the most popular beach Sairee for its nightlife and budget accommodation.
If you crave for some rejuvenation after visiting the national park, head for a Thai massage. Because… Thailand! And.. it is so good yet reasonably priced!
You would then love to gulp down the famous Thai beers, Singha or Chang. 😉 For some drinks, food and roadside pole dance bars, you can choose Lamai beach, but if you care for some headbanging, rush to Chaweng. At the end of Green Soi Lane is Green Mango Club, one of the best dance clubs in Koh Samui. Fabulous music, huge space, multi-level dance floors and a global crowd. What’s more? No cover charge! It rained for a bit when we were dancing our brains out so the open levels turned into a rain dance party as well. Could it get any better!
Hin Ta & Hin Yai at Lamai beach is where nature meets art! The fascinating rock formations known as Grand Pa (Ta) and Grand Ma (Yai) look like the male and female genitalia, respectively. The view from the rocks, stretching to the islands, is spectacular. The water is not suitable for swimming but is clear enough to spot aquatic life. There is no entry fee to visit the rocks. They are 2 km away from Lamai Beach and 11 km away from Chaweng beach. It’s a famous tourist spot so any taxi driver will be willing to take you around.
Alternatively, you can visit the Secret Buddha Garden, a hideout in the interiors of Koh Samui, offering a majestic view of unusual statues created by a fruit farmer Nim Thongsuk. The Tar Nim waterfall and stream surround the garden just off ring road at Baan Saket. Entry fee is 80 baht per person. Please be advised that only highly confident drivers should attempt reaching on their own on a 4WD only.
Go for a lunch at The Cliff Bar & Grill. The view from the deck will leave you in awe! Food and beverages are great too. It’s a must visit especially if an occasion is a part of your visit, they are great hosts! You can then head to the Fisherman’s village in evening, more so if it’s a Friday.
Fisherman’s Village is a historical part of Bophut with rustic buildings, boutique stores, trendy restaurants and small hotels lining the Beach Road. It has a walking street market every Friday attracting visitors for shopping and lively atmosphere. If it is not a Friday and you wish to be indoors, you can substitute it with a ladyboy cabaret show.
Koh Samui has a number of waterfalls but Na Muang waterfalls are the most picturesque. Set amidst lush jungles, they are easily accessible just off the main road halfway between Nathon and Lamai Beach. They are also known as the ‘Purple Waterfalls’ because of the purple shade of their rocks. Na Muang 1, the first waterfall, flows down into a natural pool while Na Muang 2 is further uphill at about 30 minutes of walk. There is no entry fee but you may spend some money on the little stalls en route. You can practically spend an entire day picnicking, swimming, hiking etc, but be sure you start walking back during daylight.
You can choose to relax with a massage or head straight to the Ark Bar. You cannot miss this place if you are in Koh Samui. International DJs, amazing ambience, super cool fire shows, very well trained staff and finger licking good food. I still miss the crispy spring rolls I had there. We tried a couple of other preparations later but I was too high to remember.
If you are a party freak and wish to go pub hopping, you must go to Ark Bar, Dream Girls and Green Mango, in that order. They are all in the same lane, at a stone throw distance.
Take a flight from Koh Samui to Krabi, the land of limestone rocks.
Situated on the west coast of Southern Thailand, Krabi is the main town in Krabi province with the population not exceeding 53,000. It faces the Andaman Sea like Phuket and is towards the south of Bangkok by road with tourism as an important industry.
You can choose between climbing several steep stairs (1400 to be precise) for the Tiger Cave Temple or drive to stroll around or swim in the hot spring at Krabi’s rain forest. Tiger cave temple has natural caves in a jungle valley along with being a worship place of the monks. The top gives you a panoramic view of the entire town. The biodiverse rainforest excursion has an incredible scenery with the emerald pool, thermal spring, rubber tree tapping and palm oil plantation.
Get a foot massage for tired feet and gulp down some beer or sip some wine in the evening. There is not much for nightlife in Krabi besides some drinks and dinner. Retire early to wake up early for the four island tour the next day.
Take a pre-booked tour to four islands on the Andaman Sea, a pick up for which can be arranged from your hotel by the tour operator. The long tail boats are for group tours and speed boats for private tours. Group bookings cost approximately around US $23. The tour would be the same but the service will depend on your guide.
First stop is Phra Nang Cave Beach with a view of beautiful white cliffs and Princess Cave where the Princess Goddess is believed to swim. Next is Poda Island where you can snorkel and discover tropical fish in the coral reef. This is where you will be served lunch. Then Chicken Island resembling a chicken’s head will be your spot for swimming and snorkelling with colourful fishes. The last two islands, Tup and Mor, are connected by a sandbank accessible only during low tide. Take a walk on the beach, snorkel a bit more, or just relax and get a tan before heading back to your hotel.
You will be back by evening, sit at the beach or at a bar to conclude the day with drinks and dinner.
Checkout from your hotel and take a ferry ride to Ko Phi Phi. You can either stay on the same side of the town for hustle bustle and narrow lanes or take another ferry ride to reach the long beach for spacious retreats. Just chill for the rest of the day, lay on the sand and get a good tan, sip on cocktails, walk around the cluster of restaurants and bars. Photography enthusiasts can shoot at low shutter speed the illuminating line of boats at night. Even for others, it’s a good place to just sit back on the sand, listen to the sound of waves and watch the boats go by.
You can have a late breakfast and checkout. Go back to Phi Phi Don and head to your pre-booked Maya Bay Sleep Aboard’s organiser. There is just one private tour operator that has the permission and other operators also book with the same company. You can leave your extra luggage in their office and only carry what you need for a day. The boat leaves the pier at 3pm for Maya Bay Sleep Aboard (Click for the remaining information).
P.S.- Following this itinerary will actually take 9-10 days including internal flights and timing of your international flights. Since it will vary for different time zones, I have not included them in the post.