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Koh Samui has been a backpackers’ haven for decades, a place to see the sights, meet like-minded people and check out a full moon party. But there’s a change brewing – the island is transforming into a luxurious paradise, where you can be pampered to your heart’s content or seek adventure. Here are five good reasons you should book your flight to this amazing island – Thailand’s second largest.
1 – GREAT SHOPPING
Koh Samui isn’t just a tropical paradise, it’s a shopper’s haven too. Those on a budget will love Chaweng and Lamai streets, which have vendors selling T-shirts, souvenirs, and “genuine” designer jewellery.
Bigger markets are held throughout the week across Koh Samui; the most popular for tourists is the Fisherman’s Market in Bophut. It’s open on Friday nights and offers shopping and great restaurants, bars, local cocktails and lots of street food. One of my hot tips is to visit the market at Hin ta and Hin yai (Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks), which is open every day. If you’re looking for a more high-end shopping experience, then Central Festival in Chaweng is your place.
2 – LUXURY HOTELS
My boyfriend and I stayed at Rocky’s Boutique Resort, which is just down the road from Lamai Beach.
It is an amazing resort that has two restaurants, two pools, private villas, glorious views and possibly the friendliest staff we’ve ever had the fortune to meet. We loved every minute of our time there and would highly recommend it to anyone.
Included as part of our stay, we got to do a free yoga session, and there are other complimentary offers at various times (including free massages).
If you’re a gourmand, Rocky’s also offers a traditional Thai cooking course with the head chef.
3 – GOURMET EATERIES
If you’re an adventurous eater, there are lots of places to find delicious, traditional Thai street food in Koh Samui.
There are also lovely restaurants in the hotels dotted along the main road through the island, which you can try even if you’re not staying there. One of the most popular is the excellent Sa Bieng lae, which is right on the beach.
We enjoyed a few great meals here, including deep-fried garlic king prawns, green curry and from the “European” menu, fish and chips)
It’s usually pretty cheap to eat here depending on what you order and is well worth a try, though some of the seafood is priced on par with what you’d expect in Australia.
4 – ENTERTAINMENT & BARS
As well as its beautiful people, amazing weather and great shopping, Thailand is well-known for kickboxing and its sleazier side. You will find venues that cater to these across the island.
But if you just want somewhere to get a drink and to people watch, there are some lovely places to have a cocktail and chill – including Coco Tam’s. It’s a bar on the beach in the same place as the weekly Bophut Fisherman’s Market.
This bar claims to have the best cocktail on the island. It’s called the Dark Passion and includes vodka, passionfruit and watermelon juice. As I didn’t try every cocktail in Koh Samui, I might have to take their word for it.
5 – JUNGLE ADVENTURES
Tour operators in Koh Samui offer “magical safari adventures” that are well worth checking out – and some aren’t for the faint of heart!
They include a stop to view a mummified Buddhist monk at Wat KHunaram, and a fun (and at times scary) off-road trip in the mountains to visit the secret Buddha Garden, which features many gorgeous stone sculptures. Plus, you’ll see the Big Buddha, which is spectacular to photograph.
My tip is to book your tours through vendors on the street; you can haggle over the price and get some good deals.