Never ever talk offensive about the Royal Family
Koh Samui, Thailand: If you want to visit only one island on your visit I suggest Koh Samui, big enough to spend a week or two without getting bored at this typical lush island, situated in the Gulf of Thailand. This coastline consists of palm-fringed white beaches. Center of the island is mostly impenetrable tropical forest.
Ko Samui is like a Hollywood celebrity: she’s shockingly manicured, has lovely blonde curls and has stylishly removed all of her wrinkles. She’s been in the tourism business longer than almost any other Thai island, but rather than becoming outdated she’s embraced a new generation of resort goers, many of them upscale. Award–winning holidays here include fine stretches of sand clogged with beach loungers, rubbish-free roads, world-class international cuisine, luxurious spas and beach bar parties for 20-somethings that start at noon.
Best location. A good place to stay is Lamai Beach, which is a small enough town so you can easily get around by foot. Plenty of restaurants, bars and nightlife.
The food. While in Thailand, don’t forget to try the Thai version of fondue, mookata. You’ll get a charcoal grill, whit an outside rim to make soup in, on your table. You can basically order whatever you’ll like, but the most common is a mix of chicken, beef, pork, squid and fish. Then you’ll get a jar of broth, vegetables, noodles and raw eggs to get your soup going. The staff will be more than happy to assist in the proper way of the preparation. I promise you a very social and unforgettable evening.
Strolling along the beaches you’ll find plenty of water sports, small restaurants, bars and of course a good selection of Thai massage. Nothing beats a nice massage listening to the waves, after a nice lunch and a few drinks.
Things to do. To explore the rest of the island I’ll suggest you rent a taxi for an entire day. You’ll pay about 100 US for 8 hours, and the taxis are very nice and air-conditioned. You can have lunch in one of the many small towns scattered along the coast, go elephant riding, visit the Big Buddha Temple, Butterfly Garden, tropical waterfalls and buy local artefacts. There are several places to go snorkelling, but if you are into serious diving I’ll suggest you take a boat trip to one of the nearby islands, which is supposed to be some of the best diving sites in South East Asia.
Koh Phi Phi is probably the most visited island in Thailand, and easily accessible from Phuket. It’s situated in the Andaman Sea and is actually a small group of islands, with Koh Phi Phi Don as the main one. This is probably the closest you’ll get to your imaginative tropical paradise. Made very famous after the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio was shot here in 2000.
Thousands of daytime visitors from Phuket arrives here every day, so if you plan to stay here for a few days, make sure you find a hotel a little way from the pier and the town center. You can choose between everything from luxury resorts to cheap hostels. Phi Phi Beach Cliff Resort is a very good option within walking distance from town center. Situated right on the beach with your own private (and I mean private) swimming pool, and the beech bar happily bringing over your piñacoladas.
Boat trip. The hotel offers a complimentary whole day boat trip to the other islands, including lunch and snorkelling. Obligatory stop is “The Secret Lagoon” (Maya Bay) from the movie The Beach. Other boat trips are available in all categories, from a small romantic boat for two and full party boats with music and party.
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: Koh Samui: There are many airports in picturesque locations around the world, but Samui airport is the most beautiful and the best designed in tune with its gorgeous natural surroundings. Most flights from the island are operated by Bangkok Airways, some by Thai Airways.
Stay: Samui Jasmine Resort is a very nice hotel right on the beach, with a lush tropical garden, swimming pool, beach-bar and a nice restaurant. Enjoy a romantic, honeymoon like candle- and torch lit dinner on the beach. A very nice touch is that they put some nice cushions on the beach beds, so you can stretch out and enjoy you drink between the various courses.
Eat: Behind the glossy layer there is a glimmer of the girl from the country. Look for steaming street-side food stalls beyond the beach or head to the south or the west of the island for authentic Samui family-run seafood restaurants.
Play: Too old for techno, too young for bed? On Kho Samui you will find your place with wow factor and sunset cocktails.
Mini Guide: Koh Samui is about 228 sq.km and has 63.000 inhabitants. Getting around: You can rent motorcycles and bicycles from almost every resort on the island. The rate is 150B to 200B per day, but for longer periods try to negotiate a better rate. Drivers of pick-up trucks try to overcharge you. Not to do in Thailand: Shoot the taxi-driver, rob a bank, whatever, but never ever talk offensive about the Buddha or the Royal Family.