Sun-kissed Samui remains a top lure for global travelers, whether they are on pure pleasure pursuit, a romantic rendezvous, an eco-tourism escape, a sports-oriented trip, or a health and medical holiday.
By Percy Roxas
Koh Samui continues to surge in popularity among global travelers despite the reverse in Bangkok, where the political stalemate is ongoing. And the figures support it. Hotel occupancy for Koh Samui—as well as for other top southern Thai destinations such as Phuket and Krabi—has been 98 percent on average, and rising, say Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) records for the first quarter alone.
Indeed, through the years, Samui has been keeping its promise of an unforgettable Asian holiday on a sun-kissed tropical island hideaway. “A gorgeous island on the Gulf of Thailand—it doesn’t get any better than this,” says one international travel award-giving body, after recently giving Koh Samui a nod as one of Asia’s top island destinations.
And a trip to the island seems to promise even better and better indeed. While the beaches and the islands are still the island’s premier draw, Samui definitely has more to offer. More than just pristine beaches and islands and ultra-luxurious resorts and tourist services, Samui has been enhancing its attractions nonstop by increasing the number of activities visitors can enjoy, and developing the facilities for them to experience.
Formerly known as “Coconut Island,” Samui now offers a great deal more than watching monkeys, harvesting coconuts, learning Thai boxing or cooking, or even just doing yoga and relaxing in a range of lovely spas. There is something for you in Samui, whether you are on a health and medical holiday, an eco-tourism escape, a romantic rendezvous, a community-based journey, a sports-oriented trip, or are just in pursuit of pure pleasure.
The island promotes all these options while still enjoining all to help preserve and conserve its natural beauty and resources. Samui operates as a “green” island.
More Events and Activities
The island especially beckons those energetic types who seek sporting action and thrills. This May, the island is ready to roar to life with events such as the 6th Samui Bike Week from May 2 to 3 (Bophut), the Samui Regatta held May 25 to 31 (Chaweng), the Samui Beach-Bike Festival on May 24 and 25 (Lamai), and the Cancer Care Run on May 31 (Nathon). These are but a few of the activities on offer as the island’s tourism authorities continue to pump up sports and adventure activities to attract even more tourists to this fun island.
Let us not forget that Samui is just minutes from Koh Phangan, famous for its Full Moon parties, and Koh Tao, the diver’s paradise. These islands also organize their own sports and adventure activities.
Activities are not confined to sports. In fact, the island just wrapped up the Samui Fine Dining Festival, during which discerning visitors experienced a broad range of culinary delights prepared by some of the world’s best chefs in some of the island’s best restaurants. Similar activities can be found on the island’s full-year calendar.
Samui is an ideal setting for a romantic escape, and there is a delightful mix of activities and world-class dining, with the perfect combination of sea, sun, and sand that makes the island a desirable destination for anyone, especially couples.
Those planning a memorable wedding, honeymoon or anniversary celebration, or those who just want to enjoy a romantic getaway, can stay at some of the world’s most romantic resorts, such as Anantara Lawana Resort & Spa, which won the title “Asia’s Most Romantic Resort” at the 2013 World Travel Awards.
But it is not the only resort here that offers luxury accommodation and personalized activities for vacations à deux. This year, for example, several Samui hotels and resorts have been nominated for the “Best Hotel” category by Travel + Leisure magazine’s “World’s Best” awards and by other award-giving bodies. These include the Conrad Koh Samui and Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa.
Indulgent Spas and Wellness Oases
Many Samui hotels do more than just create a perfect backdrop for dream weddings and blissful honeymoons. And Samui’s better beaches are lined with Kamalaya, which was nominated in the Best Spa category. Nearly each hotel is a spa destination in its own right, including the Silavadee Resort, Amari Palm Reef Samui, and Centara Grand Beach Resort & Spa on Chaweng, the island’s most popular beach.
One need not explore deeper to see that the island teems with spa, health and wellness facilities. While most highlight the world-famous Thai massage treatments, others specialize in cosmetic solutions, detox and de-stressing treatments; still others focus on helping the average Joe and Jane meet whatever their health requirements are.
And of course, just being on any of the lovely beaches, enjoying the clear blue sea and skies under a canopy of swaying coconut and palm trees is relaxing on its own.
Beaches and Islands
Chaweng Beach’s beautiful long beach, approximately seven kilometers long, has been the talk of the world for years, attracting young travelers and families alike while remaining good value for money. The beach is very relaxing but noticeably more touristy during the high season with its concentration of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and of course, fast food, and convenience stores—the greatest on Samui. But it’s still the beach to be if you want to show off that you have been to Samui. It’s where the action is, and modern travelers will love that hotels here, like the Library, are becoming more modern, hipper, and trendier by the day.
Lamai is comparatively tamer than Chaweng, especially as far as nightlife is concerned. And while the beach here is a bit rougher and the water deeper, it’s an excellent location for swimming and beachcombing. It’s also great for walking as it is not as large as Chaweng. The strangely shaped rock formations of Hinta-Hinyai—perhaps Samui’s most photographed landmark—are located at the southern end of Lamai. Many family holidaymakers stay in Lamai, in hotels such as the Banyan Tree Samui.
But an increasing number of family holidaymakers tend to gravitate towards the Bophut Beach area, especially in Fisherman’s Village where a large concentration of tourist facilities and many great restaurants have proliferated. Bophut’s atmosphere comes from the preservation of old houses and traditional fishing village life even in the midst of touristic development.
For those whose idea of fun is something like enjoying breathtaking sunsets, Lipa Noi—which was a quiet fishing village until a few years ago—is perfect. It fact, it was probably because of the gorgeous sunsets that Lipa Noi Beach was chosen as the perfect setting for the tranquil and plush comforts of hotels such as Nikki Beach Hotel.
Of course, mention must be given to other beaches, which are quieter and more subdued, perfect for those in search of peace and tranquility: Mae Rim, Choeng Mon, and the many less developed beaches elsewhere on the island.
Samui, a fun island to visit—now more than ever!