STOP 11 | Day 27 to 30 |
The theme of Ko Samui was sun, rest and relaxation. As we had been moving pretty quickly over the last week and J was still in recovery mode (see Bangkok post), we were really looking forward to some downtime.
To get to Ko Samui J decided we would take the train, bus and ferry option, which involved a sleeper train from Bangkok to Surat Thani (11hrs), a bus to Donsak pier (1.5hrs) and then a ferry onward to Ko Samui (1.5hrs). There are many tour agents across Bangkok where you can purchase tickets to Ko Samui however we decided to get tickets directly from the main train station (Hua Lamphong) where there are government run agents to assists tourists (in Thailand where you are forever cognoscente of a scam, having a government agent assist us provided comfort we were getting the correct tickets and the pricing was fair). For the train we went with first class, which consisted of a two bunk private sleeper cabin whereas the second class involved a two bunk with only a curtain separating it from others. Thankfully the train ride was more pleasant than our Vietnam trip. We were served a (mediocre) dinner a few hours after leaving Bangkok and the staff kindly helped us set up our bunk beds for the night.
We arrived in Surat Thani at 4:30AM and were greeted by each of the different tour operators for the next leg of the journey. Here each of the operators escorted their customers to their store fronts with the offering of breakfast for a small charge. Unfortunately our bus wasn’t scheduled to leave until 7:30am so we had to wait 3hrs until our next leg. Just shy of 20 hours, from our departure from Bangkok we arrived at our hotel in Ko Samui (flying is a lot quicker option but 3x the cost, as we weren’t in a rush this was an experience to add to our list!). Although the transport was quite the mission, our previous commuting experiences through Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam had primed us for anything (well let’s be honest, A has learnt some lessons in developing world travel).
The island of Ko Samui is the second largest in Thailand and is located in the Gulf of Thailand. The island takes about an hour to drive around and is fairly developed due to the high tourist volumes. Our hotel, Thai Beach House Resort was located on Lamai Beach, just south of the popular Chaweng Beach, which is busiest and biggest town on Ko Samui. We looked into diving, however there isn’t any diving in Ko Samui and you have to travel approximately 2 hours by boat to Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao to the dive spots. As a result, diving is quite expensive at cost of +$150USD for two tank dive and we decided to give it a miss and wait until Phuket. Unfortunately much of the food on the island is not that great as it is catering to the passing tourists palette which means you can usually find a place offering a Thai dish for less than $3USD or Western options (pizza, pasta, french fries). To explore the island we rented a scooter (recommended mode of transportation as taxi fares are quite expensive – comparatively) and visited several of the beaches on the island:
- Lamai Beach – our hotel was located centrally on this beach, which ended up being one of the best spots along this beach! Lamai is the second most popular spot on the island and is a bit more laid back than Chaweng. Although the sand wasn’t as soft and fine as some of the other beaches the water was cooler (and refreshing)! Just south of this beach are also the Hin Ta & Hin Yai Rocks, popular rock formations on the island which look like male and female genitalia (apparently one of the “attractions” to see on the island).
- Choeng Mon Beach – located on the north eastern part of the island and just shy of the airport. This is a small and tranquil bay which isn’t overrun with tourists. The sand is soft and the water is clean and calm. We spent a very relaxing afternoon on some deck chairs with the purchase of food from a beach restaurant for 200 baht ($6USD).
- Bophot Beach (Fishermans Village) – is a nice beach village located on the northern coast. The core of Bophut, Fisherman’s Village, retains some of the original Chinese architecture and has many small market type stores, cafes and restaurants. Also known as a sunset viewing point on Ko Samui.
- Chewang Beach – as the most popular spot on the island the beach isn’t secluded or peaceful, with army of vendors selling everything from jewelry to ice cream to pedicures. However, everything is very accessible and you can easily rent a beach chairs or just find a spot to settle down with your towel.
- Silver Beach – is just northeast of Lamai beach and south of Chaweng. It is set in a very small bay of approximately 300 meters. From the cliffs the beach looks amazing, but upon closer inspection there was very little current which resulted in the water being bath water warm with a nice layer of grime. A was hot and decided to go for a dip, however she quickly retreated. Perhaps it was the currents of the day, it quite possibly could be a nice beach at different times of the year.
We also marked one month into our travels in Ko Samui, time is going by so fast!