KOH SAMUI THAILAND TRAVEL REPORT
One of the first places I visited was Lamai beach and this is where you can see the Grandpa and Grandma rocks (also known as Hin Ta and Hin Ya). These are rock formations that look like the male and female genitals.
Koh Samui is a small, relatively unspoiled, tropical island paradise off the east coast of Thailand, in the Gulf of Siam, its tallest buildings rise no higher than the tallest palm tree. The interior of Samui is hilly and covered with tropical jungle having spectacular views and waterfalls that sweep down to perfect white sand beaches and an azure blue sea.The flight to Koh Samui takes about an hour from Bangkok and as you approch for landing you can view a lot of the tropical island which is breath taking. You then touch down on a very small runway and are greeted by carts to take you to the terminal. You can then take the small bus to your hotel and it is not an expensive ride. They deliver you directly to your hotel.
South of the Lamai Beach you can find the mummified monk that is on display at Wat Khunaram. The monk was Loung Pordaeng and when he died more than 20 years ago his body did not decompose. So he is still sitting in a meditating position to this day. It is a bit morbid to look at this mummified monk but it seems like it is not just a tourist attraction but also a shrine for locals.
Bophut Beach Attractions and Activities
Then we were off to the Bophut beach area to see the Big Buddha. Its official name is Hat Bang Rak, but it's also known as Hat Phra Yai or Big Buddha beach. This is due to the 12 metre high, golden Buddha image which sits on top of a mound on an island called Ko Faan. This island is attached to the mainland by a causeway.This big sitting Buddha is a landmark and you can easily see it from the plane
After you get settled into your choice of accommodations you might want to jump on a songthaew (local pick up bus) and travel around the island. While Chaweng and Lamai are becoming relatively spoiled by tourism the smaller coastal villages are still untouched – look at Thong Krut on the south coast and Maenam in the North. Don’t miss Nathon the islands unspoilt capital (a good place to get a ferry to either the mainland Surat Thani or the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan). Nathon is nowhere near as touristy as Chaweng and has great food, a lively market and every evening lots of local food stalls on the ferry car park harbour front where you can eat well alongside the locals for a few baht.
One of my favourite spots would have to be Bophut Beach and the Fisherman’s Village located at the northern end of Samui. The area referred as Bophut Beach has two distinct parts -- Fisherman's Village which sits towards the eastern end of the bay and Bophut beach which runs from the village out to the west. The former has a rather quaint appeal with a bunch of mid-range to upmarket restaurants, boutiques, cafes and bars, while the Beach is a long, drawn out affair that is host to a row of rather flash resorts with a few budget orientated guesthouses still holding out. The short row of original wooden buildings, called "Fisherman's Village" and I recommended you visit once in the morning then again after the sun goes down. The contrast of these different times will surely make you surprise you.
Lined with attractive wooden shopfronts, Bophut's Fisherman's Village has a very pleasant feel to it and remains one of the favourites among Ko Samui's expat community. This popularity is reflected in the prices which can be a little higher than elsewhere on Ko Samui. On the up-side, there's less of the sleaze and company-for-sale that you'll find on most of Ko Samui's other beaches, and the whole bay retains a distinctly family-friendly atmosphere.
There's loads of watersports to indulge in and the beach -- gently arcing along the water's edge -- is lapped by calm waters most of the year. There's a range of guesthouses and hotels to choose from along with the already mentioned fine choice of eateries and bars -- overall making Fisherman's Village a fine choice, though note that while it is known as Fisherman's Village, the only fish you're likely to see here are the ones on your plate.
The beach directly out from the village is not very nice at all and not recommended for swimming, but to the west the beach improves considerably. While there are some budget places hanging on, most of the accommodation further along Bophut is mid-range to up-market fare -- if you're after a budget bungalow, Mae Nam, just around the point to the west is a better option.
This well known Buddha statue is obviously the main focal point here. "The statue took two years to build and is certainly an impressive sight, and can even be seen from the air on arrival to Samui airport. The upper section is decorated with huge prayer bells, and from here the views out to sea are stunning. On important festivals, this is one of the liveliest spots on the island, with big celebrations taking place. The statue is especially popular to visit as the sun is setting, allowing for some great photo opportunities. There are also some good souvenir stalls here, and the usual food and drink stalls." Be sure to dress correctly if you visit this temple. Many islanders are to be found making merit here.
"Big Buddha beach is a long beach curving round the north coast, and there is a good range of cheap and medium priced accommodation choices. In recent years, there have been a few more higher end options developed here and the beach has started to attract a more diverse group of tourists than the traditional budget traveller. Staying at Big Buddha beach is particularly popular for those who want the proximity to the nightlife of Chaweng – a 15 minute motorbike ride away - but also want the quieter daytimes here to relax with privacy.
There are several possibilities for people who want to do some more energetic activities, with water-skiing, snorkelling, scuba-diving, all available on Big Buddha beach. There are a number of dive shops along the main road here that can organise trips for you. Big Buddha Beach does have some good nightlife options of its own, with some good bars, and generally at a fraction of the price of the busier areas on Samui. There are a number of British style pubs, like the Elephant & Castle and Brahms & Liszt. The Secret Garden Festival is one of the most popular evenings; from 5pm every Sunday at Secret Garden Bungalows you’ll find a good barbecue, cheap drinks, and a variety of live musical performances. If you just want to relax, then the swimming here is fairly and the water generally calm and quiet, although the beach isn’t as nice as Chaweng and lacks the crystal clear water.
Big Buddha Beach is also the most convenient place on this part of the island to take a boat across to Had Rin (on Ko Pha Ngan), for a full moon party. As a result the beach’s accommodation gets full around this time as many find it better to avoid the crowded Haad Rin area and arrive for the party night only."
Chaweng Village and Beach
Chaweng beach is the most popular beach and is the most developed area on Koh Samui, situated on the east coast of the island. The beach is approximately 7 Km long. The strong point of Chaweng beach is its white powdered sand. The north side of this beach is a small island called "Mudlung Island" to which travelers can walk when water recedes. Additionally, because of Mudlung Island, there are a lot of rocks around the north part of the beach. Therefore, the south part is cleaner and better to swim than the north part.
Koh Samui Night Life When the sun goes down, the village of Chaweng has an exceptionally vibrant nightlife, where beginning at dusk you can stroll the beach road and choose from hundreds of venues for drinks, dining, and live music. There are even transvestite cabaret shows. Chaweng also has several world class discotheques and rock pubs with Western music. In the main party town of Chaweng you'll experience a small-scale Pattaya unleashed.
The main hub of club and bar activity exists here at Chaweng Beach. Green Mango itself is a club attracting young partygoers. The street it is on is named "Soi Green Mango" and is the main drag when it comes to bars. Happy hour, costumes, a pool, and big name DJs can be found at Sounds Bar. But, The Mint Bar nearby, equally competes with its impressive line up of DJs. Also in this area, the Sweet Soul Cafe is never dull. Green Mango offers a street scene characterized by an 'anything-goes' ambience, merry tourists and local revelers bar-hopping and bopping, while fortune tellers set up shop on the pavement, street-side noodle stalls and barbeques do a roaring trade, and sleepy pythons are draped around foreign necks for photo souvenirs.
Despite the chaos, the overall atmosphere is always friendly and relaxed. In fact, you should have no trouble making new friends on a night out here and fights and trouble relatively rare. Theft does occur, however, as with any nightlife location and the 'Sang Som buckets' made with local whiskey are very potent, so if you want to sample the local liquor it's often best to have a sober buddy.
Another place to try is the The Ark Bar - hard to find from the street, but if you just walk along Chaweng beach it's easy to spot. They have great DJ's every Wednesday night, with cheap alcohol in buckets and hawkers selling firecrackers and "Lucky balloons."
Chaweng deserves its reputation as the place to party on Samui. There is a huge range of venues to sample on a night out, everything from relaxed lounge bars to full-scale dance clubs.
In the warm-up to a night on the town, a stroll along the main beach road offers ample choice of European style pubs and bars where you can while away the after-beach hours, grab a bite and a drink, watch world sport or just let the world go by.
If you prefer to sit on the beach for a sundowner, any of the beachfront restaurants will happily serve drinks without dinner but as the night moves in, most of the action takes place in the bars and clubs around Soi Green Mango.
Things to do while at Bophut Beach
KO - CARTS
If your competitive spirit rears its head while you're on Koh Samui then why not go Go-karting for the day? Suitable for both beginners and more experienced riders the course is fun and fast. \
Samui Go-Kart provides everything from instructions to helmets, all you have to do is jump in and go. The course is open from 9am to 9pm every day and located just west of Bophut of the main ring road. Route 4169, Bophut beach. Telephone: 07 742-509-7
To explore Koh Samui's jungle from a different perspective go to Koh Samui Canopy Adventures. Swinging through the trees on over 500 metres of cable is definitely a different way to see the island!
Featuring 6 different tree houses, beautiful waterfalls and even a hammock bar for a refreshing drink. They also provide a free shuttle from anywhere on the island. Samui Canopy Adventures is located in the jungle inland from Bophut beach and is well signposted. Moo 2, Bophut. Telephone: 077 414-150-1
Koh Samui is synonymous with coconut trees - there are literally plantations all over the island, and until tourism arrived, coconuts were the main industry here.
How do you get at the coconuts? Enter the monkey, considered as man's best friend, these industrious little animals are greatly prized and give a demonstration of their incredible dexterity (and not just at picking coconuts) in the outdoor theatre. The entertainment also includes performing elephants. Look for the theatre on the main road behind Bophut Village.
" Lamai Beach is located 10 Km in the south of Chaweng beach on the east coast, Lamai is the second largest beach on Koh Samui. To get to Lamai beach, turn left on the main road coming from the airport. The wide sandy beach is not as powdery as that of Chaweng but the hundreds of coconut trees bending over the blue-green waters give Lamai a more peaceful and natural atmosphere. And for those who enjoy playing in the waves, there is no reef protecting this bay, so the sea is a little rougher.Although it can get rather busy at night, the small town of Lamai is a good median between the too remote places and the crowds of Chaweng.
Lamai Beach is a lovely, peaceful beach with stunning crescent palm-fringed powdery white sand that's perfect for whiling away the day sunbathing and a deep central stretch of water great for swimming and watersports. If you are looking for a relaxing few days on the beach, the local amenities can cater adequately to all needs and you will not have to move too much at all.
If you are based in Lamai, it is worth hiring a jeep or motorbike to explore the surrounding environs, as a lot of the interesting attractions are located on the outskirts of Lamai itself. Some of the island's most popular tourist sites are located in this locality, such as Hinta HinYai and Wat Khunaram, so if you can drag yourself off the beach, you could easily fill a couple of days exploring the area.
Among Lamai's main attractions are its open-air market and the old monastery, which includes a local museum and picturesque village scenes. If you want to get back to nature, a good place to start is by exploring the paths behind the beach road. Here you'll find peaceful fruit and coconut plantations, as well as trails leading into the island's interior.
Down the road are the famous Grandfather and Grandmother rocks, favorites among both Thai and foreign tourists. Further south on beach side of the main road, is Wat Silangu, one of two golden pagodas on the island. Providing excellent photo opportunities, its shimmering exterior stands out beautifully against the deep blue tropical sky.
Lamai Beach has lots to offer whatever your budget or taste in food. From expensive 4 star restaurants to restaurants so small that they don't even have names, there are great dining experiences to be had at every corner. If you're too relaxed to leave the beach then don't worry, the beach vendors will come to you, offering fruit, ice creams and sweetcorn.
Lamai Beach Nightlife and Bars are smaller than Chaweng, the scene at Lamai is slightly older with everything from the ubiquitous bar beers, to discos, music venues with lots of foot stomping, classical Thai dancing, and Thai lady boxing. "