May 18 2013

Self-catering on Samui

Published by at 6:05 am under Food


Though Ko Samui has loads of great restaurants and very affordable food, if you’re a traveller who prefers to self-cater, perhaps because you’re travelling with young children or health or religious reasons make it preferable, it’s easy to do during your stay.

Keeled over in fright.

Keeled over in fright.

Ko Samui is no longer the undeveloped backwater it once was; several supermarket chains are represented on the island. You’ll find a few branches of Tesco Lotus and well as numerous Tesco Expresses, and also a Big C supermarket. The Makro store supplies the restaurants and resorts with their fresh and dry goods, but the public is also welcome to shop there.

The supermarkets carry a wide selection of imported goods and there are several specialty shops stocking imported wines, cheeses, meats and other fancy goods. If you’re looking for health foods, try Nature Home Samui, located in the loop road where the Mae Nam walking street market is held (turn down at the Mae Nam traffic lights), or the health shop at The Spa Resort, along the ring road when entering Lamai from Chaweng side.

Try out the fresh markets too, where fruit and vegetables come in fresh daily. Each town has its own wet market, with meats and seafood also for sale. For someone from the West, a walk past the fruit and vegetable stalls can be an interesting experience as much of the produce may be rather exotic; meat stalls at the market will not be as appealing to the eye – or nose — with whole pig heads and chickens with heads still on the norm. It’s quite different from buying your meat neatly packaged in polystyrene trays — some may find it a bit disturbing.

Ah, some grilled prawns on the barbecue sounds good.

Ah, some grilled prawns on the barbecue sounds good.

Many fresh markets are located next to fishing villages, with catches loaded straight from the boats to market. Fresh fish, prawns and squid are a good buy, and perfect to prepare on the grill, flavoured with local herbs.

Any idea what all those greens are?

Any idea what all those greens are?

You’ll find a big market a few hundred metres before the entrance to Big Buddha when coming from Bang Rak. There’s another large one shortly before the traffic lights in Bophut, coming from Chaweng, and you could also check out Laem Din Market near the lake in Chaweng. Nathon’s fresh market can be found leaving the one way section, heading towards Lipa Noi, and there’s another large one in Lamai, just off the ring road.

Spicy, spicy, or, um, spicy?

Spicy, spicy, or, um, spicy?

Obviously, if you plan on self-catering, you’ll need a kitchen. This means renting a villa or bungalow with cooking facilities rather than a hotel room. Many small bungalows will have basic cooking facilities such as a gas hotplate, usually a rice cooker, a kettle and possibly a microwave — check before booking to be sure though. Only the larger villas will have an oven as they aren’t often used in Thai cooking. Of course, if you hire a big villa, you’ll often have the luxury of a chef included in the rate… but we can’t really call that self-catering now, can we?

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