Here is our trip report for the 12 days we spent on Samui in July. We had initially intended to go there for a 7-day fast at Spa Samui, but after we arrived we opted out for personal and financial reasons. Because of that, if we had it to do again, we probably would have only spent a night or two on Samui, and spent the rest of the time on Phangan or Tao. Even so, we had a pretty fabulous during those nearly two weeks.
Getting there can be a chore. We didn't make advance travel arrangements, and got caught out a bit due to the Khao Phansaa holiday, the official start of the rainy season. The Travelfish feature on getting to and from Samui helped us quite a bit, as we booked a flight on Air Asia for a good price only 24 hours before we flew.
Air Asia flies to Surat Thani, not directly to Samui, but for the low price (about 1,200B per person), we were happy enough to fly with them. I've commented elsewhere on this, but Air Asia is absolutely no frills (not even water is free onboard), but otherwise just fine. From the Surat airport, we bought a combo bus/ferry ticket that took us all the way to this island for 280 baht per person. There was also the option at the Surat airport to get a bus/ferry ticket directly to Phangan for about 400B per person, which lots of folks did. I thought the ferry trip across to the island was particularly scenic, and absolutely worth the extra time of taking that route.
Anyway, once we got to the island, we had a few days before we needed to be anywhere in particular, and decided to hang out at Maenam beach.
The song thaew ride from the ferry to the beach was 50B per. We liked it there at Mae Nam. The lifestyle is low-key, and food and accomodation is cheaper than elsewhere. The beach and water quality isn't as good as say Lamai or Chawaeng, but it was good enough. We particularly liked the many laid-back places to eat on the main road in the evenings.
We wound up staying at a place called Ubon Villa. It isn't listed here on Travelfish, but it is pretty easy to find by turning towards the water at Soi 4 (right at the 7/11), and then turning right once you get to the sand. It is down about 150 meters along a good section of beach for swimming. There are 16 individually named bungalows with attached cold shower for between 200 and 700 baht per night depending on location and if you want air-con or not. They also have a good beachfront restaurant, internet, laundry, etc. Family run and efficient, it is popular with couples and families travelling with small children. Lots of folks staying there obviously never left the premises during their entire stay. Phone is (077) 425 414 or contact email@example.com
After Mae Nam beach, we headed to Lamai, where we spent 4 nights at Spa Samui on the north end of Lamai beach, and another 3 nights in the hills at Spa Village. I wrote a review for those places in the accomodation listings, so I won't repeat that here, except to say that the food is really great and the vibe a bit odd there. Also, we thought we got good value for money on the beach hut at Spa Samui.
For our last few nights, we stayed at Lamai Wanta on the recommendation of Somtam2000, and were really glad we did. It has excellent value for money in a great setting and location. They also offer a half day rate for late check out of up to 7 pm, which was great for us, since we had a 10 pm flight back to BKK. Book ahead if you want to stay there.
At Lamai beach, we particularly enjoyed a few of the beach restaurants, and also the beach bars that come out at night, where you can grab a triangle pillow and your favorite drink and relax under a blanket of stars.
One other thing worth mentioning is the "Sauna by Otto" that we visited while we were motor scootering way over on the other side of the island. It is on Angthong Rd Soi 10, about 2 km north of the town of Na Thon. It is about 600 meters up the soi. It is open from 2 to 9 pm, and cost us 95 baht each plus an extra 10 baht for towel rental. The sauna is wood fired, and uses 20 different thai herbs. We thought this was a highlight of the visit on the island, and definitely worth mentioning for others.
We also thought that the southern half of the island was much more fun for motor scootering around, since the roads there are pretty good but not crowded at all, and there are a few good temples and beaches to explore. Motor scootering around the island was a fun thing to do on those days where the weather wasn't too rainy but still not quite good enough for hanging out on the beach.
We flew back to Bangkok on Bangkok Airways, having booked our flight many months ahead to get the special 2,000B fare they offer for the first and last flight of the day. It is worth flying to save time and effort. Plus, the airport on Samui is pretty unique with its open-air palm tree pavillions. They also offer free juice, cookies, and internet to people waiting in the departure lounge. Just be prepared to pay 400 baht or more for the taxi ride from your beach to the airport.
Let us know if anyone has questions or comments. Regards.
Hi. It seems to me that the water wasn't as clear at Mae Nam as it was at say Chawaeng or Lamai. Then again, I was there in July, and you'll be there in January, which should make a pretty big difference.
I'm not sure if there is particularly good snorkeling anywhere on Samui. It certainly isn't as good as Ko Tao, for example, and nothing will ever compare to the GBR in far north Queensland. In any case, if you plan to hire a motor bike, you'll be able to check around and drive to the good snorkelling spots on the island. I hope that helps. Cheers.