Published: February 20th 2007February 8th 2007
Took a (35 Min) flight from Puket to Samui and arrived at the Bangkok Airways landing strip. The airport or shack is a bit of a joke but nonetheless it serves its purpose. Unfortunately, Bangkok Airways owns the landing strip, thus resulting in it being the only airlines that flies in and out of Samui.
Before we start our blog we have decided to state our must see's in Southern Thailand:
1. Koh Phangan (great beaches, undeveloped & really chilled out)
1a. Koh Lanta (great beaches, undeveloped & really chilled out)
2. Phi Phi Don/Ley (good beaches and naturally beautiful)
3. Krabi (naturally beautiful)
4. Phuket (great beaches, lots of lady boys if that's your thing)
5. Koh Tao (naturally beautiful, undeveloped)
Spent (2) nights at the Best Western Samui BayView Resort & Spa (Great views, but out of the way and lacking any sort of service). Moved on and spent (2) nights at Seaview Paradise Mountain (Extremely professional staff, great views, and Gary the owner is fantastic). The best part about Samui is it has an airport and is only a 30min ferry ride from Koh Phangan! Samui is not what we expected and we certaintly leave
the island with thumbs down big time. The island is grossly over developed in certain areas, specifically Chaweng and Lamai, and very undeveloped in other parts of the island. The most disappointing thing for us was the fact that there has been no control or forethought with regards to city planning. To access the beaches you are basically restricted to walking through resorts or using the very few public access ways. When in Chaweng and Lamai you would not know that a beach existed if you did not go down the public access and through the resorts - very sad that in such a beautiful setting one is unable to enjoy the sights and sounds of the ocean without making an effort to trounce through some grubby bungalows and resorts. Even when driving the coastal road around the island there are limited places to view the water and the coconut fringed beaches.
The island of Samui is actually very beautiful and the forests/mangroves of coconut trees is awesome. One never tires from seeing the skinny tall trees swaying in the wind and casting their shadows on the sandy narrow strip of beaches.
We rented (2) scooters and did
the 50km loop around the island twice. Yes, the first trip was merely for sight seeing and the 2nd trip was to try and find these miraculous beaches that are raved about and seen on postcards - will have to come back in the summer. On a positive note, the food stalls in Lamai are great. The Pad Thai and Tom Yam stalls really deliver and it costs a mere 50B per plate. To add to the great food, the convient store is next to the stalls and they not only sell cold crisp beer for 30B a bottle, but they also open your beer for you at the check out counter - brilliant concept. There is no lack of entertainment while you chow down your food in Chaweng, as the girly bars are across the street. Nothing makes for more entertainment than watching some guy snuggle up to a lady boy (chick with a dick) and then 20 minutes later hop on the bike to head home! We reckon that within a 30 minute period you will see a good dozen pensioners and other aged men head home with a few lady boys and a few pretty females to
During our stay the weather was poor, we had to wear our light fleeces at night while on the bike, and the beaches were mere strands of sand along a coastline. Given that it is winter here (although the peak tourist time) this may explain the lack of sand on the beaches, but whatever the reason, Samui isn't a "beach" destination when compared to other parts of the Gulf and Andaman. On the other hand if your coming from a cold climate, especially Europe you no doubt love this place. The beaches are at most (3) meters wide, allowing for a total lack of personal space which means European sun bathers love it -you can lie on top of each other, there are no rocks, and you can suck back as many cigarettes as possible and blow smoke in your neighbors face!
After Patong and now Samui we were tiring of Thailand for the in-your-face entertainment that Thailand is so infamous for so we headed to the small and peaceful islands of Koa Tao and Koh Pangan (full moon party free) for (2) nights each.
Took a (1 1/2 hr) ferry from
Samui to Koh Tao. The ferry ride was simple and certaintly not as choppy as it had been for travellers in the weeks/days prior. Koh Tao is absolutely beautiful, like Samui it's beaches are fringed with coconut trees. The island is tiny and the electricity is supplied by generators so power surges are the norm. The island is very undeveloped and lacks the basic infrastructure such as a sewage and a water treatment plant. Unfortunately, they have copied the Samui model of building right on the beach, in some cases, having to build decks over the water to create more room. Don't come here if you looking beaches, at high tide there are none and like Samui, at low tide they are only a few meters wide. Besides Sairee and two other beaches the others are extremely difficult to reach. We rented (2) scooters which proved useless - the 4x4 taxis should have been a hint. There is only one paved road and the rest are extremely extremely poor. If your renting transportation then quads or a dirt bike is the best answer - forgo any scooter rentals. Not to mention the people here rely 100% on tourism and they
are great at riping you off. We refused to give our passport as security - listen it is common for businesses to request it, but in (8) years of travelling and over (40) countries we have always been able to get around it. We paid 5,000B deposit for each bike and low and behold the rental company was able to find a scratch on the under carrriage of Isabel's bike, therefore a 500B charge - what a load of Rubbish!
We stayed right on the beach, Seashell Resort, (awesome location, A/C and hot water - but it came at a price, and the staff aren't the sharpest tools in the shack). There is not enough accomodation in Koh Tao for the demand, as witnessed by the many back packers spending their entire day searching for a place to lay their heads. Even though we had already paid for our room, we were within minutes of having our room given away right in front of our eyes - unbelievable. A word of advice, if you are coming to Koh Tao without a booked room, you need to catch the first ferry, otherwise the morning passengers have got all that was
vacated in the morning.
The highlight of Koh Tao stay was (1/2) day on Koh Nang Tuan. We took a 10min long tail boat ride over and had it come back and pick us up at 5:00pm. The island is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm, if you stay to 5:00pm you will share the island with the fewest amount of people. The water is crystal clear here, making the snorkeling very good. The best thing to do is make the short hike up to the viewpoint - it provides an excellent view of the (3) connected islands.
Koh Phangan (Our favorite place in Thailand!!!)
Took a (1 1/2 hr) ferry from Koh Tao, which was a breeze. We stayed (2) nights at Bann Tai Orchid Resort (quite expensive, nice bungalows but out of the way). In hindsight we would have bagged Samui altogether and spent an additional (4) nights here - it was our favorite place in Thailand. The people are so friendly and laid back here, quite the opposite from the money hungry residents of Koh Tao. We love this place, it has much more to offer than the Full and Half Moon partiess that it
is so famous for. The beaches are nice and wide, fringed with coconut trees and the island is well spread out. B/C of the size of the island it allows for beaches to be uncrowded, and there are great beaches on all sides of the island. Getting around is nothing like the literature states - its easy here, the main roads are concrete and the unpaved roads are smooth. A scooter gets you everywhere, although an automatic is a wise choice as the manuals struggle getting up the steep hills. Having said that, you can only access Haad Thong Nai Pan Yai and Haad Thong Nai Pan Noi via boat. We spent our first day touring the island and seeing as much of it as we could by scooter. We really liked the beaches on the North Western side, in particular Haad Yao, Haad Salad and Ao Mae Haad. There are so many places to stay around the island, but would recommend staying at the beaches just mentioned. The popular beach of Haad Rin Nok, where the famous full moon party is held, was also a very nice beach contradictory to what we had been told. The small town is
Seashell Resort - Koh Tao
full of life and bars and makes for a happening area.
Eating, well Koh Phangan definitely has some good food stalls, and what made our time even better was the fact the food festival was on during our stay - Yah baby! We highly recommend spending some time here and wish we had more time. W did stay in between the full and half moon parties which may have meant for a quieter stay, the island, if you want night live there is plenty of it at all times.
Unfortunately our time in Thailand. It has been a blast and our experience from both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand has been that the smaller the island, the better the beaches and the more chilled out the people and the place.
Took a (2 hr) flight from Samui to Singapore. We stayed (3) nights at the 7 Storey Hotel - what a great place (awesome location, great managment, seconds away from the MTR and food stalls and food courts). What can we stay about Singapore. The people here are very friendly, the city/country is extremely clean and English is the main language. The
weather is warm and humid which takes a bit of getting used to as you go in and out of the frigid air conditioned malls to the humidity and back into the frigid A/C. Spent our first day walking from one end of Orchard Rd to the other. Wow, we could not get over the amount of malls here - don't think we have ever been to a place that has so many malls and has so many people shopping. Every mall was packed full of people shopping and I don't think it was b/c of Valentines day or Chinese New Year.
Visited Chinatown and to be honest it wasn't what you expect. There were no smells of garbage, no small narrow back alleys, and no josseling on the sidewalk to get to the live seafood and fresh veggies. It just isn't Chinatown without the smells and the pushing and shoving! It is the cleaniest Chinatown we have ever visited. However we did have an incredibly could lunch at the Yan Palace Restaurant - the duck and pork were excellent along with the dumplings - Yummy
Off to down under!!
There are more photos below