According to some people, the second largest island in Thailand is strictly reserved to the likes of international school graduation trips or lovebirds. I beg to differ, yet there is evidently a reason why I have never had the opportunity to visit. There are far too many resorts to sift through, and so the decision to visit any destination can only be a preliminary step. In terms of determining the perfect itinerary, you really have to think of a few criteria: budget, company, preference and weather.
Even as an outlying island, Koh Samui is definitely not derelict. Infamous for its Full Moon Party and famous for its infinite stretches of beaches, there is definitely something for everyone.
Landing at Samui International Airport, travellers are swiftly transported to the terminal from the plane via airport golf carts. The airport itself is extremely unique since there are ‘no walls’, and therefore feels very natural. The airport is located at the North of the island in the Bo Put district with easy access to Chaweng Beach. Known for its nightlife, this area is targeted towards a younger crowd though many new luxury resorts have opened in the area due to its proximity to the airport.
The best way to get around the island?
NaviGo Thailand is the Uber equivalent on the island. It’s cheaper than hailing or ordering a taxi. What makes the app extra special is that there is auto-translation on the app, meaning there is no chance of awkward hand gestures nor inflated scams. Before submitting an order, the app requires you to take a selfie so that the driver will be able to recognise you.
Where to eat?
For fantastic cocktails and light bites, look no further than the WOOBAR at W Koh Samui. The stylish resort is located only 15-minutes from Samui Airport, making it perfect to visit if you have time before your flight. The menu for the restaurant just so happens to be on Instagram so start saving those posts to look forward to in advance of your visit here. The W beach of the hotel occupies an entire tip on the North of the island so travellers can view sunrise or sunset to their convenience. No better place to take in views of the Gulf of Thailand!
SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT cocktail - for the indecisive: two miniature cocktails in order, including a white and dark old fashioned.
BEEF SLIDERS - for the hungry: a classic.
Where to stay?
Accommodation-wise, I didn’t really have a preference. I wasn’t exactly looking for a full moon party experience so there was no need to stay around the Chaweng Beach area, nor did I need to stay near any of the beaches since I was happy to relax at a contained resort.
Having searched for the newest hotels, built more or less within a year, I came across AVANI+ Koh Samui. Located towards the South of the island, the resort is in a quaint part around 1 hour from the airport. After recent renovation of a former resort, the hotel has rebranded to an AVANI+ resort which is a premium concept created alongside new resorts (such as the AVANI+ Bangkok).
In regards to budget, our room category ‘AVANI Pool Villa’ is bang for the buck. With the AVANI+ Samui Opening Special deal, the villa comes at around 160GBP/ 1640HKD/ 200USD. For a 5-star resort, this is an unbeatable price. There is a range of room categories to choose from, of course. Whether that is a Deluxe Room, or 2 bedroom Beachfront Pool Villa, the resort caters to all groups. I personally felt that the 68SQM AVANI Pool Villa was more than enough. With freshly renovated interiors, the villa is feels clean with its white paneling and light grey soft furnishings. A highlight would be the direct access from room to pool via a sliding door. Complete with a bluetooth speaker, Nespresso machine and TV, guests can find everything within reach without feeling constrained on space. There are even two washing basins and a large walk-in closet.
Facilities of a resort are also extremely important since I planned to spend a lot of time within the resort itself. Just in case you want to work on that appetite, there is a fantastic AVANIFIT fitness centre, with state-of-the-art equipment, as well as two swimming pools. If feeling adventurous, paddleboards and kayaks are available to rent on a complimentary basis. Bikes are also available and convenience stores (7-eleven and Familymart) are just a short cycle away.
For a boutique resort, there is enough selection to keep guests occupied. The AVANISPA is open throughout the day and therapists offer tailored treatments in an intimate setting. Food-wise, the essence resort offers a great buffet and a-la-carte breakfast, from buttermilk pancakes to avocado toast (on demand, of course). Otherwise, the restaurant offers Thai & International cuisine with a focus on comfort food.