Topic: Thailand

Thailand travel articles

Visiting Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui is located south of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand about 31km east of the Ang Thong National Marine Park. Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest island and is surrounded by 80 smaller islands. About a dozen flights a day arrive from Bangkok and feed this island with a steady flow of tourist. I wanted to save money so I took the evening train to Surat Thani so I could sleep during the 11 hour trip from Bangkok. Once at the train station you will need to catch a bus for the short ride to the boat pier where you will be able to catch a boat to the Na Thon dock on Koh Samui. There are usually plenty of other travelers following the same route to the island so it is easy to figure out which way to go.

View of Chaweng beach from the southern tip.
View of Chaweng beach from the southern tip.

Upon arrival at the Na Thon dock in Koh Samui, I went straight to a motorcycle rental shop. The island is not very large, 247 sq. km., and one paved road encircles the whole island with a few side roads that lead into the interior, so I figured a motorcycle would be an excellent way to get around. I was using an internal frame backpack, so my luggage was not a burden while riding, just strap it on, drop the bike first gear, and I was off.

The motorcycle was a small 100cc bike, which is sufficient for the small island, and I was able to get a good rate for three days. With a motorcycle I was able drive around the island at my leisure stopping wherever I wanted to explore. It was handy to make multiple stops when I was first trying to find a room. Renting in Na Thon is cheaper and convenient since I would be catching another boat from the same pier in few days.

Interesting rock formations on Koh Samui.
Interesting rock formations on Koh Samui.

Koh Samui is a popular destination especially along the Chaweng beach area (northeast side of the island), which is were I planned to stay. After many inquiries I finally found a good place on the southern tip of Chaweng. This place had palm-thatched bungalows, roomy, with views of the Chaweng beach coastline. I had a mere 40-foot walk from my room and I was swimming. The room was simple with my own shower and a porch to lounge about. The beach area was picture postcard perfect, with an inviting blue-green ocean to enjoy. Being away from the main commercial strip in Chaweng was a good idea because it is noisy until all hours of the night in the restaurant and bars. Unless of course that is your taste, then that is the place to be. I however like to enjoy all the tranquility the beach and ocean have to offer, and be able to sleep when I want without blaring music and loud voices of inebriated tourists.

Popular rock formations on Koh Samui.
Popular rock formations on Koh Samui.

One day I rode out to see the Grand Mother Rock and Grand Father Rock (Hin Yai and Hin Ta). These are about 5 miles south of Chaweng along the coast. Some maps will label them as Wonderful Rock. These are natural rock formations that simulate the male and female genitalia. Believe it or not, these rocks are real and are very close to each other, coincidence…hmm. Well, they do appear natural and they do attract many curious visitors (See the photos and guess which is the father and mother…I think you will figure it out). I thought it is worth the visit and the surrounding beach is beautiful. There are the usual souvenir shops and a few restaurants nearby. After about an hour here it was time to jump on the motorcycle explore more of the island.

Since I was using a motorcycle I was able to follow some of the dirt trails to the top of the mountain of Koh Samui. From the top you get a panoramic view of the island. When walking up in this area keep your eyes open because there are scorpions around. This viewpoint was inaccessible by car or bus; only a motorcycle or walking would get you there.

View from above Koh Samui.
View from above Koh Samui.

Koh Samui is the place for swimming, diving or beach lounging. If you enjoy the beach communities this island is recommended. There are numerous beaches in all price ranges. If you just want to party or find a quiet beach bungalow, you will find it here.

Back to the dock to catch a boat to Koh Pha Ngan.

View more photos of my Thailand trip.

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Good deals in Thailand

With the political turmoil settling down in Bangkok, there are sure to be some good deals available. The  week long shut down of the two main airports is estimated to have cost over 3 billion dollars, and it is estimated about 2 million tourists may cancel their flights to the country. The anti-government demonstrations are said to have had a worse economic impact than the Tsunami that hit the resort areas back in 2004. Fortunately, there were no reported tourist injuries, and violence and vandalism was virtually nonexistent.

Now that the dust has cleared the tourism industry is trying to get their business back on track. The  Tourism Authority of Thailand announced a plan for a promotional campaigns to get the ball rolling. Additionally, many hotels are offering free rooms and special fares on Bangkok airways.

Hat Rin Nok, Ko Pha Ngan
Hat Rin Nok, Ko Pha Ngan

Thai tourism may have experienced a costly set back, but they will bounce back. Thailand has some beautiful beach resorts and islands that attract millions every year, and the strong Euro and US dollar will keep the people coming back. If you have been considering a visit to Thailand right now is probably the best time for some great deals.

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