We flew through *Bangkok from Siem Reap to ultimately make it to the island of Koh Samui (Ko Sum-ooh-e)
*We actually spent a few days in Bangkok before getting to Koh Samui but since we plan to spend more time there before we fly back to the states, we’ve decided it’s better to write a complete post on Bangkok at the end of our trip.
There are two options getting to the island of Koh Samui from Bangkok. You can fly directly which takes about an hour for about $130 per person. Or you can fly to Surat Thani, then take a bus for 75 minutes, a ferry for an 90 minutes, and an additional van ride for 45 minutes. This journey takes about four hours longer but only costs $30 per person. In our case we have more time than money, so I’m sure you can guess what we did!
If you do choose to fly to Surat Thani, the ferry/bus/van route is well set up and effortless. Get off the plane and go to the airport booth to buy a bus/ferry combo ticket. While on the bus, you can get a ticket for the van to take your final destination. Thailand is very well prepared for visitors.
We chose Koh Samui mainly because Koh Phangon or Koh Tao were just more expensive to stay in similar comfort. Koh Samui is by far the most populated island on the East side of Thailand and the most access to Western style living.
We rented a house with our friends Peggy and Eric who we met in the Philippines.
They are from Ohio and on a much longer journey than us, they travel full time while Eric manages his online just jitsu retail store and product line called yolobjj.com. We rented a two story, new construction home on Airbnb for $80 per night for sixteen days. We realized on our way to Koh Samui that even though we enjoyed Peggy and Eric’s company, we had only spent less than 16 hours with them in our life and we had committed to 16 days with them.
We arrived at the house much later than our friends. To our pleasant surprise they had already stocked the fridge with food and drinks. We were greeted with warm hugs, spaghetti with pasta sauce and most importantly, a cold beer. We stayed up chatting and learning what they had been up to since we last saw them in the Philippines a month and a half earlier.
The four of us shared the same strict goals of just relaxing and being on island time during our two weeks. Nate and I refer to this time as our “vacation from vacation”. We did nothing for an impressive percentage of our 16 days there. Our days consisted of a different combination of the following:
- waking up at anytime we wanted to (7:00 am though to be honest)
- Eric making us breakfast
- Sipping coffee
- Finding creative ways to exercise
- playing in the pool
- drinking a beer in the middle of the day
- touring the town on motorbike and teaching me to drive
- playing cards
As you can see, the list is full of mundane things but mundane things we have felt guilty doing while having this opportunity to “travel”. There are so many interesting things to explore when traveling. We felt somewhat burdened to be sure we are always on the go taking advantage of our opportunity. But in Koh Samui, we let ourselves off the hook and just chilled.
Our most enjoyable experience is Koh Samui was cooking. We were determined to learn to cook as much authentic Thai food as we could while we had easy access to fresh ingredients.
We went to the same outdoor market on our scooter, sometimes daily, and purchased from the same local woman. She was so friendly and helpful our first day when she recognized we were pulling ingredients for Pad Thai and made sure we had everything. We repaid her by going back to her fresh produce stall every time.
When we needed a break from cooking, Eric would step in with one of his specialties, usually a taste from home, like his buffalo chicken!
We checked out a couple night markets to break up the cooking as well, enjoying the work of real street chefs for dinner. At one of the markets we spotted several Monitor Lizards (look like gators) swimming in a nearby river. Coincidently, some street food stalls sell skewered crocodile meat on the grill.
Nate finally was able to get a juice that is served as liquid in a bag, one of his Thailand bucket list items.
We spent some days exploring the small island of Ko Samui (about 45 minutes drive across) on our scooter. The beaches are nice but we expect the scenery to be even nicer on the Andaman Sea side of Southern Thailand.
Here is a quick review of the different parts of the island we saw.
Chaweng – This is the center of the action and the most touristy part of the island. This is where you can get McDonald’s or Burger King. It had a nice beach but the water was ridiculously hot,like hot bathwater. Not the most refreshing experience on a hot day. It is also home to the Jungle Club. The Jungle Club is perched high up in the hills and serves nice drinks, cool beats, and a great view.
Lamai – Home to a great Sunday night market and also a nice beach. The sand is not as nice as Chaweng, but the water is refreshing and it’s a little less crowded so you can get more beach to yourself.
Choeng Mon – This is where we stayed. The beach here is not great, but it is passable. It is very quiet on this part of the island. It was perfect for us, but I wouldn’t recommend it for shorter term travelers.
Bang Rak – Home to the Big Buddha statue and sone nice restaurants. This is where our daily market was. I don’t think there are any beaches here worth going to.
Fisherman’s Village – Another popular touristy section, but a bit more upscale. It has less of a party vibe than Chaweng and no fast food chains but the main street is lined with shopping, hotels, and restaurants. There is also a decent beach here.
Mae Nam – We only saw the beach here but it was our favorite. It was secluded but nice. It also had a couple bars and beach beds with umbrellas to relax in.
Koh Samui has been good to us. We know it sounds ridiculous that someone might need to “recharge” from their 4 months of traveling but not only did we need it from the hectic traveling we so thoroughly enjoyed it!
Next up on our journey is something we have been counting down the days for. A few of our friends from the states are joining us for the last 11 days of our trip which will bounce us around the country doing a lot of exciting things!