Firstly, a BIG thank you to all of the regulars and to those who have previously posted JBR’s on this forum. Your information was a huge help in planning our holiday and saved us a lot of time while we were in Samui.
We stayed 7 nights at the Imperial Boat House, Cheong Mon beach, and would highly recommend the hotel, see separate review.
We flew from Australia to KL, and then on to Samui with Bangkok air via the Malaysian airline codeshare. Bags checked straight through from Sydney to USM and a very straight forward trip. As we were aussies and Brits in our group we got Visa’s on arrival at USM, a stamp in the passport at customs and we were through to grab our bags and meet our transfer to IBH.
We loved the location of IBH, as others have mentioned Cheong Mon beach is a relaxed spot with everything you need available on the main street of the village, ATM’s, Family mart/7-11, laundry, tour booking, bars, restaurants, car/scooter hire and a good number of Taxi’s and Songthaw’s (sp?) going by. Separate reviews for restaurants to follow. The beach itself is perfect for swimming, quite shallow for some way making it perfect for children or those not confident in the water. The section in front of IBH is fine, but you need to watch out for submerged rocks at the south (island) end of the beach. Waves were calm on 6 out of our 7 days, making for easy kayaking.
Lots of restaurants to choose from for drinks or food on the beach, loved sitting with our feet in the sand. A few beach vendors wander along during the day selling everything from beach toys and balls, jewellery, sarongs and bikini’s to ice-creams, fresh fruit and freshly barbequed sweetcorn (Yum!) Vendors with fireworks for sale at night, I think we saw fireworks every night we were there. Also plenty of massage places with platforms built on the beach, so soothing listening to the waves. We kept going back to Karati massage for the coconut oil one, I’ll be remembering that for some time I think.
Jumped in a Songthaw Christmas afternoon, 150thb for three of us up to Bang rak and BBC where we enjoyed the Christmas buffet while watching the sunset over Koh Pangan.
We did an afternoon tour with Eco tours Samui, a 4 hr tour including waterfall, elephants, monkey show (which just showed the monkey getting coconuts out of a tree) in a forest village, demonstration on how to make coconut milk and a thai curry, we ended up doing the full loop of the ring road, nice to be able to see the west and north coast, was a great day. 900thb per person.
Went on the Friday night to Bophut fisherman village, loved the markets, the 50thb cocktails and snacking on the foods being barbequed. Had a drink at Happy Elephant to watch the sunset, lovely spot and got all of our shopping done at the stalls in the market.
We didn't have any bad meals while in Samui, unsurprisingly, we found those places without a water view cheaper, and some service very slow. Some places has tamed the thai food down for tourists, others were spicy as served. Hard to know when to ask for it “pet”, we did this in one place and the salad nearly took our breath away.
We loved our time in Samui and did not want to leave. Hoping to be back some day …