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Samui trip report - January 2008

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Samui trip report - January 2008

Well, I got lots of advice on here before I went, so the least I can do is give you my own perceptions...

Arrived on Samui 3rd Jan after 3 nights in crazy BKK. Weather was cloudy, apparently some bad weather from China had just passed through. 2 weeks of unbroken sunshine after that though, and the sea soon calmed down & was very calm & clear. Booked into our hotel - the Imperial Boathouse. Rooms were a little dated but had everything we needed, the gardens & pool were absolutely beautiful and the staff very obliging & helpful.The balcony was almost as big as the room. Although we heard some occassional noise from the building site next door, it certainly wasn't enough to spoil or day, let alone our holiday.

The hotel grounds lead onto a fairly quiet and absolutely lovely beach, a few vendors selling the usual crap who soon learned to pass you by when they knew you weren't going to be buying, and a few restaurants who set up tables on the beach for evening meals. Dishes started at about 1 euro, and eating dinner with the sand between your toes, a cold beer, no rave music.......life's good.

Choeng Mon was fairly quiet, which was just what we wanted. We went into Chaweng after a couple of days, and I have to say if we'd booked a hotel there, we'd have been moving out the next day. Chaweng wasn't for us at all, a busy and desperately unattractive little town, a crowded beach - I really don't see the attraction, although there were loads of younger people there who looked happy enough, so it must have something for somebody. Being the biggest resort, it gets the most guests so I can see how so many negative reviews of Samui could emanate from here. But believe me, away from the tawdry towns, Samui still has some lovely spots of unspoilt beauty. Choeng Mon bay, and a lot of the south of the island are absolutely gorgeous and much more suitable for the discerning traveller. (and me!).

We did just a few trips, the Island Tours all-day ticket was decent value for money, a wee bit of elephant trekking, snorkelling off an island at the south, up to viewpoints near the Secret Garden. The trip to Ang Thong is an absolute must too, stunningly beautiful and I was never happier than when kayaking round one of the little islands, looking at tropical fish, caves, just bliss. I'd strongly recommend staying overnight here - there are a very few simple bunglaows on the main island - and a few tents for hire if they're full- and the peace & quiet when all the day-trip boats leave at 3pm is just heaven.

Shopping for the usual souveniers - fake rolex, copy designer gear etc was pretty much on a par with BKK, price wise & to a point choice-wise too. There are a LOT of tailor shops around - too many for the amount of custom so they try very hard to get you in. Stay away from the too good to be true offers & you can pick up some nice clothes, well-made in good materials, at a fraction of the price back home.

I had some doubts about our wisdom in choosing Samui because of some negative reviews here. Having now seen Chaweng, and indeed the Bophut area too, I can see why some people would be really disappointed in Samui. But it's totally unfair to paint the entire island with one brush. It's still possible to find little bits of "real" Thailand here, although I wouldn't leave it another 5 years to go, as there IS a fair amount of building going on.

The weather's great, all the hotels I saw were of decent standard, the people are exceptionally friendly - even the ones who don't try to sell you anything!, some fab beaches, cheap but very decent food.

Choose your hotel carefully - Chaweng would be too busy for some, Choeng Mon too quiet for others - but you can still have a great holiday on Samui.

Feel free to PM any questions on specifics, I'll do my best to help.

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1. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008


great report. can't wait for samui. im headed there in the middle of feb!!

just curious on the some info(prices, trip description etc) of activities and tours that you did while in samui.


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2. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008

Ah, I forgot the prices!

The all-day ISLAND TOURS trip was 1700 baht I think - about 35 euros to me. Picked up at our hotel at about 8am, day started with elephant trekking & feeding, Thai Boxing display, monkey display which I didn't attend, snorkelling off a longtail boat at the south of the island, and jeep trip into the hills to the beautiful Secret Garden. Got back to the hotel about 5:45. A good & full day out, and a well-padded behind would be useful for the jeep rides!

Ang Thong day-trips average around 1800 to 2000 baht or around 40 euro per head. Picked up from hotel about 7:30am, got to our first island about 9:45. Straight into kayaking, then snorkelling. Decent-ish lunch on the boat as we sailed to another island - the one with the green lagoon - more snorkelling & sight-seeing. Boats are all back in Nathon by about 4:45 then busses back to your hotel.

Very beautiful & unspoilt islands, don't miss them.

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3. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008

Thanks for the great report on Samui! I'm going at the end of Feb and staying in the South West of the Island - I can't wait!

I was wondering if you knew of any good tailors outside of Chaweng? I will be in Taling Ngam so the closer the better, but will have my own transport so getting around won't be a problem - I just want to limit trips to Chaweng to as few as possible!

Thank you!

Miranda, Sydney
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4. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008

Hi There,

Thank you so much for your JBR - we don't get too many on this forum - very informative.

We are off to KS for our 2nd visit in less than 4 weeks and staying at the sothern end of Chaweng - we stayed in the northern end on October, but unfortunately the prices for Feb were a bit steep.

Can't wait to get back to drink some Mojitos!!!!



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5. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008

Hi Chippy

Manu Collections was the tailor at our hotel, he also has a shop somewhere in the southern end of Chaweng, I believe. Can vouch for the quality of the workmanship & materials, but as always, let them know you're shopping around for price.

Couple of other things I forgot to mention yesterday:

The Boathouse is home to the world's worst lounge pianist! I managed to see the funny side for about 10 minutes, but after that the lounge bar became a no-go area for me-and many other guests.

Best massage place we found was across the road from the hotel - forgot the name already but it's next to the travel agent. Air-conditioned building & very professional massages from 200 baht per hour. Also, we got the best exchange rate for our Euro at the exchange place at the same row of shops - for 100 euro we got about 350 baht more there than we would have at the hotel - worth saving for a 50 yard walk!

Any questions - feel free & I'll try to help.

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6. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008

Did you go near Lamai Beach at all? We chose to stay there for our upcoming trip in February because it was close enough to the Chaweng action if we decide to partake but also far enough away for some peace. I've also read some stuff about a Fisherman's Village there that's supposed to have some good restaurants...just wondering if you had any info.


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7. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008


No, didn't spend any time at Lamai beach, just passed through the area when we were heading south.

Certainly didn't look the worst, I'm sure you'll have a great time there.

Fisherman's village would be the best part of the Bophut area I think. There are certainly plenty of good reviews of restaurants in the area, but we only had lunch there, which was fine. Think the best is supposed to be a seafood place run by an American guy, didn't visit it though.

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8. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008


Thanks so much for the report. I'm going to BKK for 5 nights and the boathouse for 2 weeks at end of March and I just can't wait.

I have a personal question though, how much did you spend? I know everyone is different but I'm just trying to budget for my spending money at the moment. Also have you any idea how much a full suit would cost to make from the tailors near the boathouse - ball park figure.

AND also..whats the breakfast like in the boathouse??

Fab report, the next 9 weeks are going to be torturous!!


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9. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008

Really enjoyed reading your report. We are staying at the Boathouse in 2 weeks time and I don't really mind if the rooms are a little dated - the gardens and pool being nice are more important to me. I was really relieved to hear that the building work next door didn't spoil your holiday. Glad you enjoyed your stay on Samui - I'm counting off the days now!

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10. Re: Samui trip report - January 2008

Hi Absie

I'm sure you'll have a great time....we certainly did!

I think (but I wasn't watching that closely) that we spent around 1500 euro. That would include our day tours, eating out, loads of t-shirts, gifts, soft furnishings etc. I could be way out - if we stayed at the hotel pool/beach all day then ate out at the beach retaurants, we'd spend way way less than 50 euro that day. Other days we'd spend a lot more.

If the budget's tight, you could very easily get by on a lot less & still have a great time.

One way a lot of people saved money was buying cans of coke/sprite whatever at the 7/11 across the road & bringing them down from the fridge in the room to the pool. A can is like 15 baht, the same drink brought to you by a waiter will be nearer 70.

A suit in a nice quality cashmere will be around 100 euro. They'll give you the hard sell on the extra pair of trousers, a few shirts etc but just smile & stick to your guns. You can get a suit in a cheaper material for just over half that, but you can buy suits in cheapo material at home too.

Breakfast at the Boathouse was very good indeed. Full range of sausage rasher eggs etc - and a cheerful chef called Frank who cooks ommelettes to order!- full range of continental - cheese, cold meats, pastries. All buffet style & served till 10:30. A lot of people went in late & "stocked up" which meant they didn't have to buy lunch. Very good breakfast indeed.

A few random prices I meant to post earlier -

Copy designer tops - 150 baht

Copy designer T-shirts - 100 baht

Levi 501's - about 700 baht

Versace Jeans - about 700baht

Can of Coke - 15 baht

20 cigs - about 130 baht

Dinner - average about 50/60 baht per plate - we usually ordered a plate of rice or noodles each, then 2 or 3 meat dishes. Fruit shakes on the beach - about 60 baht. Big bottle of Chang beer - 75 to 100 baht. Wine is expensive.

Taxi to Big Buddha, wait about 45 mins then take us to nearby temple, wait about 30 mins then back to hotel - 500 baht.

Ref the hotel rooms - the bathrooms look a little tired, at least ours did with it's lime green tiles & door badly in need of a lick of paint - but the shower was great and the main room was absolutely fine. Housekeeping very good too.

Oh ayeah - down to the beach, turn left and amongst the strip of restaurants, there's one simply called "Choeng Mon Restaurant", with lights going way up a palm tree. They had probably the best food of that bunch, and an excellent band play there on Friday nights from about 7 to 11:30. Good mix of blues, rock'n'roll etc. And not too loud at all!!

Have a great time, if you have any more questions, just ask.