Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A warm Wecome

A very warm one – because, of course, it’s summer time. Well, that’s the way most folks reading this have been thinking . . . unless you’re straight off the plane from Australia, that is! In theory this isn’t supposed to be the hottest time of the year. But Thailand is a long, thin country. And the further south you go, the warmer it gets. Meaning that right now the weather is probably hovering around 30º, but with some refreshing showers, mainly after dark.


The warm turquoise waters. White sandy beaches. Palm trees swaying in the breeze. Delightful evenings dining out under the stars. And in the daytime there are one hundred and one things to do. Sure, there are all the usual suspects: trips up the mountain and jungle safaris and mummified monks. But have you ever considered actually going pro-active?


We’re in the era of healthy living. There are a great many gyms now on the island – if your resort doesn’t have one then there’ll be one not far away. And what about trying some basic Muay Thai classes? It’s only a few hundred baht for an hour and there are even sessions for the kids.


Or if your idea of a holiday break is to do the minimum of everything and you’re headed daily for the pool with a book, there’s always shopping! Central Festival Mall should be your first stop. But you just have to explore one of the Walking Streets, too – it’s rude not to!

Get vertical with Rock & Ropes Koh Samui.

Get vertical with Rock & Ropes Koh Samui.“It’s the mountain that lifts our feet to the heavens” – so runs an old Japanese Zen proverb, reminding us that instead of perceiving our uphill trekking as an arduous struggle, everything can be seen from a different point of view: the mountain is there to help, not hinder, no matter how difficult it all looks. Mountaineers always know it only seems like they’re competing against enormous geological entities that dwarf them; the truth is that the heights aren’t ever their foe. Once there’s no sense of combat, then the sheer fun, the exhilaration takes over.


This is the attitude of Guy Rotman, a climber who seems as much at home on vertical surfaces as the rest of us are on horizontal ones. He thinks in terms of the perpendicular. It’s influenced his entire life, even down to what he rents as property: while others come to Samui to build houses, the piece of land he rents is hardly walkable; it’s a cliff. How many people have you ever come across who rent a cliff? It seems an insane idea, and Guy himself, a few years back, would have probably agreed. But odd things happen in life and as a young 25 year old, Guy, who was looking for some casual labour, got offered a job doing maintenance and cleaning work on high buildings. Not their interiors, but their exteriors. And not their roofs, but their dizzying walls. You’ll have seen such workers perilously dangling on perches as they clean windows and carry out repairs. Just to watch them probably gives you vertigo. Not him. He set off with gusto, and loved the work.

Super food and entertainment too? Some of the best of both can be found down at Zico’s on Chaweng Beach Road.

Super food and entertainment too? Some of the best of both can be found down at Zico’s on Chaweng Beach Road.I’ve been here a long while now, and I’d be the first to say that Samui’s got it all. There’s nightlife and parties aplenty. And it’s a shoppers’ paradise. And yet, only 20 minutes from all of this, you’ll find unspoiled beaches and little rustic huts. And when it comes to eating out, it’s foodie heaven! There’s cuisine from every nation, street stalls, food markets, 5-star resorts and top restaurants everywhere. But, you know, I’ve had a sudden thought. I can think of very few places where you can enjoy dinner and a show.


Sure, we’ve got lots of entertainment from live bands to ladyboy cabarets. And a great many resorts will feature a Thai dancing group or a fire-juggling act. But when it comes to pinning down a really good restaurant which is also known for its shows, they really are few and far between. One or two have come and gone over the years. But there’s only really one that’s still alive and kicking. It’s been here for a while. It’s down at the southern end of Chaweng Beach Road. And its name is Zico’s Brazilian Grill & Bar.


Zico’s has always been in something of a class of its own – mainly because there’s absolutely nothing else like it on the island! It’s big, double-fronted, and with a lofty entrance flanked by Roman pillars. But the high exterior, with its concrete and wood façade, doesn’t hint at the roomy layout within. Coming up the steps and in through the entrance, you’ll be surprised that you’ve just entered a kind of atrium that’s floored with big slate tiles yet open to the sky above. This is a part of the overall dining area, the other part of which is air-conditioned and behind a wall of glass to your left. And then there’s also a really nice cosy bar, up the steps on your right.

A look at the place of the Siamese fighting fish in popular Thai culture.

A look at the place of the Siamese fighting fish in popular Thai culture.The Thai nation just loves a good fight! Plus, of course, they’re a very sporting kind of a nation. Top of the list has to be their national sport, the Thai boxing known as ‘Muay Thai’. And like many other facets of Thailand, it’s steeped in a whole wrap of pageantry and ritual that is just as much part of the ethos as the spectacularly fast leaps and kicks that characterise the sport.


But, down at grass roots level, few ordinary folk can aspire to the riches and glory that Muay Thai can offer – you need to be young, fit and fast and not a little mean for that! On the other hand, a buffalo will do quite nicely – making the noble art of buffalo fighting a convenient number two combat sport. Or, if buffalos are a bit too big and lumpy and cost a lot to feed, how about pitting a couple of cocks against each other instead? Or . . . if cages full of squawking cockerels are really getting on your neighbours’ nerves, what about something altogether smaller, quieter and cheaper? How about a fish?


This is how it all began, hundreds of years ago, in the poorer part of the northeast of Thailand. Nobody knows for certain when it started, there are no written records, and Thai history is patchy and concerns itself with important things like kings and queens and battles. Some sociologists guess at five or six hundred years, but this is based on the knowledge that these fish were being bred during that period for their beautiful plumage and were a favourite at the Royal Court.

Fine dining at The Library, a minimalist resort in the heart of Chaweng.

Fine dining at The Library, a minimalist resort in the heart of Chaweng.A library is defined as; a place set apart to contain books, periodicals and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study or reference. A room or set of rooms or buildings where books may be read or borrowed. A library is a quiet place that invites you to sit with a book in quiet contemplation and thought.


And that’s exactly what The Library is. Set against the alluring and irresistible backdrop that is Koh Samui’s Chaweng Beach, The Library is an extremely unique and bold beachfront resort with a back cover that reads of unparalleled individualism and unmatched luxury. With a collection of just 46 studios, suites and pool villas, with room numbers as page numbers, spread over 12,800 square meters of land, this minimalist resort provides plenty of quiet space to read, roam, and reflect. And of course, it really does have its own library!


This stunning and remarkable space was designed and created especially for those who appreciate art. Creative thinkers, architects, interior designers, graphic designers, photographers, artists and those who lean towards art in any form. The open and spacious lawn area is littered with huge, shady trees and ten contemplative statues of book readers. It feels so totally calm and serene that you just want to sit down and join them.

Urban clothing is always in vogue. Psylo’s two stores in Chaweng showcase fashion that has world-wide appeal.

Urban clothing is always in vogue. Psylo’s two stores in Chaweng showcase fashion that has world-wide appeal.Creativity in fashion may abound, but some designs are so original, you may wonder who on earth would buy them, while others are so gossamer light that they seem ready to fall apart if you just look at them. Then the ones which are designed to last are often stunningly ugly. For aesthetically pleasing design that’s functional, it’s hard to find a meld of adventurousness and creativity that ticks all the boxes.


Psylo manages to do so; it’s a growing brand that has always dared to try out new approaches, and has the guts to create clothing that has emotional appeal; people feel drawn to the label and better still, feel good when wearing these clothes.


Psylo came about more or less by chance. It didn’t emerge from some hyper cool atelier, but was a spin-off of travel, and thousands of miles of dusty roads. The brand sprang out of the years of travels that the founders of Psylo, Ami and Dan, engaged in; they explored as many places they could, from South America to India and then further to East Asia. They realized that it wasn’t just travel that drew them together, but fashion inspired by being on-the-go. They not only liked the rugged nomadic looks of certain textiles and designs that caught their attention, but they were inspired by how local cultures factored in art and creativity into clothing. The Psylo design team drew their references from the wilder areas they travelled through, such as the Amazon, as well as the cities, big and small, that punctuated their journeys. Gradually the ‘Ethno Punk’ style emerged, and they went with it until it became a brand.

Experience Loft by Oriental Living.

Experience Loft by Oriental Living.Are you looking for an inspired, thought-provoking, stylish, honest and affordable shopping experience in order to furnish your home? Do you want to find bold, modern, old or antique furnishings with happy, innovative, functional forms and colours? Look no further than Loft, Oriental Living’s new younger, vibrant and motivational retail store.


Oriental Living is the best known and most prestigious provider of interior design and high-end furnishings on Samui and Phuket. They have developed their brand and reputation over the last 20 years, listening tirelessly to their customers’ needs and desires, and working together with them, sourcing new furniture, new ideas and original designs. They are flexible, move goal posts, and redesign over and over until the required look and feel is finally achieved. They provide a one-stop service for clients in need of tailor-made design and furniture solutions, offering custom-designed furniture packages for private residences, hotels, real estate projects and businesses, and they are great at what they do. Loft by Oriental Living has now been open on Samui for a whole year, and probably provides the happiest, most inspirational and honest shopping experience to be found on the island. And it’s no surprise that both ventures are owned and managed by the very charismatic and straight-talking Dutchman, Michael Dietvorst. Thailand’s Alex W. Raksai works closely with Michael, and must be the friendliest, most mischievous and smiley interior designer I have ever met! His use of the English language includes puns and colloquialisms. He’s a great guy to chat with, and is extremely knowledgeable and creative in his chosen trade.

Nature Art Gallery is filled with semi-precious stones, jewels and ornaments –
come and browse to your heart’s content.

Nature Art Gallery is filled with semi-precious stones, jewels and ornaments – come and browse to your heart’s content.Avid collectors will have a field day at any of the four branches of Nature Art Gallery, a treasure trove of jewellery and precious stones with two outlets on Samui, and two more over in Haad Rin on Koh Pha-Ngan. The owners, Michael Trav and Shai Nissim, have worked for many years in the jewellery business, and have an eye for what makes a great design. Their stores are full of them. They’ve forged contacts with suppliers of precious and semi-precious stones, and with craftspeople who turn out stylish and often unique jewellery. The galleries showcase handmade pieces from select artists from not just Thailand and South-east Asia, but far further afield.


Much of the work that you’ll see on display has a tropical feel about it; these pieces seem made for long, hot summer days and nights. But exotic as they are, they’re versatile and will look just as good in wintry climes. The carefully crafted designs may be simple or complicated, but each represents the knowledge of a master jeweller. There is flow to them too; many depict animals or designs from nature that are all to do with movement. For example, you’ll see the snaky tail of a lizard, a wavelike pattern or a unicorn that looks set to spring into the air. All of these designs have been chosen as they are bright, creative and surprising.

It can be a nightmare trying to work out the best way to access your holiday cash in Thailand – here’s some info and tips on how to do it.

It can be a nightmare trying to work out the best way to access your holiday cash in Thailand – here’s some info and tips on how to do it.Just a generation back, it was easy. There was no internet or online banking. In fact, there were also very few international ATM machines, either. All of which sounds far more bothersome than it is today. And that’s quite true. But it was still a much easier process – simply because there was hardly any choice. Today, however, it’s just the opposite. There are cards of different types, each of them having different costs and conditions. There’s ‘instant’ online money transfers, all working in different ways. And there are still even travellers’ cheques – remember them? Although few people still use them in today’s fast-access climate.


Yes, 20 years ago, there were basically just two options. One was travellers’ cheques. And the other one was buying the local currency before you went. But today there are many more attractive alternatives. And whichever you go for personally, we’re all after the same thing: ease of access, security, and the cheapest way to ensure this.


Of course there are other things to consider, too. If you’re heading off for a holiday somewhere in say Europe, then all the systems of banking and cash-access are much more reliable and tightly knit (and thus predictable!) than over here. It’s worth mentioning that the Thai banking system, although on the surface appearing quite ‘normal’, works in quite a different way to what you might expect. And every bank’s interpretation of ‘online banking’ is different, too, ranging in some cases from simply an online balance check, yet with other banks having local and international transfer and monitoring systems that are first class. I mention this because if you think you might end up being a regular visitor to Thailand then it’s very much to your advantage to open a basic Thai savings account for future use.

Natural Wing Health Spa and Resort takes a new direction.

Natural Wing Health Spa and Resort takes a new direction.Natural Wing first opened in 1999, and was the first spa resort on Samui. Eighteen years later, and having won all the major spa awards, let’s take a look at why they have been so successful and where they plan to go from here!


The idea of the spa resort as a place where you could stay for one or more nights, seriously unwind, relax, detoxify and rejuvenate yourself, was a concept that Managing Director, Khun Wanwalee Tantikarn had been thinking about for some time. Whilst living in Phuket in the 1980’s, she bought some hillside land in Bang Por on the north coast of Samui, with a view to creating her dream in the coming years. Her father was a doctor who understood that there was more to health and healing than just pharmaceuticals. His passion for natural well-being was infectious (excuse the pun) and influenced her to begin her quest.


Natural Wing has built up its repertoire over the years, and Khun Wanwalee has been busy pursuing knowledge and understanding from all the different provinces in Thailand. Today they offer an extensive range of spa experiences. From a 30-minute herbal steam, ozone Jacuzzi, hand reflexology or foot massage to a four-and-a-halfhour inclusive package. Massages include; aromatic oil, reflexology, ancient Thai, herbal compress, sports and hot stone. There is also a range of body scrubs, body wraps and beauty treatments. Add to that, personalised detox and slimming programmes which include before and after blood tests by a qualified doctor, and nutritional advice and information. Packages can include accommodation, especially created spa cuisine and lots of activities such as yoga, meditation, hydro-aerobic sessions, educational classes such as cooking (to help you continue your healthy eating habits when you, unfortunately have to leave and return to your normal life), spa treatments and even Muay Thai training by Samart Payakaroon, who is considered to be the Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Robinson of Muay Thai. (Anyone can join his daily training sessions at the gym bearing his name just across the road.)

W Koh Samui wows with its superlative food, drink and chilling.

W Koh Samui wows with its superlative food, drink and chilling.When it comes to travel, we all hope to be in a state of wide-eyed wonder when we arrive at our destination. Samui as a world vacation destination certainly provides marvels a-plenty with its beaches, jungle and uproarious party life. And beyond that, a handful of its resorts and hotels provide almost as much wonder as the island itself. With luxury brands making their home here, parts of the island are famed for the best food and drink imaginable, all niched into settings that are amongst the most sought-out by holidaymakers.


W Koh Samui is as much known for its dining facilities as it is for its beach, which sits on both sides of its remarkable headland. Everybody who’s ever come here agrees that the location is one of the best on Samui. It’s also deliciously private; so much so that it has a total hideaway feel to it. Just a 15 minute drive from the pulsating night life of Chaweng, it’s spectacularly separate yet easily accessible, right at the western end of the bay of Maenam.


If you’re a guest, it’s an amazing place to stay if you love creative and aesthetic detail, but you don’t need to be vacationing here to take advantage of what W is all about. Spend a few hours unwinding in the bars and restaurants here, and enjoy some of the best food and drink to be had, all of it in stylish settings. Here’s a brief round-up of what’s available at W, starting from just beyond the hilltop main lobby and working down to the coast. It’s a feast for the eyes as much as the palate, and W Koh Samui has garnered some serious attention for both looks and taste.

We take a look at one of the most delightful resorts around – Boujis Boutique Resort in Chaweng Noi.

We take a look at one of the most delightful resorts around – Boujis Boutique Resort in Chaweng Noi.It’s often quite tricky. I mean, how can you know? Fads and fashions come and go. Websites can look really good. But, when it comes down to it, how can you be sure that the resort you like the look of is going to fulfil its promise? If you’re here, on Samui, then you can pop around to check. But if you’re booking from abroad, you need to be certain.


So, of course, you’ll do what everyone else does and turn to the internet oracle. This is where the truth will out! This is the feared and respected TripAdvisor. The only problem here is that sometimes you have to read between the lines a bit; now and then you’ll catch sight of oddities. But, generally, TripAdvisor is a pretty good rule of thumb – after all it’s real people talking about what things are really like, rough edges and all. And thus be prepared to get all excited when you read what’s being said about Boujis!


I could describe this lovely little resort as ‘boutique’, meaning that it’s comparatively small, is uniquely designed, and is privately owned. But I’m going to go a step further and boldly declare that Boujis is a step up from merely boutique - Boujis is ‘bijou’; a ‘jewel’. And while Samui has more nice little resorts than you can shake a stick at, very few of them are such gems as this one.

Once again we point you at a treasure that’s almost in plain view – Waterline restaurant, right in the middle of Lamai.

Once again we point you at a treasure that’s almost in plain view – Waterline restaurant, right in the middle of Lamai.Where are you going to go? If you’re staying on the island for more than just a day or so, then it’s guaranteed that there are a few places you will visit. You’ll probably go on a tour that takes in an elephant or two, a waterfall and a mummified monk wearing Ray Bans. You’ll no doubt strain your engine and head up the mountain for some tasty fried rice at a viewpoint. And there are a couple more options, too. And, as sure as there’s always another day tomorrow, you’ll also be magnetically drawn to Fisherman’s Village. But, really, this is a bit of a trick question.


Because, you see, all these things involve actually going to a place. Then you come back to your resort again. But what nobody knows or sees are all the totally marvellous spots you go past on your journey. They are either something you speed past without noticing, or they are cunningly – and very sadly – hidden from view. And this is one of them. The chances are you’ve passed it a time or two already. It’s a hidden gem. It’s right on the main road in Lamai. It’s a top resort with a quality restaurant. And its name is Manathai Koh Samui.


Manathai is not a name you’ll be familiar with. In fact there are only three other such resorts in Thailand (all of them beach-side) which bear the name of this very forward-looking Thai company. Unlike some groups which stick to a formula or brand identity, the Manathai group enjoy designing or adapting each one according to its location or merits. And so the impressive result is that their resort here on Samui is elegant and styled with a smooth colonial theme. It’s imposing, spacious and thoughtfully laid out, spanning a long U-shape with old cobbled tiles in the wide central parking area, and with the hotel itself sitting at the top end of this.

The dramatic world of Wat Sila Ngu.

The dramatic world of Wat Sila Ngu.It’s gone in a flash. All you see is a temple gate as you drive past, and it’s all too easy to miss one of the island’s most intriguing temples. But it’s well worth stopping and spending some time here. It’s easy to get to, as it’s on the ring-road just past Rocky’s Resort, before you get to Ban Hua Thanon. Wat Sila Ngu is far from being a run-of-the-mill temple. Just translating the name from Thai adds a sense of the dramatic: ‘sila’ means stone, and ‘ngu’ means snake. Yes, that’s right - Stone Snake Temple. As you go round the grounds, you’ll see it really does live up to its name: snakes a-plenty have been carved here, and stand guard over the entire area.


Once inside the main gate, you’ll find a grassy area, usually deserted, where you can easily park. You probably won’t even see many people here. A huge tree stands guard with a canopy of spreading leaves and a swathe of coloured ribbon around its base, signifying that it’s sacred. Already, though the main road is just beyond, a sense of peacefulness reigns. The walls of the temple keep out most of the sound from outside.

Impiana Resort Chaweng Noi is just the kind of place you return to, again and again.

Impiana Resort Chaweng Noi is just the kind of place you return to, again and again.“See you again soon!” is definitely not an empty phrase when you hear staff saying it to guests at the Impiana Resort. For a start, the resort is a family-oriented kind of place, where staff actually get to know the guests, and very often it’s a relationship that deepens over the years. That’s because the Impiana has many, many repeat guests. People love coming back here – time and time again. This isn’t the case with every hotel, but guests here are keen to book again. Many stay for long periods – seven weeks is the record – and guests have been known to spend each holiday here for a decade or longer.


So what makes the Impiana so attractive? For a start there’s the location. It’s in Chaweng, on the island’s most popular beach, but just to the south, in an equally beautiful area but one that’s far less built up. A tiny headland just to the north means that the beach is far less frequented, yet the town itself is just a couple of kilometres away. The best of both words? Absolutely. And then just behind Impiana, imposing green hills rise to vertiginous heights and provide a further tropical feel. Plenty of guests just stay on or around the beach in the daytime, and at night venture out into the town, have a great night out and return to the hush of the resort to sleep undisturbed. It’s a winning combination, one that draws families and romantic couples, as well as groups of friends. Neither too big nor too small, the 96-room Impiana has been operating for the last 17 years. In that time it has gone from strength to strength, with upgrades and improvements whenever needed. It’s currently run by General Manager, Rodan Ivan, a veteran when it comes to Asian hotels; he’s worked in Vietnam and Myanmar as well as Thailand, and brings with him a wealth of expertise.

There are lots of good restaurants on Samui, but only a few that are excellent.
We explore a local legend – The Cliff.

There are lots of good restaurants on Samui, but only a few that are excellent. We explore a local legend – The Cliff.What’s it all about? I mean, why is it that one place works but another one doesn’t? How can you have a restaurant open up that has all the right things and does all the right things, and yet it sinks slowly out of sight? Well the answer to that is . . . it’s missing something! Yes, that’s kind of obvious. But it may be something subtle and hard to outline. Such as the specific location. Or perhaps a combination of things – the location combined with the view and the décor. Or something as simple as the personality of those in charge. But whatever these elusive elements may be, The Cliff has had them all together, and in just the perfect blend, right from the start.


In fact, this excellent restaurant has been collecting accolades ever since it opened, back in 2004. During this time it’s picked up the Thailand Tatler ‘Thailand’s Best Restaurants’ award – a guide that has become a trusted companion for gourmands living in Thailand – no fewer than eight times (and with the first of these coming right after it had opened) together with the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the last three years in a row. The team here have managed to get everything just right. But it’s not just about accolades and awards; the proof is that the restaurant has two sittings every evening, bookings are essential, and if you want a table on the outside terrace you’ll need at least three days’ notice!

Everyone buys souvenirs and gifts on holiday – but getting to know Paul’s Fashion will give you a very serious alternative!

Everyone buys souvenirs and gifts on holiday – but getting to know Paul’s Fashion will give you a very serious alternative!So here you are. You’ve spent a year looking forward to it. And now you’re finally here, on Samui. It’s the best feeling in the world – busy with lots of shopping when you want it, and miles of white sand and blue sea when you don’t. It’s up to you if you sleep all day or not! But, sadly, there’s a countdown. And in those last few days those little gifts and things to take back home start to take over. But that’s all part of it, so it’s still good fun. However, there’s something else you need to know.


Thailand is not only the place to buy Jim Thompson silks and 99% pure gold. It’s also one of the very few places in the world where you can buy hand-tailored and fitted clothing at a fraction of the cost back home – please keep reading!


Keep reading? Yes. Because if you haven’t already done this – and you don’t know about it – then you’re probably either nervous about the idea, or you’ve tried it and had a bad experience. And, yes, as with many aspects of a nation which looks to tourists for its commerce, there are a few bad apples which spoil it for the rest. But just check this for yourself on TripAdvisor. Key-in ‘Paul’s Fashion Samui’. The results are nothing short of completely astonishing. Even going back to 2013, there are no bad reviews. No problems, no complaints, and not even one negative comment. As Paul Subedhi (the partner and spokesman for Paul’s Fashion) says, “We have a cast-iron guarantee – if you are not happy with the final product then you pay nothing.”

In an emergency, Samui Rescue are on the scene within minutes.

In an emergency, Samui Rescue are on the scene within minutes.If you’ve spent any length of time on Samui you’ll know that there are few roads here. The island has a 52 kilometre-long ring-road with a few other roads that feed into it, some major, but mostly not. Driving on them might appear easy, unless you have a very professional eye; everything looks sunny and tranquil on the surface with (mostly) polite, helpful drivers and rarely a honk made in anger, but the island is well in step with the nation’s appalling road safety statistics. Things could be better. At the end of April 2017, a report by The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that 5,500 motorcycle riders die each year in Thailand: 15 deaths daily across the country. These are just the deaths; there are a staggering amount of accidents which will leave one or more people injured, often shockingly so. Thailand is the most lethal country in the world when it comes to motorbikes, the second most for road deaths generally. The survey gives reasons for the accidents: sleepy drivers, drunk drivers, low awareness of road laws, and speeding. Most motorbike fatalities are due to head injuries sustained by pillion passengers, and 75% of road deaths in Thailand involve motorcycles.


Fortunately there are five hospitals on Samui and each has ambulances. However, the injured are most likely to be brought for treatment by a just a single rescue service, all staffed by volunteers. This organization is simply known as Samui Rescue. You may already have seen their vehicles speeding along the island roads, ferrying the injured to hospital. They are based in Nathon but have various ‘branches’ on other parts of the island, particularly at black spots. This allows them to be first on the scene in 95% of cases. On average they’ll arrive in four minutes.


Copyright 2017 Samui Holiday Magazine. All rights reserved Siam Map Company Ltd.