Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A Warm Welcome

It’s always exciting to be holidaying on Samui, but perhaps January and February are the best times of all to be here. The weather is pleasantly hot and sunny, with generally little rain, and the new year is underway. It’s an upbeat time that segues into February, and the time of year for romance to come to the fore.

          

But you don’t need to be here on Valentine’s Day to have a good time. If you’re here with a loved one, then Samui is ideal, a place to come just anytime and celebrate – whatever the month, you’ll find plenty of special dinners for couples where you can dine in a decorated gazebo right on the beach. An experience like this is definitely one that’ll leave some fine memories.

          

Romance aside, there’s plenty to see and do on Samui – enough for more than a month of great times. And perhaps that’s why so many people come back year after year. Our magazine will give you ideas on how to spend time here, whether you’re here for a single day, a week or much, much longer.

          

Whether it’s food or drink you wish to indulge in, great parties, sports or just an indolent time around the pool sipping on that strawberry daiquiri, Samui will spoil you in a multitude of ways. Always a vibrant place, the island is synonymous with pleasure, with its topography of sandy beaches, bays and hidden jungly plateaus all conjuring up tropical-style beauty.

 
A HOLIDAY WITHIN A HOLIDAY
Koh Taen – the mapmaker’s secret getaway spot.

Koh Taen – the mapmaker’s secret getaway spot.Once they’ve been to Koh Taen (it’s also referred to as Koh Tan), holidaymakers are always glad they went. But they’re also bemused that this small island is so unknown, when other tourist attractions seem to bask in permanent limelight. If there are marketing mysteries, this is surely one of them. The 7.5 square kilometre island is as beautiful as it is unknown. It seems to have totally escaped development. Even many repeat visitors to Samui haven’t heard of Koh Taen, and most people who live on Samui have never been there. Strangely it’s not included on many maps of Samui and seems to be a victim of cartographical amnesia. Yet when you drive through the south of the island, you can clearly see it offshore from the village of Thong Krut. Large as life, the island looms very close to the shores of Samui. From the beach, all that can be seen is the island itself, looking suitably mysterious with its forested hills, all dark green, temptingly close. Not much else can be seen.

          

Once you’re in Thong Krut, a small beachside village, you can see that there are quite few tours that operate out to the island, which can be booked through travel agents. Most tours operate a day or half-day excursion, but the cheapest way to get there is to take a taxi boat from the small pier at Thong Krut. One way tickets cost just 200 baht per adult and 100 baht per child (4 to 11 years old).

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MEASURING UP
Paul’s Fashion offers tailor-made clothing with a 100% guarantee.

Paul’s Fashion offers tailor-made clothing with a 100% guarantee.Buying bespoke clothing in a tropical country can and should be an engaging experience. One that you look back on with fondness, even if it’s not part of a traditional holiday in the sun. Samui beguiles with its many choices of tailor shops, but whether they’re on their first foray into having bespoke clothes or already are old hands, many holidaymakers simply head for Paul’s Fashion, situated in Chaweng.

          

Once you step inside Paul’s Fashion, you will not only be made to feel welcome, but you’re encouraged to take your time. After all, this isn’t about buying something, however good, off the rack. A tailor has to get to know your needs when it comes to clothing. The primary concerns focus on ‘what will the clothes be used for? Formal wear or casual? And for which seasons? The list isn’t long, but it’s an important one, and the answers help Paul Subedhi and his team provide you with the results that match your expectations.

          

Underpinning all of this – and giving all their customers peace of mind – is the extraordinary guarantee that Paul’s Fashion offers: they will not accept money for any finished product that a customer isn’t totally happy with. This means that the service, materials used, the design, the workmanship and the fit all have to meet their customers’ approval. The guarantee covers everything that you’ll find here, be it a formal suit, trousers, skirt or dress, winter wear and even the range of leather footwear that Paul’s also sells. If you check out what Paul’s Fashion customers say on TripAdvisor you’ll find an immensely long list of satisfied clients.

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BUBBLES AND ALL SPA INCLUSIVE
Luxuriate at X2 Koh Samui – A Spa Retreat

Luxuriate at X2 Koh Samui – A Spa RetreatX2, pronounced ‘Cross-To’, is Thailand’s first resort offering guests an optional spa package for unlimited treatments throughout their stay. Situated on five acres (12 rai) of prime beachfront land, with majestic, mature trees, natural surroundings and perfect uninterrupted views over the Gulf of Thailand, this resort is private, secluded and peaceful. The setting provides the perfect backdrop for a modern, contemporary and unique, almost Scandinavian style, which blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings.

          

X2 caters to a cosmopolitan group of guests who are looking for the ultimate relaxing holiday experience, with a few value-added extras thrown in. They offer the highest standard of cutting edge, first-class private accommodation, with 26 amazingly chic and cosy private villas, 23 of which have their own 20 square metre pool. X2 allows you to “Cross To” a whole new dimension of designed luxury and wellness, and to experience life at your own pace.

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PARADISE ON HIGH
Forget the tours – head directly for Paradise Park Farm because it’s not what you think!

Forget the tours – head directly for Paradise Park Farm because it’s not what you think!You’re here for a week. You want to go around. You hire a car for a day or so. And then you look to see what trips are on offer. There are crocodiles and tigers. There’s a garden with butterflies. There’s a mummified monk wearing Ray-Bans. There are places where you can ride an elephant for a few minutes. There are shooting ranges. There are restaurants on the top of the mountain. And there’s also the timeless and ethereal ‘Buddha’s Secret Garden’.

          

But there’s only one place where you can do all of this in one go - Paradise Park Farm. It’s not a farm. It’s not even a park. I’m not sure what you’d name a place where the view is like nothing else on the island, where there’s a petting zoo with dozens of animals reptiles and birds, an excellent restaurant, a superbly-modern infinity swimming pool and deck – the word ‘paradise’ needs to be part of the name, for sure!

          

You’ve got all of the things I’ve mentioned. And they’re all close together in one area, on the west coast of the island. If you’re looking for an organised day trip then you’ll probably find one where several of these are knitted into one package. But here is some serious advice. Don’t do that!

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GETTING AWAY
Let Away Spa at W Koh Samui take you to new levels of bliss.

Let Away Spa at W Koh Samui take you to new levels of bliss.Imagine a headland where two bays meet, secluded, dreamy and gently forested. A place where people come to get away from it all. This is the natural haven that is the location for the prestigious W Koh Samui and Away Spa.

          

Everybody who’s ever come here agrees that the location is one of the best on Samui. It’s an idyllic spot with brilliant sea views and a lush backdrop. It contains all the ingredients necessary for wonderful holidays. But even if you’re not staying or dining in the resort, it’s definitely worth taking time out to visit W’s Away Spa. If W Koh Samui is already a private world, then Away Spa is a world within that world. It’s deliciously private, and as such not so easy to find; staff will need to escort you otherwise you might even miss the entrance.

          

Away Spa is located just down from the resort’s atrium, and is in a suite of buildings all of its own. The spa is a key part of W Koh Samui Resort’s dedication to helping its guests relax and soak up the laid-back lifestyle for which Samui is so justly known. The spa’s one of those places that you come across in your travels that you always hope to return to again.

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BIG, BOLD, BEMUSING
Big Buddha challenges you to look beyond the superficial.

Big Buddha challenges you to look beyond the superficial.Big Buddha tends to surprise first-time visitors. Even shock them. No matter how many times you’ve visited temples, it’s not what you expect. If you’re used to temples that are generally quiet, and good places for meditation, then Big Buddha will prove to be very, very exceptional. It’s not just the most visited temple on Samui, it’s also the island’s most visited tourist spot. It’s extraordinarily popular, yet most holidaymakers who come to see it fail to appreciate what it’s really about, and instead get sidetracked by all the distractions.

          

Big Buddha was built in 1972, on what used to be a very small island, Koh Fan. To get to it, you had to wade out or go in a boat. Later, a causeway was built, so nowadays you just drive across it and never realise this was a place set apart. The causeway is a narrow strip that sees a lot of traffic. A few people make the journey on foot, and if you do, you’ll realize that it’s a great spot for taking photos of the island’s north coast. It’s particularly fine in the evenings, when you can experience beautiful sunsets, or in the cool of the early morning.

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COMFORT ZONE
Stacked Burger showcases the tastiest of American eats in a street-side setting.

Stacked Burger showcases the tastiest of American eats in a street-side setting.A vibrant time out is guaranteed at Stacked Burger, a niche restaurant with cutting-edge American-style food of surprisingly different kinds. The accent, as the name suggests, is on burgers that are stacked with various options, all of them yummy. The chefs here have created dozens of recipes and culinary ideas, seeking not just to bring you homely American burgers, but way more than that; they’ve gotten highly innovative and dreamed up some unique creations all of their own. Up to you which kind you’d like, and there’s a lot to choose from on the menu. Judging from all the accolades they’ve received, their culinary take on burgers has been wildly successful.

          

No matter whether you’re opting for a traditional burger or one that’s unique, the quality is assured. And here, it’s nothing but the best meat. Think 100% hand-ground imported beef (both Black Angus and Wagyu). No fillers are used, and the meats are all seasoned by hand. Many guests opt for the highly recommended “Hot Mama”, a burger that combines a little fire with very moreish tastes. It’s a gourmet meld replete with crispy jalapenos, cheddar, spicy bacon jam, aioli and salad all served in a bun with chilli and lime notes. Equally popular is the “Samui Bad Boy”, which consists of tender pulled-pork, bourbon barbecue sauce, cheddar and jalapenos along with salad, all of which is placed in a perfectly grilled ciabatta bun. Both of the above come with a wide choice of French fries. These are just two of the mouth-watering examples.

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BUYING PROPERTY IN KOH SAMUI?

BUYING PROPERTY IN KOH SAMUI?Every year, more people are choosing to buy property in Samui. What used to be your typical tropical holiday destination has become an ideal place to buy a villa, spend some time and cover your costs with rental income. Setting up here might have struck some as being a bit unusual a few years ago. Why head for an island in Thailand? How do you even go about buying a property there? Traditionally, holiday homes were farmhouses in France or a city pied-a-terre in a European capital. With the changing global environment, more accessible flights and improving construction quality, all that is changing. Owning a holiday home or investment property in Thailand is now fairly straightforward..

          

Rodney Waller, who has been living on Samui for over a decade, sees the island not just as a ‘place in the sun’ but as an investment decision that now makes more sense. He’s known to be one of the island’s foremost authorities on the subject. For a start, he’s written what many would consider to be the definitive guide to buying a property in Thailand, and his book, simply called ‘Buying Property in Thailand’, isn’t a flimsy due diligence check-list; instead, it covers every aspect from property law to furnishing your property for rental.

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SUBLIMELY SATISFYING
One of the island’s most tranquil spas is right on the edge of Fisherman’s Village – at Celes Beachfront Resort!

One of the island’s most tranquil spas is right on the edge of Fisherman’s Village – at Celes Beachfront Resort!Samui just keeps getting better! First of all it was restaurants; today we’ve got some of the best in the world. And then spas began to appear, too. To begin with resorts just added a massage room for their guests. Then this expanded and treatments began to appear. Now, there are worldclass spas drawing-in visitors from all over the island. And one of these is at Celes Beachfront Resort.

          

Celes is a name you’ll probably not be familiar with. But this beautiful resort appeared in 2017, sitting quietly on the beach in Bophut, only a few hundred metres from the ever-popular Fisherman’s Village. It’s 5-star, super-luxurious, but it also has a quiet air of sublime chic about it. It’s unassuming. The style is clean and modern, but doesn’t attempt to declare itself ‘minimalist’ in any way – it has too much flair for that.

          

There are lots of bright white walls and surfaces – even the pathways are pale – but the usual blockiness has been sidestepped by using lots of curves and rounded corners, giving the whole resort an elegant embryonic feel. And, unlike so many design options which take the easy way out and fill every inch with rampant tropical foliage, the overall effect here is a series of bright, modern spaces and buildings, with the thoughtful positioning of the green of the trees, bushes and lawns complementing this harmoniously.

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WATER WATER WATER
The truth about water in, on, and around Samui – and it’s not all bad news!

The truth about water in, on, and around Samui – and it’s not all bad news!Go online. Do a search for ‘Samui’. And then look at what you come across. I don’t mean actually read it all. I mean scan the websites that come up on the first page of Google. They’re all commercial sites that have invested in search engine optimisation – with the exception of Wikipedia and TripAdvisor which inject a much more reliable note into things – perhaps. The most up-to-date info on Samui is what people are doing and saying right at this minute. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes based on impressions and hear-say, and not on real facts. However, in amongst all of this, you’ll not see anything about water – except advice not to drink it out of the tap!

          

Samui is an island. And so it’s surrounded by the sea water of the Gulf of Thailand. This you will swim in. The island of Samui also gets rained upon. And, unlike the rainwater in so many parts of the world, it’s completely safe to drink; there is no polluted-emissions layer it’s going to fall through first. And then the rain water soaks down into the ground and into the water table. It’s not surprising that this water subsequently flows downhill through the sub-strata – we’re an island which has nearly all of its landmass on a slope down towards the coast, after all. And then some of this water ends up in your water-pipes – and then you wash in it.

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DOUBLE DELIGHTS
Silavadee Pool Spa Resort wows with both fantastic food and spa treatments.

Silavadee Pool Spa Resort wows with both fantastic food and spa treatments.This is a resort that has seemingly everything going for it. The brainchild of a Bangkok business person who loves to travel and to stay in fine hotels, he dreamed up Silavadee Pool Spa Resort to represent his ideal place to stay and relax. After prospecting many areas on the island, he finally chose the site where Silavadee stands today. It’s located on a headland in the south of the island, and its name translates as ‘beautiful rocks’. It’s a stunning mix of jungle, trees and foliage all of which cascade down to a wonderfully private bay with deep blue waters.

          

It’s definitely a great place to vacation, but also attracts outside guests for its dining facilities and spa. Many guests drop in either to eat or to have a massage, and the menus for the four restaurants and the spa are all superlative. Let’s look first at Silavadee’s dining facilities. To start with, there’s The Height, one of the most popular restaurants on the island when it comes to authentic Thai food. Many guests book for Wednesdays when you’ll find a beautifully-presented Thai buffet, featuring a medley of favourite dishes, including Thailand’s famed curries, stir-fry treats and a plethora of meat and fish dishes. It starts at midday. Naturally, there’s also a great à la carte menu that operates all week, and a selection of wines to go with the dishes.

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THE YEAR OF THE PIG
The story of Chinese New Year and what goes on behind the scenes.

The story of Chinese New Year and what goes on behind the scenes.All Westerners know exactly what their New Year is all about – a good night out, lots of drinks and fun, and with everyone going crazy when the clock strikes midnight! Yes, sure, there’s the idea of New Year’s resolutions, too. But apart from that, the whole thing is just a good reason for a party.

          

But it’s not the same with the Chinese. Their thinking about this occasion is complex, saturated with ritual and actually goes on for a total of 15 days. Because it’s based on the lunar calendar, every new year begins on a different day, at that point in the month when the moon is at its darkest. It then runs until the moon is full, 15 days later. And this year’s celebration is set to kick-off on the 5th of February.

          

However, to most of us in the West, we’re only usually aware of one particular day, and that’s the one when the Chinese community have their colourful procession around the streets. This is the first day of the Chinese traditional calendar for the year – although in actual fact, where there are large Chinese communities such as, say, San Francisco, the street parties spread into a second day. But what most of us don’t realise is that, for up to a month before this day, there’s lots been going on already behind the scenes.

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FANTASTIC FARE
In a mood for the Mediterranean? Try The Cliff Bar & Grill.

In a mood for the Mediterranean? Try The Cliff Bar & Grill.Ten minutes south of Chaweng, The Cliff Bar & Grill offers diners the chance to enjoy great food in some of Samui’s most picturesque surroundings. It overlooks one of the favourite small beaches of Samui, Tong Takian Bay, which is framed by a beautiful headland and lush greenery. It is the ideal stage for a meal shared with a partner, friends or family.

          

Chic yet always convivial, The Cliff first opened its doors in 2004, to become one of the first sophisticated restaurants on the island. It quickly made a name for itself, yet it’s never dropped in the rankings, and 15 years on, it’s still enjoying huge success. When you step in through the front door, you’ll see a wall covered with accolades from prestigious institutes. For example, Wine Spectator magazine has consistently given The Cliff an award of excellence ‘for having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world’. As you can imagine, to garner such praise calls for on-going professionalism of the most exacting kind. The restaurant is a lot more than its seaside-friendly look; this is the home of extraordinarily good food and drink.

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A PEARL ON THE BEACH
Lose yourself in getaway luxury at the stylish La Perle Luxury Boutique Hotel.

Lose yourself in getaway luxury at the stylish La Perle Luxury Boutique Hotel.Imagine the essence of Koh Samui – a tropical island with white sand beaches and blue skies. In the early days, these unspoiled beaches were sprinkled with little wooden huts. It was a paradise, waking-up to a sea view right on the sand. But times have changed, the little huts have gone, and the 5-star giants have arrived. But now, modern, cool and oh-so-laid back, the little bungalows are back. Just take a look at the exclusive and very stylish La Perle on Ban Tai Beach!

          

It’s a wonderful idea and it just had to happen – the new wave of small luxury boutique resorts. So many people look back with longing at those little family-owned huts. It was all just so friendly and personal. And even though the big hotels try very hard today, an international package with loyalty discount-points on all of its 200 rooms could never be the same thing.

          

But part of the attraction is the location, too. Chaweng is now big, crowded and busy. For your little boutique resort to work it has to be in the right location, and it has to have the friendly intimacy of those old-time bungalows from way back when. But, today, of course, we’re looking at high-end style and luxury, too.

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CAPITAL ATTRACTIONS
What to see and do in Nathon.

What to see and do in Nathon.For many years, to get to Nathon, there was only one way - you had to take a night boat from mainland Suratthani. It was cramped and uncomfortable, hard to sleep, but if you hadn’t finally managed to doze off by the time you arrived in the tiny port, you’d be greeted by the sight of steep hills dwarfing the sleepy town that lay at their base. The slopes were entirely covered in dark green, and the town itself a patchwork of white concrete and the brown of traditional wooden housing. You stepped ashore and found the little port workaday and cheerful, an administrative outpost, but more laidback than official.

          

It’s much like that today, though more modern, and one of the best ways to approach is still by sea, which lets this small port grow bigger in increments. It’s only in the last minutes that it seems to have any real size at all, almost reluctantly spreading out as the ship docks. You can also approach along the ring-road, and then it’s there instantaneously and without fanfare. Even though it’s the island’s capital, it’s unfamed in comparison with Chaweng and Lamai. For a start there are far fewer hotels here, and people who are staying only do so in order to catch a ferry.

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ISLAND ICON
Pick Poppies for dinner tonight.

Pick Poppies for dinner tonight.Poppies Samui has been an island favourite for as long as most people care to remember, and little has changed since it was built in the 80s, becoming one of the very first of Samui’s upscale resorts and restaurants. Conveniently located in the south of Chaweng, on the beach road, the disarmingly simple façade hides the surprises within. For a start, there’s an entire oasis of green that begins once you’ve gone through the atrium. A path leads through grounds that have look as if they have stepped straight out of a fable. Deeply green and enigmatic, the lush foliage, plants and trees all beckon you to slow down and become aware of your surroundings.

          

Unless you’re lucky enough to possess your own tropical garden, you may not have seen anything like this before – and it’s rare enough a sight even when you’re travelling. It’s hard to believe that you’ll come to the sea and the restaurant that fronts it – there’s definitely no sign of either. Follow the path as it meanders through the gardens and it becomes a little journey all of its own. And thankfully, you don’t have to share it with crowds, Poppies being a discreet, select kind of a place. You’ll see cottages on your way, and there are 24 of these, but they hardly impinge, lost to view in all the greenery. People love to stay at the resort,it’s a luxury experience, and very often the same guests return over and over again. Half way down to the restaurant, you might even want to take a break. There’s a small pavilion right by a bridge that crosses a pond, where you can sit awhile.

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