Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A Warm Weleome

Samui’s not just about its fabulous palm-fringed beaches that are lapped by the warm turquoise waters. There’s much, much more. And that includes a wealth of Buddhist temples revealing the cultural side of the island. Then we have a myriad of adventurous activities available, including scuba-diving, island-hopping, sailing and even bungy-jumping. Of course, if you’re after more of a sedate Samui experience, there are many world-class spas on Samui offering everything from a basic Thai massage to sumptuous all-in packages with floral baths, Jacuzzis, scrubs and wraps, aromatherapy treatments and a whole lot more.

          

The shopaholics amongst you won’t be disappointed either - bargaining opportunities abound. And when it comes to restaurants, forget any preconceived ideas you may have had that all you’ll get here is a bowl of tom yam gung or a plate of fried rice. Finally, we have the nightlife. And with numerous bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues, Samui really does offer a total tropical holiday experience.

          

So, what with all the amazing things to do and see whilst you’re here, you’re sure to have a great time whenever you come. But if you’re here during the Songkran celebrations for the Thai New Year on the 13th April, you’ll have a totally unforgettable experience, as you’ll be involved in the world’s biggest water fight – whether you like it or not!

 
KOH CASCADES
 A guide to some of Samui’s favourite wats.

The best of Samui’s waterfalls.

Samui’s beaches duly amaze. Driving around the ring-road, people gaze out towards the sea, rather than inland towards the hills. They want to glimpse the sea, and hopefully come across one of the well-known beaches, or perhaps discover a more obscure one, all of their own. Samui is after all a beach destination, and a world-famous one at that. But if you were to ask a Thai where they might go for a dip, you might be surprised to hear that their favourite swimming spot isn’t a beach but a waterfall. Why’s that? Especially when guide books and all their digital counterparts are singing the praises of the shores, whilst the waterfalls are definitely in second place?

          

There are some good reasons, one of the most popular being that most beaches are extremely hot, and offer relatively little in the way of shade. Waterfalls, however, are usually densely integrated in a landscape of trees, bushes and foliage. The sun gets a look in, but through a dappled veil of greenery. Close-by, but never obtrusively so, you’ll find carts and vendors selling food at low prices. And last but not least, access is usually easy – you don’t have to walk through the grounds of a hotel to get to waterfalls.

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Tenacious Tribute Nights
 Live music is alive, kicking and beckoning at Hard Rock Café, Koh Samui.

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Hard Rock Café, Koh Samui opened in April 2016. You will find it in the heart of vibrant Chaweng, home to one of the island’s best beaches and renowned for its nightlife, with bars and restaurants catering to every taste as well as a variety of boutique shops, high-end stores and shopping malls. Just look out for the iconic Hard Rock Café sign, a huge neon guitar that takes pride of place out front, and the Rock Shop® which sits roadside… you can’t miss it!

          

The outside area features a spacious patio with seating for up to 100, with a bar and a concert stage set up and ready to rock with live bands. The current resident band is the Filipino quintet ‘Real Identity’. The members were all encouraged to come together by Albert van der Westhuizen, the energetic and motivational General Manager. The lead singer – Ms Nej - lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drummer are all happy to interchange places making them extremely versatile as well as overtly talented. They play rock ‘n roll and hard rock, love to take requests and play music that brings people together having fun.

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A CUT ABOVE THE REST
 Premier quality bespoke tailoring and exceptional service at Paul’s Fashion.

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They are dedicated to ensuring that every customer is 100% satisfied with their finished garments. Whether it is a formal suit or business suit, trousers or skirt and shirt, a tuxedo, business dress, wedding dress, winter coat or jacket, even leather shoes or boots. They are so confident of the service they provide, the high quality of the materials they use and the design and workmanship that, without hesitation, they offer the perfect cast-iron guarantee; they will not accept any money for any finished garment unless you are 100% happy with it. And no-one has felt the need to take up this offer since the shop opened!

          

Paul and his team are always right up-to-date with current fashion trends and have many years of experience in bespoke tailoring. Expect to be asked lots of questions so that they can fully understand the purpose of each garment as well as the look and fit you desire. Armed with this information they will help you to choose and decide which styles and materials are most suitable for the intended use and your body type. From classic traditional designs to something with a more modern or dramatic flair. Discuss all the finer details of your design; linings, pockets, collars, buttons, lengths. Take along your own ideas or let Paul and his team take the lead. Anything is possible, just trust their years of design experience and skilled tailoring.

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KEEPING HEALTHY ON KOH SAMUI
 Bandon International Hospital is here to help.

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Holidays are hopefully memorable – in all the right ways. But they can become memorable in other less positive ways too. What to do when medical help is needed? On Samui, there are plenty of solutions if something should go wrong. And that’s where Bandon International Hospital comes in. It’s the oldest-established hospital on Samui, and its doctors and nurses are used to seeing a wide variety of conditions. Holidaymakers who turn up at Bandon most often are experiencing one of a small number of problems. We spoke to hospital doctors to see just how you can keep healthy – and how to proceed if you do start feeling ill for any reason.

          

Staying Safe on the Roads Getting round on Samui is quite easy thanks to car hire possibilities, taxis and shared public vans or ‘songthaews’. However, many tourists prefer to hire motorbikes. Unsuspecting holidaymakers see traffic that is generally slower than back home and assume it’s fairly safe. They assume too that road regulations are the same as at home. If you wish to ride a bike, wear a helmet (it’s the law for both driver and passenger). Drive at a reasonable speed – that means slowly. If you’re turning or stopping, indicate. Be aware that other bikes can turn quickly into your lane, out of nowhere, and just keep going.

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GREAT ESCAPES
 Discover the extraordinary world of Anantara Spa Bophut.

Discover the extraordinary world of Anantara Spa Bophut.

Holidays are all about unwinding, but even the best of vacations can sometimes bring a stress all of their own. Or maybe they can just be a little too exciting. Whatever the reasons are, sometimes we all need to take a break while on holiday. There is plenty of choice on Samui when it comes to spas and massage, but if you are looking for something beyond the usual, a sanctuary dedicated to relaxation, where the cares of the world drop away, then there are relatively few places to go. Anantara Spa Bophut is one of Samui’s most thrilling finds; enter it and you find a private space where you have time to reset and return to your senses.

          

The spa is one of the most spectacular on the island, and was designed by award-winning starchitect Bill Bensley. You’ll find it at Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort. You sense that it is going to be a stellar experience as soon as you turn off the ring-road. Where else would you cross a wooden bridge with a traditional Thai arch and go across a moat? You feel that you are leaving the world behind you and entering exciting new territory. The sense of stepping into an extraordinary place only deepens once you’re led into the spa area. The reception is housed over a beautiful water garden and exudes peace and relaxation.

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WAT TO SEE
 Wat Plai Laem beguiles with its bright colours and giant statues.

Wat Plai Laem beguiles with its bright colours and giant statues.

Samui’s foremost tourist attraction is the Big Buddha temple, and you’ll no doubt have seen many references to it. There are scores of tours that stop by daily. But for some strange reason, an equally amazing temple, just a few kilometres away, remains much less visited. Wat Plai Laem is on the agenda of far fewer holidaymakers, and it tends to be the local islanders who come here. Big Buddha is in fact merely an outlier of Wat Plai Laem, which is considered to be the main temple in the area. To reach Wat Plai Laem, just drive past Big Buddha and keep following the road north and then east as it leaves Bangrak, and then on your left you’ll see Plai Laem temple. It’s easy to spot: you’ll see a massive statue with 18 arms!

          

Staying Safe on the Roads Getting round on Samui is quite easy thanks to car hire possibilities, taxis and shared public vans or ‘songthaews’. However, many tourists prefer to hire motorbikes. Unsuspecting holidaymakers see traffic that is generally slower than back home and assume it’s fairly safe. They assume too that road regulations are the same as at home. If you wish to ride a bike, wear a helmet (it’s the law for both driver and passenger). Drive at a reasonable speed – that means slowly. If you’re turning or stopping, indicate. Be aware that other bikes can turn quickly into your lane, out of nowhere, and just keep going.

Read more...
 
THE FINE ART OF WELLNESS
 A refreshing and simple approach at Silavadee Pool Spa Resort.

A refreshing and simple approach at Silavadee Pool Spa Resort.

Silavadee Pool Spa Resort has worked hard to earn its prestigious reputation as one of Koh Samui’s most luxurious and romantic hideaways. Located on the pristine and exclusive Laem Nan Beach in north Lamai, it possesses an individual style and ‘back to nature’ concept. It is truly a delightfully blissful and idyllic gem, enclosed within the tropical vegetation of the indigenous landscape as it meanders down a hillside to the ocean. Every building is made from natural materials, sustaining harmony with both the forest and the sparkling ocean.

          

Silavadee Spa is an intimate spa enclave, tucked away above the resort reception. On arrival, you are immediately enveloped into a welcoming, beautifully-calming and relaxing open-plan pavilion, surrounded by frangipani trees, their white flowers emitting a delicate fragrance. A high wooden ceiling, urn fountains, white orchids, comfortable sofas and soothing music complete the scene.

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SONGKRAN ON SAMUI
 Welcome to the world’s biggest water fight!

Welcome to the world’s biggest water fight!

Songkran is a dazzling anomaly. At a time when it rains the least, virtually the entire population of Thailand organizes a massive water fight and indulges in days of fun and mayhem. Millions of people will get soaked, and millions will be throwing buckets of water over passers-by. If you’re not expecting it, you might wonder what on earth is happening.

          

Songkran celebrates the Thai New Year, and does it in aquatic style. It’s a rowdy and bizarre spectacle. It might seem totally modern – it relies a lot on super-soakers and plastic water pistols of all kinds and calibres but it turns out to be centuries old. Songkran hails from India and an ancient tradition there, Makar Sankriti, a celebration of the sun passing from the old year into the new one. The festival was adopted and then adapted by the Thais and has over the years become a deep part of Thai culture and there’s nowhere in the kingdom where it’s not to be found.

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THAI FINE DINING
 Let Saffron at Banyan Tree Samui tempt you with the very best of Thai gourmet food.

Let Saffron at Banyan Tree Samui tempt you with the very best of Thai gourmet food.

Overlooking a gem of a bay, Saffron offers a unique dining experience that harkens back to the luxuries of old Siam. It’s a chance to indulge in an evening that’ll be unique while enjoying unparalleled food and drink. Welcome to the world of Saffron, a place apart, and one that’s filled with an unforgettable charm all of its own.

          

Part of the fun is the amazing approach to the restaurant. Hop into a buggy and you’ll be taken along paths that meander through the resort’s vast gardens, an oasis of immense and lush greenery, then finally ascend towards Saffron, with its view that commands both the sea and the headland that’s home to Banyan Tree. The resort by the way, is located one kilometre off the ring-road as you head into Lamai from Chaweng. Just take the small lane close by the IT Centre and head up until you see the entrance to the resort. Saffron is a chic and elegant stage for some very fine dining. Choose between the terrace with its cooling sea breezes or an air-con dining room that, while contemporary, also channels a traditional Chinese medicine shop, of the kind that you can still find today in Bangkok. It may sound off-kilter but it’s definitely a combination that works, and works well. In addition to the main dining area, you’ll also find three smaller private dining rooms just on the floor below, ideal for parties or for an intimate occasion. But no matter where you sit, sundown is spectacular, and a chance to gaze out over the sea, drink in hand. Even more spectacular is when the moon rises directly up over the horizon, a beautiful sight that’s awed many a guest.

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FUTURE MODERN & RARE RETRO
 The Page recreates unusually exquisite Thai dishes from the kingdom’s past as well as offering superb western treats.

The Page recreates unusually exquisite Thai dishes from the kingdom’s past as well as offering superb western treats.

Looking for some really traditional Thai food, cooked in the pain-staking traditional ways? It calls up settings that are equally traditional - wooden restaurants filled with ancient ornaments, and where the staff are wearing traditional costumes. The setting at The Page challenges that thinking. The Page is resolutely modern, with nothing antique about it whatsoever. Arriving here, you expect something super modern when it comes to dining, something definitely voguish. It does indeed have international dining (we’ll come to that in a moment) but it’s doing sterling service re-creating dishes from Siam’s deepest past.

          

The Page is part of the iconic resort simply known as The Library, a creative kind of place that seems to channel the near future. Walk through a green and silent garden dotted with minimalist white cube accommodation, and there in front of you, by the sea, stands The Page.

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MEDITERRANEAN SPLENDOURS
 An inspirational interior, a beautiful bay and the finest food makes Ad Hoc Beach Café unmissable.

An inspirational interior, a beautiful bay and the finest food makes Ad Hoc Beach Café unmissable.

This delightful restaurant is a favourite place for lunch and dinner thanks to an appreciative crowd of repeat diners who love coming here. Welcome to the world of Ad Hoc Beach Café, a brilliant choice when it comes to laid-back dining, with the accent on Mediterranean and Italian fare. The restaurant is housed in a beautiful old-style house that sits right by the shore. You’ll have to decide whether to sit outside on the terrace, directly overlooking the sea or in the quietly elegant dining room. Either option is good. Traditional houses such as these, once so numerous, are now sadly becoming a bit of a rarity. Ad Hoc is definitely an architectural treat in itself, and adds to the overall atmosphere of romance. The bay where Ad Hoc is situated is dotted with a few seaside houses, but there’s no cluttered companionship with other venues. The restaurant has a deliciously secluded feel to it. You’ll find it just a few hundred metres from Fisherman’s Village on the coast road as you head towards Bangrak. It’s open every day from 3:00 pm until 9:30 pm, except Sundays.

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MORE THAN JUST AN AIRPORT
 Samui International Airport’s facilities are now a destination in themselves.

Samui International Airport’s facilities are now a destination in themselves.

You definitely don’t need a boarding pass in hand to feel you’re entitled to spend time at Samui Airport; you no longer need to be going anywhere at all. Part of the fun of the airport these days is that it’s casual and fun, a place to come and linger – much like the best malls. It’s just as much about bon appétit as it is about bon voyage. And if you hear the merry bing-bong of a flight being called, that’s just part of the background. It only need disturb you if you’re actually on the flight and you risk being late thanks to the good times you’ve been having.

          

When the airport received a total makeover some years back, its architects had already foreseen that it could and should be used by not just travellers but, basically, everyone. That’s why they constructed a street between the arrivals and departures, and lined it with buildings. It’s simply called Samui Park Avenue. It exists without fuss or fanfare, and the ensemble seems to be simultaneously modelled on both an open-air mall and a tropical garden. It’s a blend that’s not at all jarring, but rather adds to the already considerable tranquillity and charms of the airport.

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FUN FOR EVERYONE
 Hitting the sweet spot at Mini Golf International.

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Not many activities really turn out to be fun for all the family, but this one is the exception. It’s also equally fun for groups of friends and for couples. Everyone, in other words. Mini Golf International is a hugely popular way to take a break from the beach and the swimming pool while holidaying on Samui. People from all over the world come to play. Check it out for yourself - there’s a map on the wall with a pin for every visitor denoting where they have come from. It’s filled with pins. Not everyone comes from afar however, as the game is equally popular with Samui residents. Mini golf is quite an addictive game, and has become so popular on Samui that the course here boasts its own aficionados who have it as a weekly calendar fixture.

          

It’s a game that was invented a century ago, and has come to be seen almost as a classic variation on golf. It’s extraordinarily entertaining, and certainly a lot cheaper. You’ve probably played it already at some point. Mini Golf International is the brainchild of friendly Jürgen, more usually known as Jojo. He designed and built the course himself shortly after coming to Samui in 2003. It’s accredited by the World Mini Golf Federation, and as such it’s competition standard. It’s still one of the few places you can play mini golf in South-East Asia, and it was the first ever course to be built Thailand. The course on Samui is extremely well-planned and built. It’s also original, and since all mini golf courses in Thailand are patented, nobody’s allowed to copy it.

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LIFE IN THE FIT LANE
 Samui as a fitness destination.

 Samui as a fitness destination.

Can life on a tropical island with its beaches and bars ever hope to combine with keeping fit? It might seem impossible given the atmosphere of hedonism that prevails on Samui. But while some islanders and visitors rarely work out, others seriously devote themselves to being fit. How do they go about it? It turns out that there are many ways to maintain a level of fitness or simply to get started. Here’s a brief round-up of what’s on offer when it comes to sport and physical activities.

          

Gyms In addition to all the gyms run by hotels, there are more than a dozen on the island offering fitness at moderate prices. Most follow the standard format of treadmills, step machines and plenty of weights. As such they are good for both cardiovascular workouts and muscle-training. Some gyms offer both individual trainers and classes. And some even offer programmes whereby you can come and stay for a week or longer in order to get fit.

          

Stand-out gyms include Hillside Village Fitness Centre (Facebook: HillsideVillageFitness). It’s one of the cheapest on Samui, and is one of the few that has its own swimming pool. Not many people seem to know of the existence of the gym, so you’re likely to have the place to yourself.

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OFF THE TRACK
 A look at what’s on offer with those off-road trips to the mountain.

 A look at what’s on offer with those off-road trips to the mountain.

Sooner or later, you’ve got to move. You can’t stay by the pool forever! And when the jet lag has gone, you’ve browned up a bit, and it’s time to explore, there’s quite a bit to pick through. In fact, it can get confusing – particularly if you try this on the internet. The biggest problem with the ’net is that there’s no indexing or regulation – you could be looking at stuff posted five years ago which is no longer current. Anyway, you’ll probably do what 95% of our visitors do; pop down to reception and ask what have they got. Which is no bad thing at all.

          

But first of all, a word of warning. This is Thailand. It’s not part of some kind of strictly regulated and monitored Euro-system, with tight laws and inspectors and internationally agreed standards and quality control. It’s a very free and easy-going nation – and that’s its joy. But it also means that you might well come across aspects of life here that will surprise your more sophisticated expectations. Many things, which are quite normal in daily Thai life, can take unwary travellers by surprise. For example, the attitude to working animals may not quite match what you’re accustomed to. You are inside an alien culture, so be prepared for this.

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Essential Etiquette
 Dos and don’ts in Thailand.

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You’re on holiday in a hot tropical country, and not just any country. This is Thailand, one of the world’s most exotic destinations. If at times certain places seem hyper-modern and western, everything here is underpinned by centuries’ old traditions. Things are just not going to be like in the country you’re from, and to get the best out of your time in Thailand, it really pays to master the etiquette that goes with being here. Here’s a brief lowdown on what’s done and not done here in the kingdom.

          

Respect the Thai Monarchy The King is the head of state and is treated by one and all with the greatest of respect. Everywhere you go you’ll see pictures of not only the current king, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn but also his late father, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. You’ll also see pictures showing other members of the Royal Family. Discussion about anything to do with royalty is discouraged and you should be aware of causing offence if you don’t show respect in this matter. If you go to the cinema, you’re expected to stand during the national anthem. And when you hear it while outdoors, you should stand still and listen until it’s over. Any symbol or picture showing the Royal Family should also be accorded respect, as should be the flag of Thailand. Do not show disrespect in any form – and that extends to what you post on the internet.

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