Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A Warm Welcome

Some say Samui has it all; idyllic beaches, glorious weather, nearby islands, temples, the green mountainous interior, waterfalls and amazing views. As well as thousands of restaurants, bars and music venues and activities for both adults and children. Try some go-karting, visit a water park or the elephant sanctuary, or relax in a spa, meditation or yoga class.

          

As we move into the last two months of 2018, be mindful that November is known as the beginning of the monsoon season. You may experience a short-lived torrential downpour, returning to sunshine soon afterwards, or the longer lasting drizzly rain that you tend to associate with Europe. The good news is the temperature always remains around 25 to 28 degrees Celsius. So, although it might keep you from the beach occasionally, it won’t stop you enjoying the many other activities on offer as we wind our way into December.

          

You’ll find that Christmas on Samui is a rather laid back affair and definitely not overly commercial. Santa hats make an appearance for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when many resorts and restaurants have a traditional European style Christmas dinner. As 2018 comes to a close, enjoy one of the many New Year’s Eve parties, with fireworks lighting up the tropical skies, accentuating the sea and mountains.

          

It’s easy to immerse yourself in all Samui has to offer. Whether you have sunshine or showers, you are sure to have lots of fun.

 
ZIP, FLY, SIP AND SPLASH
Jungle highs at Samui Tree Bridge Coffee and Tours.

Jungle highs at Samui Tree Bridge Coffee and Tours.Zip-lines, sling bridges, tree platforms, great coffee, an amazing waterfall and fantastic views all the way across the Gulf of Siam to Koh Phangan. Situated high up in the naturally green, energy emitting, tropical tree-clad, mountainous interior of Samui, this is a ‘must do’ trip whilst on Samui.

          

Here, you really get a sense of being involved in the jungle. You are totally surrounded by the mountains and trees, as you are both under and over the canopy. The main café seating area is a platform built around a giant tree trunk, shaded by the canopy above, and accessed by a sling bridge from the mountainside. Looking at the bridge, you wonder if it will sway and move when you walk on it, but as soon as you set foot on it, any fears are immediately banished. It’s attached with thick steel safety cables and feels extremely solid and stable. A lot of research, engineering knowledge and know-how have gone into the design of the wooden structures and cabling, ensuring total safety. Twenty metres above the ground below, 200 metres above sea level, and surrounded by mountain peaks, it’s a truly majestic and breath-taking location to experience. And, the coffee is really great!          

Tan Rua Waterfall is a 100 -200 metre walk from the café along a wellmarked path, with a series of falls and pools. Take a stroll and find a spot to relax, take your time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the rushing water and the gentle buzz and rhythm of nature.

Read more...
 
BIG FURNITURE, SMALL TREASURES
Sleek new colourful vibes at Loft by Oriental Living, now also in Phuket.

Sleek new colourful vibes at Loft by Oriental Living, now also in Phuket.Oriental Living is one of Samui and Phuket’s best known and loved, prestigious providers of interior design and high-end furnishings, sourced mainly from Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. For nearly 30 years, they have worked tirelessly with their clients, sourcing new furniture, new ideas and designs, being flexible, moving goalposts and continually redesigning, until the final desired look and feel is finally achieved and their clients are totally happy.

          

They offer custom-designed furniture packages for private residences, hotels, real estate projects and businesses in Thailand and overseas, and have been responsible for the interior design of many award-winning properties on the islands of both Samui and Phuket. They work with top companies such as Anantara, and have royal families on their client list, upgrading the interiors of resort rooms, villas and palaces, keeping them youthful, fresh and bang on trend, yet homely and comfortable. Their goal is simple; to create a space that you want to spend time in! Easy to live in, easy to rent and re-rent! Their customer service is second to none. The team are always on-hand to offer friendly but professional real-time advice and assistance, with a truly personal touch. They treat customers and clients as guests and usually end up becoming friends for life!

Read more...
 
ITALIAN DEDICATION
Prego Italian Restaurant truly is for everyone.

p32-1Marco Boscaini left Milan, Italy many years ago and has been found safe and well on the paradise island of Koh Samui, with no plans to return home! “I have no real reasons for going home these days,” he says, “because my family, they are here, and I am passionate about Prego.”

          

If you have ever visited Samui before, or are a resident here, you will definitely have heard rave reviews of Prego Italian Restaurant. Marco set up Prego 15 years ago, in conjunction with Amari Koh Samui just opposite, setting out to bring a smattering of Italian cuisine to this popular island, long before international fare emerged on the scene, and when Samui was just a sleepy island where chicken noodle soup, fried rice and green curry were your staple meals out!

          

The clever guys at Amari chose to keep the new and sophisticated eatery separate from the resort across the road, mindful that non-guests can be uncomfortable about straying into a resort restaurant when they are not resident. Consequently, Prego, which is located on Chaweng Beach Road, is now a hub of activity all year-round, attracting both holidaymakers and locals from all over the island. Staunchly loyal to Italian cuisine and authentic ingredients, but now with a far wider, more international audience, Chef Marco has made a bit of a name for himself. The popular eatery is now famed for its culinary experimentation, as he creatively combines traditional recipes with a few contemporary twists to keep things fresh and interesting. Check the website for up to date promotions on his latest creations!

Read more...
 
A GENTLE DELIGHT
The festival of Loy Krathong symbolises the quiet joy that’s bubbling
quietly under the surface of Thailand.

The festival of Loy Krathong symbolises the quiet joy that’s bubbling quietly under the surface of Thailand.In many ways Thailand is a voyage of discovery. It’s probably as unique as you can get in today’s busy world. What makes it like this is the fact that it’s just about the only nation that’s never been colonised. And this means that it’s never had to absorb new ideas or sudden new ways of doing things. And that includes customs and traditions. Yes, certainly it’s a Buddhist nation, and as such shares some occasions with other parts of the world. But, as with many other aspects of life in Thailand, things here seem to take on their own particular flavour.

          

The best-known of Thai festivals must be, of course, Songkran, the Thai New Year, when possibly more water is seen on one day than in the rest of the year combined. But, next to this, is the gentle celebration of Loy Krathong.

          

This event takes places on the evening of the full moon on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, which this year falls on 22nd November.

          

As with most such traditional events, there are two distinct layers to Loy Krathong. One is tied in with the origins of the festival, the historical elements and their observed traditions. And the other is the spirit of the thing – the way in which it has come to be passed down to the people today, what it has come to represent, and the how people now interpret and celebrate the occasion. In translation, ‘loy’ means ‘to float’ and ‘krathong’ is the general name for a small vessel or raft. In this context it has come to mean a small round ‘boat’, traditionally made from banana bark or leaves, and often shaped like a lotus blossom.

Read more...
 
PURE AZUR
One of the island’s most exciting developments, Azur Samui, moves closer to completion.

One of the island’s most exciting developments, Azur Samui, moves closer to completion.There has been huge progress at this stunning hillside development in Maenam. Azur Samui has been designed by award-winning architects, and sits in a most idyllic location in the hills above Soi 2 in Maenam, affording it simply breath-taking views, out over coconut plantations and across the Gulf of Thailand to Koh Phangan, where the whole of the southern coastline of Samui’s immediate neighbour is stunningly framed.

          

Azur Samui was the inspiration of property and hotel developer Tim Dean-Smith, who in 2006, recognised the beauty and potential of this stunning location (being just a 10 minute drive from Fisherman’s Village and 20 minutes from both Chaweng and the island’s airport). With the help of an international firm of architects (who had already worked on the design of the renowned and eminently fashionable Beach Republic), Tim set about drawing up an equally spectacular design for a hillside community in this magnificent location.

          

There are now seven completed villas, all sold and occupied, with a further three currently under construction. In addition, what will be the centrepiece of this ‘village in the hills’, The Clubhouse, is now almost complete; with four apartment owners already in residence. The central part of The Clubhouse development consists of a 26-metre swimming pool, a fully equipped gym, a yoga and fitness studio and café offering beverages and snacks.

Read more...
 
FOLLOWING YOUR FAITH
Samui offers many different places of worship – and everyone’s welcome.

Samui offers many different places of worship – and everyone’s welcome.Staying on Samui doesn’t mean having to dial down the faith that you follow, and lose contact with it. Samui is an opportunity for continuing your practices, perhaps experiencing new variations, but above all making new connections and friends. It may also be an excellent chance to enquire about a religion that you’re interested in. Samui folk, and those that have come here to live, tend to be friendly. And because the island is such a big holiday destination, they’re used to meeting new people. Here’s a brief guide to the different faiths to be found on Samui.

          

Buddhist

Once you’ve arrived on Samui, you are bound to notice how Buddhism is reflected in so much of the culture here. Some twenty temples form the focus of Buddhist life on the island, and are all well-attended. If you would like to join up with Buddhists, a good place to start is Wat Plai Laem in Choeng Mon. Monks are welcoming and friendly everywhere, and even if most don’t speak much English, you will be able to make contact.

          

Many people coming to Samui are interested in finding out more about Buddhism. The Dipabhāvan Meditation Center, off the ring-road between Lamai and Ban Hua Thanon, is extremely helpful; they run retreats that focus on meditation and dhamma, with a focus on practices of mindfulness and breathing, as taught by the Buddha himself.

Read more...
 
NEW RELEASES
The Library unveils a collection of eye-catching villas, adding an unexpected turn to its story.

p60-1Ever since it opened its doors in 2007, The Library, a luxury resort on Chaweng Beach, has remained unique. It’s too original for anyone to copy and get away with it, and generally so astoundingly different that nobody would dare try to emulate its success. With a motif of literature running throughout – check out the statues of book readers dotted around the gardens – and a seeming love of novels (rooms are known as ‘pages’, for example), the resort definitely leans towards the artistic. And, yes, it does contain a real library, some 1,400 books that have been carefully curated to please its guests. The Library, with its minimalist cubelike rooms, alabaster white buildings and signature red-tiled swimming pool has always been distinctive. Any sequel to this original would surely be expected to be along the same lines.

          

But the danger of sequels is that they don’t live up to the original; guessed in advance, they simply offer more of the same story. The sequel that The Library has unveiled to the world is quite the opposite: it’s unexpected. In fact, you could argue it’s the opposite of what went before. Instead of repeating the themes of the first part, the designers have built a boldly artistic enclave of villas that are quite different.

Read more...
 
ART, NATURE, MAGIC!
Souvenirs and gifts are in a whole new dimension at Chaweng’s Nature Art Gallery.

Souvenirs and gifts are in a whole new dimension at Chaweng’s Nature Art Gallery.We’re all on the lookout for gifts. Friends, family, loved-ones – all of us, everyone – need to show our love and affection this way. We can buy cheap and cheerful. Or we can go to somewhere that shines and shimmers. Like, for example, Nature Art Gallery, in Chaweng.

          

This isn’t your usual shop. In fact, there are few like it at all. It’s not just a gift shop, ‘though you can buy gifts. It has jewellery, yes. But bags and wallets and belts you’ll see, too. And there’s silver and gold. But then there’s leather, wood, the skins of snake, shark and stingray, pearls, and semi-precious stones – everything seems to shine. And then there are the crystals!

          

But, before you’ve even gone into the shop, it’ll grab you from outside on the street. It stands out – especially if you’re wandering around in the night. It glows. And it’s not the bright hit of neon, either. In fact, the warm, golden, mellow presence of Nature Art beams out in a soulful contrast to all the hard and glitzy places that surround it.

          

And, when you walk in, the whole world slows down. Really! The sounds from the street seem to melt away. The air seems clearer. You’ll be fazed at first; there are so many things all around. You’ll wander and scan, hesitantly, drawn this way and that, trying to take it all in. It’s not simply quiet: it’s more than just that. It’s actually calm.

Read more...
 
DETOX DIFFERENT
Health Republic transforms you with detox, weight loss and wellness.

Health Republic transforms you with detox, weight loss and wellness.Samui is more than just a place to kick back and soak up the sun. Some people consider it an island with healing properties. Holidaymakers are coming here not just for a vacation, but to give their health and wellness a big boost, and then take back home all the knowledge that they’ve acquired in their time here. Health Republic is Samui’s newest wellness centre, and is fast becoming one of the leading resorts for detox, weight loss and wellness. It achieves its aims – your aims – by providing programs that are nurturing as well as effective. At the start of your visit, you will have a consultation, and throughout your stay you’ll be given advice by professionals on how to change your habits, so that when you return home, you’ll still be continuing your journey to wellness.

          

Health Republic is a purpose-built facility with a wide open beach front setting on Lamai beach. Combining both a massive lawn and sea views that are relaxing just in themselves, guests are free to wander along the beach, chill out in the restaurant or the café area and linger in the cabanas on the terrace. You can enjoy complete privacy, but whenever you want, there’s community on hand, enabling you to balance alone time and time spent with others.

Read more...
 
TIP OF THE ICEBERG
Social crutch or sheer generosity? Tipping turns out to be fiendishly complex.

Social crutch or sheer generosity? Tipping turns out to be fiendishly complex.The steak was being borne across the dining room on what looked like a roofing tile. The waiter was frowning with concentration, and I could see why: the steak came with gravy. A big, glutinous, wobbly dollop of it that seemed ready to slide off the tile. Maybe the chef had miscalculated on the glugginess of the gravy. Maybe the waiter just wasn’t skilled enough to keep the tile 100% horizontal (who would be?) and it really was a roofing tile. As he placed it on the table, I watched the gravy make a dash for the edge, burst through the skin that held it together and splatter into my lap. Between plate and trousers it seemed magically to have tripled in volume. The waiter was aghast and was soon joined by the manager. We got some complimentary desserts that night, and enthusiastic apologies.

          

At the end of the meal, as I usually do, I left a tip for the waiter. I walked around with the gluggy trousers on for the rest of the evening, a reminder of what had happened. This was the United States, and tipping was expected. Regardless of that, I tend to tip anyway. I was sure that the incident wouldn’t happen again to anyone else, but besides, it wasn’t my job to teach anyone a lesson concerning the usage of roofing tiles.

Read more...
 
THE DIAMOND ON THE HILL
When it comes to the best restaurants, Dr Frogs is still up there with the best!

When it comes to the best restaurants, Dr Frogs is still up there with the best!Some restaurants are little gems – and there are a lot of these on Samui. But there just a few, a small handful, that shine out from the rest. And one which has truly stood the test of time, and is a real diamond, is Dr Frogs.

          

It’s a memorable name, and an unforgettable restaurant. Firstly, the location is perfect. Whereas Chaweng Beach is flat, just a little away around the corner in the direction of Lamai, Chaweng Noi is not. Here, the cliffside is perched up above the sea, with not only a stunning seascape, but a panoramic overview of Chaweng Bay, too.

          

And then there’s the ambiance. The elegant cream and olive colour scheme here adds to it, and the subtle colour co-ordination of the staff uniforms with the décor enhances it. There’s a really cosy L-shaped bar and lounge area, edging down onto a terrace which is roofed but open at the sides, and alongside this there’s another, similar deck. There’s lots of warm glowing teak with glorious green and red accents which playoff against this, and discreet mellow lighting everywhere.

Read more...
 
EQUALS MORYA PEACE OF MIND
There’s only one pharmacy chain on Samui that’s based totally on trust – Morya!

350Wherever you go, when you’re away from home, there are only two big worries. One is that you need to be secure if you have some sort of accident. You can’t do without that assurance – it’s vital to be covered. But the other one is actually more important on a day-to-day level. A pharmacy you can trust. And on Samui the name that comes to mind right away is Morya.

          

If you’re an experienced traveller, then you’ll know to take precautions. If you’re taking tablets or need medication, you’ll have a full set with you when you go. You’ll also have a good first-aid kit, especially if you’re on the move with a family. But what about all those unexpected things? A bee sting, a sudden cold sore, mosquito bites that swell up and stay that way, an itchy eye that gets more serious, a graze that gets infected – there are just so many times you need a reliable pharmacist.

          

And you’re quite right not to feel secure when you’re in a strange country. Most pharmacies in Thailand, for instance, don’t have specially-trained staff; essentially they are just like the staff in a supermarket, paid to serve you and put your money in the till. But when you take a close look at Morya, it’s a whole different story.

Read more...
 
EXCITING, UNIQUE, REFINED
When it comes to elegant eateries, there’s nothing like Art of Life anywhere else on Samui!

When it comes to elegant eateries, there’s nothing like Art of Life anywhere else on Samui!Art of Life is a restaurant which specialises in seafood. But unlike the others, this is seafood that’s regarded, approached and treated as being French. That is to say, this is a contemporary French seafood restaurant – the method is towards a fresh and lively modern style of cooking which sidesteps the heavy wine-rich sauces and carbohydrates of the old classical thinking. This is the first of several unique plusses.

          

The next one is its location. It’s in the absolute prime spot of Fisherman’s Village, right at the corner as you get to the centre and the pier. Many of the old original wooden buildings have now, sadly, disappeared, victims of a misguided urge to update and ‘modernise’. But not Art of Life. It’s been lovingly and painstakingly restored – and any modern touches have been crafted to tie-in with the style.

          

And that holds true also for the general décor. I challenge you to look at the tables, chairs and bar stools, and the cameo ad hoc decorations, and identify which are actually real antiques and which have been specially-made just to match the period ethos.

          

Well, that’s another bonus point taken care of. But the biggest points of all have to be for the food. There are many other places which boast of Mediterranean cuisine. But this is, as far as we know, the only spot on the island which offers southern-French-style Mediterranean cuisine, but specialises in seafood. This is fine-dining seafood, French-style – and it’s superb!

Read more...
 
TRAVEL SAVVY FINANCE
Getting the best out of your money in Thailand.

Getting the best out of your money in Thailand.Many first time travellers to Thailand are under the impression that they are entering a country where even with a little money, they’ll be rich for the duration of their holidays. A wad of back-pocket cash and they’ll still have plenty left over when it’s time to go home. No need to be careful, they think: everything’s going to be cheap.

          

Such people gulp when their plane circles over the gleaming skyscrapers in Bangkok. There’s sophistication here, they realise; this is not the kind of place where they can spend without thought. But with a bit of foresight, holidaying in Thailand can be a financially stress-free time.

          

Thankfully, because tourism is such an important part of the nation’s economy, Thailand is an easy country to travel around in. The banks are particularly easy to negotiate, and you’ll always find someone who speaks English there. But how to get the best money deals possible? The basics of financial survival in Thailand are fairly simple. One staple that’s needed is cash and it has to be in Thai baht. The main challenge is the exchange rate, which varies depending on where you change your money. Above all, do not change your money into Thai baht before arriving in the country – unless you want to lose up to 10% for the privilege of doing so. Similarly, when your holiday’s over, exchange your remaining Thai baht back into your home currency before you leave. If you’re a frequent visitor to Thailand, it’s a great idea to open a Thai bank account, and then transfer money online before your holiday starts. You’ll save quite a bit this way. It also means you won’t be carrying huge amounts of cash around with you.

Read more...
 
CLOTHES CRISIS?
Island living clothing from WaterLilyCaftans.

p104-1So, you have arrived on Samui and have instantly fallen in love with the turquoise ocean, the verdant green mountain views, the warm tropical ambience and the slower paced way of life. Your body feels more at ease in the warmer temperatures and lounging around in swimwear, shorts, t-shirts and singlets seems like second nature. But stop right there! You have a wedding or an important social event to attend this weekend, and everything in your wardrobe or suitcase just seems somehow too tight, too restricting. With hindsight, the style doesn’t fit the occasion or venue, and the fabric feels too thick and too hot to be bearable for a whole afternoon or evening of what should be fun and relaxation in the tropics!

          

Welcome to the world of Catherine Culwell, owner of WaterLilyCaftans. Catherine moved to Koh Samui three years ago, and she struggled to find clothing that was stylish, beautiful, well-tailored and comfortable. She was looking for clothes that could easily transition from day wear to evening wear, and above all, keep her cool in the 30 degree Celsius and upwards, temperatures. And then, yes, she was invited to a wedding!

          

On one of her frustrating searches, Catherine stumbled upon an amazing fabric store in Bangkok. It was like an oasis in a city of shopping malls. Chock full of light, flimsy and airy materials. Rayon, chiffon and silks with bright, bold and beautiful colours and patterns, perfect for tropical climates and island living. Her imagination ran wild, and she realised that if she couldn’t find what she was after, then it was probably the same for many others. She was going to have to design those clothes, source the materials and get them made on Samui herself! WaterLilyCaftans was conceived then and there, and a new business was born!

Read more...
 
SAFETY FIRST
A guide to getting around Samui.

A guide to getting around Samui.most of its communities numbered along its outer rim. A couple of loop roads complete the picture, along with roads that poke into the island’s interior. Residents used to complain about the appalling road surfaces – most roads have now been upgraded and there are fewer potholes. With a million visitors here every year, a good number quite naturally want to take to the said roads. The question is how. Sooner or later, visitors to Samui have to decide what transport they’ll choose. And it’s not a simple question either. Here’s a round-up of what’s available and how to get around:

          

Motorbike

50cc is all you need, according to some: any kind of small motorbike will do. You’re on holiday, it’s sunny and what’s better than riding along, enjoying the sights? What could go wrong? A lot really. Unless you’re thoroughly used to motorbikes, it’s best to beware. And then on top of that, you need to be aware of hazards: driving on the wrong side of the road, drunk driving, driving on drugs, bikes speeding out from turnings without stopping, speeding trucks passing close by you, unlit roadworks, patches of camouflaged sand and last but not least, potholes.

          

If you do decide to hire a motorbike, make sure you’re covered by your insurance policy. You may need to have a motorbike licence and you may be limited by the engine capacity. The activity may be excluded in the first place – it pays to check. You’ll have to leave your passport at the bike shop as a deposit. The upside of riding a motorbike? It’s cheap, easy to get around, easy to park. Hop on and hop off and see all the sights. Is it fun? Definitely! In retrospect, that is.

Read more...
 


Copyright 2018 Samui Holiday Magazine. All rights reserved Siam Map Company Ltd.