Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A Warm Welcome

In many ways, this is generally a serene time of the year for Samui. The fun of Songkran has passed once again, and Easter is over for another year. But that only means that there’s even less to think about – and that’s just what you need for a quiet and relaxing break.

          

And the weather is just about at its gentlest right now. The harsh, dry days back in February and March have merged into cooler temperatures, a scattering of clouds, and the occasional light shower which passes pleasantly after half an hour or so.

          

This is the perfect time to take a leisurely trip around the island, and although Samui has become more up-market than it used to be, there is still a plethora of things to do and see. And once you get a little way off the ever-present ring-road, there are still deserted beaches and little fishing villages to be found.

          

This is what is so unique about this island. It may have been fun being a hippy back in the 1970s, but the price to pay for that was electricity that went off all the time, no hot water, no bread, coffee or dairy products, few banks and no ATMs. At least today, you can throw yourself into party-town or retreat into the unspoiled wilds of Samui. That’s the choice you now have – and that can’t be bad!

 
RUN FOR IT
The annual Four Seasons Cancer Care Charity Fun Run.

The annual Four Seasons Cancer Care Charity Fun Run.This year, Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui are organising their 11th Cancer Care Charity Fun Run in association with The Thai Red Cross Society. All proceeds will go to the Cancer Research Centre at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital. This year’s run will take place on Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, at Nathon Pier. You can choose to run or walk the two, five or 10 kilometre routes, and you don’t have to be an expert athlete to join the run – everyone is welcome to join in the fun. Many families come, with all ages participating. Just join in and be part of this fantastic local event and help raise money and awareness for a cause that has touched so many families.

          

Registration starts at 6:00 am on the morning of the race, and a group warm-up activity gets the blood pumping and sets the atmosphere and excitement. The starter horn kicks off the race at 7:00 am. Tickets are 300 baht, including a race T-shirt, or 450 baht with a Polo shirt. All tickets include a free breakfast box for after the race, and a lucky draw ticket for some great raffle prizes. You can pre-register for the race by phoning or emailing the contact details at the end of this article. All revenues from this event are entirely dependent on sponsorship and donations, so Four Seasons would be extremely grateful for your support and any contributions to this very worthy cause. All support and donations, large or small, in the form of cash or goods, are welcome. Every contribution will help them to raise as much as possible for the continuing pledge to find a cure for cancer.

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PARADISE PORTFOLIO
Private Escape Samui offers brilliant days out on the water.

Private Escape Samui offers brilliant days out on the water.Known for its sun struck beaches and jungle interior, Samui is an amazingly beautiful island. So much so, that many visitors are simply content to spend all their time on it, without ever leaving. Yet its surroundings are every bit as stunning as the island itself. There are many that would say even more so. Bays, coves, beaches, entire islands await your discovery, and they’re all within easy reach. Private Escape Samui provides a safe and reliable bespoke service to all the attractions.

          

Private Escape helps you explore Samui’s maritime charms and secrets in ways that leave many of their competition behind. It’s the brainchild of Cyndie and Sandy, a French couple who recognized the need for a service that would provide great trips, but with more input on the customer service side, as well as comfort. In addition, they noticed a growing number of trips involve various boats docking at the same locations. They wanted to avoid all that and bring their customers originality – after all, there’s no shortage of islands around Samui. Private Escape provides half day and full day excursions as well as half day fishing. There’s also a sunset cruise with either wine or champagne.

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ITALIAN IDYLL
Chic yet solidly Italian, Coco Tam’s X Peppina is pulling in the crowds at Fisherman’s Village.

Chic yet solidly Italian, Coco Tam’s X Peppina is pulling in the crowds at Fisherman’s Village.Guests are flocking with great enthusiasm to a stylish yet affordable restaurant set on the beach road in front of The Wharf in Fisherman’s Village. It’s unmissable, thanks to its chic design, but it’s not just the structure that wows, it’s the food and drink too, all of it served up in an extremely relaxed setting. Coco Tam’s X Peppina is a combination that works, and the meld is exactly right; you’d have to go a long way to find something similar.

          

If you’re coming by car, then park for free at The Wharf and simply walk up to the beach. The only real difficulty is deciding where to sit. Unlike most restaurants on Samui, there are two floors to choose between. Let’s start with the downstairs part. This is a proper full-scale dining room, but it’s totally open-sided, ideal for the tropics. Even more so as it opens out quite dramatically over the beach. In fact, if you like you can eat directly on the beach itself, just a few steps away from the water. Just choose one of the dining tables placed on the sand. Another very popular option is to sit at the counter that runs almost the entire length of the restaurant and which also directly fronts the beach.

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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; indeed four apartment owners are 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.

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ALWAYS A CLASSIC
Hard Rock Cafe Koh Samui plays to an ever appreciative audience.

Hard Rock Cafe Koh Samui plays to an ever appreciative audience.Once you step inside, you’ll find a beautiful restaurant with mirrored ceilings, plush furniture and a design that can allow any sized group of guests to feel intimate in their surroundings. Rock memorabilia adorns the walls, featuring classic artists dating back to the 60’s, such as Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones and The Who, right up to current pop culture – there’s even a Taylor Swift dress hanging on the Rock Shop wall. The music being played perfectly matches this theme, with a mix of current, retro and classic hits. And you are welcome to make requests if you have something in mind.

          

The staff are friendly, outgoing, personable and attentive. They’re not overbearing, and take the time to share their local knowledge and tips with you, or guide you through attractions on the maps to be found in the cafe. They clearly love their jobs, and love to spend time with their guests and are very child friendly. There is also an ever-present manager there to accommodate any requests you may have.

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ROCKIN’ ROCKY’S
Head to Lamai and one of the island’s best dining experiences at Rocky’s Resort!

Head to Lamai and one of the island’s best dining experiences at Rocky’s Resort!There are some lovely little resorts on Koh Samui. And there are some wonderful restaurants, too. But it’s rare that you’ll find these two aspects in one place. However, if you head over to Lamai, not far away from the famous Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks, you’ll find a dream come true. Because not only is Rocky’s Boutique Resort one of the most delightful boutique resorts anywhere, but it also has some of the finest dining on the island, too.

          

Coming into Rocky’s in the daytime is interesting – the land is densely wooded with big mature trees, with a central path between them that drops downwards. And, fringing this, running alongside the main body of the restaurant is a lower terrace of rock that holds more dining tables plus a little thatched bar.

          

It’s attractive enough in the daytime, but walking down the path to ‘The Dining Room’ restaurant at night is a fairy-land. Big red Chinese lanterns glowing in the trees are offset with a myriad of tiny white fairy lights,and hidden lamps throw pools of light onto the path. That red theme continues in the restaurant, with three gigantic lanterns hanging from the ceiling, smaller versions lining the borders, red candles and glasses on the tables and red cushions scattered everywhere.

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SEASONS IN THE SUN
A brief look at Samui’s climate.

A brief look at Samui’s climate.It’s why you’ve come here. To enjoy hot, sunny days and swim in warm seas. And to get away from the grey skies back home. But when exactly is the best time to visit? And what should you pack?

          

Samui has probably some of the best weather in Thailand, it being neither unbearably hot nor too cold. It’s a tropical climate however, so that also includes rainfall, and during the rainy season there can be a lot of it. Temperatures all year typically vary only from 25°C to 33°C. So while in Bangkok and Chiang Mai visitors will be suffering 40°C weather during the hot season, it won’t reach such peaks here. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that the highest recorded temperature for Samui is 36.5°C.

          

Some foreigners jokingly refer to the three seasons of Thailand; yes, Thailand has only three seasons not four, and people speak of the ‘hot season, the even hotter season and the hot and wet season.’ Samui also has just 3 seasons, but since the region has something of a micro-climate, they can be more correctly called the dry season, the rainy season and the hot season.

          

So when is the best time to visit the island? The dry season is roughly from December until the end of February and during this time you may experience a few rain storms but these generally last for only an hour or two at the most, and then you’re back to enjoying the wonderful sunshine and the refreshed sense that the rain has brought. For those of you who enjoy swimming in the sea, the maritime conditions at this time are quite calm, with gentle breezes to cool things down on the beach. If you are worried about protection from the harmful rays of the sun, then this is a great time of the year to be on the beach. This doesn’t mean you should leave your sun protection at home, though; you will still need it along with a sunhat and sunglasses. Coming as it does during Christmas and the turn of the year, it’s also a great way to celebrate the festivities.

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MARITIME SCENE STEALER
A look at the Samui Regatta.

A look at the Samui Regatta.It comes as a surprise to many that Samui has its very own regatta, drawing in huge numbers of both sailors and spectators. The Samui Regatta is one of the island’s calendar fixtures, highly anticipated by yachting enthusiasts, while for others it’s the biggest social event of the year!

          

Those doing the actual sailing often find it a hair-raising experience, but for casual onlookers any regatta can seem almost genteel – from afar there’s little sense of those powerful winds, or the split-second decisions, the mistakes that can capsize a boat and, along with it, a fortune in just minutes. Watching through binoculars from the comfort of the shore, a regatta resembles no more than that old cliché: yes, it really does look like a handful of coloured quills scribbling across the sea. But once you’re on the water and close up, the action begins to thrill; on board it’s pure adrenalin, driven concentration and the hope of a win.

          

The regatta maintains is prime position as the final event in the season-long Asian Yachting Grand Prix championship, at which the 2017/18 Skipper and Yacht of the Year are awarded based on scores from the best regattas around Asia. The 17th Samui Regatta will take place from 26 May – 2nd June, 2018 off Chaweng Beach. Hosted by Centara Grand Beach Resort, the event is organised by Regattas Asia, in conjunction with the Samui Yacht Club Regatta, under the auspices of the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the Municipality of Koh Samui and the Sports Authority of Thailand.

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TOPPING OUT
For a truly exceptional dining experience, it’s hard to beat Tree Tops at Chaweng’s Anantara Lawana!

For a truly exceptional dining experience, it’s hard to beat Tree Tops at Chaweng’s Anantara Lawana!This is Thailand, it’s warm and tropical. People dine outside under the stars. But Tree Tops restaurant, at Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort in north Chaweng, is unique. It’s actually a series of eight little tree houses, way up in the branches, each of them able to seat up to six people, and all of them linked by a sturdy wooden path. In fact, Tree Tops runs along an elevated aerial pathway, in and around the branches of the trees, each at a different level, and linked by the rising and falling walkways.

          

And this, if you think about it, means that you can enter the ‘restaurant’ from either end. Over to your right are the kitchens and the steps up to the first ‘dining room’ in the trees. But, at the other end, the walkway drops down into a small and charming circular space, with a group of intimate tables, and a round thatched bar – the Tree Tops Bar. This is a welcoming area with a super ambiance, and it’s exactly the place you need to come for an hour in the afternoon, to experience the majesty of it all, and to scout it out for a later and unforgettable evening dining experience.

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SMARTEST WAY TO B!
On today’s bustling Samui, security is more important than ever before.

On today’s bustling Samui, security is more important than ever before.Things are changing all the time. Back at the turn of the century, breakins, robberies and muggings were almost unheard of on Koh Samui. Crimes against property just never happened. Even just ten years ago, these things were rare. But it’s all quite different today. Now there are people of many more nations living here. There’s been a huge increase in private property ownership and villa construction. Hundreds more small businesses have appeared. And burglary, planned crime, and organised car and motorbike thefts have begun to happen, along with petty crime, muggings and impetuous theft. In this new climate, everyone really needs to take precautions. Which is where B-Smart comes into the picture.

          

B-Smart is a long-established Samui security service, specialising in alarm systems and video monitoring installation. In fact, to the best of our knowledge, it’s the only such business on the island which offers a complete range of systems, from a video door phone, to an internet linked video camera system, right through to what looks like the nerve system of a Star Wars battle cruiser.

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SECRETS OF STYLE
We riffle through the pages of a resort called The Library!

We riffle through the pages of a resort called The Library!I’ve seen theme resorts in Thailand that were styled around a medieval castle or ‘The Wild West’. But here, at The Library, I’m talking about something far more subtle than this brash Disneyland approach – note the difference between ‘theme’ and ‘concept’. The Library is a concept resort and, indeed, one of the best-known in Thailand. It’s stylish. It’s uber-cool. The visual ideas here are super-subtle, and the conceptual statements are always fresh.

          

An example (and probably the most immediately noticeable one): The Library has dubbed all its rooms and suites ‘pages’. And the exclusive ‘secret’ villas are ‘chapters’. Whimsically, their very laid-back and upmarket restaurant is ‘The Page’. Then there’s ‘The Lib’ and ‘The Fit’, the first being a real library and the other the fitness room, both housed in minimalist cubes of glass.

          

That last one also gives you a hint. This is the centre of Chaweng. All around are resorts that have contracted architectural experts to find ways of cramming the maximum amount of accommodation into the space available. But as soon as you turn the corner, pass through the car park and enter under the screened gateway to the grounds of The Library, you’ll come to a halt. There’s a gigantic green lawn which runs in a straight swathe to the sea. And the neat, white, cuboid blocks of the rooms and suites are tucked along the edges (spaced well apart) under the shade of a fringe of mature and spreading trees.

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EXPAT LIVING
The basics of ‘real-life’ living on Koh Samui – Part Two.

The basics of ‘real-life’ living on Koh Samui – Part Two.Following part one in the last edition of Samui Holiday Magazine, you may have already made the leap of faith and be living on Koh Samui, or you may still be considering the change of location and lifestyle. Here is some further information to ease you into the transition or to help your decision.

          

Culture shock. Moving to a new country can be exciting, but also unsettling, and can take some adjustment. Not everything works the same way, and the way you may normally react to a situation at home, may not be appreciated here. One example is confrontation. Thai people do not confront each other with accusations, no matter how mild or inconsequential, neither will they tell you if you are doing something wrong. This is because the majority of Thai people are Buddhists, and a major philosophy of Buddhism is tolerance. It’s advisable to get a good book on Thai culture in order to familiarize yourself with the local customs and culture. You really don’t want to unintentionally offend your new neighbours soon after arriving. If you are relocating with children, don’t forget that they also need to be made aware of local customs. Children are creatures of habit and may feel overwhelmed by their new environment.

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FABULOUS PHARMACY
You don’t need to be sick to visit Morya Pharmacy – this full-service chemist offers more than medications.

You don’t need to be sick to visit Morya Pharmacy – this full-service chemist offers more than medications.First time visitors to Thailand are often a bit worried about how they’ll cope out here. In most cases their worries are quite unfounded. But what about medications and sickness? What then? Luckily, there’s a chain of pharmacies on Samui, collectively known as Morya Pharmacy, which are well-established and follow the guidelines of their peers in the west. Morya has branches throughout the island, so unless you’re somewhere really remote, there will be one near you. Step inside any of one them and you will be in a bright, totally clean area that’s not just professionally run, but easy on the eye, too.

          

At Morya there’s always a fully-trained pharmacist ready to serve you. The staff speak reasonable English, and are able to answer your queries. For example, they will find out if a new medication you’re asking about is compatible with one that you are already taking. All too often in pharmacies you’ll see a blind pulled down over the dispensary which bears a sign to say that the pharmacist will be back later. You won’t find this happening at Morya – there will always be someone who can help you with prescriptions and medicine.

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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 last year, 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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THE GREAT INDOORS
Escape Break offers a totally different holiday activity.

Escape Break offers a totally different holiday activity.If you like your holidays lively, Escape Break offers a strong adrenaline rush all whilst being in a totally safe environment. Luring the competitive set with some amazing conundrums, where couples and groups of friends solve seemingly impossible problems against the clock, the world of

          

Escape Break is just as much a state of mind as a physical venue. Places like Escape Break have exploded on the market in the last few years. It’s something different to do, and a break from reality even if it’s the carefree one of bars, beaches and constant sunshine. Whether you’re looking to tax your brain with some truly awesome enigmas or just to hang out with friends in a situation that mimics white-knuckle scenarios, then consider adding Escape Break to your island activities.

          

In Ghost Ship, you and your companions find yourselves locked inside the abandoned Marie Celeste with a cyclone bearing down on you. Can you get out alive before it’s too late? The room you’re trapped in has plenty of objects that may or may not provide the solution to your predicament. Use your wits to get out or perish in the attempt. Outbreak is a radically different scenario and belongs to the near-future. Here, you’re in a laboratory and have to combat a deadly virus that’s about to kill off the entire human race. Relic Rush takes place in a jungle temple, where you have to find a golden artefact that belonged to lost civilization or face defeat. Last but not least, a more sentimental situation, where you’re looking for a kidnap victim in a Hong Kong gang hideout, gathering evidence that will lead to the freedom of the abductee. Which game to opt for is entirely up to you; it’s a bit like being at the Cineplex and having to decide which of four thrillers to choose from – all are equally good.

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BUDDHA’S NOT-SO-SECRET GARDEN
It’s still marvellous, but thousands of tourists don’t help!

P112-1There’s a place on Samui that’s really very special. It’s a timeless place. Somewhere the world stands still in its own little bubble. It’s isolated, peaceful, startlingly beautiful and almost mystical. It’s hidden away up in the mountains at one of the highest points on the island. And it’s generally known as the Secret Buddha Garden.

          

It’s been there for a good many years, being gradually added to and extended right up until the death of its creator, in 1989. It’s always been a sacred sort of place – and I mean that in a worldly way, not a religious one, as it’s one of the few places you can really believe that there are spirits drifting peacefully between the trees and streams. And even just a decade ago, it was truly magical; a place where you could immerse yourself in its beauty and lose yourself in its peace. But all things change in the due course of time.

          

At one time it was really hard to get to: it’s actually five kilometres up and away from the ring-road, but back then most of this was a rough dirt road. Today however it’s now all nicely concreted, making it an easy ride, even on a little motorbike, although it’s very steep in a couple of places. It’s right on the same side-road that’s used by the elephant trekking, Samui Shooting Gallery and that also has the Sky Fox Zip line, although that’s a lot further up the road. Look for the landmark of Wat Khunaram (with the Mummified Monk); the road you want is right across from it.

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