THE INSIDERS KOH SAMUI, THAILAND
GO: Koh Samui in southern Thailand has grown from its humble origins as an island of coconut plantations to become a premier luxury destination. With stunning beaches, enchanting Buddhist temples and a laid-back lifestyle, it is an ideal location for an unforgettable holiday; kohsamui-tourism.com.
SHOP: Central Festival in downtown Chaweng has a good selection of designer brands, restaurants and a small cinema showing the latest international releases. For a more local experience, Friday night’s Walking Street market in Fisherman’s Village, Bophut, is a must. Vendors sell street food, souvenirs and almost everything else you could imagine. The beach road is lined with charming boutiques, restaurants and bars, but the entrepreneurial spirit of the locals and lively atmosphere are the main attractions.
EXPLORE: I love taking a leisurely drive around the south of the island. This area is much less developed than Chaweng, Lamai or Bophut and features beautiful scenery with lush coconut plantations and buffaloes roaming the fields. The Laem Sor complex is well worth visiting with its stunning golden pagoda on the beach, boat-shaped Buddhist temple and hilltop chedi, or stupa, offering panoramic views.
DINE: Kiree restaurant at Vana Belle specialises in authentic Thai cuisine, so I head to Chez Francois in Bophut when I feel like something different. Small and concealed behind a large wooden door, it serves traditional French cuisine in relaxed surroundings; 33/2 Moo 1 Fisherman’s Village.
DRINK: Sunset by Angelina, located near the entrance to Big Buddha temple, is one of the best places to enjoy a sundowner. Also try the Drink Gallery in Chaweng and W Retreat Koh Samui’s Woobar for creative cocktails in a chic, contemporary setting; wretreatkohsamui.com.
SWIM: Koh Samui has many beaches and small coves to discover. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly Chaweng Noi beach, which has clear water and great swimming conditions for most of the year.
SLEEP: You can see the ocean while lying on the bed in many of the premium guestroom categories at Vana Belle. The only thing that comes close would be the Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience beds at Sheraton Samui Resort, a little further along Chaweng Noi beach.
Perth-born Bruce Humphry has worked in the hospitality industry for nearly 30 years and is general manager of Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, and Sheraton Samui Resort; vanabellekohsamui.com; sheratonsamui.com.
Graham Erbacher Graham.Erbacher@news.com.au