Thailand highlights – Koh Samui

Koh Samui is an island in the Gulf of Thailand with powdery white sand and emerald waters. It has high-class resorts, cheap hotels catering to backpackers, and everything in between.

We have great memories from this place in 2004 and were beyond excited when we landed at the picturesque airport.

We checked into the gorgeous Amari Palm Reef on Chaweng Beach and walked along the beach to our favourite restaurant to see if it would still live up to its reputation. It did, and we ended up eating three meals there before forcing ourselves to try something different!


Chaweng Beach is the most popular on the island, and also the most beautiful. When we first got our feet sandy, it truly felt like we landed in paradise.


One phrase you often hear in Thailand is same same, but different. It describes a lot but mostly shopping and the offerings at the markets. For us, it accurately portrayed our nine days on the island!


We fell into an amazing routine: wake early and workout; go for a huge buffet breakfast overlooking the ocean; head to the beach to read, nap, play in the ocean, and perhaps sea kayak; shower and get ready for the evening; eat a delicious dinner (possibly with your toes in the sand); walk around for a few hours bartering at the markets, stopping for delicious dessert or tropical drinks. Sleep and repeat.

Although people could argue you could do that anywhere so why fly so far, I can’t explain it well enough to do Samui justice. I’ll try.


We ran outside a few times and laughed each time. The humidity was intense, and it is a hilly place! We ran along the road, taking in the palm trees, stray dogs, speeding tour bus drivers, and odd smells. (Unfortunately my knee bothered me a bit, so I took some days off running there.)

I tried swimming in the ocean one day. But Kelly thought it would be funny to hum the Jaws theme before I went out. It didn’t make for a long or good swim, as I kept popping my head up to survey the scene!

Resort breakfasts

A huge buffet breakfast was included with our room. The food was amazing. But even better was the adorable Thai workers. All the little ladies were so cute and friendly. The ocean views didn’t hurt either.


Beach time

Chaweng Beach is seriously gorgeous. We applied SPF 50 (and reapplied multiple times throughout the day) and stayed out for hours, moving between the shade, the water, and the sun.

Beach hawkers can be annoying but on Koh Samui, they weren’t at all. Kelly befriended a few of them buying silk blankets, beer and water, and daily ice cream for me.


They weren’t the only things Kelly befriended. He made many furry friends, too! He’d buy the stray dogs various treats each day and always make time to give them some pets.


We rented a double kayak a few times and had a blast venturing out on the water.



There is no shortage of restaurants and variety on Chaweng Beach. All the beachfront hotels put chairs and tables right out on the beach for a meal with ambience.


There are countless delicious restaurants on the main street as well, giving you a great spot to people watch. And then there are the carts.


If you like fresh seafood, there is no shortage on this island! They throw all their fresh catches on ice out front so people can choose exactly what they want to eat.

We had many memorable meals.

Evening action

Chaweng Beach also has quite a night life. Walking down the main street, there are constant reminders of the places you can go. Advertising trucks drive up and down, announcing various bars and of course Thai boxing.


There are tons of markets and shops selling anything and everything. There are also many massage parlors. I went for frequent foot massages and one Thai massage.

One night we went to a lady-boy burlesque show. They were gorgeous and performed really well. We had a blast!


Extra activities

We weren’t total beach bums the entire stay on Samui. One day Kelly agreed to go on an elephant trek in the jungle to appease me. We didn’t get a chance to do it on our last visit to Thailand, and it’s been on my bucket list ever since!


We hopped on a songthaew (truck with seats in the back) and went to an elephant trekking place. We hopped on Sarah and I enjoyed the ride and then feeding her plantains and sugar cane! From there, we visited a beautiful waterfall.


Another day we went to Wat Phra Wai, better known as Big Buddha. This Buddha is 15m high but leaves a lasting impression with the ocean and sky backdrop.

Lastly, we spent another day visiting a couple other beaches: Crystal Bay and Lamai Beach.


I truly hope that someone intervenes with the damage that occurs daily on the beach. If you walk early in the morning or late at night, there is a lot of litter left out that eventually gets swept into the ocean. One night Kelly picked up over 10 empty water bottles sitting on the shore. Luckily it still appears clean but that is bound to change if nothing is done.

Thailand is truly a magical place. I can’t express how warm and kind the Thai people are. Their culture is peaceful and simply makes you calm, happy, and appreciative. I hope that if we go back in the next decade, the island is still naturally pristine.

Our time on Samui was reenergizing, so much fun, and a great way to cap off Thailand!  I’m so glad we were chilled out there, as I don’t think we relaxed once during our two weeks in China.

Up next…adventures in Beijing!

Sorry for the longest blog post ever. 

What is your favourite island? 

31 responses to “Thailand highlights – Koh Samui

  1. Don’t apologize for a long blog post – I loved hearing every detail! My favourite island would have to be Oahu, but Hawaii in general is such a beautiful place!

  2. So jealous! I never made it to Kho Samui, we went to Kho Phi Pi, Raighly (sp?!) Beach and Kho Lanta. I love all islands, all over the world. For our honeymoon we went island hopping in Belize and they were all amazing. I love the Caribbean, especially St Lucia and Barbados (but also Martinique, Antigua, etc., etc.), Japan, and even the European islands are pretty special, though I know them a lot less (ha!). Can’t wait to read more about China!!!!

    • Quite the traveller you are! Sounds like a fantastic honeymoon! We have the Caribbean islands on our list now.
      We didn’t get to Railay either time, but it looks like one of the most beautiful islands in the country.

  3. Looks like it was a DREAM! I really can’t wait to take my husband to Thailand, and was so sad he missed my first trip there!

  4. The beaches look beautiful!! And I love the double kayak

  5. That truly looks like the most amazing place to visit! Your schedule was exactly what I would follow in that situation–perfect days!

    It is sad to hear about the trash…hoping someone takes charge on that account. So terrible to have a beautiful place blemished!

  6. ahh! I have so much reading to catch up on! I love that you guys even managed to get in a some runs – dedication I’d say! Truly does look like paradise 🙂 Beautiful!

  7. WOW!!! I want to go there TOMORROW!! Looks like you guys had so much fun!! I can’t believe you guys ate right on the beach!! Crazy!!

  8. It all looks so amazing! Sounds like you guys blended having fun and working out nicely.That’s so sad about the beach. 😦

  9. Dinner on the beach, elephant rides, RUNNING in a different country, making new 4 legged friends, GOOD FOOD! SO much excitement in this post!! I would LOVE to visit Thailand!

  10. All of your vacation pictures are INCREDIBLE!!!
    I love that you guys took an elephant ride. This looks like the trip of a lifetime for sure!

  11. runnerbydefault

    That beach sounds amazing!!! Loved all your pictures! I hope they clean up the beach. What a waste it would be to let it go. Can’t wait to read about Beijing.

    My favorite island is Key West.

    I nominated you for the Liebster Award. Have a great Easter!!

  12. OMG looks amazing!! Thailand is definitely on my wish list!! I haven’t been to too many islands, but I was in Zanzibar last year. That was beautiful!

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