Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hin Lad Waterfall Temple

One of the most fabulous waterfalls is located in Koh Samui (photo courtesy Kohsamui.com_

Running out of things to do in Koh Samui is practically impossible – although the island is quite small in size, the tourist hotspot has an endless list of activities for tourists to keep busy during their holidays.
With that said, tourists stumped as to what they should be doing first upon arriving should consider paying a visit to HinLad Waterfall Temple. This place is frequently recommended by Koh Samui travel guides for a number of reasons, of which includes beautiful images of Buddha, a garden, religious scriptures, and a meditation area.

This forest monastery is situated within an evergreen tropical jungle, which in turn helps enhance the serenity of the development. Moreover, this establishment is usually busy during the weekend only – the time of week wherein locals come to make merit or picnic at the waterfall nearby – thereby giving tourists plenty of privacy during their visits.

Hin Lad also provides an excellent opportunity for guests to meditate in tranquillity. This place is visited by locals who need a break from their busy lifestyles, so tourists should be considerate to those trying to reflect in silence.

Other islanders come here to attend regular meditation workshops hosted by monks, nuns and trainers. These programs are specially designed to help participants address certain problems, such as issues they may be having at work or in a relationship with another individual.

While paying a visit to this panoramic temple can be done any time of the year, Hin Lad is best appreciated when it starts raining gently, as the green life appears to come to life and glisten as the rain falls onto each leaf or petal within the garden and jungle.

Bringing along swimwear along for the trip is also recommended, as rainy days make swimming in the large and small freshwater pools an even more pleasant and fun-filled experience.

Those who’ve included hiking or getting a good workout in their lists of things to do in Koh Samui are in luck, as it’ll take 30 minutes to hike up the waterfall.

That being said, Koh Samui travel guides also recommend wearing a good pair of hiking/walking shoes, and packing a bottle of water. Should anyone get hungry during their trip, they can always feel free make a quick stopover at the local restaurants located along the road going to the temple.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Snake Farm

Get up close and personal with some snakes at the Koh Samui snake farm  (photo courtesy

Needless to say, it’d certainly be in the best interest of any tourist to make sure he or she sees as many Koh Samui attractions during his or her visit in this island. Now, while enjoying the warm and relaxing Koh Samui weather is alright, a vacationer would be so much happier if he could set time aside for a visit to the Snake Farm.

This island attraction has gained international fame back in 2008 – the year when Thailand’s “Scorpion Queen” Kanchana Kaetkaew utilized the farm as the venue for setting a Guinness world record for holding a seven-inch-long scorpion in her mouth for two minutes.

Inside the farm is a reptile zoo, wherein guests are given the opportunity to touch or even handle docile snakes – that is of course, if they can stomach the riveting experience.

For those who’d prefer to watch other people doing the snake-handling, they’re in luck, as shows featuring snake wranglers coaxing the venomous beasts into showing deadly poses are held daily. While a wide range of snakes are utilized for these presentations, king cobras and massive pythons are considered by many spectators to be the biggest crowd-drawers.

Shows last two hours, starting from 11am and ending at 2pm. During the first segment of the show, snake charmers kick-off the production with a variety of poisonous snakes. Here, brave entertainers dance around the snake, while exhibiting moves that seem to aggravate the slithering beasts, and provoke them into taking defensive and offensive positions.

As daredevils continue to aggravate the deadly reptiles, the animals exhibit even more violent behavior, which includes lurching, exposure of their fangs, and even venom-spitting.

This segment is then followed by a display of cock-fighting. Unlike other shows, these birds won’t be wearing blades, so there isn’t any need to worry about the poor animals getting bloodied or killed.
Following the demonstration is the scorpion show, wherein a female entertainer is made to stand still as scorpions climb around her body. And finally, the king cobra is placed on stage, wherein an even braver snake charmer coaxes the killer to show-off its deadly attack moves.

Of course, the Snake Farm is just one of the many Koh Samui attractions for vacationers to enjoy. Paying a visit here is strongly recommended for vacationers who want to do more than relish the pleasant Koh Samui weather, go swimming, or engage typical activities most beach-goers are into.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Vacationing in Koh Samui

Gorgeous view from Beyond the Sea in Koh Samui

Even a brief stopover at the vacation island of Koh Samui can readily captivate a passing visitor who in most probability would vow to come back for a longer stay. This alluring tourist destination is located off the eastern coast of Thailand, now easily accessible within an hour by plane from the country’s capital, Bangkok. The island dazzles with the pristine sands of its beaches and its blue crystal clear waters. Samui also boasts of a wide selection of fine bars and restaurants serving both local and international cuisine.

The third biggest in the Gulf ofThailand, Koh Samui is actually the crown jewel of an archipelago made up of eighty islands. Thus, a Samui visit enables choices from a wide array of beaches to chill out. Despite the growing influx of tourists drawn by these kaleidoscopic delights, it is endearing to note that this tourist attraction has retained much of its rustic splendor. Islands near Samui worth a visit include Ko Pha Ngan which has superb beaches and eye-pleasing waterfalls. A stop at the Ko Tao is likewise an enticing option as this virgin island flaunts magnificent corals in its waters.

An inland tour of Samui will reveal sprawling plantations of coconut palms which is a major driver of the economy in the island. The produce from the coconuts are sold at the mainland, and the plantations’ palms likewise locally supply  fiber for mats or ropes, thatch for roofing, and vegetable oil which isn’t only a base for food items but also serves as raw material for consumer products like soap and candle. Besides coconut farming, rice cultivation and fishing are also sources of livelihood for the locals.

With the growing importance of tourism in the island in recent years, the travel business has also started to have a positive impact on the local economy and the island’s residents. It was not too long ago that tourists found the path to Koh Samui which was erstwhile popular only among backpackers.

Travel to the island when the transport facilities weren’t as developed as today was a challenge. Samui was then fairly isolated, as it is 560 kilometers north of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. Geographically, Samui is in fact closer to Malaysia than it is from Bangkok. The island is also about 80 kilometers from Surat Thani, the local capital. With the construction of the island’s airport, however, the travel time between the Thai mainland and Samui was significantly reduced, enabling the island’s tourist industry to blossom.  

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Enjoying a Night at the Ladyboy Cabaret Shows in Koh Samui

Is this a man or woman? Ladyboy Cabaret shows in Koh Samui are extremely popular, stop by and you'll see why

Thailand’s katoey or “third sex” is widely recognized throughout the entire country and across the globe for their striking resemblance to actual females. Regardless of whether The Ladyboy Cabarets are a person’s cup of tea or not, these business are generally considered one of the biggest Koh Samui attractions to date.

Nonetheless, anyone looking to enjoy the nightlife can’t go wrong by planning a stopover to the popular attraction. A typical show incorporates elaborate costumes, glitzy makeup, and trained-performers lip-syncing popular songs. Every segment of these presentations is expertly choreographed with light-hearted tones to keep spectators entertained.

The majority of these cabarets are hosted at Chaweng, which makes the idea of watching such presentations even more attractive, as the beach is one of Samui’s biggest crowd-drawers. That being said, the Moulin Rouge Cabaret – formerly known as Christy’s Cabaret prior to its purchase – is one venue to visit.

Specifically located at Central Chaweng, this establishment presents three shows every night at 8pm, 9:30pm and 11pm. It also features around 20 performers that put on performances suitable for families during the first show, and progress into more “adult-oriented” presentations later in the evening.
While entrance is free, the price for drinks at the Moulin Rouge is more expensive in comparison to other businesses on the beach.

Starz Cabaret is another establishment that rightfully belongs to the list of popular Koh Samui attractions. It boasts a wonderful combination of Thai cultural dance and western pop divas who carry out performances with a great sense of humour and zest.

In addition to free entrance, beverage and edibles are priced reasonably. Any of these two venues will give tourists a pleasant taste of how fun the Koh Samui nightlife can be. However, the ladyboys are known to get a little aggressive with their male audiences, especially with the ones they find attractive. Of course, dragging the male into the bar by the arm is just one of their various business strategies, so no offense should be taken.

For tourists who feel uncomfortable attending these types of shows, there are plenty of other Koh Samui attractions spread around the island. In Chaweng, there’s a wide variety of bars, clubs and other businesses designed to keep customers entertained throughout the duration of their stay.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Koh Samui Shopping: How To Bargain For Bargain-Basement Prices

You can find some great bargains in Koh Samui!
The most important thing to remember when you are dealing with shopkeepers and stallholders on Koh Samui is to smile. It might sound trite, but the smile is one of the most important parts of getting a good deal. Smiling establishes good intent and even if you don’t end up agreeing a price or buying anything, so long as it's done with a smile, nobody loses face. An aggressive, confrontational approach is not the way to go about shopping in Koh Samui.

Most stall holders and market vendors are willing to do a deal. If the price isn’t marked on the item you are interested in, then there will usually room for negotiation. To get the best deal, don’t ask for the price straight away. Try and establish a rapport with the person selling; smile, get them to smile or better still, get them to laugh. It doesn’t mean you have to launch into a 20 minute stand-up comedy routine, but if you have a sense of humour in your haggling you will definitely get a better deal. Thais like everything to be "sanuk" (fun!) and that includes shopping. Ask them if the item is hand-made and if so, did they make it themselves. 

Compliment them on how nice their stall is, how nice their smile is or how good their English is. If it’s a DVD you’re buying, ask them if they’ve seen the film, ask if it’s any good, tell them they look like Jackie Chan or Miss Thailand Universe - anything to make them smile!

Don’t worry about trying to speak Thai. In most tourist areas, shopkeepers can speak English to some extent. As a tourist you won't be expected to speak Thai, but if you’re polite and remember your "sawatdee kha/khrap" and your "khop khun kha/khrap", you’ll establish a good rapport immediately. At some stage of your browsing you will probably notice the ubiquitous big calculator. Just about every stall that deals with tourists will have a large calculator on hand to save any misunderstandings when it comes to agreeing a price. If the seller doesn’t speak much English, you can still guarantee he’ll understand the words "how much?". Once you’ve uttered those magic words, then the fun begins and the stallholder will either quote you a price or key it into the calculator and show you.

Normally, this will be a price well above what the real price is. When he gives you a price, smile. You should counter with an offer well below that which you are expecting to pay. However, be sensible. Decide before you start haggling what you think is a fair price and how much you’d be prepared to pay. After a few offers and counter offers you should come to an agreement.

At markets and in tourist areas many shops and stalls sell similar items so you can ask around at a few stores to establish what the average going rate is and decide on how much you want to pay. If you are buying in bulk that’s obviously perfect from the shopkeeper’s point of view and he may offer a discount straight away, but there’s still usually room for extra negotiation.

Department stores and large shops work on a fixed price, so these are not the place to start haggling. However, if you have bought a really expensive item, there’s no harm in asking for a discount or a free gift. Very often this may be offered automatically, but if it isn’t, just smile and ask politely.