Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Seasons Guide for Koh Samui Visit

You can't always expect fun in the sun in Koh Samui
As in visiting any tourist destination, a trip to Koh Samui, one of the leading travel destinations in Thailand, will have to take into account the local climate and when is the best time for a visit. Samui weather is generally hot and humid throughout the year. The more dramatic change comes during the monsoon season, which affects not only Thailand but also its Southeast Asian neighbours, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

There are two systems, which prevail during the times of the monsoon. These are the northwest and the southeast monsoon systems. During the southeast monsoon, which occurs from October to December, tropical storms can be expected across Indonesia and the Philippines, weather systems that eventually veer towards Malaysia and Thailand, including Koh Samui.  The island isn’t affected by the northwest monsoon that much which sweeps in from India from June to early August. The Thai mainland serves as a buffer zone for Koh Samui for any weather disturbance during this monsoon season.

Typhoon season

Nonetheless, heavy showers lasting for some 30 minutes can be expected during this season, particularly in the early afternoon up to early evening. More worrisome are the powerful effects of the southeast monsoon, which can bring in strong typhoons with high winds and heavy rainfall lasting sometimes up to a week. Several storms can be expected to develop and pass the island during this season. But in-between these typhoons, spells of the warm, sunny weather can also be experienced.

At this time of the year, most service-oriented tourist facilities like the ShaSa Resort at Koh Samui’s southern point are prepared for any contingency that the inclement weather may bring. The prolonged torrential rains can cause flooding from waters flowing from Koh Samui’s central, mountainous area. This can result in some inconvenience for visitors staying in the coastal towns, like Chaweng, which is one of the tourist centres of Koh Samui.

Some remedies installed

Besides flooding, the tourist hubs in the island, including those at Bophut, Lamai, Maenam, and Cheong Mon, may also be affected by road closures and power outages. Thankfully, many of the better-prepared tourist and travel facilities in the island have already secured emergency power sources to somehow ease the situation in case a strong typhoon hits the island. The drainage system of Koh Samui has also been vastly improved so that whatever flooding occurs subsides reasonably quicker than before. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Getting the Most Out of a Koh Samui Holiday

Gorgeous view of some islands in Koh Samui

The popularity of Koh Samui in Thailand as a tourist destination has grown tremendously in recent years such that this island too has become a playground of the rich and famous. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that it will now cost tourists an arm and a leg to spend their vacation or holiday in the island. For one thing, it is still possible to find Koh Samui hotel rates, which are quite affordable.

With some common sense and a bit of planning, visitors can enjoy a vacation in the island and have the best value-for-money deals in local tourist establishments like the ShaSa Resort, which is located at the idyllic southern point of Koh Samui. Besides this top-rated facility, there are also ideal options in the island’s Fisherman Village, one of which is the Carpe Diem Hotel.  Another possibility for hotel room accommodations at bargain rates is at the Fisherman’s Cove. The choice here can gravitate toward the Anantara Bohput Resort where spa services are likewise available.

Package tour discounts

Attractive rates can likewise be had at the newly built Arisara Place Hotel, a 30-apartment complex carved out of a hillside. In particular, tourists from Western countries will be delighted to note that their dollars and euros stand to go a long way once exchanged into the local currency, baht, for a holiday at Koh Samui. It is as equally delightful that local tour operators, travel agents, airlines, and hotels are coordinating efforts for the packaged tourist services that would appeal to those budget-conscious about their holiday spending.

There’s a merry choice, therefore, on package tours, which put together either stays on luxurious hotels like the Bophut Resort & Spa or having accommodations at the less expensive cottages of the Como Beach Resort at Buddha Bay. Some of the prized finds to look out for are discounts on early booking, some schemes of which are further sweetened with a “no deposit” requirement. Those lucky enough can also avail of last-minute calls to fill out slots in a packaged group tour, yet another opportunity to bag a substantial travel discount. 

Avoid the peak season

Taking advantage of off-season rates provides another alternative to enjoy an inexpensive Koh Samui vacation.  Essentially, the peak seasons to be avoided are Christmas and Easter, as well as school summer vacations. Outside of these periods, tourist traffic to Koh Samui is relatively lighter. As a result, airlines, tour operators, and hotels often conduct promos and provide discounts to generate a more even flow of revenue and maintain profitability, which becomes an advantage too for travellers who want to make the most out of their budgets.  

Monday, 20 May 2013

Learning a Little bit about the Island of Koh Samui

Relax at the fabulous ShaSa hotel during your stay in Koh Samui

Tourists who prefer laid-back vacations or holidays can find what they seek in the lovely and serene Koh Samui, an island located at the Gulf of Thailand. This splendid destination is only an hour plane ride from the Thai capital, Bangkok, and those who opt for a Koh Samui travel will more than likely be impressed by this island’s distinctive offerings.  

The third largest archipelago of 80 islands in the gulf, Koh Samui has managed to preserve its rustic charm even as it hosts such superb tourist enclaves such as the ShaSa Resort located at the southern end of the island. Visiting Koh Samui means not only an interlude with the island’s pristine beaches and dazzling seascapes ideal for many water-based leisure activities. Inland trips into Koh Samui will reveal expansive plantations of coconut palms, the produce of which sustains a great portion of the island’s economy.

In a manner of speaking, the coconut is the tree of life for the locals. They derive substantial revenue from some 2 million-coconut fruits, regarded as Thailand’s best, which are shipped monthly to the mainland. In addition the coconut palm is a source for native thatch roofing, and its harvested fruits yield raw materials for mats and ropes. The processed coconut meat is even more vital, coming in the form of vegetable oil and as ingredients for foodstuff, soap, and candles.

Rice cultivation and fishing are the other means of livelihood in Koh Samui. In recent years, tourism too has grown its contribution to the island’s economy.  The opening of an international airport ushered in the accelerated growth of the travel industry in Koh Samui. Despite the influx of tourists, though, the island’s charm, including nearby attractions, remained unspoiled as local authorities endeavoured hard to preserve the local natural splendour.

A communion with the best Mother Nature has to offer can be had with a trip to the neighbouring island of Koh Phangan, about 14 kilometres north of Koh Samui. In addition to its superb beaches, Koh Phangan is a preserve for majestic waterfalls. Koh Tao Island, is another nearby destination worth the trip with its abundant and colorful corals. Likewise, an excursion to the Ang Thong Marine National Park should be a memorable experience, given this preserve’s setting akin to a rare sea paradise. Reserve a whole day to partake of these wondrous offerings around the fascinating island of Koh Samui.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Cultural Discoveries in Koh Samui

Depicted above is a Wai, one many cultural discoveries you'll find in Koh Samui, Thailand

Cultural interaction stands as one of the best modes by which to enjoy a visit to a tourist destination. For this reason, many travel and tour operators promoting Koh Samui in Thailand almost always never fail to incorporate some pitches on the quaint local culture of local folks in the island. Koh Samui activities for visitors, after all, won’t be complete without having a sampling of the quaint island lifestyle as part of sojourns to this remarkable destination cradled by the waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

The local folks of Koh Samui, like most Asians, are quite friendly and amiable as reflected in their many festivals. Many of the permanent island residents have Chinese ancestry, the Chinese Lunar New Year is observed in the island around each February. Another interesting celebration locally is the Thai New Year or Songkran held in April, which can just as lively and captivating as the Chinese festivity.

Must-see spectacles

There are other revelries to enjoy and can be relished most in the environs of the popular and preferred Koh Samui tourist accommodations. At the ShaSa Resort, for instance, no stone is left unturned to ensure that guests in its facilities at the southern edge of the island can fully partake of the delights of holidays celebrated by the townsfolk. One of the enchanting spectacles to witness is the Loi Krathong or the Festival of Light traditionally celebrated in November.

There are special occasions too in between these festivals typically accompanied with parades, temple offerings, food fairs, and various entertainment fare. One of these is the Koh Samui Children’s Festival, which pays tribute to the younger generation, creating an occasion likewise for family-oriented activities. The island’s tourism officials, moreover, organizes cultural events and presentations in Koh Samui’s Nathon district.

What the markets offer

Besides the rich collection of festivals in Koh Samui, simple visits to the local markets will allow more than passing glimpses at the remarkable culture of the islanders. One superb stop is the market at Lam Din, which is located toward the island’s west coast, behind the expansive beach of the Chaweng district. Other alternatives can be explored at the Hua Thanon fishing village and at the fresh food market in the Nathon area.

Fairs around Koh Samui temples are also common throughout the year. These fairs venture around the island from village to village. The more elaborate of these endeavours can live entertainers, fortune tellers, and food stalls, with a Kung Fu movie thrown in, yet another manifestation of the diversity of the island’s cultural offerings.    

Friday, 17 May 2013

Koh Samui Island Adventure

Ever snorkeled in clear water beaches? Well in Koh Samui you can
Photo Courtesy

Thailand sure has many island resorts to offer tourists, and Koh Samui is but one among them. Located at the Gulf of Thailand, off the east coast of the Thai mainland, Koh Samui may pale in comparison when it comes to size, being in fact smaller compared to other local attractions like Phuket and Ko Chang.

Koh Samui comprises of just 247 square kilometres, making it the third largest Thai island. Koh Samui’s attractions, however, more than make up for the less acreage. For one, it has its own airport that conveniently links with the Thai capital of Bangkok 800 kilometres from the island. The one-hour flight from the capital can extend from 10 to 13 hours for those who opt to travel by train or bus plus a ferry ride.

Growth in tourism

Taking a trip either by air or overland and ferry would be worth it as the offerings of a Koh Samui travel trip are truly legendary. Tourist arrivals in recent years have swelled to about one million annually, affirming that indeed tourism in the island has gone a long way from those times when only venturesome backpackers came to partake of the island’s many offerings.

Accommodations available too have metamorphosed dramatically. The choices of lodging facilities in the island have grown not only in number but in variety as well. The alternatives in modest beach bungalows of previous years have grown to include facilities such as posh hotels like the ShaSa Resort, one of the most enticing attractions at the southern end of Koh Samui.

Local delights for the taking

Thai food is another draw that has remained a consistent source of delight. The cuisine native to the island typically consists of seafood prepared with fresh coconut milk and chili seasoning.

More of these delights can easily be experienced as there’s only one main road which circles the island, enabling a quick look at Koh Samui beyond its tourist enclaves. Taking the smaller roads branching off from the main highway can unveil the way of life in a rural Thai village. Some of these by-ways also lead to interior mountainous areas best explored with a hired motorbike or a jeep.

Those averse at stepping out of the beaten path should check out destinations like the Santiburi golf course. This is an 18-hole championship golf links at the northern section of Koh Samui. Dexterity at woods and irons can be likewise tested at the Royal Samui Golf and Country Club and at a tamer, nine-hole layout at the island’s Bophut district.