Simply put, our time in Koh Samui was pure bliss.
When I booked the Southeast Asia portion of our trip back in November and December, I had to take many a gamble on where we were staying and for how many nights. For the most part, many good calls were made. Perhaps none better (so far) than spending five nights in Koh Samui, at the Mantra Samui Resort.
Five nights was a commitment. Most of our stays have been three or four nights. I had to really hope this one worked out. You can only tell so much by the photos you see on TripAdvisor, as many times the reality does not match up. In the back of my mind, I had two concerns about this one: The price point, and the location.
This seemingly five-star resort cost us a whopping $55 per night, for their standard room with a balcony overlooking an ocean view. I was nervous that was way too low, even by Thailand standards, and what I was seeing online was merely smoke and mirrors. How nice could it really be at such a cheap price? The answer: it really was that nice! And turns out we must have gotten some sort of early bird special, because our price was at least 50% off their regular rate. Deals, Deals, Deals!
The resort was also not along on the beach, it was inset a bit up in the hills. Going to the beach would require a bit of a hike down, or a taxi. Would being so far from the beach be a nuisance? The answer: Hell no! This resort was so nice and comfortable, we never wanted to leave. We’d venture down mainly for dinners, but we thoroughly enjoyed spending the majority of our time at the resort. And we never got tired of admiring our view.
Koh Samui also represented the lone respite from the extreme heat during the second half of our time in Southeast Asia. Of our last six weeks here, it’s the only spot whose temperature forecast isn’t well into the 90s. 70s all day, definitely enough sun to hit you with some color by the pool, but also comfortable enough to sit on the balcony enjoying the view. Our room was comfortable, spacious, and did we mention the view?
Okay, enough bragging – so what did we do with our time in Koh Samui?
First off, you have to understand the map of Koh Samui. There’s basically one main road that goes around the island like a ring. We stayed near Bophut Beach, to the North, close to the airport (still a 25-minute drive). When we checked in to our hotel, they told us they had shuttles during the day that would drop us off at Fisherman’s Village (right near Bophut) or to Chaweng Beach (on the East side). To get to anywhere else on the island would be a trip, and an expensive one at that. While there are waterfalls and hiking trails hidden in the island’s dense forest center, it just wasn’t in the cards for us.
Fisherman’s Village is a beachside strip of shops, restaurants, cafés and bars (similar to Front Street in Lahaina, when we went to Maui last year) – totally my kind of vibe. I enjoyed walking around here at night; there was great people watching, bars playing good music (mostly), and ample beachside real estate to enjoy a drink under the stars. During the daytime however, calling this area a “beach” is a stretch – which we learned the hard way when we took the morning hotel shuttle here. Crowded at night, the shops weren’t even open in the daytime. It was pretty barren. The sand was rocky, and we walked a long ways before we finally settled on a place to plop down. The water in this section of the cove was murky, and I realized we made a mistake coming here for a daytime beach outing. Luckily we didn’t stick around too long, and decided to cut our losses and cabbed back to the hotel, where we found the glistening infinity pool anything but crowded. We decided that the distant view of the beach and the gulf was far better than being up close and personal.
The next day, we went down to Chaweng. The shuttle dropped us off by a big outdoor mall, which happened to have a movie theater. [Nerd alert] We wandered in and saw that Captain Marvel was already playing, two whole days before being released in the US! Of course we got our tickets and saw it!
Sidenote: This is the third movie theater we’ve been to in Southeast Asia. They all offer popcorn in three flavors: salty (sea salt), cheesy (cheddar?), and sweet (caramel). The cheesy popcorn is disgusting. But five minutes later you will find yourself still eating it. So bad it’s good? It’s an anomaly.
Ooh, second sidenote: During the trailers before the movie began, a message appeared on screen to Rise in honor of the King of Thailand. Everyone stood as a 60-second slideshow of the soon-to-be-crowned King’s life and accomplishments played out. Definitely not something we were expecting.
After the movie, we walked barefoot along Chaweng Beach as the sun went down. Beautiful resorts and restaurants lined the beach on one side, and on the other, waves came crashing down on the smooth white sand. A little later in the day than we first planned, but we finally got our beautiful beach trip in.
From the moment we first arrived until the sad morning we had to pack up and bid adieu, we absolutely loved Koh Samui. Our stay made us feel fancy, but we had earned our #resortlife with the weeks of sightseeing that preceded it. When we first spoke about traveling abroad for such a long period of time, it wasn’t for one kind of experience, or one type of location.
Thailand The world is a diverse and beautiful place, and we’re going to continue to enjoy every last bit of it in this great big adventure of ours.