2016 UPDATE! The 5th edition of The Koh Samui Guide is now available – and even better!
The Koh Samui Guide (July 2013)
Our lucky day! We had a great note of feedback from a customer of The Koh Samui Guide. Luna was incredibly generous in sharing her family’s trip details – both the highlights and a few things to avoid – and even more so for allowing us to publish it here. Here’s Luna’s Samui story:
Koh Samui trip review (family with 2 kids)
“We just returned from our (too short) trip to Koh Samui, and your guide was very helpful for the basics that we needed!”
Where they stayed
“We stayed at Harry’s Bungalows, not realizing until later that it was recommended in Lonely Planet. (We picked it because of the name!) We loved Harry’s and recommend it to anyone who has a smaller budget. The staff was very helpful and accommodating. Harry’s top manager made time to take us on an all day tour of the island, on our second day. He took us to the top tourist spots, some of his favorite less popular spots, and to an awesome roadside noodle soup stop for lunch. That day was a fantastic starting point.”
“We did many of the basic tourist things, including taking a kayak/boat tour, riding elephants, ziplining. We used Blue Star for our kayak trip and found the captain and crew very pleasant. We chose them because they offered two chances to kayak during the day (we love to kayak,) and they made the stop at the island with the lake (name escaping me just now.) Climbing the stairs up and down that island is no easy feat.”
“We chose Treetop Tours for the ziplining because they have the most lines to zip (10)! The family that runs that program is very friendly and accommodating. We zipped with the Mom and her two boys and they were very professional about the clips, we felt pretty confident. Any zippers from the USA will notice that there are no helmets provided—but I think this might be standard for Thailand.”
“We chose to take the 60 minute elephant ride*, but with no added monkey show or anything else. My girls were thrilled that our mahouts let them ride on the elephants heads for almost the entire hour. [W]e were happy for the entire ride and would have gone longer if it was possible—probably this was due to being able to ride behind their ears. Our mahoots carried our cameras and took pictures of us and other interesting things along the way—a great and interesting perspective from them, and it let us focus on the ride instead of taking pictures.”
*ED NOTE: We ourselves are hugely against elephant riding – the mention above is by no means our own endorsement. If it’s on your Thailand to-do list, please make sure you know in advance what you’re supporting. Thanks!
Getting around with The Koh Samui Guide
“We found The Koh Samui Guide very helpful for understanding how the songthaews and taxis negotiate—this was crucial for us as we ventured all around the island. We are pretty hard bargainers, but at the same time we have no qualms about tipping if we feel someone has given us great service.”
Favourite place to eat
“We tried many different restaurants on the island, and consistently found that Harry’s restaurant had the best food for flavor, price, and quantity. We did try Farmer’s*, sitting right on the edge of the rice paddys. The restaurant was definitely a different and well-appointed style, but we found that the food was not nearly as good as Harry’s, the portions were very small for the price, and the service was not good—this was the only restaurant we encountered where the servers were grumpy. Although the restaurant is lovely and unusual, we think the recommendation is overrated.” *Since edited in our 2014 guide
Dog and Cat Rescue volunteering
“My older daughter and I also volunteered for two afternoons at the Dog and Cat Rescue Samui. I cleaned cages and did janitorial stuff, but my daughter shadowed and assisted the vet. That was sweaty but gratifying work. The rescue center is a fantastic resource for Samui, entirely run by volunteers—they offer free sterilizations and vaccinations to every dog and cat on the island. The center might not be what Westerners would expect, but the animals are fed, watered and cared for. Our family believes in helping locally when we travel, and this rescue can ALWAYS use more donations. We ran the risk of falling in love with a dog, but we weren’t in the country long enough to work it out—the lady that runs the rescue will help tourists organize everything to adopt animals, but they do need a two week window.”
“We beach-hopped using both songthaews and taxis. We found the Lamai beach to be disastrously hot and didn’t stay more than two hours. The Maenam beach is uncrowded, but the sand is rougher, and it’s difficult to walk along the shore because it’s very soft. The Chaweng beach was our favorite, like many other tourists!”
“We were pretty low-budget, but we found that we didn’t miss out on anything we really wanted to do. We referred to your guide several times, and it was definitely worth the purchase! Thanks!”
Thanks Luna for being so very generous in sharing your family’s holiday! Whether you’re sitting on a packed suitcase or are just starting your travel plans, The Koh Samui Guide has everything you want to know in one tidy guide. Enjoy!