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Koh Samui and Activities

Koh Samui is a magical tropical island in the Gulf of Siam about 80 km from the mainland.  Koh Samui, the Coconut Island, is Thailand’s third largest island with an area of 247 sq km after Phuket and Ko Chang.

Brief History

The island was first inhabited about 15 centuries ago, settled by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula and Southern China.  It appears on Ming Dynasty maps dating back to 1687 under the name Pulo Cornam.  The name Samui is mysterious in itself.  Perhaps it is an extension of the name of one of the native trees, "mui", or it is a corruption of the Chinese word "sa boey", meaning 'safe haven'.

Until the late 20th century, Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand.  The island was even without roads until the early 1970s, and the 15km journey from one side of the island to the other involved a whole-day trek through the mountainous central jungles.

Today, Samui has a population of about 45,000.  It lives on a successful tourist industry, as well as exports of coconut and rubber.  Samui now has its own international airport, with flights daily to Bangkok and other major airports in Southeast Asia.  While the island presents an unspoiled image to the public, economic growth has brought not only prosperity, but changes to the island’s environment and culture, which is a source of conflict between local residents and migrants from other parts of Thailand and other countries.  Reflecting Samui’s growth as a tourist destination, the Cunard ship MS Queen Victoria (a 2000-plus passenger ship) docked at Samui during its 2008 world cruise.

Geographic Facts

Koh Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand, about 35km northeast of Surat Thani town (9°N, 100°E).  It is surrounded by about sixty other islands, most of which comprise the Ang Thong National Marine Park, but also include other tourist destinations such as Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan.

The island is roughly circular in shape, and is about 15km across.  The central part of the island is an (almost) uninhabitable mountain jungle (peak Khao Pom, 635m) and the various lowland areas are connected together by a single road that covers the circumference of the island.

The old capital is Nathon, on the southwest coast of the island, and remains the major port for fishing and inter-island transportation.  Nathon is the seat of the regional government and is the true commercial hub of the Samui locals.  It has a charming pace, and is almost small enough to walk everywhere.  The old Chinese shop houses along the middle street whisper an exotic history.

Each of Samui’s primary beaches is now also nominally considered a town, due to the number of hotels, restaurants and bars that have sprung up in recent years.

Beaches in Koh Samui

Samui is visited mostly by holidaymakers wanting to “get away from it all”.  Its main appeal are the funky rural beach communities with white beaches and clear & warm seas, and it has a few exceptional ones to choose from.  Koh Samui is hardly “away from it all” anymore, but rather a cool and bustling international island resort.

Check out beautiful beaches in Koh Samui:
Chaweng and Lamai | Bophut and Maenam | Nathon and Lipa Noi

Beauty and Spa

Samui boasts many excellent spas that can truly be referred to as world class; from aromatic steam baths through to herbal body-masques, these health centre/retreats offer the utmost in rejuvenating body/beauty treatments – all in total luxury and comfort.

For complete luxury, ask the villa manageress of your villa to arrange for an in-villa massage or treatment in the comfort of your own surroundings.

Golfing Galore

Santiburi Samui Country Club is an impressive 6,881-yard golf course stretching along the hills of Samui’s northern coastline, seamlessly integrating with the island’s natural habitat.  This masterpiece of a golf course, designed by Piirapon Namatra and Edward Thiele, is widely regarded as one of the best conceived, and conditioned golf courses in Asia.  The Par 72 course with spectacular elevation changes, ranging from 30 to 190 meters above sea level offers an aesthetic feast for the golf connoisseur and it’s no wonder the Bangkok Open is held here.

The Royal Samui Golf & Country Club is making waves of its own with its breathtakingly designed course unfolding across a mountain top in Lamai, steeped in wrap-around views for that unique golfing experience.

Bophut Hills Country Club, is a well thought-out 9 hole, par 3 course, elegantly designed on the hillside in the jungle interior.  This course is particularly suited to beginners and groups before choosing to move on to the larger courses on the island.

Santiburi Samui Country Club

Samui has had a Championship Golf course since 2003 when the Santiburi Samui Country Club opened, located on a hillside on the northern coast.

Santiburi is one of the most challenging and picturesque golf courses in Asia with Tifeagle greens and Seashore Paspalam on the tees and fairways which are maintained in outstanding condition all year round.  It hosts the Bangkok Air Open which is an Asian Tour event with many of Asia’s top players taking part.

Waterfalls and creeks run through the land adding lush, natural beauty with the hills providing a serene backdrop. The dominant features of the course are the huge elevation changes (up and down), spectacular tee shots, and stunning views from the highest parts of the course over Maenam Beach and neighbouring Koh Phangan.

Green fees are high by Thai standards (around Baht 4000), although currently they offer discounted prices on Mondays and Wednesdays.  This level of green fee however means that the course is generally lightly used which assists in keeping the course in immaculate condition and there is rarely any difficultly in obtaining a tee time at short notice.

For more detailed information visit www.santiburi.com

Royal Samui

A much more recent arrival is the Royal Samui Golf & Country Club, Koh Samui’s second championship golf course.

Royal Samui is located atop a mountain in the Lamai Beach area Royal Golf & Country Club and also presents spectacular views towards Chaweng, Lamai, the surrounding islands, and even the Thai mainland from practically every point on the golf course.  Again, this is a challenging golf course but the views are always sufficient to ensure that spirits do not flag even after a box of lost balls.

For more detailed information visit www.rsgcc.co.th.

Bophut Hills

For those looking for a less demanding layout, there is the beautifully designed 9 hole par 3 layout at Bophut Hills Country Club opened in Bophut in 2007.  Whilst by no means a Championship course, Bophut Hills Country Club is a nicely constructed bit of fun and well worth the visit, especially for holidaymakers staying in one of the main tourist areas.

For more detailed information visit www.bophuthillsgolf.com.

Splash and Fun

With Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao in such close proximity of each other, diving in the gulf of Thailand has never been so popular, with a little something for everyone.  Diving destinations from Sail Rock, the home of the Whale Shark, through the National Marine Park with its sloping coral reefs and an abundance of exotic and colourful marine life, to the important breeding ground of the Hawksbill and green turtles in Koh Tao, with minimal currents, means diving conditions couldn’t be more promising.

Sailing
The sailing scene of Samui offers you the opportunity to castaway in endless bays and rocky coves – many of which are only accessible by boat.  Surrounded by white sandy shores and stunning, turquoise seas, making it one of the best places to charter a yacht, with mildly challenging sailing conditions by day and beautiful tranquil anchorages by night.  At certain times of year and subject to proposed itinerary some boats can pick up at Baan Kilee.

Baan Kilee guests recommend: www.sailing-in-samui.com & www.saardwatersports.com.

Diving

With Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao in such close proximity of each other, diving in the gulf of Thailand has never been so popular, with a little something for everyone.  Diving destinations from Sail Rock, the home of the Whale Shark, to the National Marine Park with its sloping coral reefs and an abundance of exotic and colourful marine life, to the important breeding ground of the Hawksbill and green turtles in Koh Tao, with minimal currents, diving conditions couldn’t be more promising.

Baan Kilee Guests really recommend Ivan and Caz at 100 degrees, whether taking courses, day dives or just snorkelling trips. 100 degrees can often pick up nearby.

Baan Kilee guests recommend: www.100degreeseast.com.

Water Sports

An island would not be complete without it’s fair share of water sports.Fortunatly, most beaches on Samui offer varying types of water activities available to rent for differing amounts of time.
Water Edge Sports located not far from the villa in Lamai, specializes in providing the latest and coolest water sport equipment in Asia. As an exclusive Asia distributor for the unique Jetlev-Flyer, this amazing water-propelled jet pack is a thrill seeking adrenalin rush toy. Also boasting, the underwater scooter for that amazing ride of the deep, and Powerdive from Australia that lets you conveniently dive without tanks, the underwater entertainment has only just begun.

Baan Kilee Guests recommend – www.wateredgesports.com

Orange Wave  is located in Baan Po, not far from the villa and is also the perfect one stop shop for jet ski’s ( which are not allowed in the bay on which Baan Kilee is siutuated)  banana boats, kite boards and snorkeling gear in a chilled beachside café atmosphere. Whilst Baan Kilee owners do not recommend hiring jet skis per se, they are a particularly good way of doing a one hour trip around the Five Islands just off shore, and the VM will advise whether the conditions are suited or not?

Dining and Entertainment

A haven of gourmet delights with unforgettable restaurants in breathtaking locations, Koh Samui is fast becoming an island of groundbreaking culinary excellence. With such a variety of mouthwatering eateries, peppered across the island, this insiders guide gives some hot dining tips for Baan Kilee guests:

Taling Ngam (5 minute drive)

Jahn, located at the Conrad, promises a culinary journey through Thai cuisine in a luxury environment. Expert chefs Chef Konrad Inghelram collaborated with the legendary Albert Roux at the Sofitel St. James in London, to create an inspirational blend of traditional Thai cooking techniques and specially imported international ingredients to create memorable signature dishes.

The Five Islands restaurant is a perfect blend of contemporary and traditional design creating the exotic ambiance of a tropical paradise by the sea. The select menu has been created to concentrate on quality & originality, whether seafood, meat or vegetarian. Thai fusion cuisine at its best is promised and just 5 minutes from the villa, who could resist!

Laem Yai Bay (15 minute drive)

Lan Tania restaurant at Four Seasons (more like 30)is a short 15 ride from the villa. Named after the local blue palm tree, the restaurant is magnificently situated at the pinnacle of the Resort, more than 100 metres above the beach. Alex Gares Blaya, the chef mastermind previously from Soneva Fushi Resort and Spa, Six Senses, creates a gourmet paradise of Italian cuisine and some delicious Thai specialties.

Baan Po (15 (30) minute drive)

Baan Po Seafood is a rustic Thai beachside restaurant with legendary acclaim. Preparing local delectable seafood and fresh fish delights fused with Thai herbs and seasoning, alongside the wonderful addition of ancient cooking secrets, Baan Po Seafood is an excellent option for the seafood lovers among us!

Lamai (20 minute drive)

The Cliff, is high up on the mountainous section of the ring-road between Chaweng and Lamai, looking down upon huge natural boulders next to the water’s edge. Open from midday, the restaurant is an ideal spot to stop for lunch and then make your way down to the clear turquoise sea for some kaleidoscopic snorkeling around impressive rocky outcrops. The food prepared is Mediterranean, with the accent on Portuguese, Italian and Spanish delights.
Doctor Frogs is nestled between Samui’s lush tropical landscape upon a hilltop with indoor and outdoor terraces overlooking the expansive crystal blue waters of the island. These breathtaking uninterrupted views combined with the delicious and imaginative authentic Italian and traditional Thai cuisine makes up the overall 5 star experience Dr Frogs offers.

Bophut (40 minute drive?)

Zazen an elegant boutique resort is situated on the beach in Bophut. Considered to be one of Samui’s most romantic dinner settings, with exceptional attention to detail, making for this truly special dining experience. Delectable fusion cuisine beautifully crafted and prepared to perfection, combined with its romantically captivating location, is a true taste of dining in the lap of luxury.

Starfish & Coffee, located right on the beach in Fisherman’s Village with warm low-level lighting and a distinctly Thai /Mediterranean feel of opulent proportions, you know you are in for a treat as you enter. The Thai food is delicious, the service worthy of kings and queens, and the location unforgettable.

H Bistro at Hansar, located in Fisherman’s Village has impressive views over Bophut beach. Executive chef Stephan Jean Dion is a culinary master creating delicious innovative fare with a repertoire of outstanding achievements as the private chef to the King of Jordan and most recently, the executive chef for Sirocco in Bangkok. The too tempting for words French/ Mediterranean and Thai cuisine offers creatively presented dishes with generous portions and glorious combinations.

Namu, the chefs of W’s signature restaurant weave their magic, using only the freshest ingredients to create culinary masterpieces. Contemporary Japanese at its best where design and food fuse creating mouthwatering delights in a contemporary beachside location.

Bang Rak (45 minute drive?)

Oceans 11, with its idyllic beachfront buzz is a firm favorite amongst residents and tourists alike. The well-created dishes of Mediterranean and Thai delights in the intimate surroundings are a perfect combination.

Chaweng (45 minute drive?)

The Spirit House is an enchanting restaurant in the heart of Chaweng. The feel of transcending time, with it’s traditional Thai village design, stunning central temple with surrounding Thai villas, landscaped courtyards peppered with exotic spice gardens, the ambiance is truly outstanding. The menu features both Thai traditional dishes and Thai dishes with a splash of fusion and flamboyancy. 
A splattering of European dishes caters for those who have not yet acquired the Thai addiction!

Prego, Italian world-class cuisine by leading Italian chef, Marco Boscaini in a stylish alfresco atmosphere, it’s a winning combination! Delicious dishes from pasta delights to mouthwatering wood fired pizzas are available on their extensive menu. With the utmost attention to detail on every level including the kid’s menu and entertainment pack offered, this is a fabulous family restaurant.

Plai Laem (60 minute drive?)

Dining On The Rocks considered to be the ultimate Samui dining experience with modern interpretive cuisine and a unique dramatic setting. Mouthwatering deconstructed culinary delights, at a 270-degree breathtaking sea view location what could be more memorable!

Shop til you drop

There are infinite shopping bargains to be found on Samui at almost every corner of the island.

Nathon

The Capital of Samui and only 5 minutes from the villa, Nathon is considered to be shopping central for locals, a real hub of activity. The two main roads are filled with shops and stalls selling silk goods, shoes, souvenirs and funky boutiques with the Samui Hot Club boasting 3 floors of summer clothing. Pricing for the bargainers amongst us are often cheapest in Nathon.

Lamai

A second shopping district, closely located to the villa is Lamai. Once again the main street for shopping is along the beach road with a smaller yet adequate selection of shops and restaurants, ensuring endless shopping possibilities are available. Most shops here open after lunch as the days heat lessens.

Bophut

The best way to truly appreciate the many different shops and stalls Bophut has to offer, is to park outside the Fisherman’s Village and stroll up and down the main beachside street. Lined by old wooden Chinese shop-houses, interspaced with super styling shops, gorgeous bars and restaurants that match the tone, retaining a distinctly Thai feel with great bargains.

Chaweng

The Chaweng beach road is an Aladdin’s cave of shopping madness. Six kilometers of road adorned with long thread like bazaar shops selling beach ware, jewellery, sports shops,  nik naks, and unlimited copies, the entire length of the road. Working with the local demographic, shops open midday and stay open long into the night.

Walking Street Markets
These fun filled night markets are held all over Samui on specific nights of the week. The bustling markets are lined with cheap and unusual eats and treats for all to indulge in and enjoy.
  • Nathon: Sunday
  • Maenam: Thursday
  • Bophut: Friday
  • Chaweng: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.