Two Weeks in Thailand: Koh Tao and Koh Samui

21 July 2017

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide
Oh hello! Me again. I thought it was about time I sat down and wrote about my trip to Thailand in May-June of this year. I spent quite a while whittling down the 470+ photos taken on the trip (at least on my Olympus Pen, but there's far more lingering on my iPhone...) but I've finally got it down to a reasonable amount so I don't overwhelm anyone reading this! I'm going to split this into two posts, so this first one will be about my time on the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui in the south of Thailand. It was a whirlwind of delicious pad thai, boat trips, cheap beer and stunning sunsets, and definitely an area I'd like to visit again one day.

So, without further ado, here's what I got up to during the first week of our trip!

Koh Tao

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Out of everywhere we visited on the trip, Koh Tao was my absolute favourite. I'd heard from Graeme (who's been a million times before) and a couple of friends that Koh Tao was great, but you never really know what you'll think of somewhere until you get there. And, truly, it was wonderful. We arrived in the afternoon after a very early morning six hour coach trip and two hour catamaran boat trip from Bangkok (not as horrific as it sounds, strangely). I couldn't close my eyes the entire time on that coach as even just the mundane motorway traffic and passing towns seem so much more interesting when you're in a foreign country. We traveled with Lomprayah, who I definitely recommend for anyone visiting Thailand. For only £20ish each compared to a £90 internal flight to Samui airport, it's worth being a little bit adventurous and going for the coach and boat option. Because, hey, trying to keep the toilet door shut on a moving coach makes for some iiiinteresting stories, ahem. 

Tanote Villa Hill, Tanote Bay

We were picked up in a pick-up truck by the team at our first hotel, Tanote Villa Hill, set in Tanote Bay - the eastern side of the island. The hotel itself is probably the most remote of everywhere we visited, with a crazy drive uphill all the way there. As we traveled in the off season, it was also pretty much deserted apart from a few other couples, and it just added to how relaxing everything felt. We'd opted for the pool-side room, so we were able to step foot in one of the pools in a second - bliss, and great for late night pool evenings with a beer in hand. One thing I loved most about Tanote Villa Hill was how attentive the staff were. From cleaning your room as soon as you left to keeping the beautiful hotel area in immaculate condition at all times, they were fantastic without being intrusive. The first photo on this post shows the infinity pool by the restaurant too - an absolute Instagram dream! The only downside with the hotel is how steep the climb is back up when you've visited the couple of restaurants on the pebble beach at the bottom - all in darkness with only our iPhone torches for light! It's great if you're wanting a couple of days to just relax in paradise for a bit, though.

Tanote Villa Hill cost us £59 per night for a pool-side villa.

Simple Life Resort, Sairee Beach

After a couple of days at Tanote Villa Hill sitting reading our books and basically getting used to the 30+ degree heat, we moved to the centre of the action at Sairee Beach to the west of the island, staying at the Simple Life Resort. Think watching fire dancers on the beach from a bean bag drinking Singha to boat tripping around Koh Tao. We fit a lot into our stay at Sairee Beach, with barely any time spent in the hotel, unlike at Tanote Bay. But, to be honest, one of my favourite experiences was simply sitting by the beach in the evenings, sipping a mojito and people-watching (or fire dancer watching!) It's really the best way to get a feel for the place. The Simple Life Resort was cheap and easy, with its central location (100 yards from the beach) being the main selling point. We went for a superior room with a balcony overlooking the pool, which was really spacious and clean and did the job. The only downside with the hotel is its really bad breakfast buffet - the food was all a bit stale and bland. So, I'd recommend going elsewhere for breakfast.

Unfortunately, I can't swim, but Graeme made use of the snorkelling on the boat trip we went on around the island. We went with Diamond Tours, who offer a half-day snorkelling around the whole island for around £17/750 Baht each, including an entrance fee to access the private Nangyuan Island and climb the viewpoint. The trip itself was great fun, despite me being left on the boat like a li'l lost soul! It was one of the best ways to really appreciate how beautiful Koh Tao is and see some of the other sides of the island we didn't get to see by land. Graeme enjoyed the snorkelling, too, spotting a fair few clownfish and baby sharks. However, I stupidly gave myself heatstroke that day after sitting in the open for hours! Please sit in the shade and don't make the mistakes I did... All in all, a wonderful trip with great food, funny guides and lots of adventure.

The Simple Life Resort cost us £59 per night for a superior room.

Food and drink in Koh Tao

Eating and drinking in Koh Tao is, as you'd expect from Thailand, cheap and cheerful. The bounty of delicious meals and amazing bars scattered along the beach is a big lure to Koh Tao, especially. Let's just say we were never stuck for ideas of places to go!

For breakfast, I spotted a cute wee bakery called Morning View Coffee and Bakery which does fantastic coffee, granola, pastries and smoothies. I loaded up on a flat white, pancakes and a mango smoothie (I bloody lived on fresh mango smoothies every day - they are TREMENDOUS). As for lunch, we were a little less picky and I tended to go for the chicken pad thai for basically every lunch of the holiday (hahaha, help me, I have a problem). You can't really go wrong with it!

For dinner, there's so many highly-rated restaurants to try out on the island. A few of my favourites: Porto Bello Bistro for amazing pizzas cooked in a proper Italian oven; Barracuda for a huge surf and turf to share for £25; The Gallery for a fine dining Thai feast; Bang Burgers for the best burger hangover-busting feasts; and Fizz Beach Lounge for lovely Thai food, good music and after-dinner drinks on the beach. Out of all of these I'd recommend Barracuda the most!

Oh, and a bonus suggestion: try out the small Coco Bar with its UV painted walls, good banter with the bar staff and cheap cocktail offers. But, beware the possibility of being so tipsy on cheap mojitos that you have to miss your boat transfer the next day... ahem.

Koh Samui


Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

Deva Samui Resort, Choeng Mon

After another trip on Lomprayah's handy catamaran (postponed to later that afternoon due to that incredible hangover from cheap mojitos, oops), we got our transfer to Deva Samui Resort on the island of Koh Samui. Now, this resort really is the epitome of a romantic paradise. Filled with well-kept gardens, koi carp swimming around under wooden walkways and elegant arches lined with foliage, it really is a beautiful tranquil place to spend a few days. The amazing sunset photo I posted to Instagram was taken from dinner in the restaurant there, right by the water's edge.

What sold Deva Samui to us when we booked it, only a matter of days before we arrived, was the jacuzzi whirlpool bath on the balcony. I mean, hello! We spent pretty much most of our time making use of it and putting on the jazzy lights like complete losers. It was so nice to sit there while it rained outside and we were all sheltered inside with our beers. I also slept like an absolute log in the gigantic comfy bed. Ah, bliss.

Koh Samui itself is a hit or miss type of island. If you're after a resort where you don't have to leave and everything is catered for to the highest quality, then it's great for that. But, if you prefer to go out adventuring, then it's not so great. For a bit of buzz on the island, the main hub of Chaweng Beach is an option, but it was my least favourite place I visited in Thailand. It's all expensive try-hard cocktail bars on the beach and big shopping malls. Not fun for me! But do give it a shot if you want to try out one of the fancy resorts there.

Deva Samui Resort cost us £66 per night for a deluxe room.

Food and drink in Koh Samui

We didn't really try out too many restaurants for dinner in Koh Samui as the hotel itself had a wonderful selection, and it was quite a trek to get to any nearby restaurant due to the resort being quite remotely placed. I actually had the freshest fish dish with mango and Thai sweet chilli sauce in the hotel restaurant which was one of my favourite meals of the trip. But, equally, when I left the resort and tried a random local restaurant, I had the worst meal of the trip unfortunately.

However, I have to give a shout out to Noori India at Chaweng Beach (odd for me to say, I know) - the best Indian I've had in ages! True traditional Indian food in a lovely cosy environment, for fairly cheap. I recommend the lamb rogan josh and their garlic naan. Oh my god, fantastic!

Hope you enjoyed my rambly write-up on Koh Tao and Koh Samui. Let me know if you'd like any tips, too, and I'd be happy to help.

Stay tuned for my next post on my visits to Chiang Mai and Bangkok x

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Koh Tao and Koh Samui Travel Guide

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