When Monkey and I recently had a conversation about where he would like to go on holiday again, he didn’t hesitate for a second. ‘Mummy, I really want to go back to Thailand,’ he said.
And who can blame him? I’ve been to Thailand many times – even spending three months island hopping around the country. I could barely tear myself away. The friendly people, the food, and the diverse panoramas, from tropical beaches, to towering skyscrapers, to rainforests and national parks; lush and evergreen with hidden caves and waterfalls. What’s not to love?
We spent a fortnight staying in the coastal town of Hua Hin a few years ago and as before, we left wishing we could have stayed longer. So enamoured were we with the tropical temperature, first-class service in our hotels and the brilliant activities we got to experience. So I’m totally with Monkey, I would be more than happy to return to Thailand in a heartbeat. But where to next – and what would be a good family holiday island?
Back when I went travelling there, Thailand wasn’t your usual package holiday destination, but such is the popularity of this South East Asian gem, tourists from all over the globe can now easily reach its sparkling shores, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down – over 32 million visitors went last year.
The country’s second largest island, Koh Samui, is certainly one of the more well-known and sought after hotspots. It’s palm-fringed beaches, alongside mountainous dense jungles, hosts a variety of high-end resorts and hotels as well as luxury Thailand mansions. There is something for everyone and that includes families as well as budget travellers.
I recall feeling quite run down when I arrived in Samui on a fishing boat from neighbouring Koh Phangan – it was all that Full Moon partying you see… All I wanted to do was rest. Even back then I was surprised just how Westernised the island was – walking past a Boots pharmacy and a Burger King transported me back to my local high street in an instant. But I didn’t let that put me off and, even though I only spent five days there, I found myself some modest accommodation near to Chaweng Beach and pretty much lay like a vegetable. It was blissful. And I was in the thick of it all, as Chaweng is the biggest and busiest town on the island.
I do have one regret… and that’s not seeing more of the what Samui has to offer. I only visited the Big Buddha Temple and not much else. I also missed out on all the tranquil, white sandy beaches and lapping turquoise waters that surround Koh Samui, preferring to stay close to my living quarters.
So, if I do go back with the family, the first thing I am going to do is make sure I head to the island’s best beaches because with over 50km of coastline and around 40 beaches to see, as well as numerous bays and coves, it would be foolish not to. Plus the MTM family adores spending lazy days by the sea – after all, that’s what makes a holiday a proper holiday in our eyes!
I think I’ll start with these ones first…
Set in a bay north of Lamai, Thong Takhian or Silver Beach as it’s more commonly known is an idyllic setting with crystal blue waters and an air of exclusivity. It’s small, but still has plenty of room for sunbathing socialites, even though the majority of the 250m stretch of sand is taken up by four hotels. However, as Thai law decrees, the public can still access the beach even if you’re not staying in those particular establishments.
Lipa Noi is a great spot for families because the shallow waters and fine sand means it’s perfect for kids to paddle and swim without any danger from sharp rocks or coral. It’s also a quiet place to stay, with a good selection of restaurants and not too hectic a nightlife. Being close the island’s main car ferry means that it’s a good location for those driving from the mainland.
It may be small, only around 700m long, but the understated charms of Choeng Mon means it’s still relatively unspoiled in comparison to its more popular neighbours. With a stunning bay at the north-eastern tip of the island, it has fantastic conditions for snorkelling, as well as a wide sandy beach.
Samrong Beach and Thongson Bay
With amazing views of nearby island Koh Phangan, Samrong Beach and Thongson Bay – in the far north of Samui – sit side by side together in a cape, and are easy to get, as there are number of hotels located on the two coves. Imagine feeling like you have your own private expanse of beach – well head here and you won’t have to imagine any longer.
If you travel around half an hour south from Chaweng, you’ll find another popular beach resort. But even though it’s Koh Samui’s second largest town, Lamai still retains a certain quaintness. You won’t miss Lamai beach if you look out for its famous granite boulders situated at the southern end of this stunning crescent-shaped beach. It’s also a great location for water sports and swimming. Quieter and more peaceful than its sister, Lamai still has plenty of restaurants and nightlife for those seeking a good mix of relaxation and amenities.
Have you been to Koh Samui? What beach was your favourite and why? I’d love to know in the Comment Section below.
* This is a collaborative post with Luxury Retreats; Photo credits: Flickr: Jutta M. Jenning and Urs Achermann