The two most popular Asian holiday destinations for Australians are Bali and Thailand. After five visits to Bali, Jason Dundas decided to give Thailand a go and headed for Koh Samui in the Gulf of Siam, off the country's east coast.
Backpackers and surfers have known about it for more than 20 years. Word got out and these days almost a million tourists visit the little island. It's roughly a 50km circle, 15km wide and has tall palms and soft, sandy beaches.
Jason rented a scooter most hotels and resorts have them and soaked up some of the local life on his ride. He also soaked up a lot of rain, but used the short downfalls to take a look around. One of the things he found was a fish spa. The idea is you immerse your feet into water containing hundreds of little catfish and they remove dead skin.
With the sun out again, Jason had the chance to check out the spiritual side of Koh Samui. Way in the distance he spotted the big Buddha statue, a landmark on the north of the island. The 12m-high statue is testament to the predominant religion of the Thai people.
Chaweng Beach is Koh Samui's answer to Bali's Kuta. Everyone heads there at night for fun and action. There are endless places to eat from street stalls to silver service. You'll see Australian steakhouses to Italian restaurants, Indian, seafood buffets and, of course, the Golden Arches. Jason tucked into a great Pad Thai for around $2.
There are loads of activities, including parasailing, jetskiing and loads more, and thanks to beautiful clear water, snorkelling and diving are popular.
The Island Resort & Spa
There are loads of places to stay on Koh Samui. Jason checked out a couple and found The Island Resort & Spa right on the beach at Chaweng. The location is close to nightlife, restaurants and shopping and it offers good value for money.
Modern thatched bungalows stand among tall palms. They have private balconies with garden or sea views. They are air-conditioned, have colour televisions, ensuite facilities and beautiful teak floors.
There's a very good pool and bar and Lim Lay restaurant serves fresh juices and tropical cocktails at happy hour. You can enjoy a seafood barbecue on the beach and Thai and Western dishes are on the menu.
When you're ready for a pamper, there are Balinese and Thai massages on offer, as well as body and facial treatments.
This property is way up-market but still competitively priced. It's one of a privately owned chain of five-star hotels and resorts throughout Thailand. The contemporary resort is on more than two hectares on the south-eastern corner of Samui on Hua Thanon, a secluded 100m-long beach.
Most of its 27 villas have a pool and there's a spa and outdoor massage pavilion. Choose between Deluxe Garden or Pool, Luxury Pool Villa suite or Royal Villa.
The chain's signature restaurant and bar, 4K, serves Eastern and Western dishes.
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Koh Samui off Thailand's east coast.
The Island Resort & Spa rooms start at $70 a night.
X2 Samui Villa, part of Centara Boutique Collection, rooms start at $98 per person a night, including breakfast. Scooter rental is around $12 a day, including insurance.
V Australia has flights to Phuket from:
- Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane $499
- Adelaide $628
The fares are available for a limited time only so visit www.vaustralia.com.au for further details.
Connections to Koh Samui are available.
Prices correct at September 30, 2010.
For further information
The Island Resort & Spa
162/21 Moo 2
Koh Samui Suratthani
Ph: +66 077 230751
Fax: +66 077 230942
442 Moo 1
Baan Hua Thanon
Umphur Koh Samui
Ph: +66 7723 3033
Fax: +66 7723 3034
Ph: 1300 880 268
Centara Boutique Collection
Visas: Australians may stay in Thailand for up to 30 days without a visa.
Electricity: 220V with European plugs of two circular metal pins or Japanese plug with two parallel flat blades.
Time zone: GMT +7.
Currency: The baht.
International dialling code: +66.
It is recommended travellers to Thailand see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au