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Saturday, December 01, 2012

Koh Samui: An Island that I don’t mind giving a miss

Koh Samui is the largest island in the Gulf of Thailand and forms a base for visits to Angthong Marine National Park, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Koh Nan Yuan. This tropical island, which measures around 80 kilometers in circumference is a good island in its own right, but it is too over developed for my comfort. The place is so over developed that one has to have bookings in one of the beach resorts to get access into the beach. Shops, markets, restaurants and vehicles can be seen here in huge numbers giving it a city atmosphere and not a calm beach environment.

Cloudy afternoon at Choeng Mon Beach, Koh Samui
I have been staying here the last couple of days and feel like I need to run away quickly from here. While this place has many attractions, most of them are for kids and foreign tourists who have not seen a forest setting before. Though, this makes the place a hot favorite for a holidaying family with kids. The main getaway from here is the natural wonder of Koh Angthong Marine National Park, but due to the stormy weather and poor visibility even that option was negated for me.

Choeng Mon Beach, Koh Samui
So basically, you are stuck to the island’s beaches and its surrounding waters which have close to zero underwater visibility and increasing pollution levels. The reefs have died a long back here. Otherwise, you have to make do with the island’s bars, ‘Miss wet’ T-shirt contests, muay thai boxing contests, bungy jumping from a crane and other attractions that are created to attract the attention of the tourist.

Clams aplenty at Koh Samui
The other interesting thing to do here is explore the fresh seafood here, which you can find for attractive price points. Be it, lobsters, king prawns, tiger prawns, crabs, mussels, clams or fishes, the options are aplenty. If you like seafood, you should definitely give it a try.

Exotic Seafood snack and a drink at Koh Samui
During these 2 days, I have visited 3 of its beaches, Lamai, Chaweng and Choeng Mon. Out of these, Lamai is the more cut off and cheaper bungalows and resorts kind of beach. Chaweng is the more happening beach with more markets and bars and food options that is frequented by the younger crowd and the smaller Choeng Mon beach that is preferred by the family vacationers or older couples. The beaches are nothing extraordinary apart from being decent enough for swimming and some activities like jet ski and surfing. If you search around you should be able to find places from 200-300-400-500 baht to upwards of 5,000 baht in some places.

If you decide to explore this island, then beware of the overpriced taxi fares and their prescribed fare cards. You should quote 50% of that rate as your price. If you cannot afford to take the metered taxis like me, take the shared taxis that should take you 10-15 kms on a price of 50 baht. Again, bargain hard. And in this island, always be prepared for rain, bright sunshine and warm weather all in one single day.



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