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Ko Samet Night Dive: Are there really fish this close to Bangkok?
Sukhumvit Road: A ten-year retrospective from a jaded expat
Mut Mee conversations : with amazing people
Naga: Is that a Naga or did their boat collide with a giant sea eel?
Ko Samui: If you got the money, we have a resort home for you!
Tiger Temple: Are the tigers sedated? Poke one and find out.
Trevor's Tales: An eclectic selection of fine stories imported from a fertile imagination
A Bird's Eye View of Retirement in Thailand
   

SAMUI ACCOMODATION GUIDE
Contributed by Trevor Ranges

The most popular and most beautiful beach on Koh Samui is Chawaeng beach. Here you will find dozens of different choices for accommodation, food, and nightlife. The beach itself has fine golden sand and beautiful blue water where scantily clad tourists from around the world rent jet skis, take parasailing rides, or chill out on the beach with a Thai massage. When the sun sets, the strip lights up and shopping rivals bar hopping and dining with countless venues available for each.

Just to the south of Chawaeng lies Lamai beach. The beach here is nearly as nice as Chawaengs but the water is less shallow and the lodging more diverse. Northern Lamai has some very upscale resorts, while the southern end caters more to backpackers. Lamai has a pretty happening nightlife of its own which is a bit raunchier and rowdier than chawaengs, if that's what you prefer.

The northern beaches of the island cater more to families, romantics, and high rollers. Mae Nam and Bophut beaches are quieter and more relaxing than those on the eastern shore. Cozy boutique hotels and quaint seaside guesthouses line these two beautiful beaches which, nonetheless, still have ample dining and nightlife options. On the northeastern cape of the island, at beaches like Choengmon, you will find some of the most chic, upscale resorts in all of Thailand. They are exclusive destinations, where the finickiest guests will not be disappointed.

Elsewhere around the island are secluded bays and beaches, some with guesthouses, others without. Condo's and private villas are available for rent throughout the island. Sports and activities are widely varied, and entertainment abounds for the most die hard adventure seeker.

FEATURED RESORTS



TAMARIND RETREAT

Tucked away in a secluded valley between Chawaeng noi and Lamai beaches, Tamarind Retreat is the ultimate Samui getaway. Each of their eight privately owned houses was independently designed, but all follow a particular theme, jungle-hippie chic perhaps. Most houses are built into, rather than on, the gorgeous island landscape, with boulders protruding through interior walls and floors. An absence of many external walls creates breezy open-air rooms, some enclosed by screen doors, others open to the tropical garden environment surrounding the villas.

While such an environment isn't suitable for just anyone, neither is every guest suitable for the Tamarind Villas; accommodation is typically reserved for people looking for the complete Tamarind experience, which may include yoga or cooking classes, but certainly consists of regular spa treatments. Tamarind Retreat is a first class massage therapy/relaxation resort, an oasis for the body and soul. Again the environment is incorporated into the experience, at the steam room designed around two enormous boulders and in the massage rooms which are located up in the hills overlooking the valley.

Proprietor Shelly leads welcoming and professional staff who treat guests like old friends rather than customers. If you are looking to get away from the stress and aggression of the outside world, a holiday at this magical retreat is the cure for the outside world.
205/7 Thong Takian, Lamai Beach Koh Samui
Phone: 07-723-0571
Web: www.tamarindretreat.com
Standard Price: $75-300/day

SILA EVASON HIDEAWAY & SPA
The Sila Evason Hideaway and Spa, operated by the Maldives based Six Senses, is a resort for a special sort of clientele. At least that is how the incredibly friendly, helpful, and curteous staff will immediately make you feel. Even the gardeners will stop their work to wai you and wish you well as you pass through the environmentally friendly terrain on the way to your private villa. Sumptuously furnished rooms have plush bedding and equally comfortable day bed, both of which overlook the sea. Shutters open above and around the bath for an unobstructed view of the water below, and outdoor showers are hidden behind rustic-looking wooden walls.

Ring your butler for a reservation at their innovative contemporary restaurant, Dining on the Rocks, where you can enjoy a tantalizing ten course meal on a private deck beneath the stars and above the sea. In the morning as you watch the early morning sun light up the sea, you may be tempted stay in your bed and enjoy the view. Don't linger too long or you will miss out on the excellent breakfast buffet at Dining on the Hill, where eggs benedict, imported meats and cheeses, and a variety of locally grown fruit are but a sampling of the delectable edibles you may select.

If you haven't chosen one of the pool villas, you'll have to make do with the brilliantly designed infinity edge pool. The 30 meter pool sits atop a cliff and the edge of the pool is level with the ocean horizon. As the pool water happens to be the same color as the ocean, the effect is that you could swim out into the sea. If you prefer swimming in the sea, it's a brief walk down to the beach-house and the private sandy beach, where you can recline on a beach chair, have a swim, or rent a kayak or windsurfer.

Phone: 07-724-5678
Web: www.sixsenses.com
Standard Price: 16,500-67,000/day ($400-$1700/day)

SANTIBURI
The Santiburi on Koh Samui rents private beachfront villas that combine old-world Thai design with modern style and amenities. The villas are bright and airy, with large French windows spilling light onto traditional teak wood floors. The private beach is perfect for those looking to relax quietly in the sun or take a sail aboard the resort's private boat. Other activities available to guests include tennis, squash, gym, massage, spa, and windsurfing.
Mae Nam Beach, Koh Samui
Phone: 07-742-5031
Web: www.santiburi.com
Standard Price: Baht 5,500-9,000/day ($150-$250/day)

TONGSAI BAY
This romantic resort has gorgeous wooden bungalows with large terraces, located within a tropical garden. Rooms have outdoor baths and even outdoor beds (enclosed in mosquito nets) so that you can spend as much of your time as possible outdoors where you really want to be. Cottage interiors are luxurious nonetheless, but in a relaxing and romantic kind of way. In fact, the resort is ideal for couples who want to spend time together in the seclusion of their own private villa. If you must venture out, have a dip in the sea on the private beach, play some tennis, have a massage, or relax beside one of the two swimming pools.
Phone 07-742-5480
Web: www.tongsaibay.co.th
Standard Rates: Baht 11,000-50,000/day ($275-1300/day)

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