Koh Samui isn’t easy to get to from Koh Lanta, as they are on opposite sides of the country. While Thailand is relatively narrow between the coastal areas, it was still an all day adventure and the journey definitely could not be avoided since there was no chance I’d be missing the Half Moon Party in Koh Phangan or diving in Koh Tao, which were both on the opposite coast too.
I spent 6 hours cooped up in a mini van to cross the mainland and reach the other coast. From there, I hopped on a ferry for another 1.5 hours, and then finally upon arriving in Koh Samui, I caught a “taxi” pickup truck called a songthaew to transfer me and my bags from the port to the hostel, another 30 minutes. Surprisingly, the entire trip cost 850 baht ($25 USD) + 100 baht ($3 USD) for the songthaew. Remember, I always pick the cheapest option. There were nicer buses, faster ferries, and even the option to fly across to the other coast. I usually just ask the hostel what they offer and pick from that. No need to overcomplicate things, right?
Lee was supposed to arrive an hour or two before me, however I somehow mangaed to hop on an earlier ferry and get there at the same time as him! When I disembarked, I looked everywhere for him but couldn’t find him. I wanted to wait for him and take the songthaew (pickup truck taxi) together to the hostel but after looking around for 15 minutes I decided to head out.
Lee did the exact same. He waited for me, however he wasn’t expecting me for another hour or two. While he was waiting, I was in the songthaew headed to the hostel and already pleasantly enjoying a beer on the beach by the time he messaged me asking where I was. Whoops!
I felt so bad! But neither of us knew that I would arrive early and neither of us realized that even if we both waited, we were at different docks and would’ve never found each other. At least the good intention was there…
Time To Chill
Immediately after checking into the Chill Inn hostel, I knew this place was going to be chill. I sat down to relax (something I never do) and ordered a beer mid-day (also something I never do) while sitting on the deck overlooking the beautiful ocean views. It was Friday and this was one hell of a happy hour.
DON’T FORGET THIS PLACE – PIN THIS
It’s moments like this that bring everything back into perspective for me. I thought about friends and family and I wondered what they were doing at this exact moment. I wondered what they would be doing on Friday at 2pm. I thought about how different my life could’ve been and I sat in awe of what it is now.
I don’t say this to gloat. I say this because it is something I constantly think about. I constantly wonder what my life could’ve been like versus what it is now. I constantly compare days of the week (when I can remember what day it is) and put things back into perspective. I think about what others are doing on a Monday morning or Friday after work or Sunday afternoon as they prep for the week ahead.
So as I sat there, beer in hand, ocean in background, I had to pinch myself because holy hell, this is my reality.
Lee finally arrived
When Lee finally arrived, we were excited to be back together for our final adventure through Koh Samui, Koh Phangan & Koh Tao.
Honestly, we were only excited about the Half Moon Party in Koh Phangan and diving in Koh Tao. There was nothing about Koh Samui that stood out to us but we needed to kill a few days before heading to the Half Moon Party, so hello to Koh Samui.
The Best Hostel Owner Ever
We were welcomed with our first ever “island info meeting” led by Shane, the most gracious host and knowledgable hostel owner I have ever met. He laid out the map and told us about every amazing (and unknown) thing for us to do on the island– waterfalls, viewpoints, back roads, places to hike, bars, nightlife, markets, food, everything! He was honest and didn’t try to sell us a single thing. He also mentioned all the touristy stuff (which we should’ve already know) and he clearly pointed out which tourist traps to avoid.
Armed with tons of information, we were actually excited to spend the next few days exploring the island!
We stayed at Chill Inn for 400 baht ($12 USD) per night and I highly recommend this place. The dorms are basic but the property is amazing. There is a chill out area with books and bean bags, a restaurant/bar with seating that overlooks the ocean, private cabanas for free, kayaks to rent for 50 baht per hour ($1-2), and it sits on its own secluded beach. The hostel owner Shane is out of this world and provides an overwhelming wealth of knowledge about the island. He may be one of the best hostel owners I’ve ever met. The hostel is just south on Lamai beach (the chill beach). If you stay in Koh Samui, there are two areas– Lamai and Chewang.
Lamai is known for a most relaxed vibe. Chewang is much busier but also has a better nightlife with bars and clubs. If you’re drinking then you shouldn’t be driving, so you’ll be taking a tuk tuk or songthaew (taxi) anywhere you go so it doesn’t really matter where you stay. I love Lamai. It was relaxed and centrally located so you could get to anywhere on the island relatively easy.
Things To Do
I wish I could type up all the places Shane recommended but there are just so many! Also, I didn’t make it to most of them because I got distracted nearly killing myself one day on the scooter and then at Vikasa Resort with some new friends.
But just so you know, there are a few waterfalls, some with hikes, some without. Always opt for the hike or additional viewpoint. There’s a back mountain road that’s gorgeous, which you can find by spotting Seaview Paradise Mountain Villa on maps.me and then you’re on the road so just wander around. There’s a resort with an infinity pool that you can dip in and take photos for 100 baht ($3 USD). There’s a moving night market with awesome food and cheap touristy items to buy like clothes and jewelry. There is just so much– you have to go there and find out for yourself 😉
Near our hostel, I found the best restaurant– Lamai Salad. Its a fresh buffet with tons of healthy food and veggie options for 169 baht ($4.88 USD). That’s not cheap but not expensive.
Shane explained so many things on the map, but unfortunately I can’t remember them all. You have to visit the Chill Inn Hostel and get his recs. I didn’t explore too much, but here are a few highlights I remember…
- Beaches: Lamai Beach, Chewang Beach, Crystal Beach, Silver Beach, Mae Nam Beach
- Waterfalls: Hin Lat Waterfall, Na Mueang-1
Waterfall, Na Mueang-2 Waterfall (this one is better)
- Sights: Big Buddah, Hin Ta Hin Yai (Grandma & Grandpa Rocks — looks like a penis and vagina), Fisherman’s Village, Aquapark Chewang, Secret Buddha Garden
- Day Trips: Ang Thong Marine Park, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao
I had no idea that my new plans for Koh Samui were about to be derailed. Just when I got excited to see everything this island has to offer, I realized a friend from home would be on Koh Samui the same time as me. Once I got to the island I messaged her and found out that she was due to arrive tomorrow and would be staying 5km away from me! How amazing is that?!
Let’s backtrack really quickly…
She’s a friend I’ve actually never met. We had a mutual friend put us in contact months/years ago and we have been Facebook friends ever since. We don’t live close to each other at home so I never assumed I would meet her. What are the odds that we would end up 15 minutes away from each other on an island off the coast of Thailand? We both agreed that this was fate and we had to meet, so we did!
Why not go on a blind girl date when you’re halfway across the world? I scootered over to her hotel (which was gorgeous) and met up with her and these awesome women she was traveling with as part of a healthy traveler yoga retreat. I welcomed the much needed girl time and had a perfect afternoon with these amazing people! We spent all day relaxing in the sun and chatting about life and travels and everything in between. It was pure bliss.
DON’T FORGET THIS VIEW – PIN THIS
Koh Samui was so relaxing until…
Koh Samui was so peaceful and relaxing until I ventured out on the scooter… alone… on the mountain roads…
…I nearly died
While peacefully scootering through some of the most beautiful back roads on Koh Samui, I saw a viewpoint listed on the map and decided to take a look. What a terrible idea! I nearly died on this road. I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. I have no idea how my scooter made it up the steep hill or the broken pavement or the rocks. Better yet, I have no idea how my scooter made it back down.
It was that bad.
I hesitated at the beginning when I saw how steep the road was and how broken the pavement started to become. I watched a couple in front of me turn back and I should’ve taken that as my cue. But then an 8-year-old boy quickly sped up the mountain and I was like, if he can do it so can I.
Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
The scooter incident
Sorry mom and dad, this may actually have been one of the dumbest and most dangerous things I’ve done while traveling. You’ve heard most of my crazy stories and sadly, this one tops it.
As I kept climbing, the road transformed from pavement to broken road to rocks to boulders to nothing. It just kept going up and up. I tried to stop my scooter and turn around but when I attempted to stop, I couldn’t hold the bike up without it slipping from under me. It was that steep.
I figured I had already gone this far, I might as well keep going. What other choice do I have? I clearly can’t turn the bike around.
Every few minutes I’d see an off-roading 4×4 truck filled with tourists venture down the road, wildly throwing guests about the truck’s bed. I should’ve known that any road that hosts an off-roading tour is a road I should definitely not be driving on.
Up and up I went until I finally reached viewpoint #1. There were 2 viewpoints and while I really wanted to see what the second one was all about, as soon as I was able to stop at #1, I knew I wasn’t headed any further.
The view wasn’t even worth it
Somehow by the grace of god, 2 men were venturing down the mountain on motorbikes as well. They had biked here from Malaysia (a different country) so they were real motorbiking professionals. They asked where my friends were and how the heck I got up to the viewpoint. Shocked and impressed that I came alone, they knew I wouldn’t be able to get down. I knew that too.
Together the 3 of us worked our way down, inch by inch. Even holding both brakes, the bike would slide and skid down the rocky roads. My biggest fear wasn’t about falling, it was about wrecking the scooter. The woman who rented me the scooter instilled the fear of god in me. She accounted for every scratch before I left and warned me that even the smallest mark would cost me, big time. With her in the back of my head, I took my time as I headed down the mountain. I think it was her craziness (and of course the 2 men) that saved my life.
Thank you universe.
I would’ve cried
This may have been one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. If I was alone, I know I would’ve started crying, left the bike, found a pickup truck, and begged someone to put it in the back and bring me down. 100%.
When we arrived at the bottom, I learned that the 2 men were with 2 others who crashed on their way up. 1 split his head open, the other tore his leg apart. Both men (and the bikes) were picked up by an off-roading truck and escorted down the mountain then taken to the hospital.
They all stared at me wondering how this little girl got all the way up and all the way down in one piece. I asked myself the same.
Thank you universe.
THE ROAD (before the death trap) IS AWESOME – PIN IT
Let’s fast forward…
While these Thailand travel stories are great, they are getting really lengthy and I’m already in Malaysia. I wanted to quickly catch you up but there is nothing quick about these stories and I think some of you were prefer I spend my time typing destination guides instead.
All in all Koh Samui was great. We really wanted to do a day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park, but after a huge argument with the scooter lady not wanting to wake up at 7am for us to turn in our bikes, we had to cancel the tour. This was a huge argument and a rather crafty plan by Lee and I to manipulate the tour in our favor to count as a day trip and a transfer to the next island. If it wasn’t for the scooter lady I really think our plan would’ve worked. Lee wanted to watch a football game and I wanted to play at the pretty hotel with my new friends, so in the end, we refused to return the scooters early and the scooter lady won. Oh well. Maybe Koh Phangan (our next destination) will offer a similar tour.