Number one: Hire a Moped. This might contradict what your friends and family tell you but hiring a moped was one of the best decisions we made. It was only £60 for ten days, and petrol is very cheap. This would come to around £3 for a full tank. Also, one of the things that will put your family’s minds at ease is that the roads are a lot safer than you would think and not once was I put in any type of danger (that wasn't my fault). The reason I would say to hire a moped instead of a car is that there isn’t anywhere to park a car on the island. Most attractions and places of interest only have parking for motorcycles, and it would just be a pain trying to find somewhere to park a car.
Two: Go on the kayaking trip around the smaller islands. This was very good for the money. For roughly £40 you can go on a trip of the Mu Koh Ang Thong national park. This included being picked up from your hotel. The boat to the islands. Snorkelling and kayaking. As well as there also being an option to do a hike. Beware it is a very hard and sweaty hike but well worth it for the view at the top. I advise you to bring swimming shoes/socks as the coral and rocks are very sharp, and even though I knew this and was told this, I still cut my foot.
Three: Bring plenty of spending money. We were told by friends and family that Thailand is very cheap when you get there. I’m not sure about the rest of Thailand, but we found Ko Samui to be expensive compared to what we had budgeted for. One of the biggest costs for us was eating out. If you are not careful, we could easily find ourselves spending £25 on a meal, and if you do this three times a day then it gets expensive. But the food is delicious just beware if you are a wimp with spice (like me) just tell them.
Four: Always remember to haggle in the markets. I am very good at haggling, and I will share with you my secret. Never buy at the first stall you go to. If you see an item, you want ask how much it is. They will tell you. For example, I wanted a pair of shorts, at first she said 650b. I said that I would give her 100b. Knowing that it was too low. Then they will come in with a more reasonable price of 300b. Once they do this just say that you will look around the rest of the market and come back later. They will then want to try and get the sale and drop the price further if they see you walking away. In this instance she dropped the price to 250b. Still Insist that you want to look around the rest of the market and might come back. But you now know the reasonable price for the shorts is 250b. When going around the rest of the market test out that price for at different stalls, maybe offer them 200b and see if anyone accepts. If they do then you know it is a good deal, if they don’t then again you know that 250b is the bottom-line price and settle for that price at the stall you started with or elsewhere.
Five: Bring or buy a waterproof bag. On our hike up to a waterfall, we were caught off guard by torrential rain. Unfortunately, we were halfway up the mountain with no shelter. We had phones and cameras with us and with the rain being as heavy as it was, we were soon to be soaked to the skin. None of us had waterproof bags, and I was massively worried about my camera. Just out of luck we bumped into a German couple that did have a waterproof bag and we stuck our electricals in their bag. This was very lucky as if we hadn’t have found them, I am pretty sure I would be buying a new camera and phone.
Six: Mosquito repellent. We got bitten a lot and we used mosquito repellent. So just bring/ apply as much as you can. Bath in the stuff if you need to. There are plenty of nasty deceases spread by getting bitten.
Seven: Do not play Thai women at board games in bars. In the bars in Ko Samui, a lot of the local Thai ladies will come up and ask to play you at a game such as Connect Four. This seems like harmless fun but it’s not! You will lose all your money and never win a game. You might think it’s easy to win a game of connect four, but these women are professionals… literally. And every time you lose you must buy them a drink. I am pretty sure they get commission on this. Plus, if you are lucky enough to win a game then somehow the drink is not returned. So just don’t play them.
Eight: Explore all the island. This compliments tip number one about the mopeds. There is a main road that goes all the way around Ko Samui. On one of the days, we decide to take our bikes and do a lap of the island. This takes you past the “Fisherman’s village” the “Big Buddha” and that waterfall where we got drenched. If you were constantly driving, I think it would take less than two hours to drive around the whole island, but it’s important to stop off at the many beaches and sights along the way. The island weather is very weird. There are certain areas of the island that it seems to be raining all the time, however, other places such as our villa where it didn’t rain at all. From our villa, we could constantly see lightning and thunder on the other side of the island, but it never came to us. So, take this into account when deciding what you want to do and where you want to do it. If you want to see a wilder/ jungle side of the island you will need to travel through the island. The coastline is pretty built up and touristy. However, if you travel into the middle/ mountains of the island it is very much wild jungles.
Nine: Taxi booking app; ‘Grab’. When you want to go for a night out you, of course, can’t drive. So, for these occasions you can use a useful app called ‘Grab’. This app is a lot like Uber, but you still have to pay in cash. This was useful to us as our villa was off the main road so made it hard to hail a cab. Just like Uber the app tells the driver exactly where you are, and they can pick you up. Also, the app shows you the price you should be paying for that certain journey this means later in the night or holiday when you want to do the journey you know exactly how much you should be paying. For your first three rides if you use the discount code “ride” you get some money off.
Ten: Go and see the Muay Thai boxing. Even though a little pricy... minimum £30 per ticket it was a great experience. To the Thai people, this is a lot more than just a fight and there is a lot of rituals involved. They also have a betting game where you select which fighters you think will win (not knowing who they are and having never seen them this is hard but makes it all down to luck) but they have a policy that if you lose all of your matches you win the same amount that if you won them all. Not that this mattered as none of our bets came through. To watch, it is a very fast type of fighting where the fighters wear gloves but can kick, punch and elbow if the opponent is standing. This led to a few brutal knockouts with kicks and elbows. But again, it is well worth going and experiencing the culture.
Hopefully, these ten tips will help you experience all that this island has to offer without being scammed or spending too much money on items that can be purchased for less. Bare in mind that we went to Ko Samui at the start of October so some of these tips may just apply for this time of year.
Article written, edited and published by Alex Hood (@alexjohnhood)
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