Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A WARM WELCOME

When you come to think about it, there’s something quite special about the actual size of Samui. It’s not too big and not too small – just the right size to be able to explore during an average length holiday. If you hire a car, you’ll easily be able to drive around it, and if you’re a long-distance runner, you can cross it from one side to another.

          

Samui’s a neat kind of a place, with a lot to offer, and if you use your time here well, and have the right information, you can pack a lot into your holiday. Apart from its many, many beaches, the island has plenty of waterfalls, then there’s jungle and mountains a-plenty. You’ll also have the chance to eat extraordinarily well, whether it’s traditional Thai food you love, or international cuisine. Then there’s the nightlife. And whether you’d like a quiet drink or to hit the clubs, then you’re in the right place for that too.

          

So you can quite easily dip into all that Samui offers. But you’ll quickly find that it’s only that, a dip, the briefest of forays, and that to really get to know the island deep down will take a lot longer. And that’s the other thing about Samui. It may be size-friendly, but it’s actually got so much going on that you really wonder how long it’ll take to see it all. And that keeps many people coming back year after year. It’s way more than the sum of its parts; the island is guaranteed to beguile even the most indolent of visitors. No matter what your tastes are, you’ll find plenty to enjoy while you’re here.

 
FUN DAYS GUARANTEED
Sa-ard’s Watersport Center offers an exciting look at the amazing world just beyond Samui.

P16-1Running for 20 years now, Sa-ard’s Watersports Center has built up an impressive fan base, and offers an unusually wide variety of ways to spend days on the water. It’s the brainchild of a former national windsurfing champion, Khun Sa-ard Panyawan. Khun Sa-ard has lived on Samui for almost 25 years, and certainly knows all the finest areas to visit. He set up the company that bears his name, along with his brother. They wanted to offer their guests a range of experiences that showcase the diversity of Samui’s local waters offering packages as well as tailormade days out. Basically people come to them to handle any trip or activity at sea.

          

And the sea round Samui is particularly exciting; Samui is part of a vast archipelago that includes some 70 other islands and islets, all of them beautiful, with unusual rock formations and white sand beaches fringed by palm trees. Surprisingly, not that many holidaymakers who arrive on Samui venture away from it. Content to stay at the swimming pool or on the beach, they’re unaware of the beautiful places that lie just a few tantalizing kilometres away from the shore. Thanks to Sa-ard, exploring them couldn’t be easier.

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HENS, STAGS AND WEDDING VOWS
Celebrate the yin and the yang at Beach Republic and Health Republic.

P24-1Beach Republic and Health Republic sit adjacent to each other, complementing one another like lovers or long-time partners, their unified strengths offering the most idyllic wedding and honeymoon destination. Situated alongside a pristine and unspoilt tropical beach in Lamai, on the east coast of Samui, it’s the perfect location for small intimate affairs or larger-than-life celebrations. You can let your imagination run wild as the wedding planners help you organise your ultimate beachside wedding. Sit back and relax whilst the dedicated and professional team work diligently to exceed all your expectations for your extra-special day. There are many pre-set ceremony and celebration packages and options, from western to eastern and everything in between. They specialise in perfect weddings, commitment ceremonies, vow renewals, stag nights and hen nights and delight in making custom-made solutions to suit even the most exotic of tastes. You will be in good hands.

          

Beach Republic has a collection of 42 private pool villas, stunning private pool penthouses and spacious suites, and offers all-day grazing and dining menus featuring Mediterranean and Thai cuisine, tapas and poolside snacks. With its spectacular ocean-front setting, events area with ample seating, two chemical-free infinity pools and a whiskey and cigar lounge, it’s an excellent venue for weddings, corporate events and private parties.

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SUPER STACKED
Check out what’s going on at Stacked Burger!

Check out what’s going on at Stacked Burger!Stacked Burger is so much more than its famous towering gourmet burger creations! Opened in 2014, this popular restaurant attracts tourists and locals alike, serving the island’s tastiest, highest-quality burgers, alongside an eclectic menu of international or ‘New American’ cuisine, and an outrageous assortment of beverages! Think epicurean comfort food, infused with rustic charm and beach barbeque flair, natural and non-fussy dishes with an emphasis on good quality ingredients. It’s akin to your favourite casual American restaurant, and it’s become a treasured Samui hangout, located just steps away from Chaweng Beach, right in the heart of the islands liveliest area.

          

Stacked likes to entertain the crowds, with regular live music every Wednesday and Saturday from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm, all the latest sports (football, Formula 1, tennis, boxing etc.) from around the world on two huge screens, two daily happy hours with 50% off promotions from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm, free children’s meals from the kid’s menu on Sundays and ongoing promotions and events. And don’t forget the ‘Stacked Burger Challenge’- not for the faint-hearted! The challenge is to eat four burgers, four slices of cheddar, eight strips of bacon, red onion, lettuce, pickle, tomato and Stacked burger sauce on a freshly baked black sesame seed bun, served with double fries and double slaw, all within 20 minutes. Your prize? The burger is free and you get a Stacked gift bag plus photos of your triumph posted on Stacked’s Facebook page.

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SAMUI, SUDDENLY
The island that history took by surprise.

The island that history took by surprise.For most of its existence, Koh Samui has been completely obscure, a green and silent world of jungles and high hills fringed by coasts with calm waters, visited by hardly anyone. Very little is known of its early history; it’s only been in the last 150 years that any records were kept.

          

A small population settled here sometime before that, but life was uneasy; they feared pirates who came from both the south and the east, and attacked ships in the South China Sea. Many islanders kept to Samui’s interior and lived off crops that they cultivated in the highlands and hinterlands. However, in the south of the island, at Ban Hua Thanon, the descendants of sea gypsies who had come up from Malaya, lived from fishing, and their community thrived – and still does today.

          

Then, in the mid-19th century, China underwent massive unrest with the Opium War and various rebellions. A group of Hainanese traders decided to take a chance and simply put their belongings in their boats and set sail for Suratthani. They intended their stay to be a permanent one, or at least very long term; some had dismantled their Hainanese houses, packed them into their ships and rebuilt them in the new location. Some chose Samui as their home, and set up in Nathon, building shophouses and a temple. Children were taught in the temple, and links were kept up with the mainland; perhaps they thought they’d return one day. But the little group that had come to Nathon, initially just 20 people, decided to stay on, becoming permanent residents.

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FLAVOUR OVERFLOW
Bao Bao Café & Eatery opens up a world of street eats in an original setting.

Bao Bao Café & Eatery opens up a world of street eats in an original setting.Looking for a laid-back restaurant that delivers way more than it promises? These days everyone’s searching for a cool place to hang out in, to eat and drink, and turn up more or less any time they fancy. Bao Bao Café & Eatery ticks all those boxes, and a good few more. Bao Bao, serving Asian-themed food, is housed in a massive partially open-sided building with a terrace out back. Forget having to keep your elbows in while you eat, this place is big on space. It has several different areas, and you can choose between dining tables and loungestyle seating. It’s the very opposite of a packed Asian diner, and there’s no clattering of pots and pans from the very efficient kitchen here. Staff are welcoming and attentive, and you’re free to linger as long as you want. They can also explain anything that’s on the menu that you may be unfamiliar with, and can make recommendations.

          

The café is named after ‘bao’. You may never have heard the word before, but what’s certain is that this won’t be the last time you come across it. Bao are becoming increasingly popular – just like sushi some decades ago. They’re buns made of rice dough that are steamed in a traditional basket. A little bit of yeast is added to complete the process, but they’re not to be confused with bread in any way, or for that matter, dumplings. They tend to have traditional fillings of one kind or another, but increasingly these are becoming ever more creative. Here at Bao Bao, the chef and his team focus on both traditional and unique offerings. Bao tend to be eaten with traditional pickles, and you’ll find these here at the café too, along with some Chinese-style sauces. The team have gone to great lengths to make them irresistible for just about anyone, and judging from the looks on diners’ faces, they’ve succeeded.

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POPPING TO THE SHOPS
Stand by for a serious culture shock when you go food-shopping, Thai style!

Stand by for a serious culture shock when you go food-shopping, Thai style!Thailand is a constant source of wonder and surprise. And that’s said with respect – no condescension at all. Even if you’ve lived here for 20 years, again and again you’ll just shake your head in awe. But, if you come here for just a few weeks, it can be overwhelming. So much so, in fact, that the vast majority of visitors to Thailand rarely venture out on their own. They stay unthinkingly, safely, close to their hotel and pick through glossy leaflets of organised tours. There’s a comfort in this kind of distance – being a part of all the sights and sounds yet being insulated, too. It’s a rare foreigner who ventures out on their own. And that, in so many ways, is a pity.

          

The most rewarding thing about a visit to Thailand isn’t the sights; each golden temple is much the same as the next. It’s the culture. It’s the way in which Thai people get on with the normal things in their lives. Well, that’s not quite true. To be exact, it’s the difference between this and the way you would expect to do exactly the same ‘normal’ things back home. That’s what’s so fascinating – the difference between your expectations and everyday way of life, and theirs. Even though so many things look the same over here – the smartphones, the cars and taxis, the police directing traffic, the kids on their way to school, the modern-looking hotels, hospitals and banks – all of this sits on top of a way of doing things, and an outlook on life, that will often bring you to a halt with its strangeness.

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THE TRAVELLING TAILOR
Bao Bao Café & Eatery opens up a world of street eats in an original setting.

Get measured up for bespoke clothing wherever you choose, thanks to Paul’s Fashion.Just off Chaweng’s beach road, there’s a clothing shop run by one of the longest-standing tailors on the island, Paul Subedhi. Look through the window and you’ll probably see him checking through his stock or measuring up one of his many clients. The walls are filled with bright bolts of cloths, with different colours, textures, thicknesses and so on. They’re made of all kinds of materials, and range from silk through to the cottons and everything in between. Every kind of material has its own properties, and you have to have imagination, not to mention great expertise, to be able to turn everything into outstanding products. Paul does just that; he was born into a family of tailors and grew up with his family producing clothing of all kinds. He set up on Koh Samui with the intention of producing affordable, quality fashion, and he’s kept to that mandate. Just as an example of how good the prices are, he can make you a suit for as little as 5,000 baht or a shirt for 1,000 baht.

          

Perhaps he has a love of moving around, for even on Samui he’s frequently travelling from place to place. That’s because he’s one of a select few tailors who doesn’t depend on his clients actually walking through the door. If customers don’t want to come to him, he goes to them, taking plenty of samples with him. It’s a rare tailor who does that, but Paul certainly doesn’t mind. “It’s part of the service,” he says, modestly. “I’m happy to go to hotels, villas, resorts – anywhere on the island.” In fact, he can do all the fittings at customers’ accommodation; you need never go inside the shop at all. However, if you decide to visit Paul in his store, you might like to take advantage of the free round trip he offers – from any hotel or villa on Samui.

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THE NEXT STEP
Bhavana Bodhigun Vocational College is heading for a bright future.

Bhavana Bodhigun Vocational College is heading for a bright future.Education can be a life-saver - literally. But all too often those who would most benefit are denied a chance to turn their lives around – high fees are to be paid. And for many, even a small fee is impossible. On Samui, a solution has been found that presents a way round all of this. Bhavana Bodhigun Vocational College was built entirely by charitable donations, and offers all courses, as well as board and lodging, completely free. The college is situated on a fertile plain near Namuang, and is the size of a small village. You won’t see it from the road, but its presence is already making itself felt. It opened in 2017, with no fanfare at all, and has been making strides into the future ever since. The college was created by Khun Suthep Thaugsaban, a well-known politician and a visionary with a clear focus on practical education, accentuating languages, training and work placements.

          

The students, who come from all over Thailand, receive a high-grade vocational training which will enable them to enter the hospitality industry, fully-trained in an area of their choice, and in addition they’ll also able to speak a foreign language. Language studies are incredibly important, as anyone in the hospitality business will tell you. At the college, English and Chinese factor highly in the curriculum. The aim is for students to be fully conversational in both of these languages when it comes to work-related matters.

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SHORE APPEAL
Celes Beachfront Resort is taking accommodation to new levels.

Celes Beachfront Resort is taking accommodation to new levels.Palm trees and beaches help make the settings for a tropical holiday. But where would we be without resorts that complete the dream? Celes Beachfront Resort brings a world of luxury to the shores of Samui, offering superior accommodation that ticks all the boxes – and then a few more still.

          

The rooms are totally contemporary, not only when it comes to décor but also for the connections with the world outside. High-quality Wi-Fi speakers allow you to listen to music from your phone, and there’s a large screen TV with all the smart functions you could ever wish for. Highspeed internet keeps all options functioning smoothly, and in addition Celes has a library of movies that you’re free to borrow. For added comfort, there’s not only a minibar but you can also be your own barista thanks to each villa having its own capsule coffee machine, dispensing Illy coffee.

          

Three types of villa await; you’ll find 50 Deluxe Botanical with two storeys, ten Pool Villas and eight Beachfront Pool Villas.

          

Deluxe Botanical

Choose a ground floor or first storey suite, depending on your needs. Each villa has all mod cons throughout, and is luxuriously appointed. From upstairs there are views out across the gardens of the resort, while downstairs faces onto the tranquil leafy lanes that criss-cross the property.

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A RUM STORY
Rum is charming us all over again, thanks to La Rhumerie de Samui.

Rum is charming us all over again, thanks to La Rhumerie de Samui.Who doesn’t want a happy surprise when on holiday? On Samui nobody expects to find a rum distillery, and it’s a delightful experience to suddenly come across it. It’s located in the south of the island, close to Thong Krut, and is set in extensive gardens of its own that wouldn’t seem out of place in Martinique or Guadeloupe. Offering everything from rum tasting sessions to a fully functional restaurant and bar, La Rhumerie de Samui is the new name for the distillery that’s stood here since 2003. It’s now under brand new ownership, and we can expect major developments in the months to come. It’s definitely in expert hands. It’s managed by the same people who have been running a distillery up in the north of the country, called Issan Rum Distillery. There they produce the only rum in the world to be made from sugar cane where the outer layer of the cane is first stripped. The resulting products won a gold medal at the Rum Fest in Paris, and a bronze one for 40% proof agricultural rum. Now the founder David Giallorenzo, along with David Defossez, is bringing their know-how to Samui.

          

Rhum agricole will be made at the Samui distillery, and is guaranteed to be silk-smooth. As in the Caribbean it’ll be distilled close to where the sugar cane grows. In this case, the cane is grown just across on the mainland and is then harvested and shipped to Samui, with the transport taking a matter of hours. This all helps guarantee the special flavour and aroma of the rum, and its fine taste. After crushing in mills made of revolving cylinders, the cane juice is separated from the cane fibre, with the former going into the stainless steel fermentation vats.

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PEACE OF MIND
State-of-the-art property surveillance with B Smart.

State-of-the-art property surveillance with B Smart.‘Prevention is better than the cure’ is an adage that doesn’t just apply to health but to house and home – especially when it comes to break-ins. Though Samui is no hot bed of crime, it always pays to be alert. Thankfully, being on the lookout doesn’t need to be taken literally in this modern age. Watchful eyes can be everywhere, doing the job for you digitally, and a lot more efficiently. On Samui this kind of surveillance often falls to B Smart. It’s the brainchild of Khun Napaporn Nopsuwan, more commonly known as Khun Bee. He has seen his client base grow steadily over the years thanks to his reputation as an expert in all things surveillance.

          

You’ll find Khun Bee’s headquarters on the ring-road in Maenam, as you head towards Nathon. Step inside his offices and you’ll see all kinds of systems including CCTV, fire alarms, access control, lighting control, home automation, wireless networks and integrated security networks. B Smart has worked with all kinds of properties from small villas to 5-star hotels, as well as stores, medical facilities and even factories.

          

Khun Bee and his team are known for their efficiency and total commitment to providing peace of mind to customers. If you have any concerns about your current level of home/business security, Khun Bee is the ideal person to talk to. He listens intently, and will ask you plenty of questions. Thanks to his many years of experience, he’ll recommend a solution that’s tailor-made to your needs.

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GETTING KNOTTED OVER HERE
Why Samui has become one of Thailand’s prime wedding destinations.

Why Samui has become one of Thailand’s prime wedding destinations.Not that long ago, nobody even thought of getting married abroad – well, outside of the aristocracy, that is. And even if it might have crossed some minds, it was dismissed right away. I mean, it was expensive enough getting wed at home, never mind the prohibitive expense of going away to do it. Anyway, it would need to be somewhere really special, and that would have made it even more costly. This was the fantasy world of the A-list, and only film stars and celebs had money to burn like this.

          

But all this began to change in 1997. That was the year when the Thai economy foundered, and the government devalued the Thai baht. Almost overnight your pounds and dollars were buying more than twice as much as they were before (the dollar shot from 25 baht to 50 in a matter of months). But to add to this, prices in the western world were already on the increase, and continued to do so over the next decade. As things became increasingly more expensive at home, so the comparative cost of Thai holidays dropped. More and more people came here for holiday breaks. And before very long, one or two adventurous souls started to merge their vacations with their wedding plans.

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IDEAL ITALIAN
Stellar times are always part of the menu at Olivio Italian Cuisine.

Stellar times are always part of the menu at Olivio Italian Cuisine.Just to the north of Chaweng, Olivio Italian Cuisine is a little oasis that many holidaymakers love to come back to time and time again. The restaurant, open from early morning till late at night, offers a magnificent variety of food and drink, and still more too, though we’ll come to that later.

          

Olivio is part of Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort & Villas, a get-away destination that’s perched on a hillside over the sea, and is completed by intimate chalets, beautiful gardens and an exceptionally caring staff. The restaurant is an added asset, but you certainly don’t need to be staying at the resort to partake of all its goodness.

          

Walk through the lush surrounds of the resort and you’ll come to Olivio, situated right by the water. Dine in the contemporary air-con dining room, deliciously cool on those hot, hot days that make Samui so indolent, or sit out on the terrace. By day, gaze out to the tiny islands just tantalizingly off-shore, and the dreamy view of the ocean. Come at night and you’ll see the coast to the south, garlanded with the lights of villas and resorts.

          

Either way, enjoy the mesmerizing vista. The location, by the way, is the quieter, though no less scenic, part of Chaweng – think crowd-free, relaxed and just generally idyllic.

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SAILING AHEAD
Stellar times are always part of the menu at Olivio Italian Cuisine.

A look at the 2019 Samui Regatta.Popular as out little island may be, Samui doesn’t tend to attract any major sporting events, at least not any international ones. But when it comes to sailing, it’s a different story. Koh Samui will once again play host to the annual Samui Regatta, now in its 18th year, between the 25th May and the 1st June 2019.

          

Despite Samui not yet even having a marina, this event is hugely popular, and hugely important! The Samui Regatta is the final stage in an international series of races which will have been going on over the best part of a year, as part of the 12 stages of the Asian Yachting Grand Prix. The competition starts in June, with Phuket Race Week, then over the course of the next 10 months, races take in Penang, Langkawi, The Philippines, Vietnam, Phuket again for the King’s Cup and Singapore, before finishing up here on Samui. Since not all competitors take part in all 12 events, the overall winner is decided based on the best six races, which means that there is often still everything to play for at the Samui event when it comes to deciding the final outcome.

          

Back in the first staging of the regatta, there were only 11 boats in the competition, mainly beach catamarans. But with the event gaining a reputation for competitive sailing over the years, now you can expect to see over 100 boats appearing in Chaweng Bay, almost overnight, for the event.

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BRAINSTORMING, UPDATING, REFURBISHING AND REINVENTING
Excitement is in the air, at Silavadee Pool Spa Resort.

Excitement is in the air, at Silavadee Pool Spa Resort.Silavadee Pool Spa Resort is renowned as a luxurious hideaway, with its own unique style and a ‘back to nature’ concept. Set amongst tropical vegetation on a hillside running down to the ocean, it’s an idyllic and tranquil jewel of a place. On arrival, you immediately escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and feel pampered by the attentive and exclusive service.

          

With a total of 80 rooms, pool villas and pool villa suites, it’s the perfect spot to unwind and be embraced by nature. In the villas, enjoy your own private infinity-edge pool and aqua jet massage bed to stimulate and invigorate the entire body - the perfect way to start your holiday or relaxing break.

          

First opened in May 2008, Silavadee will be celebrating its 11-year anniversary this month and they have some surprises in store. Along with a complete renovation of all bathrooms in the deluxe rooms, which now combine sleek white marble with warm wood elements, Silavadee also introduces a new logo, and several other changes to keep them in the limelight as one of the most private and prestigious hideaway resorts on the island.

          

A new ‘healthy-eating’ culinary concept has been introduced for its Sun Lounge. Inspired by the local surroundings and current trends, they have been busy preparing an on-site organic garden and are growing some of their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. This farm-to-table approach will be paired with a raw juice selection, organic wines and other organic beverages, making Sun Lounge the ideal spot to rest, relax, refresh and refuel all day long.

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MYSTIC MOUNTAIN
Up in Samui’s hills, the Magic Garden is a place where myths have literally become rock-solid.

Up in Samui’s hills, the Magic Garden is a place where myths have literally become rock-solid.Have you ever been to Iceland? It’s very common there for people to believe in elves; many people say they’ve seen them. In one case, a new road that was being built had to make a small detour because local residents were worried that elves lived at that spot and shouldn’t be disturbed by traffic. So the road was duly re-routed to keep the locals, both people and elves, content. To hear such things might cause some people to raise their eyebrows in mirth. But for every sceptic there’ll be a dozen or more people who believe in the mythical world. In the case of Thailand, it’s the majority of the country.

          

Once you’ve arrived here, you’ll see that most people really do believe in spirits and other-worldly beings; just look at the spirit houses that you see everywhere. Even as Thailand rushes forward to embrace the modern world, it still equally embraces the unseen one. Legend and myth are still crucial to the country and its people, and it’s up to the individual to decide exactly how real that unseen world is.

          

On Samui, retired farmer Ta Nim, decided that the myths and legends of his country deserved to be portrayed as realistically as possible. Books and films described them, so why not entire landscapes? He had a plot of land up in the mountains, and spent the last years of his life seeking to create a wilderness garden filled with carvings from the Ramakhian, the cycle of legends that’s based on the Ramayana. An entire mountain valley has been given over to mythical beings. You don’t need to simply imagine that they’re there; you can go see them and touch them. The experience is a mysterious one and is completely different from anything you may have so far seen on Samui. The sculpture-filled valley is generally known as the Magic Garden, but you’ll also hear it referred to as Heaven’s Garden.

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