Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A Warm Welcom

From iridescent sandy beaches where you can bask under the hot, hot tropical sun to candle-lit temples of fine dining where you can relax with your loved ones and enjoy the finest food, Samui brims with a wide variety of different pleasures enabling you to enjoy your stay on the island, no matter if you’ve come for a couple of days or a couple of months.

          

There’s an extraordinary amount to do, and Samui caters for many different kinds of holidaymakers. In the past it offered only the simplest of accommodation along with the simplest of foods – it was basically a place to unwind and enjoy the sun and the sea. You can still find enjoy this type of holiday here and live very economically. But nowadays Samui offers across-the-board variety and caters for both small and lavish budgets, making it a truly amazing destination. There are breath-taking resorts set in beautiful locations and villas perched on hills in idyllic and completely private settings. And there’s now an array of five-star resorts offering world-class accommodation.

          

With a little planning, you can enjoy a holiday on Samui that reflects all you’d hope to find in a tropical idyll. Whether it’s sheer simplicity you’re after or a deluxe vacation, you’ll find that Samui will satisfy all your needs and wants. Not surprisingly, many people come here again and again, as there’s so much on offer.

 
SIMPLY THE BEST
Bespoke tailoring at Paul’s Fashion - 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

Bespoke tailoring at Paul’s Fashion - 100% satisfaction guaranteed.Paul’s Fashion is one of the leading professional bespoke tailors on Samui, and is located on the beach road in Chaweng, opposite McDonald’s. Established by Paul Subedhi in 2005, Paul’s Fashion provides business wear, casual wear and formal wear for both ladies and gentlemen, with an island-wide collection or visiting service.

          

Awarded for four years in a row with the coveted ‘Certificate of Excellence’ by TripAdvisor, Paul’s Fashion has only positive comments, and is dedicated to ensuring that each and every customer is 100% satisfied with their finished garments. They are so confident of the service they provide, the high quality of the materials they use and the design and workmanship, that without hesitation, they offer the perfect guarantee; they will not accept any money for any finished garment if you are not 100% happy with it.

          

Paul himself says “We have a cast-iron guarantee; if you are not happy with the final product then you pay nothing.” And Paul is true to his word, all those TripAdvisor comments tell of honest, trustworthy and exceptional experience. It only takes one unhappy customer and ratings tumble, but there is not one - and no-one has asked for a refund since the shop opened in 2005!

          

Tempted? Paul and his team have many years of experience in tailoring and current trends. They will listen to what you want and will help you to choose and decide which styles and materials are most suitable for your body type and the purpose of your garments. From classic traditional designs to something more modern or dramatic, discuss all the finer details of your design; linings, pockets, collars, buttons, lengths. Take along your own ideas or let Paul and his team guide you. Anything is possible with expert help.

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AWESOMELY ORIENTAL
Putting the wow factor into Samui’s homes with Oriental Living.

32-1Samui boasts an ever-expanding collection of homes for the island’s many visitors and residents. Many places impress with incredible views, but the interiors may lag behind the exteriors. A lot of villas may need a helping hand when it comes to furniture and décor. They’re supposed to be convivial places after all, whether for a couple or for a dozen or more guests. And that’s where Oriental Living steps in.

          

Oriental Living is the brainchild of Dutch-born Michael Dietvorst, who started the business 27 years ago as an art gallery. Together with Khun Alex W. Raksai and a very efficient team, he presents the best furniture, accessories and art from South-East Asia, China and India – the provenance is basically inspired by the Silk Road catchment area. The team manages every time to come up with collections that are a blend of the original and the satisfying. Both traditional and contemporary influences are to be seen in the showroom that Oriental Living has in Maenam. Step inside and you’ll see that immediately - there’s a vibrancy here that a good many villas can only hope to have.

          

There’s only so much that a showroom, however good, can achieve. Oriental Living will soon have an actual show home, which will really give you a much better idea of what they can do. The show home, which will be ready this September, is close by and will definitely be worth a visit.

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REEL FUN
Fishing, food and superlative accommodation at Fishing Park Samui.

Fishing, food and superlative accommodation at Fishing Park Samui.Most resorts on Samui locate themselves as close as possible to the beach. Not this one. Fishing Park Samui has instead chosen a lake. Picturesque indeed, and the central feature of a dramatically different new resort. Fishing Park Samui opened last year, and offers a very different type of holiday. Combine total luxury with fishing at its best, and you have some idea of this wonderful place. But you need to participate to understand the rationale behind the owner’s thinking. The lake is stocked with some of the world’s largest, most impressive freshwater fish. With dozens of different species and a total of several thousand fish, action and sport is guaranteed. But it’s not your average lazy time by the bank, reeling in a few laughable specimens. A nibble on the line and an alarm sounds, and then it’s you against the mammoth thing from the deep, and it may take hours of effort before you land it. What you then have in your hands, and seconds later on your Instagram page, is one of up to 30 species of fish in the lake. You’ll find Mekong Catfish, Amazon Arapaima, Redtail Catfish and a variety of carp. All the fish are for catch and release only, by the way, but that’s no damper on enjoyment. You’re welcome to come and fish with just a day ticket (choose between, six, nine and 12 hours) and set up by the bank in one of the resort’s day salas. The salas allow two people to fish at the same time, but there’s room for two spectators as well. Each person fishing gets two Shimano reels and rods, hooks, lines, rod pods, alarms and, naturally, a bait pack.

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LUXURY BY DESIGN
X2 Koh Samui - A Spa Retreat boasts the very best of restaurants and spas.

X2 Koh Samui - A Spa Retreat boasts the very best of restaurants and spas.Even the most frequent vacationers tend to be wowed by what’s offered by X2 (pronounced ‘cross to’). The laid-back resort, to be found in the very south of the island, away from all the bustle of other areas is a complete oasis, secluded, tranquil and above all intimate – ideal if you want to wind down and chill for a while. X2 Koh Samui - A Spa Retreat, despite its complex name, is a place that oozes an uncluttered, uncomplicated chic. It’s decidedly luxurious yet with clean, almost minimalist lines. It’s part of the X2 group, a boutique range of holiday resorts, villas and apartments. The resort on Samui offers stellar accommodation, dining and spa treatments.

          

You’ll find 26 deluxe villas here, with 23 of them having their very own private pool. All come with a butler, who’s there to help guests throughout their stay. This definitely adds to the sense of relaxation here. The atmosphere at the resort is a crucial part of what X2 is about. As with most holiday venues, the accent is definitely on having a laid-back time. After all, you’ve no doubt come to Samui to chill out. But X2 takes things further - a lot further. Where else can you find spa treatments – whole packages too – included as a complimentary part of your stay? That’s what happens at X2. If you’re staying, you have unlimited spa treatments and packages, all of them free of charge – they’re seen as an integral part of the stay. Therefore it’s no surprise that the guests look so relaxed here. Naturally, X2 also welcomes outside guests, who pay a very reasonable price for treatments.

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GHOST BUSTERS
A look at some of the best fun on Samui and why ghosts are a part of it – at Lamai’s lady boxing!

A look at some of the best fun on Samui and why ghosts are a part of it – at Lamai’s lady boxing!Thai people believe in ghosts – although that’s a bit simplistic. But there’s nothing like this in the West, so it’s hard for us to grasp. Essentially, Thais believe that people who’ve lived a good life will reincarnate into the next one, while the spirits of the baddies are stuck here wandering about, causing all sorts of mayhem and malice. This story is about the ‘lady boxing’ in Lamai. But, to appreciate what you’re seeing, you’ll need some background first. Without which, well, it’s just a couple of girls thumping each other for cash – only a small part of the tale.

          

Thai boxing (Muay Thai) is a very serious business indeed. And in almost every way there’s an entirely different approach to the boxing we know in the West. For a start, it’s all very spiritual, and there’s a lot of ritual attached to it. You’ll sometimes see visitors smiling about all this, and wondering if it’s all a bit of a show for the tourists. Well, actually, it isn’t. It’s all back to those ghosts again, and the belief that the head is the most sacred part of the body and must be protected by spells and prayers, and by invoking the help of good spirits. This is a completely different facet of the happy-go-lucky smiling faces you see around you on the street and in the shops and resorts. And it’s worth understanding these things if you want to get the most from a visit to the ‘lady boxing’.

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OUTSTANDING & MEDITERRANEAN
Head to The Cliff Bar & Grill for top-notch seafood and meat.

Head to The Cliff Bar & Grill for top-notch seafood and meat.A complete departure from your usual seaside restaurant, The Cliff Bar & Grill has become an icon in the 15 years since it opened. Handily located on the ring-road, just ten minutes south of Chaweng, you can’t miss this contemporary restaurant. The Cliff overlooks Thong Takian Bay and a rocky headland – these are some of the best views on Samui, and to be enjoyed from the terrace just outside the dining room. But wherever you sit, an open-air feel pervades the restaurant so you can enjoy the view. Light and summery and letting in the breeze, the award-winning restaurant features the best of Mediterranean-themed fare, along with Portuguese touches, excellently presented and filled with gourmet tastes.

          

Owned and operated by an extraordinarily dedicated team, everything you taste here is the result of painstaking searches for the best possible ingredients. Beef, for example, comes in from King Island, Australia, where it’s first aged for 21 days then chilled before flight – freezing it would result in it being tougher. It’s incredibly succulent, as are all the meats here. Other products come from Portugal and the Mediterranean shores. Meanwhile, much of the fish comes from local waters – expect plenty of line-caught fish, fresh off the boats.

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ELITE VOLUNTEERS
In an emergency, Samui Rescue are on the scene within minutes.

In an emergency, Samui Rescue are on the scene within minutes.If you’ve spent any length of time on Samui you’ll know that there are few roads here. The island has a 52 kilometre-long ring-road with a few other roads that feed into it, some major, but mostly not. Driving on them might appear easy, unless you have a very professional eye. Everything looks sunny and tranquil on the surface with (mostly) polite, helpful drivers and rarely a honk made in anger, but the island is well in step with the nation’s appalling road safety statistics. Things could be better. At the end of April 2017, a report by The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that 5,500 motorcycle riders die each year in Thailand: 15 deaths daily across the country. These are just the deaths; there are a staggering amount of accidents which will leave one or more people injured, often shockingly so. Thailand is the most lethal country in the world when it comes to motorbikes, the second most for road deaths generally. The survey gives reasons for the accidents: sleepy drivers, drunk drivers, low awareness of road laws, and speeding.

          

Most motorbike fatalities are due to head injuries sustained by pillion passengers, and 75% of road deaths in Thailand involve motorcycles. Fortunately there are six hospitals on Samui and each has ambulances. However, the injured are most likely to be brought for treatment by just a single rescue service, staffed by volunteers. This organization is simply known as Samui Rescue. You may already have seen their vehicles speeding along the island roads, ferrying the injured to hospital. They are based in Nathon but have various ‘branches’ on other parts of the island, particularly near accident black spots. This allows them to be first on the scene in 95% of cases. On average they’ll arrive in four minutes.

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A PLACE APART
Eat, drink and relax at the unique Amaya Food Gallery at Amari Koh Samui.

Eat, drink and relax at the unique Amaya Food Gallery at Amari Koh Samui.Amaya Food Gallery charms with its Asian and international favourites, and is one of those holiday discoveries that you’ll always remember. From the outside, on the beach road in Chaweng, all you see is a café, but once inside you’ll quickly notice that it’s more than that. Walk through and you come to Amaya Restaurant with an open kitchen. Here you can enjoy an epicurean breakfast, lunch or dinner. And then, further towards the sea, you’ll come across Amaya Bar. Sit here and enjoy cocktails or sundowners and, if you’re in the mood, a brilliant barbecue with wonderfully grilled meats and seafood.

          

The entire food gallery is immaculate and uncluttered, and just the place to step out of the torpor of the day or the evening and come and relax. It’s got an oasis-like feel to it; not everyone knows it’s there, but those who find it are impressed and want to come back for more. And luckily they can, even if they’re leaving Samui; the Amaya Food Gallery is part of the well-known Amari group, and the gallery can be found in some, though not all, Amari properties. So if you’ve fallen in love with Amaya during your stay on Samui, don’t be surprised if you see it elsewhere.

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ISLAND HOPPING
Get away from it all on Koh Matsum.

Get away from it all on Koh Matsum.Close to Koh Samui, adventure beckons in spades. Mysterious islands dot the sea, and relatively few people have visited them. Koh Samui belongs to an archipelago that has dozens of islands, some of which are no bigger than a football pitch in size, while others are large enough to warrant a village or two being built there – yet hardly anyone has chosen to settle them as it would mean a hardscrabble existence. All eyes are on Samui as a busy cosmos with thousands of visitors a month, but a near-silent world beckons just a few miles away. Koh Matsum, also spelled Koh Madsum, is one of the archipelago’s treasures, and these days, it’s a cinch to visit – it used not to be – but the surprise is that so few people avail themselves of the opportunity.

          

Koh Matsum is located a few kilometres off the south coast of Samui. Its low-lying terrain means it can be easily missed, but on sunny days its white sand beaches are strikingly visible from Samui. To reach it, you’ll need a boat, and they’re easy to hire at the village of Thong Krut in the very south of Samui. The journey to the village is one of the most scenic on the island; there’s little development in the south of the island, the roads are far quieter and for long stretches you might encounter no other traffic at all.

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TIP OF THE ICEBERG
Social crutch or sheer generosity? Tipping turns out to be fiendishly complex.

Social crutch or sheer generosity? Tipping turns out to be fiendishly complex.The steak was being borne across the dining room on what looked like a roofing tile. The waiter was frowning with concentration, and I could see why: the steak came with gravy. A big, glutinous, wobbly dollop of it that seemed ready to slide off the tile. Maybe the chef had miscalculated on the glugginess of the gravy. Maybe the waiter just wasn’t skilled enough to keep the tile 100% horizontal (who would be?) and it really was a roofing tile. As he placed it on the table, I watched the gravy make a dash for the edge, burst through the skin that held it together and splatter into my lap. Between plate and trousers it seemed magically to have tripled in volume. The waiter was aghast and was soon joined by the manager. We got some complimentary desserts that night, and enthusiastic apologies.

          

At the end of the meal, as I usually do, I left a tip for the waiter. I walked around with the gluggy trousers on for the rest of the evening, a reminder of what had happened. This was the United States, and tipping was expected. Regardless of that, I tend to tip anyway. I was sure that the incident wouldn’t happen again to anyone else, but besides, it wasn’t my job to teach anyone a lesson concerning the usage of roofing tiles.

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MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
Exploring the world of Poppies Samui – great food and drink, and some mystery too.

Exploring the world of Poppies Samui – great food and drink, and some mystery too.Whether you’re in the mood for a snack or are famished, looking for Thai cuisine or international, there’s one address on Samui that visitors and island residents alike return to over and over again. It’s a place that’s stood the test of time – Poppies Samui. Visit and you’ll pick up on the family vibe, eat and you’ll be seduced by the sheer freshness and flavour of the food. Poppies opened in 1994, and is still just as popular as it ever was. That’s a long time in Samui’s history. You’ll still find Poppies in its original location, at the south end of Chaweng Beach Road, and it’s just as much a leader as it was back then.

          

Poppies is quite unforgettable – in the best of ways, and also the most unexpected, too. The approach to the restaurant is eye-opening, to say the least. If you come in the evening, staff will show you a hidden passage. A door in a wall opens to reveal a tiny windowless room with a bookcase. Nothing to see – until the bookcase, a secret door, is swung back to reveal an enigmatic passage that takes you all the way down to the restaurant.

          

It was used, and still is, to bring food and whatever’s needed to the restaurant, without disturbing the guests. It runs the entire length of the resort, and is an adventure in itself. It’s lined these days by paintings that depict the Poppies story, from when it was first an empty piece of land all the way through to when it became a beautiful garden, dotted with cottages.

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TRAVEL SAVVY FINANCE
Getting the best out of your money in Thailand.

Getting the best out of your money in Thailand.Many first time travellers to Thailand are under the impression that they are entering a country where even with a little money, they’ll be rich for the duration of their holidays. A wad of back-pocket cash and they’ll still have plenty left over when it’s time to go home. No need to be careful, they think: everything’s going to be cheap.

          

Such people gulp when their plane circles over the gleaming skyscrapers in Bangkok. There’s sophistication here, they realise; this is not the kind of place where they can spend without thought. But with a bit of foresight, holidaying in Thailand can be a financially stress-free time.

          

Thankfully, because tourism is such an important part of the nation’s economy, Thailand is an easy country to travel around in. The banks are particularly easy to negotiate, and you’ll always find someone who speaks English there. But how to get the best money deals possible? The basics of financial survival in Thailand are fairly simple. One staple that’s needed is cash and it has to be in Thai baht. The main challenge is the exchange rate, which varies depending on where you change your money. Above all, do not change your money into Thai baht before arriving in the country – unless you want to lose up to 10% for the privilege of doing so. Similarly, when your holiday’s over, exchange your remaining Thai baht back into your home currency before you leave.

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ROCKSHOP SHENANIGANS
It’s supersonic sale time at the iconic Hard Rock Cafe Samui’s retail outlet.

It’s supersonic sale time at the iconic Hard Rock Cafe Samui’s retail outlet.The Hard Rock Cafe opened on Koh Samui in April 2016, and is located in the heart of Chaweng, home to one of the island’s best beaches and renowned for its nightlife, with bars and restaurants catering to every taste as well as a variety of boutique shops, high-end stores and shopping malls. Hard Rock Cafe is one of the biggest venues on Samui, you can’t miss it, just look out for the huge neon guitar that sits proudly out in front.

          

The interior design was inspired by the natural beach, palm and jungle settings of Thailand’s second largest island, and is filled with natural stone and wood furnishings and décor, with an outstanding collection of music memorabilia from artists such as Elvis Presley, Madonna, The Who, Taylor Swift, The Beatles, Def Leppard, Carlos Santana and Kiss. The cafe has indoor seating for up to 200 guests, a vibrant bar, a spacious outdoor patio with seating for 100 more guests and an outdoor bar area facing a concert stage.

          

Hard Rock Cafe Samui serves delicious American cuisine as well as some local Thai favourites. Think of Potato Skins and Rockin’ Wings, salads, burgers, steaks and ribs. It’s a great place for singles, couples and groups to hang out, eat great food and savour refreshing beverages, all whilst listening to some of your favourite American rock music. Perfect for remembering great memories and making new ones. The staff here are fantastic, always with a smile on their face and happy to tell you about the latest promotions, be sure to ask for the latest updates.

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PARANOID IN PARADISE
Samui’s wildlife – is it out to get you?

Samui’s wildlife – is it out to get you?Some visitors to Samui approach the island with the same trepidation as early Victorian’s exploring blank parts of the map, ready for hostile encounter with unknown predators. It’s a pith helmet and blunderbuss approach, accompanied by enough bags of medicine to stock a small pharmacy. But what’s the truth? Is Samui dangerous? Is the night really filled with giant bugs? Can we hear slithering noises just outside our hotel room? And are fangs, claws and mandibles hurrying our way, eager to ruin our holiday?

          

Samui turns out to be reassuringly low-key when it comes to alarming wildlife. The most commonly seen animals turn out to be cats and dogs. You’ll find plenty of them, and generally they’re cheerful and friendly. Some are wild, some not. A bit of caution is necessary; island hospitals see a fair number of dog bites, so it pays to be careful and not pat Rover on the head until you really know him. Most resorts seem these days to have a placid resident cat who you may find sitting on your porch – hardly feral.

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COMMIT TO GET FIT
Build strength, fitness and confidence at the all-new Success Gym.

Build strength, fitness and confidence at the all-new Success Gym.With 1,000 square metres of floor area and the doors opening for the first customers in May this year, Success Gym in Chaweng is not only the newest, but now the biggest, gym on Samui. With air-conditioned, purpose-built facilities including a huge gym area, a 300-square metre cardio room, a separate studio for scheduled classes, changing and showering areas including a sauna, a restaurant, shop and free parking at the rear of the gym with a dedicated entrance, this is definitely the place to ‘commit to get fit’.

          

This huge space with its high ceiling is chock full of brand spanking new gym equipment. There are 122 machines in total, guaranteed to give your entire body a totally thorough work out! Weights machines for your back, chest, legs, arms and abs, plus a fully loaded free weight and stretching area. The cardio room has 11 running machines, six static bicycles, three rowing machines, three elliptical cross trainers, two step machines, two ski machines and a very impressive looking mountain climber that needs to be tried! Don’t worry if some of the machines look like a puzzle and frazzle your brain, a member of staff is always on hand to explain their purpose, which muscles they aim to strengthen and how to use them safely and correctly.

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BIG, BOLD, BEMUSING
Big Buddha challenges you to look beyond the superficial.

Big Buddha challenges you to look beyond the superficial.Big Buddha tends to surprise first-time visitors. Even shock them. No matter how many times you’ve visited temples, it’s not what you expect. If you’re used to temples that are generally quiet and good places for meditation, then Big Buddha will prove to be very, very exceptional. It’s not just the most visited temple on Samui, it’s also the island’s most visited tourist spot. It’s extraordinarily popular, yet most holidaymakers who come to see it fail to appreciate what it’s really about and instead get sidetracked by all the distractions.

          

Big Buddha was built in 1972, on what used to be a very small island, Koh Fan. To get to it, you had to wade out or go in a boat. Later, a causeway was built, so nowadays you just drive across it and never realise this was a place set apart. The causeway is a narrow strip that sees a lot of traffic. A few people make the journey on foot and if you do, you’ll realize that it’s a great spot for taking photos of the island’s north coast. It’s particularly fine in the evenings, when you can experience beautiful sunsets, or in the cool of the early morning.

          

Once you actually enter the temple grounds, you probably won’t be aware of the time of day at all; you’ll be so taken up by what’s going on. You’ll find a huge array of stalls, small shops, souvenir stands and restaurants. You can have a drink, snack or meal here and if you’ve left it to the last moment to buy presents for family and friends back home, then you can easily find some great gifts. There are hats, bags and clothes being sold, along with jewellery, shells and all manner of keepsakes, and it’s easy just to get pulled into the unexpected shopping opportunity that’s offered to visitors.

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