Samui Wining & Dining
Samui Holiday Magazine
A Warm Welcome

A Wram Welcome

Some say Samui has it all; idyllic beaches, glorious weather, nearby islands, temples, the green mountainous interior, waterfalls and amazing views. Not to mention thousands of restaurants, bars and music venues and activities for both adults and children. Try some go-karting, visit a water park or an elephant sanctuary, or relax in a spa, meditation or yoga class.

          

As we move into the last two months of 2019, be mindful that November is known as the beginning of the monsoon season. You may experience a short-lived torrential downpour, returning to sunshine soon afterwards, or the longer lasting drizzly rain that you tend to associate with Europe. The good news is the temperature always remains around 25 to 28 degrees Celsius. So, although it might keep you from the beach occasionally, it won’t stop you enjoying the many other activities on offer as we wind our way into December.

          

You’ll find that Christmas on Samui is a rather laid back affair. Santa hats make an appearance for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when many resorts and restaurants have a traditional European style Christmas dinner. As 2019 comes to a close, enjoy one of the many New Year’s Eve parties, with fireworks lighting up the tropical skies, accentuating the sea and mountains.

          

It’s easy to immerse yourself in all Samui has to offer. But whether you have sunshine or showers, you are sure to have lots of fun.

 
ALL AFLOAT
 Let your troubles simply drift away at November’s Loy Krathong festival.

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Once a year, every year, something a bit special happens all around Thailand. People gather around rivers, lakes, canals or the sea. There are big decorated rafts, fireworks and lots of liveliness and laughter. And there are thousands of people all carefully launching something small and candlelit into the water.

          

This is the festival of Loy Krathong, one of the most romantic of the Thai festivals. Its name comes from the word ‘loy’, meaning ‘to float’, and ‘krathong’, which is a kind of small raft made from banana leaves or bark. In the past, krathongs were sent off into water under the full moon as a way of thanking the water spirits for the gift of a good rice crop. Nowadays, however, it’s simply a way of giving thanks for the year just past, letting any bad parts of the year go and expressing a hope for the future. The festival is held on the full moon of the 12th lunar month of the year, once the temperatures have cooled and the rice crops are in. And this year, it falls on Monday 11th November.

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NOT JUST DESSERTS
 Rare desserts from Siam rule at The Page – along with an entire menu of fabled foods.

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If you’re on the lookout for Thai food of the most traditional kind, you might find yourself heading not for a restaurant that’s been in place for a century, but instead to Samui’s most avant-garde resort, The Library, and its restaurant, simply called The Page. Both are right in the heart of Chaweng, totally hidden away from sight and offering an intimate escape. Chic, and modern to the core, they’re an unexpected spot for Thai dishes that have become rarities.

          

The culinary team here are adept at both modern Thai food and international cuisine of all kinds, but what they’re most acclaimed for is presenting dishes that were once treasured but which have slipped off the culinary radar. Why would that happen? There are probably quite a few reasons, but parallels can be drawn with various types of Thai fruits which are no longer cultivated because they’re too hard, and other varieties are much more easily grown; that’s why certain types of durian are no longer to be found at today’s markets while others are to be found all the time. With food, the tried-and-tested can get replaced all too readily by the new. This is especially true in the case of desserts; there’s been a rush to embrace all things western when it comes to pudding.

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CULTURE, BUBBLES AND FUN THIS CHRISTMAS TIME
 Come and join the opera at Silavadee Pool Spa Resort.

 Come and join the opera at Silavadee Pool Spa Resort.

Silavadee Pool Spa Resort enjoys its reputation here on Samui as a luxurious hideaway with a unique style and ‘daring to be different’ philosophy. With a ‘back to nature’ concept, it’s a blissful and idyllic gem, set amongst tropical vegetation down a hillside to the ocean, located on the gorgeous and exclusive Laem Nan Beach in north Lamai. The entire resort is designed to fit into the indigenous landscape. Every building is made from natural materials, sustaining harmony with the tropical forest and sparkling ocean. Rooms and villas are built and decorated with a mixture of teak, light cedar wood and bamboo accents, giving a warm and cosy, yet rich and opulent style.

          

Water flowing from the reception’s fountain to the spa’s water wall is a continual reminder to gently ease into your surroundings and your day. Float away with pure relaxation and pampering at the spa. Soak up some sunshine in one of the two infinity pools or take a dip in the ocean. Indulge in delicious food offerings throughout the resort. Try authentic Thai at The Height, international lunch, wine and dinner at Moon, sunset cocktails and event dining at STAR and modern healthy eating and smoothies at Sun Lounge. Silavadee is the perfect combination of breathtaking land, sea and skyscape with their renowned high-level personal services. It’s the perfect place to ease into your holiday this festive season. This year there are some amazing Christmas events for both inhouse and outside guests to have fun with.

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A MYRIAD OF FLAVOURS
 Discover a culinary journey at Amaya Food Gallery, Amari Koh Samui

Discover a culinary journey at Amaya Food Gallery, Amari Koh Samui

You have travelled all the way to Koh Samui, so don’t miss the opportunity to embark on a culinary journey of discovery, at Amaya Food Gallery. Located at Amari Koh Samui in Chaweng, this exceptional restaurant takes its inspiration from the much-loved local street food stalls found across Asia. Offering indoor and outdoor dining areas in a relaxed and casual beach setting, it is decorated in natural tones with splashes of colour and patterns derived from different regions of Asia. It’s the perfect place for discovering and experimenting with Asian flavours, whilst admiring the hues of the turquoise sea gently rolling onto the beach, or watching the sunset whilst enjoying a romantic evening meal.

          

From 6.30 am to 10.30 am, you can enjoy tasty breakfast dishes including local favourites such as freshly made noodle soup or congee (rice porridge, a staple in many parts of Asia) and all the usual western favourites. During the day, live cooking stations will take you on a journey through an array of various typical street food dishes. Laksa is a spicy noodle curry soup, Nasi Goreng, a tasty fried rice dish found all over Indonesia and Malaysia. Staying closer to home, sample Thai favourites such as Tom Yum Goong, warming soup with prawns, chilli, fish sauce, galangal and lemongrass. And don’t forget the ever-popular Pad Thai - stir-fried noodles with egg, tofu, dried shrimp, garlic and shallots, sprinkled with chopped roasted peanuts.

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TAILOR MADE
 Visit Paul’s Fashion for the very best in bespoke clothing and shoes.

Visit Paul’s Fashion for the very best in bespoke clothing and shoes.

Many first time visitors to Samui are surprised to find quality tailor shops on this paradise island, but that surprise definitely becomes a pleasant one after availing themselves of the services of Paul’s Fashion, the leading professional tailor on the island.

          

Established in 2005, by Paul Subhedi, you’ll find them on Chaweng Beach Road, opposite McDonalds, offering business, casual and formal wear for both ladies and gentlemen. Now you may be wondering - why should you choose Paul’s Fashion over any other store? Well the answer is simple. They have been awarded the coveted TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for four years running, and their reviews on the site are completely positive. In fact they are so confident in their product (the high quality materials, design and workmanship), that they offer a quite outstanding guarantee. If you are not 100% satisfied with your finished garments then you won’t have to pay a single baht until you are completely happy with your order.

          

As Paul himself says, “We have a cast-iron guarantee; if you are not happy with the final product, then you pay nothing.” You might think that is a very bold statement, but the TripAdvisor comments show that Paul is true to his word, praising the honest, trustworthy and exceptional service they receive. Furthermore, not one person has asked for a refund in all the years they have been in operation – not one!

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BEYOND INSPIRATION
 Oriental Living shows off its touchable interior design concepts in a fabulous new show home.

Oriental Living shows off its touchable interior design concepts in a fabulous new show home.

Whether you are a property developer, project manager, resort manager, business owner, interior designer or homeowner, at some point in time you will probably be looking for inspiration on interior or exterior design and furnishings. Whether for one room, an entire villa, estate of villas or resort, Oriental Living provides a one-stop design service featuring customised high-end furniture, furnishing and décor solutions for both the home and office. Solutions are offered for smaller loft spaces to large projects, including planning, construction, work details and landscaping of gardens. The company has over 20-years’ experience, especially in luxury-living and refurbishment, and has been responsible for many award-winning properties on Koh Samui, Phuket and further afield.

          

Oriental Living provides a professional and diligent design service that can be 100% relied upon. The company principle is to approach each job with total dedication, and to arrive at a perfect, customised solution for all your personal requirements, needs and wants. All furniture is original and hand-made, with ultra-fine workmanship and materials. It can be ordered as seen or made to your specific requirements, the dimensions, colours and materials complementing your living or office space perfectly, and most importantly in this climate, everything is guaranteed to be long-lasting.

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BLISSFUL CAREFREE DAYS
 Kanda Pool Villas, where nothing is too much trouble.

Kanda Pool Villas, where nothing is too much trouble.

          

Kanda Pool Villas are nestled above a serene cove, in a quiet oasis with unfettered views across the Gulf of Siam, yet only five minutes’ drive away from the hustle and bustle of Chaweng’s nightlife and shopping district. It’s the perfect location for a luxurious retreat, short or long-term, for families, groups, friends or couples. Choose from one, two, three or four-bedroom configurations with separate living spaces, full-size fullyfitted kitchens, dining and living rooms with state of the art TV and sound systems, private (not overlooked) garden areas with 10-metre pools, sun loungers and an outside sala for shady relaxation and reflection.

          

Staff are on-hand to offer a range of personalised services and amenities. Whether you want advice or bookings for outings or excursions, car rental, an in-villa cooking class or barbeque, babysitting, private party catering and arrangements, yoga or Thai boxing classes or children’s activities. Kanda Pool Villas provide a ‘home away from home’ experience you can rely on, with staff on hand to provide for every whim or fancy!

          

A mobile phone is provided in each villa for guests to use for the duration of their stay. Stay connected to Kanda staff even when out and about. Check the ‘already downloaded’ maps of Samui to help navigate your way around the island, make local and international calls, all complimentary!

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THE WAY OF THE SUPER FIT
 Thai boxing is taking the world by storm.

 Thai boxing is taking the world by storm.

 

          

When we think of Thai culture becoming more and more popular, it’s always Thai cooking that springs to mind, perhaps followed in second place by Thai massage. But hot upon the heels of both, comes the action-packed, adrenalin-fuelled Muay Thai or Thai boxing, a martial art that can crush an unprepared opponent in less than a second.

          

It dates back hundreds of years to ‘Muay Boraan’, literally ‘ancient boxing’, which was taught up and down the country to men, women and children, so that each village could defend itself in the case of attack. It was a kind of ad hoc civil defence that became refined over the years, with various teachers rising to prominence and having their own devotees. Gradually everything coalesced until today, there are 30 fighting tactics acknowledged in Muay Thai. Practitioners use both kicks and punches, and can use elbows and knees as well. It might seem like a form of boxing, but when traditional boxers take up Muay Thai, they tend to find it a much bigger challenge than they thought it would be. Everything is very, very different. And a lot trickier.

          

A mobile phone is provided in each villa for guests to use for the duration of their stay. Stay connected to Kanda staff even when out and about. Check the ‘already downloaded’ maps of Samui to help navigate your way around the island, make local and international calls, all complimentary!

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SPLENDOUR REJUVENATED
 The forgotten grandeur of old is alive and well at Samui Palm Beach Resort.

The forgotten grandeur of old is alive and well at Samui Palm Beach Resort.

          

Samui Palm Beach Resort sits alongside 200-metres of pristine beach, affording an awesome view over the Gulf of Siam to Koh Phangan, with yachts bobbing joyfully in the harbour. Set in a beautifully landscaped tropical garden, the resort boasts two swimming pools, a gym, ballroom with seating for 300 guests (the biggest on Samui), conference room, a world-class restaurant and separate bar and bistro overlooking the ocean. With 129 spacious guest rooms, you will experience the ultimate Samui beachfront experience.

          

This grand old dame, with her recently faded opulence of glory days, is being bought back to life. A major renovation and refurbishment program with thoughtful restoration is bringing her back to her thoroughly magnificent self. Albeit with brand new upgraded and contemporary furnishings, fittings and technology to match today’s pace, whilst still instilling that atmosphere of calm grandeur.

          

Samui Palm Beach is now the new kid on the block! The best fourstar resort on Koh Samui. With 52 square metres of floor space for a standard room, increasing with a deluxe room or villa. Every room has a private balcony or terrace overlooking either the 80-metre winding swimming pool (the longest in Samui) with its swim-up bar, the 25-metre beachside pool, the tropical gardens with mature trees, shrubs and indigenous squirrels or the ocean. All feature large day-beds both inside and out, solid teakwood furniture, flat-screen TV, coffee and tea making facilities, mini-bar, safety box, huge bathrooms with a bathtub, separate rain shower and twin sinks and all the comforts of home like slippers and dressing gowns.

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TIPS FOR TIPS
 All you need to know about tipping.

All you need to know about tipping.

          

Life can be strange. Fifty years ago it wasn’t like this. But in today’s culture of instant everything, the edges have blurred. Two things have changed the world. The main one is the internet. And, linked in with this, there’s the sheer ease of international travel. And that’s not only the immediate booking of a flight to anywhere in the world from wherever you happen to be sitting, but also something as simple as paperless tickets, too: just produce your smartphone with the booking details onscreen.

          

But this all has a downside. Because it means that it’s more or less effortless for someone to zip away from their own land and culture and find themselves confused; a stranger in a strange land with different expectations and ways of life. It’s an in-built instinct to assume that everything’s the same there as it is back home. And it can come as a profound shock to realise that the police, the laws, the banks and even the ‘rights’ you assume you have are now suddenly all askew. And that also goes for the very ordinary day-to-day aspect of tipping.

          

Let’s take two extremes. The USA has a strongly ingrained culture of leaving a gratuity for everything that has an element of ‘service’ attached. Whereas in China, for example, as a visitor you’ll never have to tip at all, because the government policy of charging foreigners has an in-built extra for everything. This seems straightforward enough until you realise that the same is true in New Zealand, too. Here, nobody will tip – tourists and locals alike – as the service charge is built-in. But that brings us straight to the next point; the difference between being a local and a visitor.

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A DUO THAT DELIGHTS
 The Barge building at Nora Buri Samui Resort & Spa is home to two top restaurants.

The Barge building at Nora Buri Samui Resort & Spa is home to two top restaurants.

          

This place amazes. And in several ways. The Barge is one of Samui’s most iconic buildings, designed along the lines of a rice barge, of the type famous for plying the rivers and waterways of Thailand. It’s located a few kilometres north of Chaweng, as you head towards Choeng Mon. Seen from the beach this three-story building is striking; it looks like it’s about to set off to sea. However, it’s definitely firmly anchored, and welcomes not passengers but diners. Its appeal is widespread, more so as The Barge building houses two restaurants, both excellent: firstly, there’s Rice Barge & Terrace, which offers a full range of Thai food, then secondly, The Barge Restaurant, with an equally good range of international dishes. It’s a formula that works exceedingly well. You simply decide whether you’d like to eat Thai food or international and go to the appropriate restaurant. (If you’d like a mix of both, just head for The Barge Restaurant on the ground floor and staff will bring you both menus.)

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BINS, BEAUTIFUL BINS
 Art Bins Samui is helping keep Samui’s environment clean.

Art Bins Samui is helping keep Samui’s environment clean.

          

Beaches everywhere are under threat from garbage – Samui, alas, is no exception. Back-breaking rubbish collection by exhausted resort workers and volunteers is the most practical solution, but these days art is pitching in to help. Thanks to Art Bins Samui (formerly known as Samui Trash Bins) and a community of painters, quirky trash bins are popping up on our shores. People want to feed said bins – with garbage. Every bit helps, literally.          

The idea of turning trash bins into art was conceived by Idania Reiss, a resident who’s been living on Samui for a decade now. When she was walking along the beach one day she realized that there was nowhere to put garbage. If there were trash bins, people would use them. But who would want to see big plastic bins gracing the shores? It would be way too ugly. Her solution was to paint the bins so that they fitted in with their surroundings and looked appealing. That way people would want to throw trash in them. The whole thing would be fun.

          

And that’s pretty much how it’s turned out. Idania, who already knew a lot about art, realized that painting a trash bin isn’t as simple as people might think. It’s a total labour of love. The main problem was durability. Almost anything painted and left out in the sun loses its colour. A series of bins with art reduced to faint traces would just look, well, sad. The only way forward was to prime the bins in such a way that the colours would last, even on Samui’s incandescent shores. She found out exactly what was needed and honed down a recipe for durability, beauty and practicality.

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COASTS WITH THE MOST
 A brief guide to Samui’s beaches.

 A brief guide to Samui’s beaches.

          

What’s more fun than a day out on the beach? Especially if you’re in the tropics with white sand beaches, swaying palms, dazzling sunshine and blue seas. The fact that Samui is an island only adds to the attraction; its entire perimeter is nothing more than a succession of beaches, and almost all have something wonderful to offer.

The only problem is that it can be hard to choose where to go, especially as you would need a good month to get to grips with all of them. It has to be said that most islanders have yet to see all the beaches, and the only people to know all of them are those who go out daily on boats.

          

Here’s a brief guide to where the best beaches are. Note that there are simply too many to cover in an article as short as this one. We’ve selected just the main ones that are fairly easy to get to. There are plenty of others, along with a few that are really only accessible by boat.

          

Chaweng and the East Coast

 The entire bay of Chaweng is definitely Instagram territory; legendary white sands, fine and powdery, are lapped by usually calm and very clear waters. The sea shelves slowly and is great if you’re with small children. The beach is five kilometres long, but in high season can get crowded – but it’s not towel-to-towel as in the Mediterranean. Usually you can find shade towards the back of the beach, which is lined with trees and restaurants.

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UP IN THE AIR
 Zip Line Lamai View Point offers great times out.

Zip Line Lamai View Point offers great times out.

          

Time spent at a view point on a tropical island is already a wonderful experience and there are a few on Samui. But this one offers more - a lot more. You can admire the views not from the safety of a platform, but as you speed over the jungle on an adrenaline ride that can only be beaten if you strap a pair of wings to your shoulders and actually fly. Zip Line Lamai View Point is a world in itself; you can spend quite a few hours here, yet there’s enough to do without even going near the two zip lines.

The view point is situated in a park-like area just south of Lamai as you head towards Ban Hua Thanon on the ring-road. Turn right immediately right after Makro and follow the road until you come to the View Point car park. Entrance to the gardens here costs 100 baht, and you can relax here, take a look at what’s called the Valentine Stone, named for its heart shape, and at the same time dip your feet in a pool where garrarufa fish will nibble away all the dead skin – they’re the same creatures that grace all the fish spas on the island.

          

Next you can either walk up concrete steps to a small café higher up or take the cable car (100 baht per person, per round trip). As you go, you’ll see more and more of the surroundings – the greenery of palms and other trees that soon merge with the town before everything abruptly stops at the coast, and a panorama of sea opens up along with the bays of Lamai on the left.

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TOP TIMES
 Italian or Thai? Take your pick from the casual fine dining menu at Dr Frogs Bar & Grill.

Italian or Thai? Take your pick from the casual fine dining menu at Dr Frogs Bar & Grill.

          

Just a few minutes’ drive from the south of Chaweng, one of Samui’s most-established restaurants, now in its 15th year, perches atop a beautiful stretch of coastline. It’s right next to Samui’s most frequently visited scenic point. The restaurant is decidedly picturesque; as you walk through the entrance, you can see the views opening out onto a vast panorama of sea and sky, with the entire bay of Chaweng stretching along to the left. The restaurant is warm, bright and convivial. Welcome to the world of Dr Frogs Bar & Grill.

Wherever you sit in the dining room, those same views will grace your time here. They seem to have stepped out of a beautiful Mediterranean bay, and the restaurant fits in perfectly; the vibe is pleasingly laid-back; the staff welcoming and when it comes to food and drink, everything is excellent.

          

The menu is well put together, the results of years of the restaurant being run by star chefs. Currently it’s helmed by Khun Narin Boonyang. Young, creative and highly talented, he’s trained under various chefs, and presents top-of-the-range Italian and Thai cuisine at Dr Frogs.

          

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A GREEN AND SILENT WORLD
 The secret interior of Samui beckons.

The secret interior of Samui beckons.

          

Samui isn’t all about beaches and life by the pool, good as that may be. You’ve no doubt noticed that it’s mainly the outer perimeter of the island that’s settled. That leaves a huge part – the interior. Maps all show the same thing: that most roads here just fizzle out and it’s just a big, green, blank space. Hotel staff may be puzzled if you ask them how you can explore the interior; everyone’s more interested in what lies on or near the coast.

So, just what’s actually there? If it appears to be a mystery, that’s exactly the truth of the matter. It is. Very few people from Samui can put their hands on their hearts and say they’ve explored it all. It’s mostly farm land, orchards, coconut plantations and pure forest and jungle.

          

If you’re exploring off-road, you need to be cautious. You can debate forever whether the interior, as seen from the beach consists of very high hills or low mountains, but whatever you decide you can convince yourself that it doesn’t actually look dangerous. After all, you’re unlikely to be caught in a snowstorm, right? But never mind other tricky and sudden weather conditions, such as protracted downpours; be careful if you’re off-road in the interior. Paths fork, join, divide in a complex web that can mislead within minutes and reference points may be few and far between. People have come to grief after having a fall and being unable to summon help. As with venturing into mountains, it’s best not to go alone, and to tell others where you’re going. And if venturing out on a motorcycle, be aware that this is highly dangerous and probably not even covered by your rental agreement (it’ll probably state that riding off-road isn’t allowed), let alone your insurance policy. And are you really that good at riding a bike anyway? One thing that you may not be aware of is that on long, steep descents, brakes on automatic bikes may fail. Use a bike with manual step-down gears, or be prepared to take some lengthy breaks on hills. Consider hiring a taxi rather than taking risks. Here in ascending order of difficulty of access is a brief guide to the interior of the island.

          

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Copyright 2019 Samui Holiday Magazine. All rights reserved Siam Map Company Ltd.