Samui Wining & Dining

There’s never a reason to waste a day on Samui, even if it’s raining.


People come to Samui to bask in the sun, swim in the sea and dine alfresco. But what happens when it rains? What do you do then? The beach is sodden, the sea is choppy and the usually lively beach bars are deserted. Lost-looking tourists wander aimlessly around the streets of Chaweng without a clue what to do, peeved at a wasted day of their holiday. But it doesn’t have to be like that. There are plenty of indoor activities on Samui to while away those rainy days – you just have to know where they are. And that’s where we come in, because we know what the locals do on a rainy day.

      When it’s wet everywhere the ideal place to be is somewhere that has multiple sources of entertainment under one roof. And that’s where the two main indoor shopping centres on Samui come in handy. They are Tesco Lotus (not the mini ones you see on the street, this one’s a ‘mega shopping complex’) and Big C. They’re both quite close to one another on the main ring road between Bophut and Chaweng. Tesco Lotus is the king of wet weather havens because it has a supermarket, home improvement shop, bank, boutiques, restaurants, a food court, movie theatre, bowling alley and children’s play area.

        Let’s start with the food court. With a selection of everything from pad Thai to sushi, there’ll undoubtedly be something suited to your tastes. And then there’s the price. Something like a Thai salad goes for just 50 – 60 baht and is of a decent quality too – and fresh. The food courts here don’t serve up your typical school dinner type slop. Instead, each station specialises in one thing, and almost everything they make is from scratch. Don’t expect Michelin Star service and plaid tablecloths – it’s a food court after all – but if you want food that tastes good for a great price then this could be just what you’re looking for.

          So you’re in Tesco Lotus and you’ve finished your food, what next? If you’re feeling lazy then there’s always the cinema. They may not have as broad a selection of films as you’d get back home, but it’s raining so what else are you going to do? Beggars can’t be choosers, so they say. The thing you’ll notice in the cinema here is that before every screening the Thai national anthem is played, and while it’s playing everyone in the cinema stands up out of respect (you should do the same). So you get to see a bit of culture as well as a film. If, however, you’d prefer to work off the food you’ve just eaten, there’s always Major Bowl, a fully-fledged bowling alley complete with neon lights and pumping music that could compete with some of the bars in Chaweng.

          And then there’s the other the big shopping complex, Big C. The bonus of going to Big C when it’s raining is that it has an indoor car park, so you don’t have to get wet at all – even getting in and out of the car. If you’ve come on a motorbike, however, then you’re probably already soaked, but at least your bike can warm up in the car park for when you jump on it next. At Big C you’ve got a whole host of restaurants as well as a great, clean and professional indoor massage centre called Hi Class, which knocks about a hundred baht off your average beach massage prices.

          So for a bit of geographic diversity, let’s move over to Fisherman’s Village. Whilst it’s certainly not recommended to visit the depths of it during heavy rain periods – because it can get woefully flooded – if you’re around that area and want somewhere to chill then Namcha tea house is perfect. Not only can you hang out for hours sipping away at a brew while watching the rain, but it’s also right by the entrance to Fisherman’s Village, so you can get dropped off right on the doorstep.

          If you’ve got kids and the thought of having your little monsters running mad in your cramped hotel room for the duration of the downpour is enough to make you want to jump on the first flight home, there’s help at hand. Fairways Samui is a soft play world for children located close to the arrivals area at Samui Airport. It’s a fully padded area kitted out with soft slides and climbing frames where youngsters eight years and under can run free. It’s the only one of its kind on the island and charges just 100 baht for a full day. Or, if you’re down Lamai way, there’s Buddy Oriental Samui Beach Resort’s children’s play centre, which is essentially a room full of toys where your little ‘uns can camp out for 100 baht an hour.

          The last rainy day activity we’ll cover is something that’s not only fun but skill building too. Cooking classes. They’re held all over the island and the fact that they’re usually held indoors – being as kitchen appliances don’t fare too well when left out in the elements – makes them a fantastic way to spend a saturated afternoon. Most resorts on the island run their own cooking classes, so if yours does you don’t even have to leave your hotel. But if not, or if you’re looking for something different, the one at The Sea Samui in Bang Por recently got rave reviews by our resident cooking class specialist, Rob De Wet – because you can pretty much make anything you want from the menu! The thing with a cooking class is that not only are you warm and dry, but you also to learn to make something new – and you get to eat it after. That’s what you call having your cake and eating it, too.


 Christina Wylie


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