Koh Samui is Thailand’s 2nd largest island and it’s located in the Gulf of Thailand. If you’re heading that way from Bangkok, all you need to do is pick up a Lomprayah bus which will take you to Chumphon. You can choose to leave Bangkok early in the morning or in the evening – at least with the evening trip, you can sleep for a lot of the 12 hour journey.
You arrive at Chumphon around 5am and have to wait until the first ferry departs for the islands at 7 am. There are cafes at the pier, so you can get food and drinks while you wait.
I have used this ferry service a few times in the past, and it seems to be nothing short of chaos. Everyone gets a little coloured sticker to match the label stuck onto your luggage, and once on board you watch your luggage disappear under the hundreds of other suitcases and backpacks that get stowed at the front of the ferry. You wonder how on earth you are going to retrieve your belongings, but once you arrive at your destination you somehow find your bag, and alight onto terra firma again without too much trouble. It’s all part of the fun, so take it in your stride and don’t worry!
Koh Samui is just as beautiful as those postcards you’ve seen – white sandy beaches lined with tall coconut palms and the sea ridiculously clear and turquoise.
I stayed at Samui Beach Resort, in Lamai Beach http://www.samuibeachresort.com/index.html. The rooms were basic with a fan, hot shower and a double bed. There are other, more expensive, types of accommodation available, but if you are on a budget then the standard rooms are more than sufficient, ranging from 1,500 for standard rooms up to 7,500 for deluxe beachside rooms.
Lamai beach is on the eastern side of the island and is a lot more relaxed than Chaweng or Bophut, so it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to chill and enjoy the scenery, I recommend Lamai, but if you want to party the night away, Chaweng or Bophut are a little livelier.
I went on “The Jungle Safari Tour” around Samui Island with the next day. http://www.kosamui.com/eco-tours/jungle-safari-tour1.htm There were so many cool things to see and do. It was awesome. Our vehicle was an old army jeep, and we went to see waterfalls and rubber plantations, monkeys and temples. There was a mummified monk, who is hundreds of years old and died in the meditating position. He sits in a glass case at Khunaram temple. We went elephant trekking, and saw a crocodile show. The crocodile show consisted of these crazy guys sticking their hands into the crocs mouth to retrieve a 100 baht note. They also put their heads into the crocodile’s mouth. They used a stick to rub the crocs head with, presumably to either calm it or to let it know what he was about to do – like he could train it that way! If the crocs head closed he would have no head left! Crazy stuff!
The jeep was great, and because I was a solo participant on the tour, I got to ride on the seat above the driver, which I shared with two guys from Italy. I got a mouthful of trees a few times, and the driver was a bit of a nutter. He kept squealing as he perched us at a 45 degree angle over a cliff top. It was quite amusing (for him?) and he added to our own squeals, although I’m not sure whether they were squeals of delight or screams of terror! It was a fabulous way to see the island, topped off with stunning views from the highest point.