Koh Samui and Phangan
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I recently went to Samui travel guide">Koh Samui on the way to Bali in Indonesia. I stayed only for 5 days. It was off peak season so there were very few visitors and also the weather was spotty. It rained during 3 of the days. However it would rain for a window and then stop - so it wasnt that bad. Although when it rains it becomes hard to walk around in the streets and some places smell quite bad.
Overall since it was off peak season my experience could be quite different. I stayed in Chaweng only - didnt get a chance to get to other parts of the Koh Samui. First thing I do believe is that it is better to make reservations ahead of time online. Usually the online prices tend to be cheaper than walkin prices. I was travelling very light so I checked out a few places but realized that it was better online. I stayed for one night at Chaweng Buri resort and then moved to Baan Chaweng Resort by making an online reservation. I however think I should have stayed at the Al's Resort. It seemed like a nice place and it was probably one of the more popular places. These are all quite old resorts in my opinion - Chaweng Buri, Baan Chaweng etc. However out of these Baan Chaweng was definitely better. Had a very nice restaurant right on the beach with a great view from the deck of the restaurant. I stayed in one of their cottages rather than the main building. I think that is nicer since it is closer to the beach and nice ambience. The rooms in the building though seemed a bit better in terms of quality and renovation. I got a massage on the beach and a massage at a parlor above McDonald's (forget the name). I think the formal massage place was much better quality - although it is hard to beat the ambience of the massage on the beach itself. The beach was not very crowded given the off peak season. I think it is better to stay towards the end where Baan Chaweng Resort is. It is closer to all the nicer restaurants and bars etc.
On Nov 12th I think it was a full moon party out at Phangan island. So I took a boat and went to island after 8pm. I came back by about 5am. I used the speed boat option. The ferries were all sold out and I realized that even during off peak season it is important to book your tickets ahead of time. I kind of waited until last minute. Just walk into any travel agency and you can get a ticket. The speed boats can be quite bumpy. So if you have too much to eat/drink before you get on - watch out. There were couple of girls on the boat who had very hard time and were throwing up due to the bumpy ride. I was wondering what would happen on the way back given how much alcohol would get consumed in between. However the ride back was very smooth since the water was calm. The actual party at Phangan island was great. I would strongly recommend folks do this one if you go to Thailand. The entire length of the beach was full of folks partying all through the night. It was quite safe overall. Lots of music all along the bar etc. One unfortunate thing is that someone did pick my pocket and steal about 2K baht. Luckily I had more money in another pocket and survived for my drinks etc. You can meet lots of folks and have a great time in general out there. It was a fun and casual ambience.
Back in Chaweng, I forget the bars I visited - there are a few next to the Green Mango which were very nice. Very busy in the night and lots of fun late into the night. THe street where Green Mango is - is where the decent bars are out here. The other place was Reggae Music bar at the south end. It has a different ambience and it is also a nice place. I felt it was much bigger and given off peak season felt quite empty overall.
I would probably revisit Samui again when it is a full moon party in better weather next time and stay longer. THe airport at Samui is very neat - open to the skies completely. Very beautifully designed in my opinion.