Well its another swelteringly hot koh samui day!
My bald head is a little reddened and, in an effort to get away from the sun(as much as i love it) and into my office which has the guilt laden luxury of air-conditioning ,i guess its time to post another blog.
Many of the questions we are asked by people making enquires revolve around “how do we get to Samui?” “Where is Samui?” “How far is your hotel from the Phuket/samui airport?”. “And of course how do we get to Elements?”
So i guess i will make an effort to answer some of these questions and maybe even make the odd observation along the way (something i rarely resist doing).
So I guess the simplest place to start is “where is Samui?”
Ko Samui island of Surat Thani Province (or Koh Samui, Thai: เกาะสมุย, Thai pronunciation: [kɔ̀ʔ samǔj]), or often, simply Samui as it is referred to by locals, is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus inThailand, close to the mainland Surat Thani town. It is Thailand’s second largest island, with an area of 228.7 km2 and a population of over 50,000 (2008). It is rich with natural resources, white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees.
Thank you wikipedia!- bit out of date but in the main correct.
In other words, get the map of Thailand and surrounding areas look towards the bottom bit of Thailand (that means China is above) . The long thin bit that joins with Malaysia-see it? Well about half way down on the right hand side where the regions known as Surat Thani and Nakhom Si Thammarat meet you’ll see some small Islands. The big one , thats Samui.
Sorry if that sounds like im trying to make fun , im not, thats how i remember things when relating to maps. Anyone wanting co ordinates 9°30′N 100°00′E( thanks again wikipedia)
Now this is important, Phuket is on the left of the long thin bit and is a very different island from Samui. Im not making fun here. When i first came to Thailand i had no idea! I essentially looked in Lonely planet for a good place to get away with nature ,diving etc. My friend who i was traveling with wanted a place to go where there were parties. Koh Samui had both(North/South) . Phuket was considered first but someone mentioned that Samui was cool and not developed like Phuket. We of course wondered if we could drive from one to the other or maybe get a boat. And thats how we learnt the truth. In my opinion Samui is much different and cooler than Phuket but im biased!
Phuket and Samui are chalk and cheese to each other
Which leads to the next question , “How do i get to Samui? ”
By plane! Koh Samui is not the most difficult island to get to by plane though since we are honest it is also not the cheapest .It is believed, though not proven that the main reason that flights are more expensive to the island than to other Thai destinations is that Samui has one privately owned airport. Funnily enough the company that owns it also owns Bangkok airways so nearly all flights are supplied by them and not, it has to be said on a budget basis. However the service is excellent and the airport is very chic .Free internet,snacks and soft drinks are offered as standared.
They also offer good discounts for early and late flights.
Flights are offered to Samui by Bangkok airway s from the following(direct). Bangkok, Phuket,Krabi, Trat,Pattaya Chang mai,Singapore, Hong kong. All these airports are major international hubs so to link from anywhere in the world is easy.
It is actually cheaper(though not easier) to fly from Hong kong and Singapore by flying first Air Asia or Nok to Phuket or Bangkok and then to Samui via Bangkok airways.
There is unfortunatly only one flight per day from Hong kong and Singapore, this causes major difficulties for travellers in peak season ,so if from there buy your tickets first before booking a hotel(trust me). This is something all us hotel owners hope and pray will one day change.
There are also daily flights once per day from Bangkok with Thai airways.
If you wish to travel from Malaysia there are very good value flights to and from Kuala Lumpor with Firefly. Malaysia is also a good international hub and a good point to start from or go to.
Airplanes ,automobiles and hmm boats.In order to offer alternatives for people wanting to travel more budget there is now a service from bangkok to surrathani airport ,then coach to the Ferry that comes to Samui. Cost is less than half of Bangkok airways and time is 4+ hours. Personally im planning on giving this a go as i enjoy the ferry ride and think the roads to Surrathani are not uninteresting . But this option is not so good if in a rush.
In fact if you want to fly anywhere in Thailand coming to or leaving Samui this option will save you at least 40% on any destination in Thailand. I recently checked flights to Chang Mai/Samui return and for 2 hours more travel i saved 8000 baht per person. So if not in a rush take the time to look for Thailands budget airlines. They offer nice price and the longer time taken travelling can actually be a nice experience.
Just as an aside. Lomprayah now offer a speed express ferry from Samui with a coach pick up to take you onward to the airport.The ferry only take 45 minutes rather than the nearly two hour trip by the slower ferries, The last person we know of who took this more expensive but speedy ferry then had to wait at the mainland ferry terminal for the coach to the airport to arrive on the slower ferry. Amazing but true and fairly normal. I will have to check to see if this has been corrected yet.
Automobiles and of course boats again.Obviously being an island there are boats involved. Ferries to Samui are regular and are the major lifeline of the islands commodities.
Thailands highway infrastructure is in good shape unlike a lot of the region so travelling from one point to another is not usually a problem .Coach seats can be bought from most parts of Thailand and even Malaysia. They are modern ,comfortable, air-conditioned and have refreshments and of course toilet facilities. But can take from half a day to a whole day. Quite a few people do drive to and from Phuket which is on the other coast of Thailand , with the ferry this will take 6-7 hours. Kuala Lumpor is about 18 I think.
And of course trains. Ive left this till last for a reason. I did my fair share of train journeys in my younger budget travel days, even managing to travel the length of China in 92. I must say i used to love it ,even the more rough journeys. However i have not travelled Thai trains and am not qualified to comment.
Our guests who have deigned to travel this way have without exception expressed the same dislike of the train service. First class came with dirty seats, linging smells and , oh yes free cockroaches !
The rail infrastructure is again quite comprehensive but it doesn’t strike me as the way you want to be traveling to a luxury hotel. When i have more information or am convinced to give it a go I will update. Lonely Planet i am sure can offer more colorful insights
Of course when on Samui you then can travel by Ferry or speedboat to the marine park, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan very easily and of course visa versa.
Getting to Elements? Ah the easy bit. Getting to Elements is reasonably easy, whilst we are based at one of the furthest southern points of the island it has to be remembered that the island is actually not that big, you can drive round the whole thing in a few hours and people regularly cycle the whole island in one day! I haven’t asked why yet!I think the current record for walking around the island is 48 hours and that was done at an easy going pace.
So from the airport.
Taxi or as i call them island sharks. They charge 1000 baht to our resort which takes about 40-45 minutes, if you haggle you can get a better price. For our driver to come and pick you up and bring you to the resort is actually a cheaper option(900 baht per car).Of course with an air-conditioned car offering sparkling wine, beer and soft drinks 🙂
You can also hire a car from the airport from Budget or Avis, but to be honest i don’t recommend it you will find much cheaper options elsewhere.
There isnt really any other option from the airport as the local version of buses dont tend to hang about that area,but i believe this is soon to change.
From the ferry terminals around the islands it is possible to travel by Taxi by Songkeaw(local bus). Just remember to haggle with a smile. Or simply let us know where you will be and we will meet you upon your arrival.
I hope this blog has been informative enough without being to longwinded, if anyone has any questions or needs more info please just email me firstname.lastname@example.org and i will be glad to help.