Is it possible to have a crush on a destination? We think so, and we’re seriously pining for Koh Samui. Its long stretches of white sand with crystal clear waters gently crashing on the shore is the stuff dreams are made of. Did we mention the Thai food? Don’t even get us started on the fresh mango sticky rice and pad krapow washed down with a Thai iced tea.
But there’s more to Thailand’s second biggest island than its stellar beaches and world-class food. Luckily, Kimpton’s newest resort is in the heart of it. Once you touch down here, it’s impossible for this crush not to become a full-blown romance.
We’ll Fill You In
When it comes to Thai islands, Phuket is the more well-known, slightly messy cousin to the relaxed Koh Samui. A longtime favorite for families and couples on their honeymoon, Koh Samui is home to more than 40,000 full-time residents, most of them Buddhist.
When backpackers began visiting the coconut-clad island in the 1970s, Koh Samui developed a tourist economy. Hostels eventually gave way to the luxury hotels that line the shores today. Now, it’s one of the most popular islands in Thailand, and we can see why.
If you manage to pry yourself from your lounge chair for one activity, let it be a trip to An Thong Marine National Park. It’s one of those places where pictures don’t do it justice; you have to see it for yourself.
This group of 42 small, verdant islands is home to secret caves, emerald green lagoons, white sand beaches and plenty of colorful fish. Admire the limestone cliffs from your kayak on a must-do day tour of the park.
What’s the point of a tropical vacation without some beach time? Choengmon Beach, the home of the latest Kimpton resort, is ideal for relaxing with a local coconut in hand. A short walk away is Chaweng Beach, the island’s most frequented and busiest beach.
For some lesser-known stretches of silica, take a car or motorbike to Thongtakian Beach, also called Silver Beach. It’s a great place to snorkel, kayak or just lay out. At Ban Tai Beach, you can walk the 6km beach and cool off in the calm seas.
With roughly 90 percent of the island practicing Buddhism, there are a plethora of spiritual sites to see with shoulders and knees covered (a temple rule). Wat Phra Yai, known as Big Buddha Temple, is, well, a temple with a big buddha. Built in the 1970s, this 50-foot golden statue is the island’s most famous attraction.
The Secret Buddha Garden also called the Tarnim Magic Garden, is located high up in the lush hills of Pom Mountain. Said to have been constructed by an elderly fruit farmer in the 70s, there are dozens of carved sculptures of gods and animals dotting the highest point on the island. If art isn’t your thing, the view from the top is equally amazing. Accessible via multi-hour hike, motorbike or tour, there’s a small entrance fee.
One of the island’s most intriguing Buddhist attractions is Wat Khunaram, a temple with a mummified monk wearing sunglasses. Yes, you read that right.
Walk It Off
Skip Chaweng Walking Street and head for the Fisherman’s Village instead. Every Friday night, the quaint wooden village, a short drive from the new Kimpton resort, opens its thoroughfare.
Travelers can buy the typical trinkets, but there are several traditional stalls selling hand-made textiles, spices and jewelry. You can also watch music, dance and Muay Thai performances. Don’t forget to stop at the stalls making fresh fruit juice, pad Thai and coconut ice cream.
Kimpton’s second Thailand hotel can’t wait to invite guests to the Land of Smiles with a big grin. Pristine beachfront access, inspired local design, unique restaurants and refreshing cocktails await at Kimpton Koh Samui.