Saturday, 2 May 2015

Shopping in Big Buddha, Koh Samui

Informal commercialization

The Big Buddha is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the Island of Samui. As such, the area embracing the foot of this colossal testament to this Eastern deity has become one of the fastest developing areas on the island. Every year, thousands of travelers from all corners of the globe flock its sandy shores. The local Thai vendors were the first to acknowledge the potential for profit that this area had shown and came in their masses to set up an array of different shops and market stalls. This informal commercialization has occurred to such an extent, thanks to the popularity of the Big Buddha statue that the beach now has its own marketplace that bustles with activity, bargains and the smell of cooked food.

Tourists are offered an array of memorabilia and souvenirs ranging from hand-crafted statues, knock-off T-shirts, embroidered table cloths and stunning oil paintings to the latest DVDs, music CDs, clothing, sports gear and much more. This marketplace is essentially a cluster of little stalls surround the temple area, making it a great retail capper to a stroll around the Buddha statue and an unforgettable experience to those wishing to indulge in Thai shopping! On Friday nights, local bands get up on make-shift stages set up around the marketplace to delight - or in cases, make you wince - at the Thai interpretation of Western music!

Best hand crafted silver shops

There aren't many 'brand name stores' in Big Buddha Beach, however the area does host a handful of beach shops, a surf store and one or two women's clothing shops. Some of the best hand crafted silver shops are to be found in this area and the quality of their craftsmanship draws people from all over the island. These shops are located in a cluster around the corner of the market area.

The main road that leads straight through the centre of Big Buddha Beach has recently been upgraded and now, sitting adjacent to it, one can find a supermarket, several dive shops and a fresh produce store. As the road repairs grew closer to completion, many pub owners took the opportunity to set up shop, resulting in a proliferation of bars, clubs and night time activity in this area, which has certainly added to its growing popularity with the tourists. However, for those of you who have set out to have a nice and relaxing holiday, there are still those precious secluded and pris-tine spots on Big Buddha beach that lie hidden from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Travelling to Koh Samui

Koh Samui Travel

The island of Koh Samui has become a hugely popular tourist destination in the past ten years. The Island sits on the west coast of the country and in the blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Most travellers to the island come from Europe and wonder how to get to the island. Arrival in Bangkok is usually the first point of the journey. From that point it is just a matter of how quickly you want to get to Samui and what budget you have.
The easiest way to reach Koh Samui is to fly from Bangkok. The island has a beautiful airport that really does make you feel like you are arriving on a tropical paradise. Bangkok Airways operate flights to and from the island and Bangkok approximately every hour and the flight lasts either 50 minutes or one hour thirty minutes depending on the flight. The flights start from around 6am and the last flight is around 11pm at night. Prices range between £51 and £92 each way.
Bangkok Office:Tel. 02-229 3456
Samui Airport Office: 077-422 513
Chaweng Office, Samui: 077-420 133
Another cheaper option is to fly from Bangkok to Surrat Thani, which is the mainland region next to Samui. The flights to the Surrat Thani airport are a lot cheaper at about £26 and you can then buy a bus ticket and boat ticket at the airport across to the island.
Travelling to Samui by Train
A further cheaper option for Koh Samui travel is the train. Many people enjoy this option with a sleeper berth in the overnight train costing about £2 and then the boat across.
Second class sleeper trains leave Surat Thani at 17:50 and 19:04 and arrive in Bangkok at 05:35 and 05:50 the following morning. One can connect with either of these trains by taking the Songserm passenger ferry which leaves Nathon Pier at 14:30 and connect with the Songserm bus to the station (total cost, including train, £13). Also, the Phantip bus leaves the foot of Nathon pier at 13:30, takes the car ferry and then goes directly to the train station (total cost, including train £11). Advance bookings are recommended. Prices above are for a bottom bunk on the train.
Finally there is the coach option that many backpackers take. It is about 14 hours and costs about £2. Buses Information Services - Phantip Co.Ltd Tel: 077-421221
When you are on the island there are plenty of options for Ko Samui travel. There are plenty of taxis on the island but they do tend to be expensive. There are buses that operate called 'song tow' which are kind of like a covered pick up truck with benches in the back. With these you can get around for most journeys at less than £1. The popular option with young tourists is to hire a motorbike. This does free up your travelling but many people do suffer accidents. Be sure you have insurance, a license and wear a helmet. Bikes cost between £3 and £7 a day to hire. Finally there are plenty of places that can hire a car to you, which is a much safer option for Ko Samui travel. Prices vary according to the vehicle.

Samui Travelling Tips

  • If you are travelling in to Koh Samui from abroad, and are catching a connecting flight from Bangkok to Samui - remember that your luggage will not be automatically checked in for you on the connecting flight. You will need to collect your luggage yourself and check it in again at the domestic flights counter in Bangkok airport.
  • If you haven't yet booked a hotel or arranged for an airport transfer, be aware that the prices you will pay at the airport will be a lot higher than those you see advertised on this website. Your safest bet is to book your hotel and airport transfers through us before you depart for Ko Samui. This will give you peace of mind that you have somewhere to stay and be a lot easier on your wallet as well!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

So you want to rent a Scooter in Samui?

Many thousands of tourists visiting Koh Samui each year decide that renting a small motorcycle of scooter is the best way to explore this island. Whilst it is certainly the cheapest, there are also many downfalls. Keep reading to discover most of them.
Beware the Traffic!

Koh Samui sees more road accidents each year than any other two Thai regions put together. This is due to two specific factors. Firstly there is the quality of the roads. Koh Samui is infamous for its atrocious roads full of potholes, ban surface and broken concrete. Secondly the traffic, especially around to , is very heavy in places, with huge trucks overtaking these tiny scooters at incredible speeds, whilst the scooter rider tries to navigate their way along the aforementioned bad roads. Heads up, be careful, Koh Samui roads are dangerous.

Scratch & Scam
Many of the less reputable scooter rental operations upon Koh Samui (and it is very hard to spot them) are fond of taking a large deposit when the scooter is rented. They are clever, they will have a sign saying something like “We don’t need to keep your passport, we just take a deposit of 5,000 Baht” out front, and people think great, I don’t have to trust anybody with my passport. Big mistake, once the rental operator has that deposit, they will do everything they can to make sure they do not have to give it back. I have personally seen people ripped off for several thousand Baht because of a tiny scratch, which is almost unnoticeable and probably not even caused by the renter, for several thousand Baht. Similarly if you break something on the bike, say a wing mirror, you will be charge many times more than the true cost of a replacement. When you do hire a scooter, check it over and have the owner agree the condition of the bike before you ride it away.

Psssssst – Not Again!
Be prepared for punctures, and I mean plural, my personal record was three in a single day. The combination of bad roads and the worn tires that are on most rental scooters, mean that punctures are the norm. Luckily there seems to be a puncture repair shop on every corner!

The Basket is not for your Bag
Do not be tempted to put your handbag or day pack into the front basket of your scooter. A favourite hobby of young Thai males is to ride by and snatch the bag; can you ride a scooter well enough to catch them?
Overall, yes a scooter is a fun way to explore Koh Samui, but it is also risky at times. Always ride safely, and never drink and drive. Keep your wits about you and be prepared for anything!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Koh Samui Expat on a Shoestring

So you want to live on the tropical island of Koh Samui, but you are no millionaire? Don’t worry; although Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s most expensive tourist areas, it is still possible to live on a modest budget of around 30,000 Baht per month if you know what you are doing. Below are some quick tips to make this possible.

* Eat Thai food – Not the kind of Thai food you find in air-conditioned restaurants overlooking the beach, the kind of Thai food which Thai people eat. This means seeking out the best Thai kitchens and food stalls, where a filling meal can be had for as little as 30 Baht. Finding a good one is easy, just look for the busiest, these are always the best.

* Cut down your alcohol consumption – Alcohol in Thailand is not cheap. Although it is slightly cheaper than the western world, a small bottle of beer will still cost more than a meal in a Thai kitchen. I know many expats in Thailand who spend something like 60% of their monthly budget on Beer. If you want to live cheaply then cut your consumption.

* Give up the aircon – If you can learn to live with a simple electric fan, instead of running aircon 24/7, you will make considerable savings on you electricity bill.

* Rent privately – Forgot those beachfront condos and serviced apartments. Find yourself a locally owned property, and you will cut your rent by some 75%. You will also save on utility bills, as serviced apartments resell electricity to tenants at up to three times the cost of buying it in.

* Jump on the bus – When it’s time to go on a visa run, don’t book an expensive visa run service down to Malaysia. Instead, hop on a government bus at a fraction of the cost.

* Stay out of Big C – And Tesco, Makro or any other large supermarket chain. Shop for produce in local markets, where seasonal foodstuffs are always a fraction of the price.

* Travel home off season – If you need to visit your homeland, then do it during offseason, so any time between March and the end of November. Flights are much cheaper during this period.

There we have it, just a handful of ideas to cut down your spending whilst you are living on Koh Samui. Having lived in Thailand for five years now, I can tell you honestly, that if you are wise, you can live a very comfortable life on as little as 30,000 Baht per month, even upon Koh Samui.