| Koh Samui, Bangkok
Koh Samui is a beautiful island at any time of the year. Chaweng beach,
despite being very developed, does not look like a mass tourism
beach, as for instance the beaches on Phuket look like (see for
instance Patong or Karon). The only problem of this trip is that we
visit the island during the peak season (which goes from Xmas to the
middle of January), and this means crowded beaches and overpriced
I make the mistake to visit Koh Samui during the peak season without a
hotel booking, which means that we end up staying in an overpriced, not
too nice place.
Higher than we were planning, essentially because of the peak season.
The room, despite being quite basic, cost 2000 Baht. Meals in
restaurants were priced by a factor of 2 to 3 above what usually a
restaurant in Thailand charges. The cheapest excursions start at 1000
Baht for one day. The taxi driver at the airport will rip you off, but
you have no choice.
/ Exchange rate (January 2006)
1 Euro = 48 Baht
The cheap dollar made the trip less expensive. For current
the Universal Currency Converter.
phones / Prepaid GSM
Coverage everywhere in Koh Samui and Bangkok (GSM).
Available everywhere. On Koh Samui there are internet cafes with fast
Internet lines for 1 Baht/minute.
Tropically hot. A mix of sunny and overcast skies.
The usual set of tropical vaccinations are necessary. To my knowledge
no malaria risk in Koh Samui island and Bangkok.
VISA / Entry
No visa is required for nationals of most developed countries to enter
Thailand. A 30-day
visa is automatically granted upon arrival.
Thailand is still a very safe place to spend a holiday, although around
the time we were in Koh Samui a young English woman was raped and
killed by two Thai fishermen (who however were immediately caught after
Since we were travelling with a small child, we used taxis to get
around in Koh Samui and Bangkok. Taxis in Koh Samui are expensive by
Thai standards, but still cheap if compared to western price levels.
09.01: Kuala Lumpur -> Koh Samui (via Bangkok)
Coral Samui resort, Chaweng beach, Koh
Samui. 2000 Baht for a disappointing room with A/C, TV and private
bathroom with hot shower. Not good value (actually overpriced), because
the bed only has some thin sheets and no blankets. Too cold to sleep
with A/C, and in fact all decent hotels who have A/C have beds with
thick enough blankets. Even the cheap USD 6 guest house in Laos where I
one week ago had thick blankets. I suspect the owner wants to save
on electricity for A/C, because with sheets thin like these you cannot
really sleep with A/C. Shirley asks for new pillows, because the
pillows in the bed are smelly, as if some sweating guy had slept on
them. The rooms itself looks old. The door lock is half broken and it
takes a lot of effort to lock and unlock the door.
The room is essentially overpriced. For the same money I had a few days
ago a very nice room in a four star hotel
in Bangkok - this place looks more like a
two stars guest house. If this is what you get for 2000 Baht in Koh
Samui, then perhaps tourists should stay away from Koh Samui, because
prices have become too high.
Weather: overcast in KL, no rain.
Sunny with a thin clouds layer in Bangkok, overcast in Koh Samui.
We wake up at 8:30am and have breakfast at 9:30am. We finish packing
our stuff and check out at 10:50am. The total bill is 467 RM - 450 RM
for the room, 17 RM for local calls (Internet dial up). After that we
take a taxi and reach the airport at 11:50am. There we check in the
luggage. The Thai airways flight is delayed - 1:50pm instead of 1:15pm.
That's ok, as we have enough time in Bangkok airport when changing
flights. I only hope the delay does not grow. We still have no hotel
booking for Koh Samui.
The flight leaves Bangkok around 2pm Malaysian time and lands in
Bangkok around 3:30pm Thai time. Luckily the guy from the travel agency
is there at the gate waiting for us, so we don't have to look for him
and hands us over the tickets. A short discussion follows. There are
two options: 1. go through immigration, retrieve the luggage, go to the
domestic terminal and check in there with Bangkok Airways; 2. go to the
counter of Bangkok Airways at the transfer desk at terminal 2 and ask
them if they can retrieve the luggage for us and check in here (at the
We initially opt for the second option and walk to the counter of
Bangkok Airways. Once we are there it's 3:45pm and there is a queue of
people. I have the uneasy feeling that by the time it's our turn and we
talk to them it may be too late for the flight to Koh Samui at 4:50pm.
Also I don't trust these people to handle our luggage (something might
So we rush through immigration, retrieve the luggage and get to the
arrivals hall. The next challenge is to get to the domestic terminal as
soon as possible, because it's already 4pm. At the Bangkok airport they
have this dumb subdivision between an international and a domestic
terminal. There is a shuttle bus for free, but it takes half an hour to
do the (short ) trip. The other option is to take a taxi, but there is
a long queue of people in front of the taxi stand. So we accept the
offer of a service limo company and pay 200 Baht (!) to them to bring
us to the domestic terminal asap.
It turns out that we would have reached the domestic terminal faster by
walking, because the taxi is stuck in the traffic jam and drops us off
at the wrong entrance. By the time we finally are at the check-in
counter of Bangkok Airways it's 4:20pm - 30 minutes before the flight
takes off. The lady initially refuses to check us in, then, after I ask
what time the next flight is, does check us in. At 4:35 pm we are
finally at the gate.
The PG179 flight to Koh Samui leaves with some delay (around 10
minutes), but hey, it's great that we made it. We land in Koh Samui a
bit after 6pm. Then we retrieve the luggage and I head to the hotel
booking counter at the airport. Long discussion, it turns out that to
get something nice you have to spend at least 3000-4000 Baht per night,
which is too much, considering that this is Thailand. Even the Family
bungalows, which the Canadian guy recommended to me, are pricey at 2800
Baht (the Canadian guy told me the rooms cost USD 40 there, i.e. 1600
Baht). On top of that all places which are sort of a compromise and
have an a bit better price/value ratio, are fully booked (or let's say,
the contingent of rooms allocated to the airport booking counter has
been used up).
It becomes 7pm and we are still discussing the room. I start to regret
not having booked the place through the Internet, but I had very little
time over the last days. So we choose a place, the Coral Samui on
Chaweng beach, hoping it's not too terrible.
The next surprise is that the taxi driver asks 400 Baht to bring us to
this place, although the distance is quite short (a few km). We try to
find a taxi outside the airport and after some time and some effort
find someone who will bring us to the hotel for 300 Baht. There seems
to be sort of a price cartel on the island - taxi drivers are not
willing to go below a certain price limit.
We arrive at the hotel around 7:50pm. The hotel turns out to be a
disappointment (see above). The pool is very small, the rooms are so-so
(the beds are very bad).
We have a dinner at 8 something pm, then have a brief walk along the
(shopping) road which runs parallel to the beach. Around 10pm I check
my emails in an Internet cafe (fast DSL line, 1 Baht/minute, min. 20
10.01: Koh Samui
Coral Samui resort, Chaweng beach, Koh
Samui. The room is even worse than our initial impression. The
bed smells like urine, and the wood of the bathroom door is rotting. It
seems that the owner of this place is not willing to invest money into
renovating the rooms.
One more thing, yesterday when we booked the hotel at the airport, we
paid the first night (1800 Baht) there. But the owner told us that the
1800 Baht we paid do not cover the first night, that we still have to
pay 1440 Baht (1800 - 1800/5), i.e. that with the 1800 Baht we paid at
the airport we just obtained the "right" to pay only 1440 instead of
1800 Baht for the room (i.e. that the 1800 Baht are just the commission
of the airport). But at the airport they told us that we were paying
the first night and what a coincidence that the amount was exactly the
Weather: sort of cloudy in
the morning, then the sky opens up and the sun shines through. Blue sky
until 1-2pm, then the sky becomes overcast. No rain, warm but not too hot. Windy in the morning,
less windy in the afternoon. In the
evening we can see the stars, so perhaps tomorrow we'll have sunshine.
We wake up late at 9:30am and have late breakfast at 10:20am. Then we
head to the beach, which at this time of the day starts filling up with
The beach is surprisingly slim. Five years ago, in August 99 the beach
was much wider. It is possible that the beach starts growing after the
end of the rainy season and becomes wide in August, or perhaps the sea
has reduced the size of the beach. It's not so much the tide, because
yesterday the beach was only a little bit wider.
It is windy and the sea is a bit rough, i.e. there are some (small)
waves, which actually enhance the bathing experience. In the afternoon
the sea calms down.
We walk along the beach and settle down in a spot. From there Alissia,
Shirley and I have a bath. Alissia likes playing with the water. There
are a few more babies and small children on the beach - not too many,
actually quite few. Koh Samui is mostly a place for childless couples
(married, unmarried, rent-a-girlfriend services etc.). In the afternoon
we even see a topless Thai guy with artificial breasts wearing only a
G-string. Sort of sexy, but unfortunately the wrong gender.
Around 1pm the baby gets very tired and even falls asleep in my arms.
So we head back to the room. Since Alissia is full of salt Shirley
wakes her up and does a shower to her, rinsing away the salt. Alissia
does not appreciate too much this and it would probably have been a
good idea to let her simply sleep, because it takes some effort to make
Alissia sleep again (Alissia has to get some sleep in the middle of the
While Shirley and Alissia take a nap I walk to the nearby Internet cafe
(1 Baht/min.) and check my emails. One good thing of Koh Samui is that
Internet cafes with fast DSL lines are available everywhere for a low
price (1 Baht per minute).
Around 4pm Shirley, Alissia and I walk out again and have some food in
the restaurant of the resort. The food is quite pricey here (90 Baht
for a fried rice, anything not Thai costing 300 Baht or more), but on
the other hand the location on the beach is very good.
After this late lunch we take a walk on the beach. Now the sky is
overcast and it is not hot anymore. At 5:30pm we get back to the room.
In the evening we walk along the shopping road parallel to the beach,
having some food and doing some shopping.
We check some tour options in a travel agency. They have the boat tour
to the Ang Thom marine park for 950 Baht/person (7:30am-5pm) and island
11.01: Koh Samui
Coral Samui resort, Chaweng beach, Koh
Weather: same pattern as
yesterday. Sunny and partly blue sky until about 1pm, then the sky
starts closing and becomes hopelessly overcast in the afternoon. Which
basically means that you have to do all your photography in the
morning. In the late afternoon and evening it rains a bit (very light
I get up briefly at 6:30am and shoot some photos of the sunrise, then
go sleeping again and sleep until 9:30am, when Shirley and Alissia wake
up. At 6:30am there is almost no beach - this must be the peak of the
As yesterday, we have breakfast around 10:20am, then have a swim around
noon. In the early afternoon Shirley and Alissia take a rest between 2
and 4pm, while I briefly go to the Internet cafe and have some sticky
rice with mango.
We then don't do much for the rest of the day. Essentially we do some
shopping, then have dinner, then are back in the room, then go out
again for a dessert. It's quite tiring to move around a baby buggy with
a baby inside, but letting Alissia run around on that busy street is
not an option.
By the way, there is one Internet cafe which allows you to connect your
own computer (they even have WLAN) and two more which also allow it,
but at one of them I couldn't get a connection (the other closed at
Tomorrow I'd like to visit some other beaches. It would be interesting
to do a boat tour, but with Alissia this is a bit complicated, because
we can't be away the whole day (she needs to sleep in the middle of the
day, get her baby food, we need to change the diapers several times a
day etc.). All this limits your options and your mobility.
12.01: Koh Samui
Coral Samui resort, Chaweng beach, Koh
Samui. As we heard today in this place the room rates were 900 Baht
until Xmas, then were tripled during the Xmas period and now are still
double of what
they usually are.
Weather: inversion of
yesterday's pattern: kind of clouded, semi-clouded in the morning with
some blue sky, then sunny and blue sky in the afternoon. No rain, quite
We get up at 8:15am. At 9am I look for an Internet cafe. Not a chance,
they are all closed. Apparently they all open after 10am. So we have
breakfast and after 10am I check my emails. Then, around 10:40am we
hire a taxi to bring us to a few places on the island (Big Buddha, Mae
Nam beach, Lamai beach) until 1pm. We settle on 600 Baht.
At 10:50am we are at the Big Buddha temple, which is currently
undergoing renovation/expansion. The pier to Koh Phangan, which used to
be a very a simple wooden one, is now quite big and long. I can't see
the nice beach around the pier, which I saw in August 1999. The Big
Buddha temple is kind of cute, but not particularly impressive. We are
at the temple until 11:25am.
The next stop is the beach in Mae Nam. This is a less developed and
smaller beach, more steep than Chaweng beach, with more coarse sand and
no white coral sand (the sand there is yellowish). I stayed there
initially when I arrived for the first time to Koh Samui in August
1999, before moving to Chaweng beach. This beach is kind of ok, if you
are looking for some peace, but it can't compete with Chaweng and the
sea water there is a bit dirty. We spend there 20 minutes around noon.
Our last stop is the Lamai beach, which lies south of Chaweng beach.
With a length of 5km, this is supposed to be the small sister of
Chaweng. To our surprise even this is not a white coral sand beach. The
sand here is like the sand on the Mae Nam beach (coarse and yellowish).
And the beach is quite steep like Mae Nam. But this beach is much more
developed than Mae Nam.
It's almost 1pm when we drive back to Chaweng beach. By the way, the
coast between the Chaweng and Lamai beaches is interesting. It's rocky
with some bays with small sand beaches now and then.
We are back in Chaweng after a brief stop at a panoramic point at
1:30pm. We pay the taxi driver 700 Baht because the trip took half an
hour longer than initially planned. Alissia by now has already been
sleeping for 20 minutes and luckily continues when we deposit her on
the bed. While Shirley takes a rest with Alissia, I take a walk on
Chaweng beach and shoot some photos, because now the sky is blue and
the light is ok. At 2pm I'm back in the room, fetch the computer and
head towards the Internet cafe which allows you to plug in your own
notebook PC into the network.
Until about 4pm I'm in the Internet cafe. After that I get back to the
hotel room and we wake up Alissia, who by now has been sleeping almost
three hours. With her we have a late lunch in the restaurant of the
hotel (not too bad, a bit overpriced, but ok if you choose the Thai
food instead of the Italian one). After lunch, around 4:50pm I play in
the sand with Alissia and then swim with her. In the meantime Shirley
has a massage in a Thai massage parlour. At 6:30pm we have dinner in
the restaurant, then I go to the Internet and check my emails again. In
the evening we don't do much, as usual.
13.01: Koh Samui
Coral Samui resort, Chaweng beach, Koh
Weather: the whole day more
or less blue sky with a very, very thin layer of clouds and some clouds
here and there. Hot and no rain.
We sleep until 10am, then have a late breakfast around 11 something am.
After I check my emails in an Internet cafe. At 1:30pm we go to the
beach and spend about one hour sunbathing and swimming in the sea.
Pretty crowded beach today (it has been like this every day since we
arrived - I guess that Chaweng was even more crowded during the Xmas
Around 2 something pm we are back in the room, as Alissia probably
wants to sleep. While Shirley tries to make her sleep, I swim again in
the sea. When I'm back, Alissia is still awake. So we just go out again
and have some food in a fast food restaurant. During the rest of the
day not much happens. Tomorrow we fly to Bangkok at 10:20am.
14.01: Koh Samui -> Bangkok
Rama Gardens hotel, Bangkok. 2119 Baht
for a double room with everything (A/C, phone, TV, fridge, hair dryer,
nice furniture, good bath with hot water). The only thing which is
missing is Internet access in the room.
Weather: spotless blue sky,
sunny and hot already early in the morning in Koh Samui. Looks like the
dry season has finally started in Koh Samui. Blue sky also in Bangkok,
34°C in Bangkok when we land.
We get up at 7:30am and are ready to leave the hotel after a short
breakfast at 9:15am. We take a taxi (200 Baht) to the airport, arriving
there at 9:25am. Surprise, surprise the flight 10:20am flight PG126 of
Bangkok Airways is delayed by 1h 30 min. Next to us some Russian
tourists are concerned they might miss their connecting flight to
Moscow. Luckily we have a one day stay in Bangkok.
Some time passes, and now the delay is 3 hours... departure time is now
13:20 instead of
10:20. Bangkok Airways sucks. And it's no fun waiting in this airport,
as there is no A/C, only fans. Over three hours of waiting in the heat.
By the way, the Koh Samui airport charges a departure tax of 300
Baht/person - and this for a basic airport with no A/C.
The Bangkok Airways PG126 flight leaves at 1:20pm and lands in Bangkok
at 2:45pm. We retrieve the luggage, walk through the exit, get rid of
the very tedious and persistent touts of the limo services and head to
the hotel reservation counter. After a short time we have a hotel
reservation and at 3:55pm we are in the Rama Gardens hotel.
At 5 something pm we take a taxi to the Central Plaza shopping complex
(the one near the hotel, 15 minutes by car). Big shopping complex with
a department store. We are there until 9pm, having dinner and doing
15.01: Bangkok -> Munich
Home, sweet home
Weather: tropical heat in
Bangkok at +34°C, freezing cold in Munich at -11°C, snow and
ice everywhere. What a difference!
The flight is scheduled for 1:30pm. We are at the airport around 11am.
Then it takes a long time to check in (about 40 minutes) and it takes
forever to go through immigration. Essentially there are lots of people
who are flying back today and not enough counters open. To top it all,
the immigration officer is painfully slow, requiring more than one
minute to process a single passenger.
The flight leaves on time at 1:30pm and lands more or less punctually
at 7:15pm. After going through immigration and retrieving the luggage,
we take the LRT to the place where we left the car. While Shirley waits
with Alissia and the luggage in the LRT station, I walk to the car.
It's a five minutes walk, but then it takes about 10 minutes to remove
the snow and ice from the car. It's freezingly cold at -11°C (later
in the night the temperature will drop to -15°C) and I've left the
car outside for three weeks, so who knows if the battery will have
enough juice to start the engine. If not that would be a nightmare
scenario - having to call the service and waiting in the cold (all
three of us don't have heavy warm clothes).
Luckily the battery is ok and the engine starts. We are at home around
10pm. Everything is ok and we sleep at 11pm.