5 Fun Things to Do in Koh Samui Thailand on the Weekend

The second largest island in Thailand, Koh Samui, is filled with tropical fun, great food and fantastic ways to relax on the weekends. Surrounded by forested mountains and stunning beaches, you can do as much or as little as you like. Take in the picturesque scenery and scents of exotic flowers, coconut groves and salty air while you decide what you want to do this weekend. Here are 5 suggestions to get you started:

1) Staying in

Stay in and submerge yourself in opulence with your own villa complete with a private pool. You can enjoy a dip in the refreshing waters before dinner, at midnight under the stars, or anytime you want too. Walls enclosing the area allow for optimal privacy, you know – just in case you and your love want some ‘alone time’ in the pool. Afterwards, you can lounge around on the plush bedding or relax in living room area. Two satellite TV’s, an ipod docking station and wireless internet will keep you in touch while still allowing you to be away from it all.

2) Soak up salty air

Soak up salty air, balmy breezes and fruity drinks from your oceanfront cabana at the beach club. Or, choose to lounge beside the pools, under the umbrellas or even in the water. There are plenty of cushioned loungers, sofas and beds for you and your friends to gather. Lather up with the suntan lotion, grab your glasses and stretch out to work on that tan. When you get too hot, just dip into the pristine pools (or the ocean) and repeat.

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3) Eat!

With so many great restaurants, especially fresh seafood, you should never go hungry. Do not miss the best Thailand has to offer- the Sunday brunch in Koh Samui. The Ultimate Sunday Brunch Club runs from 11:30 until 3:30. Enjoy the DJ and some great music while you dine on the finest oysters, Iberico ham, prime roast beef, sea bass, lobster and so much more. Local fresh fruits and vegetables, canapes, and luscious creme brulee will round off your meal. Take this opportunity to enjoy old favorites or to venture out and try everything new and flavorful. This is truly the best brunch on the island.

4) Spa and massage

Allow your chi to flow freely again in the spa. Here, masterful hands employ Chinese reflexology, traditional Thai massage, Japanese Reiki and Indian Ayuravedi to bring you back into balance. Enjoy being pampered alone or with your significant other during a couples massage. Flower petal-filled water, warm herb compresses, and strong hands will ease away your stress and restore your sense of well-being.

5) Adventure and scenery

2 days in Koh Samui will only wet your appetite for the things of this island. When this island is full of adventure and scenery. Get out of your resort and see the 12m- tall Golden Buddha at Wat Phra Yai Temple. Do some sea kayaking or snorkeling. Explore the night markets of Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. Here, the streets are blocked off and vendors sell everything from chicken satay and grilled meats to colorful elephants and silky wraps. Soak your feet in an aquarium filled with tiny fish waiting to exfoliate your feet by eating away the dead skin.

Thailand awaits with so many fun things to do in Koh Samui. Partake in the cultural delights, gorgeous mountain forests trails, warm sandy beaches, and culinary treats. You will never be bored. Come and explore Koh Samui soon.

 

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Koh Yao Noi, Phang Nga : Your Perfect Honeymoon Island Paradise in Thailand

Thailand is one of the most romantic countries in the world. The nation’s shimmering beaches, luscious jungle landscape, eclectic culture, and delicious cuisine make it a hotspot for vacationers around the globe. The romantic aura of the island also makes it one of the best island destinations for honeymoon.

Thailand offers a wealth of experiences and environments. The most populated beaches and locations can be found in the southern part of the country, but there are a few more private areas sprinkled throughout the nation. Koh Yao Noi is one of these hidden gems and is the perfect getaway location for honeymooners. This article will offer everything you need to know for your escape to paradise!

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Photo Courtesy of Pear Blossom via Wikimedia Commons

Getting There

Getting to Koh Yao Noi can be a bit tricky if you’re not prepared. The island is popular for its secluded and private nature, so visitors are only able to set foot on the island after taking a ferry or speedboat from Bang Rong Pier on the popular island of Phuket. Most tourists will fly into the local airport at Phuket. From here, they’ll be transported by private vehicle to the pier where they’ll load a speed boat or ferry to Koh Yao Noi. As you plan your visit you’ll want to consider departure times from the marina as they keep a pretty consistent schedule that varies by season.

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Photo Courtesy of Martin Bartosch via Flickr

Fun Things to Do for Couples

There are plenty of things to do in Koh Yao Noi. Since it is one of the best Thai islands for honeymoon, so there are lots of romantic couples activities. Here are a few of the most popular:

 

  1. Couples Massage – Massage has always been a Thai tradition and specialty. The island offers some of the world’s most luxurious spas and massage experiences. Consider booking a romantic couples massage at one of the many resorts on the island.

 

  1. Lagoon Kayaking – For the more adventurous couple, the island offers a large variety of kayak rentals and day tours. Lagoon kayaking is one of the more popular options for couples. It’s more laid back, but still allows you to see a large portion of some of the island’s most beautiful, private spaces.

 

  1. Snorkeling – Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities on the island. Koh Yao Noi’s crystal blue waters and elegant reefs make it a hot spot for snorkeling enthusiasts. There are a variety of companies on the island that offer full day or half day excursions to uncharted waters. These tours offer guests some of the best snorkeling in the world.

 

Best Time to Visit

The climate in Thailand varies greatly throughout the year. The months of November to May are considered the dry season while June-October experiences heavy rainfall. Generally, November-February offers the best weather and climate conditions for vacation and provides spells of dry weather perfect for all the outdoor adventures.

 

Amenities in the Area

There are many forms of accommodation in Koh Yao Noi. The island is romantic and secluded, but still offers all the amenities required for a comfortable stay. There is a 7-Eleven upon entry onto the island, but otherwise the amenities are local-based and lack the glitz and glam of flashier brand name stores. This gives visitors a more island-based vibe and provides a unique cultural experience.

The village has a variety of locally owned restaurants, a hospital, a post office, and a few ATM locations. You’ll find that most of the action and amenities are sprinkled along the southern border of the island where most of the island’s beautiful resorts are housed.

For transportation around the island, guests can catch a ride into town on one of the local tuk-tuk pick-up trucks. For the remainder of the stay, scooters are the most popular method. You can hire a driver, or rent them from one of the many local agencies. It’s a fun and unique way to cruise around beautiful Koh Yao Noi.

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Photo Courtesy of Vyacheslav Argenberg via Flickr

Places to Stay

Lodging is a big deal in Koh Yao Noi. There are a variety of housing options suitable for any budget. Here are a few of the more popular accommodations for your romantic getaways:

  1. Six Senses -This unique resort focuses on sustainability and uses natural materials for all of their resort architecture. The resort offers private, elevated villas right off the beautiful bay. This accommodation is relaxing, romantic, and luxurious and is definitely a bit more pricey.

 

  1. Coastal Escape – This new island resort offers stunning views of Phang Nga Bay and also boasts some of the best in-house island cuisine. Guests will enjoy a delightful view, a free one-hour massage at the resort spa, and access to the resort’s activities like mountain biking and kayak rental.

 

  1. Koyao Bay Villas – This local accommodation offers visitors the opportunity to experience their trip like a native. The bungalows are equipped with dark wooden architecture and a local flavor that can’t be beat!

Overall, Koh Yao Noi is one of the best Thai islands for the honeymoon experience. The island offers the perfect balance of seclusion, romance, and activity. If you’re looking for a sweet escape after you say “I do” consider this tropical paradise!

Day trip to Sintra, Portugal

SINTRA, PORTUGAL: Sintra is only 25 km from Lisbon and a historically significant town of Portugal. The whole town is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural significance and outstanding natural beauty. The majestic Sintra Mountains and scattered palaces on hills put a mysterious veil over this town. There are total 4 palaces, and 1 castle in Sintra, among which Moorish Castle and Pena Palace are the most notable and visited ones.

One of the gems of Sintra, Portugal - Moorish Castle as seen from Quinta de Regaleira
One of the gems of Sintra, Portugal – Moorish Castle as seen from Quinta de Regaleira
                      

Coming to Sintra using public transportation is not recommended because they won’t take you to the castles on the mountains and walking can be very hard too. You can drive there if you have your own transportation but finding it may be a bit hard. We booked this tour to Sintra through our hotel in Lisbon. The tour company’s name is “Mr. Friend” (telephone # 218954083 and website is www.mrfriend.pt). We were charged 58 euros per adult excluding my 3 years old. I was thinking of more like a big bus with a big group that will take us to Sintra. But a small van showed up in front of our hotel at 9 am sharp. There was only another young enthusiastic couple (from Belgrade, Serbia) with us in this tour making it more like a semi-private tour. It was cozy and good thing was we had some flexibilities unlike usual tour companies where you go with a big group and you have no option where to eat, when to eat, and etc.

TIME of TRAVEL: We flew to Lisbon in mid-June 2013 when my little sister was visiting us from Virginia, USA. The weather was extremely favorable the day we took Sintra trip. It was a perfect summer day to spend outdoors and by the beach; it wasn’t hot, but very pleasant.

OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Hotel DAH (Dom Afonso Henrique) in Lisbon. It’s not in the city center, but very close to metro station that takes you right there in a short time.  We had free Wi-Fi in the room and nice breakfast on the roof terrace every morning. There was also a great Italian restaurant “Pepe & Oliva” only one block away from the hotel where we ended up having 3 dinners in a row…yummy food for a very low price.

EATING and SHOPPING: When our tour guide asked us where we wanted to have lunch: center of Sintra or Cascais, which is a beach town…we chose Cascais without pausing for a second. Seriously, thank God we made that choice. There are plenty of restaurants in the center of Cascais that serve some of the best seafood dishes you’ve ever had. We picked “John Bull”…about a block away from the beach and very close to the center. As I mentioned in my previous post on Lisbon, that Portugal is known for its seafood feasts, especially sardines. But after having sardine in Lisbon, I was up for another fish items. So my sister and I ordered salmon and grilled squid with shrimps (2 separate dishes) with potatoes and some veges. Man, that squid was the best squid I had in my whole life…I can still feel that chewy delight in my mouth every now and then. The price for these dishes in Sintra, as well as in Lisbon, are very reasonable.

My lunch in Cascais - grilled squids with shrimps
My lunch in Cascais – grilled squids with shrimps
                 

Cork made items, like post cards, bottles, are very popular in whole Portugal. Also, Portuguese think roosters bring good luck…so, you will find them everywhere too. There are many souvenir shops in Cascais center.

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: Sintra city center is a place which we passed by but didn’t stop. Sintra National Palace, a former royal palace with captivating architecture, is probably the main attraction here. Also look for “Hotel Lawrence” in Sintra which is almost 250 years old making it the oldest active hotel in Europe.

Monserrate  Palace on a hill of Sintra in Portugal
Monserrate Palace on a hill of Sintra in Portugal
               

1) PENA PALACE: This was the first stop of our day-trip and probably one of the most romantic palaces I’ve seen so far. Sintra Hills and Pena Palace were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The Park and Palace of Pena are the finest examples of 19th century Portuguese Romanticism and the integration of natural and architectural heritage. It is considered as the most important part of Cultural Landscape of Sintra. This is a quintessentially romantic palace filled with art works and souvenirs of royalty.

A half-man, half-fish figure on the main façade of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal
A half-man, half-fish figure on the main façade of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal
                   

Main façade of the castle is decorated with geometric patterned Moorish-style tiles and the main allegorical gateway has an image of Triton with half-man and half-fish figure. Dominating watch towers were built in various shapes, sizes, and colors making it look like a Disney fairy-tale castle. The minaret of turret has a Moorish dome giving the whole place an Arab/Middle-Eastern touch. The whole architecture and its nearby hills can be best observed and appreciated from Queen’s Terrace. The chapel here is probably the oldest foundation of this place dating back to the 12th century.

Breathtaking location of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal...as we saw it from Queen's terrace
Breathtaking location of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal…as we saw it from Queen’s terrace
                   

We had about little more than 2 hours for Pena Palace and could have used little more time enjoying its extraordinary beautiful landscape and surroundings. It is 13.50 euros per adult and 11 for children under 18 years of age. The park is open from 9:30 am – 8 pm but the palace is open from 9:45 am – 7 pm (last admission 45 minutes before closing time). This admission fees to Pena Palace was included with the tour price so the driver/guide got us the tickets beating the queue which was building up as we got there.

Richly decorated queen's bedroom in Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal
Richly decorated queen’s bedroom in Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal
             

2) QUINTA da REGALEIRA: By far, this is one of the best gardens I’ve visited in my little life. Quinta da Regaleira is considered as one of the most surprising and enigmatic landscape and a high point of Romantic Sintra. The garden is a magical and a mysterious place.

Historically, Quinta da Regaleira was the summer residence of Carvalho Monteiro family and was built in the neo-Manueline style. Portugal’s some of best artists were involved designing the palace and garden here. Among them, Luigi Manini is the most notable architect, painter, and designer who devoted 14 years of his life designing its park and palace.

Regaleira Tower in Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal
Regaleira Tower in Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal
              

My favorite spot in the garden was the “Initiatic Well”. It’s a subterranean tower that sinks some 27 meters into the earth. Bottom of the tower is accessible by a monumental spiral stairway – a hallowed space with full of esoteric and alchemical look. This was built with local granites and symbolizes a bridge between earth and heaven. We went to the bottom of the tower, then followed a dark/wet underground tunnel to the outside garden again. It’s an exhilarating feeling being in this tower and not knowing where the underground walkway will take you to. “Regaleira Tower” is another little mind-boggling place where my sister and 7-years old daughter climbed up. The garden has countless mystical monuments like these all around…you just need time and lots of energy to explore its exotic secrets.

From the bottom of Initiatic Well in Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal
From the bottom of Initiatic Well in Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal
           

We were given about hour and half for this garden which was absolutely not enough. We left the garden without visiting “Promenade of the Gods” – supposed to be a beautiful avenue with statues of classical gods. If you don’t have time restriction you can easily spend couple hours getting lost in this huge grotto of secretes. You can take a self-guided tour with a map or take a guided visit during the opening hours. The park is open from 10am – 5:30 during winter and 10am – 8 pm in summer. Entry fee is 6 euros anyone over 18 years old and free below 9 years of age.

3) CABO da ROCA: Cabo da Roca is the western most point in the continent of Europe. The drive from Sintra to Cabo da Roca was by the beautiful coastline…simply breathtaking. This is a nice little viewpoint from where you can see the Atlantic. The area is a grassy hill with some walking trails, a nice lighthouse, a big cross, and small villages on the mountains in distance.  Our guide was saying about 7000 km straight across from that point is Washington D.C. It was so darn windy that we took some photos (none of them were our own pictures though, wind was blowing us away) and went right back into the van.

Cabo da Roca in Portugal - the western most tip of Continental Europe
Cabo da Roca in Portugal – the western most tip of Continental Europe
                     

4) CASCAIS: Cascais was a lively little beach town on the Estoril Coast which is also part of Lisbon Coast. It’s very touristic but has a wonderful “Portuguese” charm. The short drive from Cabo da Roca to Cascais was mind-blowing. We reached Cascais late in the afternoon. We took our guide’s advice; the Serbian couple and us, decided to have lunch in Cascais (and not in the center of Sintra). It was a late lunch but thank god we picked this option. There were no restrictions once we reached Cascais as where to eat and what to eat. The Serbian couple went on their own and we started walking towards the main center where all the restaurants were.

Cascais Beach in Portugal
Cascais Beach in Portugal
             

As I said, Cascais is an energetic beach town very close to Lisbon. We weren’t prepared but the other couple actually brought their trunks and swimming suits and took a dip into the ocean after lunch. But walking around its center area and looking at vibrant colored buildings and squares were fascinating. Some tourists stay here overnight or more to enjoy the ocean and its surroundings villages (wish we could do that too). There are many beautiful coastal spots not too far from city center to explore and relax. But for us, Cascais was a nice ending of that day and our tour to Sintra. Nothing beats gazing at the majestic blue ocean on a late afternoon and enjoying some family moments.

Cascais Beach in Portugal
Cascais Beach in Portugal
               

5) ESTORIL CASINO: This was our last stop but it was only for 2 minutes just to take a group picture in front of the casino. This is the 2nd largest casino in Europe, after Grand Monte Carlo in Monaco. It was only 10 minutes of drive from Cascais. Again most of the drive by Estoril Coast to Lisbon was very scenic. We reached hotel around 6 pm, barely had some so-called “dinner”, and went straight to bed while it was still light outside…what could we do, had to catch an early morning flight back to Brussels. Bye bye Lisbon…obrigado Portugal.

Driving by Estoril Coast at the end of our trip to Sintra, Portugal
Driving by Estoril Coast at the end of our trip to Sintra, Portugal
                    

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