Original article appeared in travel360.com, Air Asia’s online travel magazine.
Koh Samui, Thailand, once famous for its parties and beaches, has matured into a paradise destination suitable for travelers of all ages, budgets and interests. One can certainly still indulge in Samui’s thriving nightlife which continues to boast and host world-renowned DJ’s weekly but you can also come to Samui for rejuvenation of your body, spirit and mind!
FOR THE BODY
1: Detoxify and Cleanse
If your body is your primary focus, kick-start a healthy lifestyle from the inside-out with a visit to one of the many spas which provide comprehensive detoxification and cleansing programs. Programs at places like Exclusive Wellness Retreats range from 3 days to 14 days and include personalized regimens and supporting services.
2: Climb that Mountain
You can also choose to get fit with a personal trainer such as Ronnie Veldhuis who will simultaneously put you through a vigorous work-out and show you the majesty of the island by using Samui’s natural landscape as your cross-training playground. Koh Fit Thailand is a full-service gym with saltwater swimming pool and café nestled in a lovely tropical setting and offers a full range of fitness programs and services.
There are also plenty of opportunities to get in shape for the body-conscious on a budget: running or walking on one of Samui’s beautiful beaches; hiking through the jungle to one of the famous waterfalls and of course, swimming in the ever-tranquil Gulf of Thailand are all free activities.
3: Learn the Way of the Thai
For the truly adventurous, you can try the national sport of Thailand -Muay Thai, at Wech Pinyo Muay Thai Gym or at one of the many other Muay Thai gyms on the island. Muay Thai is a form of kickboxing which incorporates the mental acuity of meditation along with the strength of traditional boxing, the cardiovascular component of running, the precision of fencing, the elegance of dancing and the compassion of Buddhism.
4: Treat Yourself
Samui is a great place to pamper your body and you need not be wealthy in order to treat yourself. Try a Thai massage to help your body to recover after all of that sport at one of the many wonderful massage establishments. Thai massage is very therapeutic for muscle stiffness and injuries but can be intense so be sure to let your masseuse know if you’re looking for a more gentle or relaxing massage.
A manicure or a pedicure is another affordable pick-me-up. There are quality nail salons a-plenty in Samui! For a gorgeous mani-pedi that will last several weeks after you get back home, check out the expert nail technicians at Fancy Fingers who stay on top of the latest trends in color, design and technique.
FOR THE SPIRIT
5: Get your Ohm on
Koh Samui is also a fantastic destination if spiritual enlightenment is your focus. It is said that the island is on a foundation of rose quartz crystal which gives Samui a powerful energy that many find magnetic. There are a plethora of yoga classes from which to choose at Vikasa where yoga instructors go in Koh Samui for training. Yoga House and Spa also offers a wide range of classes and holistic healing services such as reiki, acupuncture and sound healing.
6: Go Deep Within
If you are really serious about becoming consciously aware and/or are consciously aware of your budget, you may want to try an intense but very affordable three or seven-day silent meditation retreat at Dipabhāvan.
FOR THE MIND
7: Feed your Epicure-iosity
There are loads of options in Samui for expanding your mind and learning new things if you are an intellectual whose idea of a holiday includes mental stimulation. You can take a Thai cooking class and learn to make Thai classics such as pad thai, green curry or tom yum at many of the local Thai restaurants on the island such as at Nui’s in Mae Nam or Hemingway’s on the Beach in Thong Krut; your new culinary skills will be sure to impress your friends back home! You can also opt to get educated on everything you never knew that you did not know about the rum-making process at the rum distillery on the island, Magic Alambic.
8: Get Creative
Give the left side of your brain a rest and take a walk on the right side, the creative side, by taking a painting class with local artist, Nartana. In addition to gaining self-awareness and learning a new form of self-expression, you’ll also have a cool piece of art of your own design to take home as a souvenir of your time in Samui!
THE HOLISTIC APPROACH
9: Reconnect Mind, Body and Spirit with a Day at Sea
If you are looking to invigorate your mind, body and spirit simultaneously then there is no better way than spending a day at sea in the waters of the Gulf of Thailand and Koh Samui has options for seafarers of all budgets! Enjoy a half-day or full-day at sea, snorkeling and communing with sea creatures off the coast of one of the nearby uninhabited islands such as Koh Tan and Koh Mat Sum. Colorful long-tail boats can be chartered for your Robinson Crusoe expedition for as low as 200 Thai Baht per person depending on the number of people in your group.
If your preference is to sail the high seas in high style, you can also affordably charter a luxurious catamaran from an outfit like Samui I Love You for the day for you and up to 11 of your closest friends which comes complete with staff, snacks, lunch and all of the toys necessary for a day on the water including: stand-up paddleboards, fishing gear and snorkeling equipment.
Just as we grow up and discover after university that there is much more to life than wild parties, Koh Samui has also evolved into a vacation destination suitable for backpackers, families with children, retirees and everything in between. Samui offers everything you need for a perfect holiday right at your fingertips. The hardest part will be choosing what to do although in Samui you can do all of the above or none of the above and still have the time of your life.
GETTING THERE Island transfers are available to Koh Samui from Surat Thani. AirAsia flies to Surat Thani from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. For fares and flight schedules, visit airasia.com.