Koh Samui
Overview

It's eighty-six degrees, the sun is shining, and its light is reflecting back off the pure white sand, which feels warm between your toes. You adjust your Tom Ford sunnies and take a sip of cool water from the freshly cracked coconut at your side. A faint breeze, laced with jasmine, disrupts the pages of the book you’re finally reading. It’s so good, but you close your eyes for just a minute. You’re awoken by your boyfriend thirty minutes later, “Babe, c’mon, its’ time for your massage”. Why can’t he always wake you up like that? A small but surprisingly efficient woman manipulates your stress away. Back in your room, you decide to take a dip in your private pool before dinner. Its absolutely quiet and you can see the stars, for the first time in who knows how long. After an outdoor shower, you slip in to a bright, silky dress and notice how tan it makes you look. You celebrate with a lemongrass ginger martini, delivered by your butler. Just a little lip gloss and mascara and you’re ready to go…but not before you post an envy inducing Instragram shot, hashtag: #justanotherdayinparadise. It’s a gorgeous night out, and wine goes down easily, tempering the satisfying spices of your Pad Thai. Carbs can’t count here. And everyone is so friendly! Must be why they call it The Land of Smiles. You hear the DJ before you see him, what’s stopping you from staying for one more?

Set in the Gulf of Siam, the tropical paradise of Koh Samui is known as ‘the new Phuket’, a less developed option that has come to the jet-set forefront with the openings of super-luxe resorts such as the Four Seasons and the W Retreat. In the last decade, it has evolved from full-moon-party-crazy backpacker escape to sophisticated Southeast Asian utopia, attracting pretty people like Bar Refeali. We even hear David and Victoria Beckham built here, upsetting some local monks in the process. Chill out, monks – its the Beckhams!

On Koh Samui, each beach - and it is really all about the beaches - has its own personality, though, all have wide expanses of sand and tranquil turquoise waters (boring, right?). Lipa Noi, on the Western coast, is relatively serene, save for the Nikki Beach outpost at its center. There, you’ll find all the usual champagne popping and peacocking you’ve come to know and love from the global beach club brand. The ladies look like the Real Housewives of Bangkok, so even your smallest, most sparkly bikini won’t raise eyebrows. On Chewang, a public beach rife with water sports and casual bars (and a dash of just the right amount of seediness that you’d expect in Thailand, should you be looking for any, ahem, funny cigarettes), you’ll find The Library, a boutique hotel famous for its red-tiled pool, which is perfect for a mid-day bite al fresco. A collection of popular watering holes, cafes and restos surround Bhoput, making it another nightlife capital. Though best of all may be the deserted islands of the Ang Thong Marine Park archipelago, just off the coast, a dreamy destination that feels like a scene straight out of The Beach. The best way to get there is by private boat, dusting all the tourists in your wake.

Packing for this oasis of SUP-ing, sunsets, and snorkelling couldn’t be easier, and any male travel companion will be very impressed if you take only a carry-on. A free spirit’s wardrobe of casual Lemlem kaftans, flowy maxi-dresses from say, Temperley, for a oceanside DJ set, simple tanks (Tibi always works), wrap skirts (thank you, DVF) and perhaps yoga clothes will do you well. Add bright, printed bikinis (think Zimmermann) and a wide-brimmed straw hat for beach days, or statement jewels and a cute clutch for evening. The only question is, will you tell your friends about your exotic island discovery, or, keep it all for yourself?

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

DINING

Within the boho chic boutique Zazen hotel, is its exotically romantic restaurant, lit by a multitude of candles and lanterns, right on the Bhoput beach. Listen to the gentle waters lapping the shore as you dine on French cuisine with an added Asian flavor. Six Senses’ Dining on the Rocks is a hot ticket, perfect for celebrations under the stars. The W’s Namu restaurant hits all the classics – udon, sashimi, Kobe – but flips them on their head with novel sauces, dressings and garnishes, from foie gras to sea urchin roe butter. Tree Tops at the Anantara wins for the most innovative setting – each of the eight tables is privately nestled within a tree house style deck. Try the Wagyu beef tenderloin or snow fish, and choose from among eight salt varieties from black Hawaiian to Mediterranean citrus to compliment your dish. Though the name leaves a lot to live up to, Orgasmic is ideal for lunch in the open-air beach bar, cocktails on the sun-beds or a dinner service featuring a barbeque station or, if you are in the mood for a splurge, the ‘Champagne Dinner for Two’. Finally, The Five Islands Restaurant has the freshest daily catch, which only travels from fishing boat to kitchen to your table, every step of which you can witness. Devour delights from the ocean, such as oysters and sea bass, all prepared Thai style.

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NIGHTLIFE

On Lamai, Beach Republic invites you to lounge in the Samui sun on a bed or cabana. After a glass (or bottle) of champagne, you’re welcome to take a dip in the pool or the sea, just steps away. With a sister spot in Bangkok, Q Bar’s moody lighting and sleek décor adds a dose of urban cool to the island.  The Woobar at the W gets an impressive line up of DJs and is a nice exception to the chain’s sometimes-formulaic approach. Nikki Beach is good with a group and also a bit of a respite from the zen-tastic calmness of island living that drives ADD prone individuals bonkers. If you do want take part in to the historic hedonistic happenings, the famous full moon parties are still in full swing on the nearby island of Koh Phangan. Most revellers stop through Samui on the way though, though just their frenzied energy may be enough for you by proximity.

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Explore

Explore

Hire a private boat to tour the Ang Thong Marine Park for brilliant snorkelling or diving, a bit of hiking and a picnic on an uninhabited island. Another lovely nature excursion is a morning at the Na Muang waterfalls, located in the island’s interior. For highbrow culture, discover the handful of glorious temples and places of worship, including the 36-foot tall Big Buddha, which glows from its perch above Wat Phra Yai and Wat Plai Laem featuring an 18-hand Guanyin goddess and a bright white Laughing Buddha, both larger than a building. A visit to any of the island’s temples is sure to help you find your own spiritual center. If you prefer to relax, try a traditional Thai massage, a deliciously painful but always effective form of bodywork that incorporates yoga and has its roots in Buddhist medicine. If you can’t take the intensity, there are plenty of more leisurely spa experiences.  For type-As, try a Thai boxing (AKA Muay Thai) class, a kick ass experience for both strength training and cocktail conversation.  On Saturday nights, Nathon’s market area turns in to a walking street, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

SHOP

Where to Shop

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Although there are no ‘designer’ shops, the many markets (Fisherman’s Village is a good bet) are filled with crocheted tops, woven totes, Thai silk separates and ethnic-inspired jewlery to round-out your holiday looks – just be prepared to haggle and steer clear of the cheesy t-shirts. Oriental Living focuses on hand crafted furniture for both indoors and out, as well as contemporary art and even an interior design service for the villa you are dreaming of buying. Chandra, with two locations in Chewang, calls itself an exotic island fashion boutique, and carries menswear, womenswear, beachwear and accessories.

Shop the Destination

Flagpole x Oscar de la Renta Diana Ruffled Off-The-Shoulder Bikini Set $500.00
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Mara Hoffman Exclusive Lace-up swimsuit $245.00
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Stella McCartney Striped bi-colour espadrille sandals
$465.00
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SEA Bow-embellished One-shoulder Poplin Top $345.00
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Figue Zena Tuk Tuk Leather-trimmed Embellished Canvas Tote $495.00
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Lisa Marie Fernandez Mira Flunce Maillot swimsuit
$395.00
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Laura Lombardi Ruota gold-tone hoop earrings $150.00
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Mansur Gavriel Color-block leather sandals $395.00
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Three Graces London Seton striped cotton-voile maxi dress $995.00
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Dior Astral aviator sunglasses $322.00
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Sensi Studio Leather-trimmed toquilla-straw basket bag $255.00
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Wiggy Kit Drawstring cotton-dobby dress
$234.00
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FRAME Rigid Re-Release Le Original distressed denim shorts $235.00
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