Where To Stay In Koh Samui: A Guide To The Best Areas To Stay In Koh Samui

Looking for the best areas to stay in Koh Samui? Whether you want to party all night, seek peaceful isolation, want to be close to the city’s attractions or just want a big patch of sand for yourself, we have got you covered.

Whatever you fancy, our comprehensive guide on the best areas to stay in Koh Samui will help you make the right choice.

1. For Couples and Families: Chaweng

Chaweng is the most popular town in Koh Samui. Its biggest draw is the access to Chaweng beach, the liveliest beach on the island. With its stretch of powdery white sand, clear waters and thrilling watersports, it’s a paradise for beach bums.

Why should you stay here?

Chaweng has all sorts of accommodation options, from beachside resorts to luxurious private pool villas. It also has a fantastic range of hotels, restaurants and is close to many of the island’s prominent attractions. Shopaholics are spoilt for choice, as its home to the biggest shopping complex in Koh Samui.

Last but not the least, it is the best place for nightlife in Samui. Right from a cosy lounge to flashy nightclubs to world famous beach bars, the party animal is spoilt for choice.

Where’s the catch?

Chaweng is the most popular place in Samui, so it’s quite touristy and usually crowded.

Recommended Hotels

Value for Money:

  • Evergreen Resort: It’s a great value for money stay option close to the beach and the main market. The rooms are clean, stylish and spacious. And the service is excellent.
  • Samui Verticolor: The place is awesome and worth every penny.  It has a nice pool and a gym, with enough free weights to satisfy a gym rat. The rooms are huge and have a king-size bed and a balcony view.

Premium Experience:

  • Chaweng Garden Beach Resort:It’s an intimate family run resort which will give you a true taste of Thai hospitality. The resort has a private beach, so you can lounge on the sand endlessly. Accessibility is good as there are tonnes of shopping centres, nightclubs and restaurants nearby.
  • Chaweng Regent Beach Resort: It’s a haven which sits right on Chaweng Beach. The rooms are furnished with modern Thai décor and the rooms come with a private terrace.  

2. For Honeymooners, Couples & Families: Lamai

Lamai is the second most popular area in Samui. The show stealer here is Lamai beach, much quieter and cleaner than Chaweng. It’s ideal for those who want to listen to the song of the sea in absolute peace.

Why should you stay here?

There are tonnes of hotels and resorts lining the beaches. It’s ideal for honeymooners as it gives you privacy without sacrificing on creature comforts.

Lamai also has many shopping outlets and spa treatments scattered around. The nightlife is almost as lively as Chaweng, with plenty of drinking joints in the vicinity.

Where’s the catch?

Accessing the beach can be difficult if you don’t have a beachside hotel.

Recommended Hotels

Value for Money

  • Lamai Buri Resort: The resort is a gem in Koh Samui. It has a spectacular unusual beach view. The staff is really cordial. Restaurants and bars are all within walking distance.
  • Sallamai Resort: It’s a lovely place with lovely hosts. They are very friendly and will go out of their way to ensure you get what you want. It’s also located close to restaurants and shops.

Premium Experience

  • Renaissance Koh Samui Resort & Spa:  Set on a small hill with splendid views of the sea, the privacy and peacefulness it offers is beyond compare. You get a private beach all to yourself. And be prepared to be pampered by the staff, you won’t even have to lift a finger.
  • Sandalwood Luxury Villas: It’s a villa perched between two beaches, with sweeping views of the ocean. It has a dreamy infinity pool and you can even enjoy a special milk bath in their jacuzzi. Need we say more?

3. For backpackers and Solo Travelers: Maenam

Maenam is one of those places which has a perfect mix of pocket-friendly and luxurious accommodations. It has low-cost stays, budget shopping avenues and tonnes of adventure options like Kite surfing and fun activities like football-golfing.

Why should you stay here?

The Maenam beach is quite secluded, it is an ideal choice if you want to just lounge about in silence and listen to the sound of the waves.

Where’s the catch?

There isn’t a lot to do in the area, so if you have a big checklist to tick off, then you are better off elsewhere.

Recommended Hotels

Value for Money:

  • Ampha Place Hotel: It’s a great family run hotel, clean and well maintained. It has a nice pool with plenty of loungers. The hosts are warm and friendly. They will help you with arranging car and ferry transfers.
  • Escape Beach Resort: The resort is very nice with its little bungalows built like small houses. The pool is directly at the beach, which has an amazing view. They also have a modern European styled bar with tonnes of international cuisines.

Premium Experience:

  • Sensimar Koh Samui: It enjoys a peaceful location on the secluded Maenam beach. The beach massage is a must try here. The staff will treat you like you’re their only guest. And the best part is the free shuttle to other parts of the island.
  • Infinity Residences and Resort: A delightful resort if you want to relax and unwind. The rooms are quite modern and spacious. The facilities are excellent and the staff will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.

4. For an Authentic Thai experience: Bophut

Why should you stay here?

In an urbanized Koh Samui, Bophut stands out for its authentic vibe. It is a great place to get the local flavour of Thailand, Bophut is a great place to stay.

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Ithaka Recommends: Bophut is a great place to shop. Once a week, the town comes alive with Fisherman’s Walking Street. It’s a weekly market where you can find handicrafts, herbs and spices, an impressive range of shoes, high-quality local fabrics, jewellery and interesting fashion designs. The market also sells delicious Thai cuisine.

Where’s the catch?

The nightlife around here is quite mellow, so if partying is important in your scheme of things, then this may not be the best-suited place.

Recommended Hotels

Value for Money

  • Aspira Samui Hotels and Resorts: It’s an amazing value for money stay with big rooms and a delicious breakfast. Being a bit far from the main area, it is ideal for those who want to avoid the noise.
  • Us Hostel: Located close to the main area in Bophut, it’s an exceptional hostel with a nice swimming pool, bar and a comfy lounge. The staff is very friendly and they help you in booking tours, getting bikes on rent, taxi transfer etc.

Premium Experience

  • Imperial Boat House Beach Resort: It’s a unique resort where the hotel’s authentic teakwood barges are converted into suites with fresh design and a welcoming ambience. There are tonnes of things to do here, right from a body massage and spa to adventures like canoeing and scuba diving.
  • Hansar Samui Resort & Spa: It’s a 5-star paradise with stylish rooms, panoramic beach views and private balconies. The best part about the resort is its alluring infinity pool. The bonus is, it lies close to the Fisherman’s village, the main hub for shopping.

Featured Image Via: MyBlondeBucketList

The post Where To Stay In Koh Samui: A Guide To The Best Areas To Stay In Koh Samui appeared first on Ithaka Travel.

5 Amazing Night Markets in Phuket you should not miss

The bustling stalls, the riot of colors, the fresh smell of the exotic street food and an incredible array of cheap finds and funky souvenirs make the night markets in Phuket nothing less than a shopping carnival. If you want an authentic experience on your Thailand trip, you must check out these 5 amazing night markets in Phuket.

1. Phuket Walking Street Market

The presence of colonial buildings and stalls selling traditional Thai food and unique handicrafts make this a must visit in Phuket. Also referred as Lard Yai by the locals, Phuket Walking Street Market has a cultural vibe to it.

Phuket Walking Street Market

The houses facing the market are enhanced by color changing light effects ranging from purple to blue to green. Although food and souvenirs are the main items sold in the market, you can also get a range of things like customized flip flops, fancy accessories, marinières and traditional Thai medicines.

Don’t forget to Indulge yourself in scrumptious street food like Barbecue squid, Khanom and tonnes of delectable Thai cuisines. You can wash it all down with some fresh cocktails.

How to get there: Its located at Thalang road. It can be reached from Patong by tuk-tuk/songthaew in 30 minutes
Opening hours: Only on Sunday from 16:00 hours to 22:00 hours.

2. Phuket Weekend Market

Being the largest night market on the island, Phuket Weekend Market sells everything from dodgy electronic items to adorable stuffed toys.

Phuket Weekend Market

A lot of first copy products and pirated DVDs are sold here at dirt cheap prices. They sell tonnes of interesting stuff, a lot of which you may not buy – like live animals. But it makes for an interesting evening.

And when it comes to food, the entire market is a gastronomical paradise. The best way to explore the market would be by walking around and trying something from one food stall to another.

Gorge on buttered corn, spicy sausages, grilled chicken, exotic fruits and if you are feeling a little adventurous, deep fried insects. There is ice-cold beer to go with all of this mouth watering food.

How to get there: It is located at Chao Fa West Road. Its an half an hour drive from Patong by tuk-tuk/songthaew.
Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday from 16:00 hours to 22:00 hours.

3. Phuket Indy Night Market

Phuket Indy Night Market is called in Thai as ‘laadploykong’ (a market to let go of your goods). True to its name, you can spot jeans, flip-flops, shoes and ladies’ bags made from water hyacinth.

Phuket Indy Market

Photo Via tatguru

Its a good place to buy customized products like handmade key rings. You can even get your name stenciled on a rice grain, to be used as a pendant or a bracelet.

If you want a memorable souvenir, check out the artist booths for some caricatures and portraits of yourself. Another highlight of the market are live performances by bands as well as solo singers.

We recommend coming here with an appetite as there are lots of snacks to munch on. Try the Thai spicy salad , fried fish-paste balls, chicken barbecue and crispy gyoza (a kind of Chinese dumpling).

Also, don’t miss Thai-style chicken kebabs. Served with Pita bread, it will have your taste buds in a frenzy. If you have a sweet tooth, try soft sponge cake and Thai-style crepes. A perfect way to end the food tour!!

How to get there: Located at Limelight Avenue, its an half an hour drive from Patong by tuk-tuk/songthaew.
Opening hours: Thursday and Friday from 16:00 hours to 22:00 hours

4. Chillva Night Market 

Chillva Night Market is a trendy night market and one of the most popular ones on the island. It has a young and refreshing vibe to it. Most of the products on sale are original (not branded), making this different from a typical night market in Thailand.

Chillva Market

The entire market is colorful and lit, with shipping containers being creatively used as shopfronts. At the center of the market is a small pond and an amphitheater which sees live music when the market is in full swing.

It has a more local vibe to it than most markets, with most goods aimed at hip local teenagers. You can get good-quality fashionable t-shirts, sunglasses and handmade beauty products.

If you are not into shopping, you can hangout in funky pubs, chic coffee shops, ice cream shops or savour some of the lip smacking street food.

How to get there: Its at Phuket Town, a 25 minute ride from Patong by tuk tuk/ Songthaew
Opening hours: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 17:00 hours to 23:00 hours

5. Malin Plaza Patong

Covered under a giant metal roof, Malin Plaza is a shopping hub in Patong. You will find everything found in other night markets, be it t-shirts, denims, beachwear, bags, spa products or a good range of trinkets and souvenirs.

Malin Plaza

It has an edge though – the shirt designs are a little rarer, the souvenirs are of better quality and some of the local markets have a tailor’s shop. So its a good place to search for something different.

The highlight of the market, like any night market in Thailand is the food. You get everything from Thai fried chicken, crepes, fresh ice cream, sushi, 90-baht cocktails to fresh fruits. There are some stalls which serve Halal food

And don’t miss the array of delectable desserts like the mango sticky rice, fruit pancakes, ice cream Teppanyaki, and banana Nutella. They are just divine!!!

How to get there: Its a 10 minute from Patong by tuk tuk/ Songthaew
Opening hours: Every day from 14:00 hours to 24:00 hours

The post 5 Amazing Night Markets in Phuket you should not miss appeared first on Ithaka Travel.

Our favourite spots in Bergen, part 2

We hope you enjoyed reading about our first five favourite spots in Bergen. Here is the second part.

Credits Cornelius Seafood Restaurant
One of our personal favorite restaurants in Bergen is Cornelius Seafood Restaurant. If you are looking for a romantic evening or a nice evening with friends this is the place to be. The restaurant can only be reached by boat from the city center or by private boat/yacht (in case you have one 😊). The restaurant is situated right by the sea on a small island with spectacular views of the fjord, mountains, skerries and passing boats and ships. Inspired by the weather of the day, Cornelius serves its famous Meteorological menu of exquisite seafood and trimmings.  This is really and exotic place and we can promise you a dinner which you will never forget.

Credits: Tore Berntsen
Farmers Market in Bergen
I love shopping on markets and specially to buy local and seasonal products. Did you know that beside the famous fish market that Bergen also has a farmer’s market on some weekends throughout the year? Here you can stroll the market stalls and taste regional products like the famous cheese from Undredal, honey or traditional pastry. It is very easy to get in contact with locals on the market and to really get a feeling for the Norwegian food culture. Why not shop some unique souvenirs on the market?

Credits:   Bergen Tourist Board - visitBergen.com
Pepperkakebyen (Ginger Bread Town)
Here in Bergen we are very proud of our city, and this combined with the start of the Christmas season tends to spark some pretty extraordinary ideas - the world´s largest Gingerbread Town! Ever since 1991, kindergartens and schoolchildren, local businesses and volunteers have participated in the construction of everything from tiny homes, local or international landmarks, cars, boats and trains. So, if you are in Bergen between november 19 and december 31 do not miss to visit Gingerbread Town! We think this is a great way to get into Christmas spirit. 

Credits:   Bergen Tourist Board - visitBergen.com
Gamle Bergen - Old Bergen Museum
If you want to get the feeling how life in Bergen looked like in the eighteenth or nineteenth century we can highly recommend to visit Old Bergen Museum. This is an open air museum where you can experience some of this atmosphere. In beautiful natural surroundings you can meet both masters and servants from the past. You can peak in windows, open doors, and walk into exhibitions and historical interiors. The museum´s "inhabitants" help to bring the site to life and provide answers to some of the questions on how life could have been lived in Bergen one or two hundred years ago. This is both educating and fun for the whole family!

Credits:   Gjertrud Coutinho
Shops inside Bryggen
To many visitors Bryggen is, first and foremost, a facade. The tall and slim wooden houses standing gable to gable along the quayside, seemingly leaning on each other, are a symbol of Bergen. What you don´t see from the street and what is hidden in the small alleys between rows of historic houses are the many shops and artists. Even we locals in Bergen have by far not seen all shops inside Byrggen area. Here you find potters, jewellers and artists as well as textile and leather crafters. So when you visit Bryggen make sure to drop into the small shops and ateliers. They are really worth a visit.

Our favourite spots in Bergen, part 1

Mount Ulriken by Franziska Schwarzlmüller, Fjord Travel Norway
One of the best things about living in Bergen is the immediate vicinity to both mountains, fjords and the North Sea. 

But also walking the streets of Bergen can be full of surprises. Enjoy reading about our local recommendations for the great outdoors and exploring the city on foot.

View from Mount Fløien by Sverre Hjørnevik, www.fjordnorway.com
Mount Floien and Skomakerdiktet
Mount Floien is a major tourist attraction in Bergen. The local people come to Mount Floien for an easy stroll, to work out or to set out for a longer hiking trip. There are so many trails to choose from, from easy walks to more demanding tours, so hiking up here never gets boring. To get a feel of the place, we can recommend the short and very nice walk from Mount Floien to Skomakerdiktet, which is app 1 km from the station. The small lake lies in idyllic surroundings. During the summer months there are canoes for rent and if you need to cool down you can even take a swim!

Nordnes by Franziska Schwarzlmüller, Fjord Travel Norway
Nordnes Seawater Pool
Swimming in the city centre of Bergen? Yes, this is possible! Even though, we have to admit that the water of the fjord does not get that warm – even during summer. Some locals come here to take a swim in the sea every morning before work, which we think is pretty courageous! The small seawater pool is located on Nordnes peninsula, only a 15 minutes’ walk from the city center. If you are not up for the cold water of the fjord, you can also take a swim in the heated pool. The pool is open from May to August and also on weekends in the fall, depending upon the weather. Would you dare to have a dip in the sea?

Cable Car Mount Ulriken by Espen-Haagensen, visitBergen.com
Ulriken and the hike to Mount Floien 
Ulriken is the highest of the seven mountains surrounding the city of Bergen. The 643-meter-high mountain can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. From here, you can hike to Mount Floien. This is one of our favorite hikes! Between these two beautiful mountains you can see the fjords and islands surrounding Bergen. On a clear day you can even enjoy the view of Folgefonna glacier. If you are doing the hike on a Sunday, do not miss a stop at Brushytten (cabin) for a real Norwegian waffle. The cabin is located app. 3,6 km on the well-marked trail before you reach Mount Floien. Remember to wear good shoes for this hike, as the path is pretty steep in some parts.

Street Art Bergen by Franziska Schwarzlmüller, Fjord Travel Norway
Street Art in Bergen
Having such a compact center Bergen can easily be explored on foot. In the last years the streetscape has changed a lot.
Everywhere the walls and corners have been adorned with paintings created using spray paints, brushes and stencils.  Even for us locals there is more to see in Bergen nowadays. On my daily walk to the supermarket I always pass Skostredet which has become a famous melting pot for creative talents. Also other streets in Bergen, which I randomly pass, suddenly surprise with artwork. So if you are heading to Bergen – walk the streets and get surprised by some pretty cool artwork.

Cruise to Mostraumen by Rodne Fjordcruise, www.rodne.no
Are you in Bergen just for a weekend but still want to experience the fjords? Then we can highly recommend a cruise to Mostraumen. On this trip, you will be taken to the innermost part of Osterford, right into the narrow Mostraumen with its strong current.
Boats are just able to pass through, which is an experience in itself. So lean back and enjoy the breathtaking landscape, including several waterfakks and narrow fjords surrounded by sheer mountains.

Bergen – seen through the eyes of locals

Bryggen area Bergen by Franziska Schwarzlmüller, Fjord Travel Norway
Bergen – secondlargest city in Norway and gateway to the Fjords. Situated in close proximity to the North Sea and surrounded by seven mountains the city has plent to offer for both tourists and locals. 

We personally feel very blessed to call this city our home. The most appreciated quality of Bergen, is the immediate vicinity to nature. 
The nature surrounds Bergen from all sides - everywhere you go you are close to both the mountains and the sea. 

Rumors say that it rains a lot in Bergen. Yes – this is true, but even if you visit Bergen on a rainy day there is plenty to see and to explore. And the good news - all of the city´s finest attractions are within walking distance, making Bergen an easy to explore city. 

Lake close to Moun Fløyen by Franziska Schwarzlmüller Fjord Travel Norway
But what are actually our favourite spots in and around the city?

Where do we go for a Sunday stoll, shop for local products or have a fancy dinner? What do we do on a rainy day and where do we go to escape the city? 

The staff at FjordTravel Norway has put together 10 highlights of Bergen which we as locals want to share with you during this week.

So, follow our blog and on social media to get our best tips for your next stay in our beautiful city.