Living the Dream in Koh Samui

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A picture of the sea water crawling up on a Koh Samui Beach. A palm treet leans into the picture. Cover photo of: Living in Koh Samui.

I remember that day quite well, the Monday I packed my bags and went to the airport without a flight or hotel reservation. At the behest of a close friend, who would not stop painting Koh Samui as an island paradise, and that it would tremendously help my novel-writing, I obliged and found the first flight out of Chiang Mai. While I’d read about the island, I’d never before contemplated living in Koh Samui.

The good thing about the Thai islands is that they are never too far apart. If I didn’t like Koh Samui as much as my friend did, I could always hop over to another island in a matter of hours.

A Bangkok Airways plane landing at Koh Samui airport. In the distance on a mountain is Pagoda Khao Hua Jook. The scenery is tropical green and mountainous. When I arrived on the island, the prospect of living in Koh Samui immediately brightened the overcast skies. It reminded me of the island of Maui back home in the U.S. Only, Koh Samui looked far more loyal to old traditions. If you look carefully at the picture above, you will notice the golden spire of Pagoda Khao Hua Jook overlooking the small airport.

Koh Samui airport in Thailand on an overcast day. It looks very tropical and peaceful, yet small.The airport itself looked nothing like I’d imagined it to be. It was a series of open-air, thatched roof rooms, connected by corridors.

If living in Koh Samui was anything like the serene atmosphere projected by its airport, I was already half-sold. I could already picture myself in a thatch hut on one of its beaches, writing well into the night.

Koh Samui's Chaweng Beach street. It is packed full of tourist shops for foreigners, as well as bars and western convenience stores.I soon found out Chaweng Beach was one of the more lively spots on the island, so I checked it out. What’s interesting is how much the streets of Asian cities and islands resemble one another. If you’d told me this photo was taken in Vietnam, I’d probably have believed you (save for the Thai writing).

Restaurant Menu in Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand. It is a signboard displaying the menu specials of the day.Chaweng Beach caters heavily to the tourist crowd, albeit being a little pricy. The menu set above costs $12, which isn’t too far from western prices. But to spend $12 here is what I’d consider $12 well-spent.

Chaweng Beach Street in Koh Samui, Thailand. Many motorcycles are parked along the sidewalk and overhead electric cables are numerous. The shops are very small and packed side by side.Chaweng Beach is probably where I’ll stay next time, but I can’t complain about my resort on Lamai Beach: The Royal Beach Boutique Resort & Spa. I hardly stay at 4-star resorts when I travel solo, preferring cheaper hostels intead, but I really wanted to treat myself this time. My greatest regret is catching a stomach bug which eventually killed my stay on Koh Samui.

A picture of the Royal Beach Boutique Resort and Spa on Lamai Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand. It has a beautiful pool, many palm trees, and cabanas. It sits right on Lamai beach.The resort on Lamai Beach was about thirty minutes away from the airport and Chaweng Beach, but had excellent service and is a great spot for people looking for seaside romance or moments of self-reflection.

Focus on a plant in The Royal Beach Boutique Resort & Spa in Lamai Beach on Koh Samui. The hotel pool and ocean are defocused in the background.Lamai Beach is far calmer than many of Koh Samui’s other beaches. I was the only one strolling the beach at sunset.

Picture of Lamai Beach on Koh Samui, Thailand, during sunset. Tropical palms are near the beach and the ocean water is calm, the sky blue.If you are looking for isolation and time to introspect, then living in Koh Samui could be your thing.

At least, that’s what it seemed like to me. Life moved slowly; almost carelessly. The rest of the world and its many troubles didn’t touch the shores of Koh Samui.

Sunset on Lamai Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand. The ocean water pulls right up to the camera.I sat down and breathed in the ocean air, watching the many colors brushed along the horizon by the setting sun.

Setting sun on Koh Samui in Thailand. The tropical mountain is in the background, and a solitary house near the ocean in the foreground.I soon decided to hit up Chaweng Beach at night and see what it was all about.

Chaweng Beach Street at Night. The neon shop signs are everywhere, and the sign for the Cha Cha Moon beach party is prominently displayed.It was not as crowded as Phuket’s Patong Beach, but more so than Ao Nang Beach in Krabi province. I was also told there were numerous “half-moon parties” happening along the beach, so I decided to check one out called Arkbar.

Arkbar Beach Club in Koh Samui, Thailand at night. Lots of different-colored neon lights and backpackers drinking beer on mattresses at the beach.The beach setup of Arkbar was pretty elaborate, with flashing neon lights and a heavy bass beat that fended off the darkness. To think that such a peaceful-looking island abruptly came to life at night was a little surprising. When I got to Arkbar, the placed was rather empty, but it quickly filled up within the hour.

A fire show at Arkbar in Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui. A man is spinning fire around him on a pedestal set in the ocean.I just don’t know how that guy didn’t accidentally set himself on fire. It is one of the shows you’ll see at Arkbar. His group later went around, collecting donations.

Just like most touristy beaches in Thailand, you can also expect plenty of beach kids trying to sell you merchandise.

A traditional night market in Chaweng Beach, Thailand at night. It sells a variety of clothes, suitcases, and souvenirs.Living in Koh Samui does not deprive you of things found elsewhere in Thailand. You will find the trademark night markets that are a staple of southeast Asian society.

Stormy Koh Samui horizon over light blue waters of the gulf of Thailand, with a couple of palm trees in the foreground.Unfortunately, the stomach bug won the war of wills. I was forced back to Chiang Mai, where I currently live. I intend to go back to Koh Samui and focus on taking beach shots.

A beautiful sunset over Lamai Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand. The mountains are in the background and rocks on the beach in the foreground.I also plan on going there and staying a long while to test out what living in Koh Samui would be like. Would my novel-writing improve? Would I be able to focus in this kind of environment? Would it be too slow a pace for me and will paradise eventually bore me?

These are all tests of who we are whenever we travel and try out new experiences. No matter how we picture the situation beforehand, things often turn out differently. We discover more about ourselves along the way.

But I’ll admit, I already see myself basking in its sunsets as I ponder days gone,

And dream of days to come.

Do you prefer places with a slow or fast pace? Do you consider this island more of a vacation destination, or would you consider living in Koh Samui?

Cover photo of Koh Samui used with permission of Hydromet.

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14 comments on “Living the Dream in Koh Samui

  1. Rashad hope things are good for you. my trip to KSA begins this Saturday. If you have any tips I sure would appreciate it. Also, let me know if you still need any input from my experience.


    1. Hey Mark, looking forward to hearing about your first impressions of Saudi Arabia! Would love to interview you once you’re all settled in. My only tip is hang in there–if you think it’s radically different, you’ll soon adapt. It’s an awesome opportunity and it really will change your life.

  2. What a concept. Well I have to say that I did live the dream. I spent 1 month in Thailand of which 1 week was was spent in Koh Samui. I was just there over New Years. What a blast. Many a day slipped away hanging out on Lamai beach. Right where you were at. I was fortunate to hook up with local farang as well as Thai people and get woven into their lifestyle.

    Strangely enough I came across banker in the sun trying to gather more info on KSA. It just so happens I’m waiting for my work visa that will launch me into my new life. For those who are still brainstorming the chances of walking in his footsteps, he is spot on!!! I’ve done all the 5 exit strategy steps and I am about to start my next life. A man with a plan and no regrets. I’ve read most of you blog and then you post a Koh Samui trip. I felt it was my duty to reply and also reflect how far I have come in the process of becoming a world traveler.

      1. Hey Rashad nice to hear from you. Yes absolutely I would be up for providing my impression of my travels to Saudi. You have my email so feel free to communicate directly.

  3. I stayed in Chaweng Beach when I visited Kho Samui. I enjoyed the party atmosphere but got a little sick of the cars driving up and down with loud speakers advertising things. There was also time share guys hanging around and it felt way too package touristy sometimes.

    I can see the appeal of the place for someone wanting to settle down and write however. Also, I love your photo’s. They make me want to go back there and never leave. Beautiful!
    Stacey recently posted…Cheap Airfare MythsMy Profile

    1. Stacey, strangely enough, I really liked that these loudspeakers cruised up and down the street. I mean, it’s a bustling place for those looking for that ambiance, and you can always ride away to quieter parts of the island when the loudness gets to you.. 🙂

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