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Koh Samui: Part 3 – Exploring Koh Samui

This is the third post in a multiple part trip report of our long weekend trip to Koh Samui, Thailand.  Trust me, I’m getting to the Conrad Koh Samui.  Just be patient.  

Koh Samui: Part 1 – Any Hilton in the World
Koh Samui: Part 2 – The Oryx Lounge Saves the Day
Koh Samui: Part 3 – Exploring Koh Samui

We arrived at the Koh Samui airport around 7:30 in the morning and headed straight for the Avis rental car counter.  Not surprisingly, no one was to be found there that early in the morning.  Soon enough though, someone noticed a few of us hanging around and made a phone call.  An agent showed up, and we quickly got the rental process started.  We were soon taken to our ride and started to check out the car.  As I started to survey for dents and scratches I took a look inside.  Turns out it was a manual.  I don’t do manuals.  I never learned how to drive a manual, and I was about to try to learn while driving in a foreign country on the opposite side of the road.  Eventually they brought out an automatic and we were on our way.

Koh Samui Airport

The entire airport is pretty much outdoors.

They'd know we were high rollers when we arrived in style.

They’d know we were high rollers when we arrived in style.

We knew our villa at the Conrad wouldn’t be ready for us at 8:30 in the morning, so we decided to explore the island a little bit.  It was probably a good thing that it was a lazy Friday morning as it took me a little bit of time to get used to driving on the right side of the road again.  I think the last time I had driven on the opposite side of the road was on our honeymoon to Ireland in May 2010.  As we knew the resort was somewhat remote and the restaurant prices would be quite high there we wanted to stock up on snack foods and drinks before arriving.  I had done a fair bit of reading on the Conrad Koh Samui on Flyertalk and learned that Tesco is basically Thailand’s version of Wal-Mart.  We soon found one, and stocked up on crazy flavored chips, exotic fruits, and root beer.  I’m not a fan of grocery shopping in general, but shopping in a foreign country always makes for a good time.  It’s always interesting to see what kinds of interesting things are on the shelf.

We passed on the fried seaweed.

We passed on the fried seaweed.

After killing a decent amount of time at Tesco we headed out to see what there was to explore on the island.  There honestly wasn’t too much that I thought looked interesting, but there were a couple of waterfalls and a giant Buddha to see.  I really enjoy waterfalls, and Dawn loves being around water in general, so we decided to head to the Na Muang Waterfall.  The place was a bit of a tourist trap with offers of elephant rides and jungle treks.  We originally passed on all of that, and started walking towards the hiking path to the waterfall.  As we were about to begin our hike, the option of a ride up to the waterfall on the top of a truck was offered.  The hike looked fairly steep, and as we had just arrived on an overnight flight we were pretty worn out.  We decided to take them up on their 100 Baht roundtrip offer (about $3/person).  It turns out that it was probably worth about $3, but not much more.  They drove us up a pretty steep hill, but we still had quite a hike to go to get to the waterfall. Being buckled into a seat on the roof of a truck was quite an interesting experience.

The ride up to the waterfall

The safe way to ride on the roof of a truck. Buckled in.

The hike was hot, but the waterfall was quite nice when we finally reached the top.  It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was certainly a worthy detour on our way to the resort.   I really enjoy climbing around as much possible in these types of places, so I had a pretty good time.  The waterfall was busy with tourists, but it wasn’t overly crowded.

The trail was marked with clear signage so we wouldn't get lost.

The trail was marked with clear signage so we wouldn’t get lost.

Bridge to waterfall

Sure, that looks safe…


Apparently, they realize its not safe…

Na Muang Waterfall

The view was worth the ‘dangerous’ hike.

Na Muang Waterfall

I’m a bit more of a climber than Dawn is.

We spent maybe 30 minutes near the waterfall, and then headed back down.At this point we were pretty hungry and were looking forward to finding some of that great, authentic Thai street food.  We found a street market not too far from the waterfall entrance and stopped.  There were plenty of options of what appeared to be mostly take home type food, but there was at least one ‘restaurant’ type place.  I ordered the red pork fried rice and Dawn had the chicken Pad Thai.  Both were excellent, and I almost went back for a second serving.  After lunch we spent some time shopping at the clothes and food stalls.  While the quality of the stuff was quite good, the prices were not as ridiculously low as I had hoped.  It was cheap, but not quite as cheap as I had expected in Thailand.  I’m sure better deals are to be had in Bangkok instead of a tourist island.

Pork Fried Rice

My meal of pork fried rice.

Chicken Pad Thai

Dawn’s chicken Pad Thai.

The Market

All kinds of fruits and vegetables for sale at the market

The Market

Plenty of fish and many other unrecognizable foods for sale as well

After shopping we figured that it was late enough that there was a good possibility that our room would be ready for us.  We were also pretty worn out, so we were hoping that the resort was close by.  Even with only one main road around the island we managed to have some slight difficulties in finding our way around.  While I had printed out Google maps of directions to the Conrad, they weren’t the most detailed, and we struggled a bit to find it.  Actually, we struggled a lot.  We ended up driving the entire loop of the island only to discover that the road leading to the resort was less than a mile from where we had stopped for lunch.  The loop around the island was only about 45 minutes, but the combination of jet lag from the overnight flight and thinking that we’d find the place any minute the 45 minutes was torture for me.  I felt like I was going to fall asleep at the wheel at any moment.  Eventually we found the correct turn off and made it to the Conrad Koh Samui.


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