Pack your bathers, bring your appetite, and enjoy a luxurious weekend on this lush little island.
Secluded island getaways are synonymous with romance. Quite, white sand beaches, ocean views, and absolutely nothing pressing entered into the agenda – it’s the perfect environment to take your loved one for some quality one-on-one time. Conveniently, Koh Samui offers holidayers all of this, and plenty more.
There are literally thousands of islands around the world that you can sweep your valentine away to, but the tiny island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand is up there with the best. Here’s how to make the most of a short, weekend sojourn to the resort island.
9:00am Get Zen
Start your weekend sojourn the way you want to end it – totally blissed out. Thailand is famed for its massages and while the cheap corner parlour Thai massage is an experience not to be missed, you can’t go past a few hours at a luxe day spa too.
Baan Thai Spa is tucked away into the lush gardens of Intercontinental Koh Samui, a short buggy drive from the main lobby. Completely decked out in dark wood, the interiors aren’t the only part of the spa that reference the rich Thai culture. There are – of course – Thai massages on the spa menu, but also signature Thai packages and traditional ingredients, all delivered with that warm Thai hospitality.
If you’re booking in with your special someone, request a couples room for some of the best post-treatment views in the house.
12:00pm Lunch and Cocktails by the Pool
What would a tropical holiday be without lunch and cocktails by the pool? Head to the bottom, pool at Intercontinental Koh Samui to enjoy a light meal (think fresh spring rolls or a delicious burger) with some of the best views in the house. There are five pools on the property, but only two of them – the bottom and lobby pools – offer a food and beverage menu. Though it’s the busiest of the pools, the bottom pool is the best tended so your pina colada glass will never run dry.
3:00pm Head Out to Spot the Pink Dolphins
Spying a dolphin in the wild is exhilarating. But, the excitement of spotting the very rare pink dolphin in the wild is on a whole other level. Head out on a chartered tour to test your luck and (hopefully) catch a glimpse of this Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin subspecies.
There are thought to be only 2000 pink dolphins in the wild, with just 150 in the waters in the Gulf of Thailand. The tours will take you directly out to some of the dolphins’ favourite spots off the coast of Khanom on the Thai mainland. If you find them, you’re definitely in luck. If you don’t, you can’t be too disappointed – they’re elusive creatures.
Just make sure you choose the right tour operator – i.e. one that provides champagne and canapes on the ride over – so your dolphin mission becomes part luxury sightseeing tour too. It definitely helps to make up for if the specials are a no-show. There are plenty of companies to choose from, but the boat, tour, and canapes by the team at Intercontinental Koh Samui will ensure you have a fabulous time.
Related reads: Pedals And Pad Thai: Exploring Bangkok By Bike
6:00pm Sip on Something Over Sunset
There are plenty of reasons that Intercontinental Koh Samui made it onto the New York Times ‘1000 places to visit in your lifetime’ list. But, the vibrant sunsets over the Pacific Ocean are for sure the driving factor.
As the whole resort is built into the side of a hill, there’s not really any one spot in the complex that you can’t enjoy the kaleidoscopically colourful sunsets from. Arguably, the best seat in the house is at the resort’s open-air bar, aptly named ‘Air Bar‘. Not only do you have the perfect vantage point for when the sun dips beyond the horizon and the sky turns a beautiful shade of pink, but you can have your sunset and drink it too. The bar’s carefully crafted cocktail menu showcases the best in Thai flavours (think smoked coconut and pandan cocktails) and, aesthetically, emulates those famed sunsets.
8:00pm Enjoy the Tastes of Thailand
Taste the very best of Thailand with an exquisite dinner at Amber. Explore flavours far beyond phad Thai with Amber’s modern take on traditional flavours. Challenge your knowledge of the cuisine and start with a Thai favourite, nam prik pla too (a spicy mackerel and shrimp paste served with crisp vegetables), before tucking into a khai jiew poo (a Thai omelette with crab meat) or pla muek phad khai khem (stir-fried squid with salted egg yolk and sweet basil). If you’ve overindulged on Thai and are looking for something with a little less spice, there’s also a fabulous western menu too.
Dinner at Amber is best washed down with a bottle fine Australian wine from their extensive wine list.
Overnight – Rest Your Head Somewhere Special
Book yourself into one of the Intercontinental Koh Samui‘s beach view rooms overnight to wake up to calming blues. Surprisingly, it’s the entry-level rooms (the resort classic rooms) that come with some of the best ocean views. Jump up a level to one of the club rooms, and you don’t even need to get out of bed to get a glimpse of the water. How romantic!
No matter which room you choose, space is your friend at this resort. Not only is there a sizeable balcony on each room (or a courtyard if you book one of the beachside villas), but the room itself is big, light, and airy. That carries through to the bathrooms too, with giant open showers, a big bathtub, and plenty of vanity space. It’s a stark contrast to rooms in a city-based hotel.
10:00am Get Creative in a Cooking Class
While the idea of cooking your own lunch on holiday sounds like it might interfere with your ‘total relaxation’ mode, booking into a cooking class at Amber is a must. This is an all-inclusive experience where, before you get into the cooking part of things, you visit the local markets and pick out your spices, vegetables, and proteins for your meals. Post-excursion, you’ll spend some time in the kitchen with chef Tao learning how to cook your own Thai beef salad and Thai green curry. Then, of course, you get to take a seat and enjoy your creations. If you’re lucky, chef Tao might even prepare a little seafood starter for you, depending on what fresh seafood he can get his hands on at the market.
2:00pm Visit Some Gentle Giants
Animal tourism – especially elephants in Thailand – is generally considered taboo. It can be frowned upon to engage in activities that include climbing atop an elephant for a ride, or paying someone to feed their elephant. But, if you really want to see the gentle giants and do so in an ethical manner, you can make your way to Samui Elephant Sanctuary for a half-day tour.
At this sanctuary, the elephants and their well-being are put first. While you do help feed them, there are no rides, shows, bathing, mud bathing, trunk hugging, elephant kisses, sitting on or lying on the elephants, or loud, noisy groups. Instead, the elephants are left to express their natural behaviour on your tour.
7:00pm Dinner and a Show on the Beach
End an amazing weekend of activities with a beachside dinner and dazzling fire show at Flames. Feel the sand between our toes as you sip on a (surprisingly delicious) bottle of local Thai wine, relax to the sounds of a live saxophonist, and delve into a seafood banquet (or some grilled meat if that’s more your thing). Dinner here is a refined but casual affair, where you can go without shoes but you won’t be without impeccable 5-star service.
Every Sunday, from 8.00pm – 8.30pm, the shoreline lights up with an energetic fire show. Enjoy the sight from your table, or grab your glass of wine and make your way over to the beach lounges for a closer look.
Monique travelled to Koh Samui as a guest of Intercontinental Koh Samui. All thoughts and opinions are her own.
Related reads: Live Like a Royal At Mariott Bangkok Marquis Queen’s Park
See more: Asia travel
Feature image: Monique Ceccato
Explore more things to do in Koh Samui