Koh Samui: Trains and Tourist Trappin’ It

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After Chiang Mai, I dreaded taking the 13+ hour overnight train ride back to Bangkok. But it ended up being pretty decent. The chairs reclined, they gave us blankets, and we got FREE bomb-ass Thai food for late dinner and breakfast! And I got some sleep. Not bad.

After returning to Bangkok just to take a shower at my old hostel and get a Lao tourist visa, I made my way back to the Air Train and Metro stations later that evening where I experienced the most abominable metro traffic in my entire life — let’s just say I’ve never had to wait 15-20 min to get out of BART gates before.

My second non-sleeper (fan only) overnight train that I caught in Bangkok was def not 2nd class air conditioner. This train was hot and sweaty and MUGGY!! Fans on the ceiling occasionally blew air around us, while hawkers called out and walked through the aisles to get passengers to buy their food or snacks — nothing was for free on this ride. Because it was so hot, we had to keep the windows rolled down most of the time, which meant loud, sudden stops and train honking that would interrupt my sleep from time to time – even with ear plugs in. Constant fluorescent lighting also made the ability to sleep pretty challenging.

I woke up the next morning pretty hot and sweaty, and found that I had developed “cankles” somehow. Pretty ugly. But the morning was beautiful. I can see why so many people tell you to take a train to the south of Thailand — it’s nothing but lush and green tropical plants and humble, small towns that dot the countryside around the train’s route. I woke up to another beautiful sunrise in the countryside that morning.

I got off the train and was immediately ushered into a tourist crowd that was taking a bus and a catamaran speed boat to the islands. Once arriving in Koh Samui, I caught a ride with THE NICEST, sweetest cab driver who taught me Thai on the 45 min drive to my hostel. Every time I said a Thai word well, she clapped her hands and shouted “KAH!” (Yes!!) with excitement. She was so adorable. Over the ride I got to know more about her life — she’s a single mom (my age) with two kids and a deadbeat ex-husband. While my taxi ride cost 1,000 baht, she told me that the company she works for only pays her like 500 baht a month. She’s never been to the mainland of Thailand because she works 7 days a week and never gets a “holiday”. It was insane. I gave her a fat tip because I was so grateful and wished her well before we parted ways. I feel very humbled and grateful when I get a chance to get to know people from the places that I visit.

Later that day I went to visit Max, Hijoo, and KK at their amazingly nice Le Meridian hotel suite that was gifted to them by Max’s sister. You”ll have to check out the photos to see how amazing it is.

It’s been great hanging out with Max and the fam over the past 2 days — I haven’t had a chance to catch up with them and play with KK for a while, so it’s dope to finally meet up during our travels!

HOWEVER, I have to say that I really, really dislike Koh Samui and would HIGHLY un-recommend this place to other travelers (unless the weather is perfect and you’re only here for a few days). Why?


1) Taxi rides here charge exorbitant fares (I’ve had to pay 1000 baht, 800 baht, 600 baht to go not very far on the island (I paid 180 baht for a 45 min taxi ride in Bangkok ,and only paid 450 baht to take a 3 hour bus and catamaran ride to Koh Samui!!) It doesn’t help that it’s hard to get around the island if you aren’t renting a motorbike.

2) Speaking on point #1, everything here is HELLA expensive. Plan on shelling out hella scrill down here for no good reason.

3) There isn’t very much in the way of authentic food on the island. Most restaurants are catered to tourists and there’s not much else beyond very bad Western food, for the most part. Last night — Max, Hij, and I spent forever trying to find a decent place to eat in Lamai’s downtown area, only to walk in the pouring rain and eat half-decent Thai food way down the street.

4) It’s HELLA touristy — Think spring break at Lake Havasu or some giant party for 21 year olds. It’s all typical tourist stores and bars; there’s not much else to do on the island. Local folks around here sometimes really resent tourists (for a good reason) and don’t like to bargain down prices much.

5) I came here for the beaches, but due to the rain and clouds that have been covering the island for the past few days, enjoying the beach is not what it used to be. And again, besides the beaches, there’s nothing much more to do on the island (besides going to other islands to snorkel, or going to see a few waterfalls or temples on the other side of Koh Samui).

However, I did spend a beautiful Christmas morning with the Kuo-Son fam, eating an amazing breakfast buffet at a table overlooking the crashing waves of Lamai beach. That was definitely the highlight of my Koh Samui trip so far.

And…despite the craziness and frat partyness of this area, I’m still very, very thankful for all my experiences so far. Every moment has it’s perks, and has taught me a lot in one way or another…

Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery

Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery



Posted: December 25, 2011

Author: Tiffany

Category: Blog, Thailand

Tags: ,

  1. Samui Villa says:

    Hi Tiff,

    Sorry to read that you had a bad experience during your trip to Samui. Normally we find that the Western side of the island is less “touristy” and has retained more of its authentic Thai charm.

    Best wishes, Alex

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