Villa on View
Your weekly up-close view of those wow factor extras that make our villas outstanding. After all, attention to detail always makes a difference.
Koh Samui, Thailand is not a big island – it’s just under 230 square kilometres, and much of that is still pristine forest-covered hillside – but it offers a wealth of fun and interesting things to do with kids.
Our list of child-friendly activities in Koh Samui begins with five easy excursions for the whole group. If a relaxed family holiday is what you want, you got it. If you’re up for anything, and looking for the best attractions and accommodation, keep reading ’til the end.
1. Kids will love the Dusit Deva Cultural Centre, a slightly eccentric garden filled with creatures from Buddhist and Hindu myths.
3. Take a trip to the petting zoo at Paradise Park Farm Samui in Lipa Noi, where you’ll also encounter exotic birds and other wildlife.
(IMAGE FROM FACEBOOK)
4. Visit nearby Nathon Walking Street Night Market on Thursdays or the bigger Fisherman’s Village Night Market in Bophut on Fridays.
5. Samui Football Golf is a unique physical activity and all ages can share in the fun.
It’s not a tropical holiday without some wet n’ wild fun for the whole family.
6. Samui has a number of spectacular waterfalls. We love the Na Muang Falls where there’s a an inviting pool. For younger children, Lin Had Waterfall is most child-friendly. Please note both are not recommended during the rain season Oct-Nov.
7. Go island hopping in Ang Thong National Marine Park, which encompasses a cluster of islands. The heavily jungled islands are carefully controlled to keep them in pristine natural condition. A trip to them is a must.
Older kids and athletic teens with energy to burn have an opportunity to experience some thrilling sports in Koh Samui.
Between Phuket Island and Krabi on Thailand’s mainland is a remarkable 400-square kilometre inlet known as Phang Nga Bay. Named after the indigenous people (pangan) of the Malay Peninsula and its surrounding islands, the province of Phang Nga is rich with stories of pirates, sea-gypsies and Malay fisherman dating back hundreds of years. Many people of Phang Nga still maintain the humble, traditional way of life of their forefathers, pulling fresh lobsters from the sea to sell in Phuket, whilst others have embraced the area’s growing tourist trade and now work as guides.
While Phang Nga Bay is rich in folklore, it is most widely famed for the hauntingly beautiful limestone karsts that jut out of the sea, many resembling unfinished clay vessels upon a potter’s wheel. These colourful islets with their toupees of lush tropical vegetation were carved out over millions of years, and now host some of the world’s most spectacular sea caves, along with Thailand’s largest mangrove reserve.
The unbelievably emerald-green waters of Phang Nga Bay are a delight to explore in a traditional long-tailed fishing boat, canoe, kayak or speedboat. Here are some of our personal favourites for when it comes time to plan your visit to this natural wonderland.
James Bond Island
Featured in the James Bond films, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), the sight commonly referred to as ‘James Bond Island’ is also called Koh Tapu.
Here one can pace the twenty steps made famous by the suspenseful duel scene starring Roger Moore, or venture along a shaded path past an enormous limestone fissure to a smoothed-out sea cave that opens to breath-taking views of the Andaman Sea. Two small beaches line its shores and offer a great place to burrow in the golden sands while oohing over the marvellous scenery.
Limestone Caves and Hongs
Many tour operators provide the opportunity to explore the countless limestone caves and hongs (rooms) of Phang Nga Bay. The best way to witness these extraordinary natural wonders is by canoe, where local guides leisurely paddle one into vast cave systems littered with stalagmites and stalactites. These skeletons, created by a build-up of calcium carbonate, are visually stunning, especially when contrasted with the lush tropical backdrops that glow during the day.
During the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival (or jia chai in local Hokkien Chinese dialect) is held. The colourful event celebrates the Chinese community’s belief that abstinence from meat, sex and alcohol and merit making at the many Chinese shrines and temples throughout the seven to ten-day festival, will cleanse the body, mind, and spirit.
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival can be, hold on, IS a rather gruesome, crazy and loud experience, but saying all that, it is one of the most interesting, colourful, amazing and yes gruesome and loudest festivals I have ever seen.
not recommended for the faint-hearted
If the festival is on your bucket list, the finale in Phuket town is the part you cannot miss, but make sure you take earplugs and a mask, oh yes and perhaps a few drinks.
A little history lesson
It is believed that in 1825 when Phuket was the tin mining capital of Asia, a wandering Chinese opera group, who were performing on the island to entertaining the tin miners of whom a large percentage where Chinese, fell ill with malaria. The opera group decided to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and also pray to the Nine Emperor Gods, which they believed would purify their mind and body.
As with many stories, this one has a happy ending, and the opera group made a complete recovery, which lead to everyone celebrating the fact they had survived what was and still is a fatal illness, and a festival was held to honor the gods.
My first experience, and it was an experience
Phuket Vegetarian Festival, October 2007. I had never encountered anything like this before and, although I had done some research and knew a little bit of what to expect, I was so wrong. On the first day, the whole island seemed to be waiting for the sun to go down so that the ceremonies could start, the anticipation was like a haze over Phuket. Everyone dressed in white, the official colour for everyone to wear. I knew that each night there would be these ceremonies at all the Chinese temples around Phuket, and the ceremonies included fire walking and climbing sword ladders. I also knew that some people would become mediums for the gods, and these men and women would pierce their cheeks with metal spikes,
If we told you there’s a secret beach where palm trees reach out for the sea breeze, where you can rest on their trunks like a sloth, high above the glistening beachfront, where the only footprints in the sand are your own, would you believe such a place still exists?
Indeed it does, and we have new photographs and videos from Scandinavian travel bloggers Joey Palmroos and Dora Leskinen to prove it.
They enjoyed an exclusive getaway at Villa Ocean’s Edge in this unbelievable destination outside of Tangalle on the southern shores of Sri Lanka.
This video of their idyllic island escape will leave you longing for your own tropical getaway.
Dora was caressed by waves on the deserted beach.
Seconds before the gentle wave swept over her, Joey captured this remarkable photograph.
Watch their travel story and their arrival to this Sri Lanka beach paradise.
Learn first-hand how to scale a leaning palm tree for a higher vantage point.
Or enjoy the view from a more stylish perch.
The luxurious heritage beach house on this timeless beach is only a click away.
Villa Ocean’s Edge – an elite haven.
Ready for an adventure? Take to the sea Herman Melville style and visit the Phi Phi Islands to the southeast of Phuket. This beautiful bundle of isles in the Andaman Sea offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Add these must-see islands to your Thailand itinerary.
Koh Phi Phi Leh
Early birds get the worm, or in this case stunning views of Maya Bay featured in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Beach, starring Leonardo Dicaprio. A private chartered speedboat departing at sunrise from Royal Phuket Marina near Cape Yamu offers the best chance to witness this remarkable site before the hoards arrive.
The approach to Koh Phi Phi Leh is an experience in itself, as the 100-metre-high limestone cliffs encompassing unbelievably azure water come into view. Silhouetted by dense jungle, the two silky-soft white-sand beaches of Maya Bay are gradually warmed by the rising sun with the allure of lazy lounging. But wait, there’s more.
Snorkelers rejoice! This remarkable bay with depths of two to three metres is teeming with marine life in its northern section where coral reefs are more prevalent. Leap from the deck of your private charter boat or dare the 150-metre swim from the beach. Either way, be prepared to see large boulders laden with enormous sea anemones, parrotfish and photogenic giant clams posing with mouths agape.
Before departing to the next destination, venture barefoot into the jungle along a short trail shaded by a lush tropical canopy to a wooden staircase and terrace overlooking Loh Sama, reputed for its snorkelling and diving opportunities. Here you’ll see a picturesque tiny islet surrounded by crystal clear waters with traditional long-tail wooden boats moored alongside.
Phi Leh Lagoon
Opposite Maya Bay on the eastern edge of Koh Phi Phi Leh is the unbelievably green Phi Leh Lagoon. Stretching nearly 600-metres, this stunning natural wonder twists and turns down a canyon-like waterway ending in a wide picturesque lagoon with vertical limestone cliffs on all sides. Its full beauty is unveiled around midday, when the sun, like a brush to canvas, brings to life its colours, tones and textures. This is a spot to linger awhile and appreciate how nature’s artistic hand can create such a glorious site.
If it weren’t for the ripples, you could be forgiven for thinking you were diving into a putting green on a world-class golf course.