Living the life in Paradise

Koh Samui is one of the most popular island retreats in Thailand and often people don’t want to leave. Abena Bailey finds out how a trip here can be more than just a holiday.

Steal away for a few days to recharge your batteries.

The island is a major spa destination and there are many places to relax and indulge in a wellness programme.

When the stresses of the rat race gets too much some people hide away at the Forest Spa in Tamarind Springs (www.tamarindsprings.com), which is close to Lamai Beach.

It offers everything from yoga holidays and osteopathy to massage treats and steam caves, all tucked away on the border of the forest among rock pools and waterfalls. Thailand’s way of life is perfect for encouraging those who live contemporary lifestyles to detox and wind down with a treatment package designed to cure the side effects of fast living.

Those in need of a spiritual holistic break head to Kamalaya (www.kamalaya.com), an award-winning spa, which tailors wellness programmes to the individual after conducting a consultation that takes into account health,
medical needs and lifestyle.

It was founded by John and Katrina Stewart, who both began their journeys in Asian spirituality in their teenage years. John devoted 16 years of his life studying spirituality in a Himalayan community while Katrina has a background as a doctor in traditional Chinese medicine.

Their lives are reflected in the core of the business, which focuses on the enhancement and enrichment of one’s life.

Spend a week educating yourself 

Some people can think of nothing worse than sitting around on a beach for days on end and prefer to use their time off more constructively.

Fitness fanatics hone boxing skills at the Lamai Muay Thai Camp (www.lamaimuaythaicamp. com), which is situated on Lamai Beach.

The camp offers daily classes as well as week long and month long intense training courses, which are led by top fighters and personal fitness trainers.

The camp welcomes people who just want to improve their fitness as well as serious fighters in training. There is a real family atmosphere with a café and women are catered for with female classes and ladies days.

Foodies have been swapping the heat of the sun for the heat of the kitchen and tuning their taste buds and cooking expertise Thai style.

The Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts (www.sitca.net) has a range of courses and includes a six day Thai Cuisine Immersion at its centre in the middle of bustling Chaweng.

The course does what it says on the tin by teaching 60 dishes in just six days.

Each class starts at 10.30am and the students spend their days learning to cook soups, curries, salads, stir fries and desserts.

To end the class everyone tucks into what they have cooked and there is plenty available for a friend to join in the meal.

Diving is a wonderful way to experience the deep picturesque ocean of Samui whether you want a taster or to achieve a PADI and become a certified scuba diver.

Fisherman’s Village is home to Bophut Diving School, where people sign up to learn under the supervision of a dive master.

Diving is something the whole family can take part in as the school’s bubble maker course offers diving experiences for children as young as eight years old, while more experienced divers can try a speciality course in underwater photography or learn to handle an underwater scooter.

A degree of skill level is required for some courses and information can be found at www.bophutdiving.com. Take in the sights and delights of the markets For those who only have a short while and want to get a taste of Samui, the walking street markets in Chaweng, Fisherman’s Village and Maenam are packed with local delicacies; mango sticky rice, fried chicken, Thai style kebabs and fabulous cocktails come cheap – for as little at 50 Baht (£1.10).

There is always a band or street entertainment on the go. Maenam, which is the quieter town on Samui, has a more laid back vibe while there is usually house music pumping out of speakers at most stalls in Fisherman’s Village
and Chaweng.

Walking street is where to go to for local art, jewellery, massage oils and clothes.

Shoppers haggle for items on sale from the early evening through to midnight when the bands stop playing and people either head to a night club or beach party.

The daily markets are where people go for  freshly caught fish and there is an abundance of traditional foods and dishes to try that one wouldn’t find in the usual tourist restaurants.

Some markets have seating areas surrounded by food stalls, where huge pots of curries are cooked up for locals and tourists alike.

Diners choose a selection of dishes and share them for a truly authentic meal.

By Abena Bailey

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