As we settle into anew year our to-do lists fill up fast with work, personal errands and admin. On top of that we live under pressure to meet deadlines and outperform others in the work place in order to get ahead. Some are juggling this with raising their children, while others are dealing with financial pressures. We’re all busy and no matter what stage of life one is at, everyone has a full plate.
In fact, we’re so busy riding our rollercoaster lives that we sometimes find ourselves co-existing rather than connecting. So where do we go to switch off and enjoy the luxury of losing our to-do lists for 10 days along with an email detox? Where do we take that time out with our partner and enjoy each other’s company without having to see or speak to anyone else (aside from the barman pouring us cocktails)?
My answer is always Thailand.
There’s something about the combination of sea and sun that screams holiday, add to that a secluded island and you have paradise – a place of great happiness where everything is exactly how you would like it to be. This is the essence of what you’ll experience in a place that I like to call heaven-on-earth. And it becomes addictive. It’s like that one dessert that’ll always have you coming back for more until you realise you’re on your fourth helping and that’s still not enough!
I’ve always maintained that the Thai have the right formula for the perfect holiday for couples and families alike. They are doing something right, year in and year out. It is the most authentic place on earth (excluding the fake bags that is). More humble people you’ll struggle to find who create a setting full of such character unlike anything you’ll experience. To top this off is the unlimited and untouched beauty.
My most recent trip to Thailand was my fourth time there and the second one to Koh Samui. It won’t be the last time I travel there and here is why I keep going back:
Value for money
Thailand is cheap for most tourists, some more so than others depending on the currency you’re converting from. The affordability of it all sets the scene for indulgence at its best. This includes the opportunity to stay in luxurious accommodation with 5 star amenities, gorgeous ocean facing rooms that are spacious and quality breakfast buffets worth hauling yourself out of bed for.
In Koh Samui you’ll want to be based on Chaweng Beach. It’s the most centrally located strip with awesome restaurants on one side and powdery-sand beaches with picture-perfect Ocean on the other. Separating the restaurants from the beach are hotels that are lined along the shores. This means that during the day you step out of your hotel pool onto the beach and at night you can step out of your hotel’s lobby from one culinary experience to the next.
Morning rituals set the scene for my day ahead.So instead of sleeping the morning away, I would get up early to enjoy a cup of tea on the balcony overlooking the ocean. You should too because how often do you get to do that on a working day? After breakfast, head straight to the beach. The water is refreshingly warm that you can’t help but want to swim in it all day long. As each hotel takes ownership of the section of the beach that is directly in front of its property guests are assured the perfect amount of exclusivity.
Wondering what could be more relaxing than this? Try a full body massage with a view! Imagine that? Massages on the beach are just one of the elements that contribute to the unique tranquility you will find on this island. And then when the arvo hits and you’re feeling a little peckish, grab a mielie (corn on the cob), grilled to perfection! End off the perfect day with a fresh coconut juice or cocktail as you watch the sunset.
There is no truer statement than ‘you only live once’, and the best way to justify eating absolutely everything you want while on holiday is because YOLO. So one thing you’ll want to take advantage of is the Pad Thai, because you won’t find a better version of it anywhere else in the world. For the most authentic Pad Thai (or any other Thai noodle dish), perfectly grilled fresh fish and a refreshing non-dairy fruit shake head directly to the open-air food courts. There are two located off side streets, accessed from Chaweng Street. This is where you’ll find the cheapest food, but superb quality.
If you’re not a big fan of Asian cuisine, you will find great Italian at the Pasta House and Bacci, insanely good Israeli food at Basilicon, a gourmet experience at Red Snapper and perfectly brewed coffee at The Coffee Club.
Finish off a delicious dinner with a mouth watering crispy Nutella pancake. They’re flipped on demand at little mobile stands parked on every corner, you can’t miss them.
Chaweng is not only a haven for beach-bums, hotel junkies and foodies, its home to about three dozen spas which are predominantly for foot, leg and shoulder massages. Your evening itinerary is sure to include a 30 or 40 minute session. The spas are semi-modern, some more glamorous than others and most importantly very clean. Remember to leave your shoes at the door.
Everything in Chaweng is walking distance, but at the end of your evening you’re likely to be pretty tired from the humidity. Catch a ride back in a tut-tuk at least once during your stay.
The day trip to Koh Tao
A day trip to Koh Tao is just sublime. The scenery is breathtaking and if you enjoy snorkelling you’ll love this tourist attraction. It’s also a good opportunity to see other islands and the best way to do this would be through an organised boat tour which you can easily book when you’re there. You have the option to do a half day or full day trip, where meals and gear are included.
If you’re looking to pick up beautiful Thai-silk scarves, cute skirts, crocheted tanks and pretty sandals you’re in the right place. Chaweng has a combination of make-shift stalls, upmarket boutiques and a mall called Central Festival where you’ll find main stream retail brands, a selection of Western style restaurants and a Starbucks.
The locals sell beautiful bikinis and kaftans that are super cheap, you’ll find them roaming up and down the beach throughout the day. So don’t pack too many cozies as you’re likely to pick up more than a couple during your stay.
Finally, girls keep it casual! No matter how dolled up you’d like to look for your plus one, this is one holiday destination where you can leave the GHD, curling wand, hairdryer and heals behind.
Jessica Chait is from Cape Town, South Africa. She is the Marketing Communications Manager for a leading hotel group specializing in content, email and social media marketing. To work out, she swears by functional training, walks on the beach and climbing stairs. She loves to travel with her husband, watch new movies, try the latest restaurants, explore food markets, spend time with her best girl friends and is always up for some ‘me-time’ reading good non-fictional books in coffee shops.