Koh Samui has become an ever-increasing popular holiday destination for good reasons; the friendly locals, fabulous beaches, lush forests, exquisite temples and delicious food, to name but a few. Whether you are a family, a group of friends, a wedding party, a corporate retreat or celebrating a special occasion, Villa Kalyana offers something for everyone. Here are few tips to help you plan your holiday before you leave and once you are at the villa.
Before you leave
A 30 day visa on arrival is available for most nationalities. A form needs to be completed before going through immigration and you may be asked to show your return ticket. If you are planning to stay longer, you can apply for a 3 month visa through the Thai Embassy in your country.
For more information see: http://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/visa-on-arrival.php
Cash or cards?
The answer is both as you don’t want to be carrying around large amounts of cash. There are ATM machines on Koh Samui at most super markets and mini markets and all major credit cards and debit cards are accepted in a lot of shops. The main thing to be aware of is that there is a Thai charge for using the ATM and this can be as high as £4 (180 THB) per transaction. This coupled with your bank’s own fee can add up over the holiday. A prepaid currency card is a cheaper option for accessing cash, or be mindful not to withdraw small sums on frequent occasions.
Check with your GP to make sure your vaccinations are up to date and seek professional advice about what jabs and medication you should take. Pharmacies are very helpful with a lot of medications available over the counter. Although, in general, Thailand is a clean and hygienic country, it is best to avoid drinking tap water and ice in drinks when you are out and about. However, at Kalyana, the chef and staff wash fruit and vegetables in bottled water and all drinks are made with drinking water and the ice is safe.
The electricity in Thailand is 220 volts. The plugs are two prong but they accommodate both flat prongs (like in the U.S. and Japan) and round prongs (like much of Europe and Asia). It’s a good idea to bring a couple of adaptors with you, just in case. Make sure you have your favourite tunes with you as there are docks and speakers in every room.
It’s best to bring your favourite brands with you but there are complementary toiletries in each bathroom at Kalyana. Bring sun cream of different factors, but if you need more, local pharmacies sell all the international brands and toiletries are available locally in every 7/11 and Family Mart. Hairdryers are in each room so you can cut down on space in your case and squeeze in that extra outfit or pair of shoes!
Pre-order some snacks and drinks
If there are a few foodstuffs or drinks that your group require on arrival at the villa, then they can be
preordered through the villa manager. The team will endeavour to get the products so you have the basics when you arrive. This can include snacks for the kids, alcohol or dietary products needed. A search on the supermarket Tesco’s website (two stores in Samui) will help you decide what you might want and what’s available. Depending on what time you arrive, a menu is emailed so you can also preorder snacks or dinner for that day.
Getting to Koh Samui
There are many flights in and out of Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur from all over the world. If you look carefully, and book in advance, even during peak season, there are bargains to be had. There are regular, daily flights with Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui.
Getting to Villa Kalyana
Villa Kalyana is located on the south coast of Koh Samui, a forty minute drive from Koh Samui airport. The easiest way to get from the airport to the villa is to pre book an airport transfer through Kalyana, depending on the size of your group, a minibus or multiple cars can be arranged.
On arrival at Villa Kalyana
Rest assured you will be met with a warm welcome and a smile after your long journey. Your group gathers together for a welcome drink and the team will brief you on what you need to know about the villa. If you are at Kalyana for a wedding or a celebration, all the rooms are already allocated by the main booking party and the staff seamlessly show you to your room. The team explain where everything you need can be found in the rooms and around the villa.
Pre-order lunch and dinner
Once you are freshened up, you meet the chef and the villa manager to discuss dining options to pre order meals for the next day; giving the chef time to buy the provisions.
What to do at Kalyana
Apart from the large beach side infinity pool, a stroll along the almost private beach, chilling on your terrace with a book and soaking up the sun, there is plenty to do. Yoga classes with a professional teacher can be arranged in the beach side pavilion, either one to one or in a group. If you feel like a pamper day, then a masseuse can be organised to come to the villa. Kayaks are available to explore the coast and if you fancy something faster, jet skis can be delivered directly to the beach. There is a gym on site, so the fitness bunnies can keep up with their training and for something different a Muay Thai (Thai boxing) trainer can come and train you at the villa.
Tours and activities
Villa Kalyana concierge service can provide plenty of information on activities on Koh Samui, from boat trips to safari jungle exploration, or a relaxing sightseeing tour of the island. The villa concierge is handled by Khun Sonia and Khun Mam. You can browse the recommendations and brochures while chilling by the pool, plan your next few days, and speak to the team about arranging the tour. Many trips can be booked last minute, but often it’s best to book in advance, especially during high season, to ensure the times and days suit the group.
The professional, trained private in house chef at Kalyana serves up delicious Thai and western food so you probably won’t want to leave the villa for meals! All dietary needs from gluten free to minimal spice can be catered for. If you are concerned anyone in the group, especially younger guests, won’t take to Thai food, don’t worry, there is western style food and kid friendly options like fish fingers, pasta and sandwiches.
Kids at Kalyana
If you are travelling with babies and small children, they’ll receive a lot of attention in the form of smiles and hugs from the team. Thai people love children and the staff will be more than happy to entertain them for short durations. With the dedicated kid’s room interconnecting with the adults, the children are close at hand, but everyone can enjoy some privacy. Cots and high chairs are available for the very small ones. Sometimes parents require longer periods of childcare, for a special meal or a wedding evening, and the villa staff can arrange a professional English speaking, local babysitter.
Getting around Koh Samui
With a driver
The easiest way to get around is to hire a car or minivan with a driver. You can then be dropped off and picked up when you please and don’t need to worry about parking or getting lost. The villa concierge can arrange cars and minivans with a driver.
There are taxis or the local trucks (Songtaews) but they are not available for all routes on the island. With a group, it’s often cost effective and more convenient to have your own transport arranged via the villa.
Car and scooter hire
If you prefer to be more independent, then hiring a car or scooter is an option. If you go for the scooter option, be very careful and make sure you wear a helmet.
Safety in Koh Samui
Thailand is one of the safest countries in the world to travel. As with any country, you are a guest and new to the place, keep your wits about you, be polite and respectful and you’ll have a great time.
Keeping valuables safe
Petty theft is not rife in Koh Samui but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep your passport and valuables in the safe and only take out the cards and money you need.
Avoid the heat of the day
The heat can be a struggle, especially for children, so make sure they are out of the sun in the heat of the midday sun with a cover up or doused in sunscreen. The a/c rooms are perfect to retire to or cooling off in the pool is an obvious bonus. There are plenty of shaded areas and salas around the villa for the adults to take that afternoon snooze.
Dos and don’ts in Koh Samui
Thailand is culturally very different from the west and what we may perceive to be considerate behaviour doesn’t always apply in Thailand. Please take note of the cultural
notes below to be sure not to offend anyone.
● Be patient – the pace of life is slower so things make take a little longer than you are used to. Thai people can be shy, especially when speaking English so give the staff time to process and answer your questions.
● Dress respectfully –this applies to anywhere off the beach but especially when you are visiting temples. Make sure you cover your shoulders and knees and avoid wandering towns and cities topless – this applies to men and women! The villa team are used to tourists but dress politely around them.
● Respect the monarchy – The monarchy is hugely revered by Thai people and there is zero tolerance in terms criticism or discussion about the royal family.
● Take off your shoes – if you are invited into a Thai‘s house or visiting a temple, leave your shoes on the doorstep. Some shops even prefer you take your shoes off – just look for the pile of shoes out front or take them off just to be sure.
● Respect Buddha images – if you are buying Buddha states and ornaments be aware that they may be confiscated at customs as it’s technically illegal to take them out of the country.
● Respect monks – if you are a female, be advised, that it is forbidden for monks to touch or sit next to women.
● Check out reviews about attractions which involve animals so you can make an informed choice before visiting them.
● Smile and have fun with the villa staff- they are a fun loving, warm culture and love to share a giggle.
● Don’t put your feet up – showing the soles of your feet in Thailand is considered incredibly rude so keep them firmly on the ground.
● Don’t touch Thais on the head – the Thais see the head as the most important part of the body so avoiding touching it – even ruffling kid’s hair can be seen as impolite.
● Don’t sunbathe topless or naked – respect the Thais etiquette of a polite dress code.
● Don’t raise your voice or lose your temper – Thai people think this shows loss of face and they won’t respond well to you. Be firm but polite and smile.
The best time to travel
This is easy… you can visit all year round! Thailand has varying seasons and as with other tropical destinations, weather can often be unpredictable. However, it’s guaranteed to be warm! There may be a rain shower some days, but often only short bursts in the morning, afternoon or at night. Generally, the cool season is the most popular time to visit Thailand: with cool temperatures and almost no sign of rain. This time of year Dec – March also coincides with the peak tourist season. It’s advisable to book your flights and accommodation as soon possible when deciding your travel plans as prices and rates tend to be higher.