Thailand 2022-2023 Koh Samui and Anton National Park

Koh Samui

We took the Lomprayah high speed ferry from Koh Pha-Nang to Koh Samui. It’s a relatively short trip so there are more options available. We paid 300 Bth each and booked at our hotel. NOTE: The piece of paper you get from your hotel is not your ticket you have to exchange it at the ferry office for a ticket.

The boat to Koh Samui was actually a high speed motorboat not a big ferry. There are at least two ferry piers on Koh Samui. We landed at Pralarn Pier, the one closest to the airport. There was a big sign saying “anywhere in Samui for 150 Bht. They would only take you to the airport, Apparently, that is anywhere.

We negotiated a share taxi/ red truck for 500 Bth for two, to get to our hotel, Bangbo Village on Bang Po Beach. Bang Po Beach is one of the quieter beaches, used mainly by Thai tourists,  nothing like the tourist craziness on the other side of the island. We stayed on the wilder side of the island on our previous trip in 2017 (details here)

They were waiting for us at the hotel and there was some confusion. The woman waiting for us spoke no English. She used google translate and told us “One day I be a rich man” We had no idea what she was trying to tell us so she typed it in again and got the same phrase. We still have no idea what she was talking about. We had to add a day at the last minute on this part of the trip so we had two different rooms. The first room was a family room. The bed was in one room and below it there was a second room with a fridge, dishes, sink and hot plate. Breakfast was not included, and the hotel had no restaurant so we made coffee by boiling water in a pot on the hot plate. Our second room was more modern and had a kettle and a toaster! All but the cheapest rooms in Thailand have a small fridge.

There was a restaurant next door to the hotel but we choose to walk 1 km down the beach to an area which has a few restaurants on the beach. We tried two and picked a favourite. Most of the tourists here were Thai, but there were other westerners. We ate at the same place 3 of 4 nights and became regulars. We were not the only customers but there were generally only two or three tables occupied. The owner told us they would normally be full and have tables on the beach this time of year. She said she shut down completely for a few months during COVID because sick people would come in and she had small children to worry about.

There was a 7 -11 around the corner (there is a 7-11 around the corner everywhere in Thailand). We would walk back along the road after dinner. There was always lots of traffic as we were on the main road around the island.

We rented a scooter from the lady next to the hotel who was the hotel owner’s sister. We paid 200 Bht and left a passport. We rode to the Hin Lat Waterfall and hiked on a somewhat over grown hiking trail about 2 km to the top. We paid 2 Bht each to use the trail.  There is a temple and a chedi at the bottom of the trail. It was busy at the bottom but quiet at the top. Google maps claims there is a dink stop ½ way but, it was not open. We swam briefly at the waterfall and were able to use Google maps to find and follow the trail.

On the way home we stopped at the Nathon pier to visit the Nathon Night Market. There were several food stalls most of which had fish but there was also fried chicken. We bought pineapple from a truck full of pineapples and rode home.

Anton National Park

We had heard that Anton National Park was great, and we have never been there, so we paid 2000 Bht each for a day trip there. A little more than we are usually willing to pay. We took a high speed motorboat tour. You can also do it on a big boat which is cheaper. Generally big boats are slower and you are with a bigger group.

 The park is a long way from Samui so we paid the extra for the  faster boat (big boat was about 1600 Bht). For either trip you have to pay the 300 Bht park fee on top of the cost. This is pretty standard and you generally pay the park fee to the trip operator not to the travel agent when you book. The trip we booked  included lunch, snorkelling gear, kayaking, a hike, water and fruit. We were picked d up from the hotel in a minivan and taken to the pier. Pick up was between 7 and 7:30 am and they were on time. This is also normal for these kinds of trips but 7-7&30 really means 6:50-7:50. We bought the trip from the sister next door who rents motor bikes. She told us to call her if they were not there by 7:45 and she was there when they arrived at 7:15 to make sure we were looked after. When the price is similar we always book through our hotel. More accountability if something goes wrong and we are pretty sure they get commission on the trip. We have had trips where they were late, but we have only had one trip where we were forgotten and they did come back for us.

We got a breakfast of coffee (real coffee) and toast at the office and then headed out on a speed boat. There were about 25 in the group. The ride out to the park took about 90 minutes. We all had life jackets, a few people wore them, we did not. We arrived at the islands. Our first stop was snorkelling. The smaller boat less people plan did not work out as there were several other speed boats at the same spot. There were fish but the visibility was not great. We were probably spoiled by Koh Toa. It’s also possible that the recent storm had churned up the water. They told us that we did not have to wear lifejackets if we were good swimmers, but the insurance would not cover us if we were not wearing them. There were two Malaysian guys on the boat who obviously could not swim. They used life jackets and a float to snorkel (This is pretty common on these trips) but there were obviously having a good time.

Our next stop was for Kayaking. We had open Kayaks and we paddled around a lagoon between the islands. The wind was starting to get pretty gusty even when we started and we definitely had a tail wind. Harold and I, who own 4 kayaks and should know what we are doing, had to work to get back. They had to take the speed boat out to rescue a couple of the kayaks. Predictably the two Malaysian guys had to be rescued but they were laughing about it.

Our next stop was a hike up to see a lagoon. It was beautiful and one of the sons of the owner took some great photos for everyone with their cameras. He used a new video trick which Harold has reproduced since and we now call the Thai video trick.

We then got back on the boat and went for lunch. By this point the sea was getting pretty rough. We pulled up to a floating dock which was more like a roller coaster than a dock.  

We had a good Thai lunch on shore they also had spaghetti for the western eaters. After lunch we climbed up 500m to a great view point. The youngest son did the whole hike barefoot with 24 bottles of water. He also sang along very nicely to his phone. I need to find the name of the song but it’s hard to track down in Thai!

It was very windy at the top and you could see the white caps on the water. Our young guide hung off the side to take photos for everyone!

When we got back down the water was so rough it took them two tries to dock the boat on the floating dock which at this point was really rocking! We all managed to get back on the boat to load cheers.

The crossing back was rough. The boat was coming right out of the water and crashing back down. The owner pointed out that we did not need to go to Disneyland as we had our own ride here. The youngest son was spotting for the driver and had to give up and come into the boat as he was getting covered in water with every big wave. None of the crew looked worried and they had actually put all the lifejackets away at that point!

Everyone on the trip was in good spirits and there was a lot of laughter and joking as we all flew out of our seats and landed back again. The guys from Malaysia were in seats that were not completely attached to the boat and ended up on the floor a few times. At one point one of them broke into song in Malaysian. It sounded great and we managed to convince him to do it again. It was Christmas eve and before the end of the trip we all sang jingle bells. As we went “crashing through the sea” Over all a good trip.  The islands were not as great as I expected but it could have been the weather or unrealistic expectations after the amazing trip to Koa Toa.

We had a Thai Christmas eve dinner on the beach.

Christmas day was our last full day on Koh Samui. We had a lazy breakfast exchanged small gifts , went for a run and then rented a scooter. Christmas is not really celebrated here although they do put up decorations and displays at the stores. Everyone wished us a Merry Christmas. We planned to visit the Big Buddha, but we got somewhat lost and ended up at the Central Samui mall by Chaweng Beach There was tons of traffic and it is a big shopping mall (not really our thing) there is also a night market across the street in Phru Chaweng. It was just opening up.

We eventually found the Big Buddha temple,  Wat Phra Yai. You can see the Buddha image here from the sea as you come to the island. It’s a nice view over the harbour, there are also several tourist shops.

We also visited Wat Plai Laem which is on a lake. There are a number of temples and images there. You can buy food to feed the fish for 10 Bht. This is my favourite Wat on Koh Samui.

We found our way home without getting lost and had dinner on the beach again.

We left Samui the next day. We paid 500Bht to get to the airport (the owners sister, travel agent and scooter renter drove us). Taxis in general are overpriced on Samui and the other islands. Scooters are cheap but somewhat dangerous and in theory you need an m class licence to drive one but we saw no police checks on the islands.

Koh Samui airport gets 5 stars. Everything is outdoors, modern and beautiful. There are orchids growing everywhere and big fish tanks in the bathrooms. We even  got a Thai curry on our 1 hour 20 minute flight To Chiang Mai our next destination.

Published by judyapiel

Runner, triathlete and coach. Owner of RunK2J, Community Events at Bushtukah. Always looking for a new travel adventure.

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