Sunday, 25 August 2013

Bophut and Chaloklum

Bophut is one of the most interesting places to visit in Koh Samui. It retains a lot of the original wooden, Chinese style fisherman’s houses in the aptly named “Fisherman’s Village” at the entrance to Bophut. In Koh Phangan the northern village of Chaloklum is similar. In many ways these two villages and tourist destinations are similar.

For many visitors to Koh Samui Bophut is the ideal location for a beach holiday. It has a long stretch of white sand beach lined with resorts. Most of the places to stay are in the mid-range and could be considered 3 or 4 star (not that the star system has any standard application). There is Sandy with pool, restaurant and air-con bungalows starting at 600 Thai Baht. There are a few budget places set back from the beach. There is the boutique styled Zazen and the branded Anantara Bophut Resort and Spa with excellent facilities, private pool villas and definitely worthy of 5 stars. In short there is a great choice of accommodation suiting all budgets. Many of the resorts back on to the beach. This means guests don’t have to deal with roads or noisy traffic.

Chaloklum doesn’t have the same range of resorts or indeed any big hotels, but you can stay in relative comfort in places like Buri Tara Resort and Spa and Chaloklum Bay Resort. Outside of Thong Nai Pan Noi, Chaloklum has some of the nicest places to stay on Koh Phangan.  The village of Chaloklum is the centre of the small fishing industry in Koh Phangan. You can see old houses, longtail boats, bigger fishing boats and the men repairing their nets. Recently they have created a seafood area with a few great places to eat fresh BBQ fish as well as traditional southern Thai fish dishes.

As with Bophut, Chaloklum has a boutique feel to it with stylish bars and restaurants to enjoy such as the Mandalay.

Being Koh Phangan, it is not all up-market. There is still a strong backpacker presence. There is the Omega Bar with regular open mic nights. There is also the nearby beach of Haad Khom that is off the main electricity grid and has cheap and basic bungalows that can be got on a monthly rate.

There is plenty to do in Chaloklum such as archery, elephant trekking, and during the windy months, kiteboarding. There is sometimes a party at the nearby Paradise Waterfall. Yet, it remains a relaxed and peaceful spot far from the excesses of Haad Rin and the Full Moon Party; similar in a way to Bophut that has plenty of great bars but doesn’t have any pick up bars.

Since Bophut has its own ferry pier, as well the nearby Big Buddha, it is easy to jump on a boat to either Thongsala or Haad Rin. From there it is a 30 minute taxi ride to Chaloklum. If you are spending a bit of time on the islands it is worth checking out both places.

For more information about the best things to do on Koh Phangan click on this link and it will take you through to It is by far the best review site dedicated to Koh Phangan.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Samui Latin and Jazz Week

This year the Samui Jazz festival has been slightly changed – it is now to celebrate both jazz and latin music. This is not such a big departure since the two genres often cross over.

The festival will be held between 28th September and 6th October. Profits from the events go to the Green Island Foundation who support community projects.

The festival will be held at a number of locations around the island. The main stage is the beachfront at Amari Palm Reef.

Tickets to event cost 500 Thai Baht a person. There are a couple of free concerts on the main stage.

Here is the program:

Sunday 29 Sept: Fair House Villas & Spa in Maenam

20.00 Preview Concert Deborah Brown

21.00 Dina Medina & Cabo Cuba Jazz

Monday 30 Sept: Rocky's Boutique Resort in Lamai

20.00 Trio Peter Beets 'Tribute to Peterson'

21.00 Judith Nijland & the Beets Brothers

Tuesday 1 Oct: The Drink Gallery/ The Library in Chaweng

20.00 - 22.00 Saskia Laroo with 'Jazzkia'

Wednesday 2 Oct: The Passage Samui in Laem Yai

20.00 - 22.00 Miquel Rodriques feat. Nadia Basurto

Thursday 3 Oct: Centara Grand Beach Resort in Chaweng

20.00 - 22.00 Salsa Night with Nando Vanin

Concerts are with an entrance fee of 500 THB/ ticket. Tickets can be booked at the venues, via the website or at

Main Stage

Friday 4 Oct + Saturday 5 Oct: Main Stage at the Beachfront of Amari Palm Reef in Chaweng

2 days of Free Concerts starting at 18.30 until midnight.

Expect an exciting line-up and fun evening with: Deborah Brown, Kho Mr. Saxman, Buntita, Changton, Cabo Cuba Jazz, Koran Daniels, Amik Guerra, Nils Fischer, Fabio Deldongo, Rolf Delfos, Alexander Beets and many more

Sunday 6 Oct: After Party at Secret Garden in Bang Rak

Monday, 8 April 2013

Koh Mudsum for Sale

It is a brag like no other to say you own a tropical island. Johnny Depp has his own private island, as does Richard Branson. Having your own island says you have really made it; more so than owning your own luxury yacht. For those interested, Koh Mudsum just off the south coast of Koh Samui, is up for sale.

There are two types of people who are likely to buy an island: rich people who want to develop the area and make money (usually from high-end tourism); and those who just want their own island.

When I read on the internet that Koh Mudsum was for sale I was shocked: Thailand has a strong official line that land is not sale to foreigners. Thailand is for Thai people. It is a slogan that Thaksin used very successfully during his last election.

How then could the authorities allow a foreigner to buy an entire island, even if it is a small and uninhabited island? The answer is that they don’t. Koh Mudsum is only available on a leasehold. That means you can rent it for 30 years. The cost is 8 million Thai Baht per rai. A rai is a parcel of land that is 40 meters by 40 meters.

A further caveat is that you cannot buy (or lease) the entire island: rather it comes in two parcels of land – one parcel is 44 rai and the other is 46 rai.

So Koh Mudsum is not for sale. Rather those who own the land wish to get rich quick, and then get the land back 30 years later! You would have to be very rich to even consider such a poor deal. However, all status symbols are ludicrous to some extent, and the more they cost the more ludicrous they seem.

You can catch a boat to Koh Mudsum from Baan Bang Kao. There are some boat tours that include snorkeling off the coast of Koh Mudsum.

If you want to 'buy' Koh Mudsum here is where you can start:

Monday, 25 February 2013

Difference between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan

Rasananda, Thong Nai Pan Noi, Koh Phangan

Just a few years ago tourists would instinctively, it seemed, know which island was for them – Koh Samui or Koh Phangan. It is no doubt a matter of expectations. Those who wanted high quality service, family activities, good roads, big shops and the safety of a mainstream tourist location chose Koh Samui. And those who wanted a less developed place with cheap accommodation, parties and more of a free atmosphere chose Koh Phangan.

The difference between the two islands is slowly becoming less clear. Koh Phangan is developing better infrastructure – the roads are being upgraded. The electricity supply has been modernized. There is now a Tesco Lotus in Thongsala. In 2012 a new reservoir was built near Thong Nai Pan that will do a lot to stop water shortages in the dry season. In 2013 they will start laying a telecommunications underwater line so that Koh Phangan will be connected to the mainland rather than going via Samui.

And of course, as most people now know, Koh Phangan Airport is being built. Many of the things you can find on Koh Samui you can now find on Koh Phangan – good hotels, villas with swimming pools, car rental, scuba diving, kiteboarding, ‘Western’ supermarkets etc. The things yet to come are big shopping malls, cinemas and activities such as indoor bowling, go carting, golf and visiting the zoo.

Despite these ‘deficiencies’ Koh Phangan has one ace up its sleeve in the game to attract visitors – its unique partying atmospheres, typified by the Full Moon Party.

Thong Nai Pan Noi in Koh Phangan has become a small beach that resembles a Koh Samui beach in that it is lined with high quality resort accommodation such as Rasananda, Santhiya, Panviman and Buri Rasa.

The two islands have always been intimately linked in their history and culture. Moreover, they both have a similar geography and ecology. Before tourism both Koh Samui and Koh Phangan made their money from coconuts and fishing. They were both inhabited since possibly the Stone Age.

You can very much feel the difference between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan when you visit at present (2013); however, it is likely that this feeling will diminish in time. We should be happy that currently we do have the choice. Enjoy both island paradises!