48 Hours in Koh Samui

Koh Samui was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me, mostly because it was the place we were able to be the laziest and most carefree. We splurged a bit on our hotel (it was the most expensive hotel we had for the duration of the trip) and the staff at the resort were so overwhelmingly friendly and kind and everyone knew us by name and it was the best hospitality I have ever experienced in my life.
And if we didn't learn so quickly that everyone in Thailand is crazy polite and friendly, I might've thought the resort staff were all faking it but I'm 100% certain that they are just genuinely that sweet.

When we arrived, while we were sorting out payment and paperwork, we were offered a local coconut caramel, ice cold towels, and coconut milk sorbet and a lemongrass sorbet. It was quite the welcome.
We were hungry so we grabbed dinner at the resort restaurant. I don't usually expect much from resort restaurants but this one was fantastic. First of all, our servers were so sweet and kind and knew our names when we arrived; I don't even know how! I'm assuming that when they check you in and scan your passports, they immediately alert all of the staff? I don't know!
They offered us a refreshing mojito sorbet to start, which I thought was kind of nice but M did not like it at all. And then for an amuse bouche, they brought us spring rolls, which were fantastic.
For our main, we ordered the fried sea bass with black pepper and coriander sauce, which was amazing. Most of the fish had been cut off, battered, and fried, but they also left the fish carcass, which still had plenty of meat on it, that we picked off after we'd finished the neat pieces. The black pepper sauce was bright and spicy. We also got a papaya salad with soft shell crab. The crab was good, but the acidity and sweetness of the papaya salad stole the show. And for a second vegetable, we got the local spinach with oyster sauce and egg, which I loved. The spinach was heartier than the spinach I was familiar with; it had texture more similar to kale.
I don't know if the servers loved us because we basically licked our plates clean, but they were fawning over us the entire meal. Not in a gross, skeazy way, but they were smiley and asking us how our meal was going and always making sure we had enough rice on our plates.
So I want to explain a little more about why we chose to stay at this resort. First of all, there were just so many choices, it was a little overwhelming so we tried to narrow things down by choosing an area of the island to stay. We wanted to stay in Lamai because it was quieter and the beaches were nice and calm. I was also feeling pretty bougie so I said that it would be cool if we could have a private pool and that really narrowed things down. Ultimately, we chose the Renaissance because the price was decent and because I'm a Marriott rewards member and figured that I might as well rack up some points during this trip.
I booked through the Marriott website and paid $269 USD per night. This rate was for a private villa with its own little pool and included a fantastic breakfast every morning. The villa was humongous. There was a living room, a lovely canopy bed with netting to keep any rogue mosquitos that might've followed you into the room at bay, and the coolest shower. We were given a little welcome basket of fresh fruit and there was a turndown service every day.
I'd had some lofty plans to wake up bright and early the next morning to watch the sunrise but I set my alarm incorrectly and ended up sleeping in until 8:00. That wasn't the worst thing in the world though, because this was the first morning not battling jet lag.
The breakfast at Banana Leaf was great. It wasn't a dinky little continental deal like most hotel breakfasts. There was a hot buffet with loads of Thai dishes, fruits, cereals, an omelet station, a pancake station, and every day there were special dishes to order. We got a blue crab omelet on our first morning, which was chock full of crab and the egg was a perfectly fluffy french omelet preparation.
After breakfast, we walked around exploring the grounds. Since we'd arrived in the night, we didn't get to see much. I thought the pool area was gorgeous and v. well maintained.
The beach was so clean and beautiful. The reef is a ways out so the water was super clear and calm but it was also super shallow which meant that it was pretty boiling hot and didn't really offer much in terms of relief from the heat.
On the opposite side of the hotel, there was a lap pool. No one was there, which made it a fun little respite where we could be silly and splash around without the noise and annoyance from kids doing the same.
We tried kayaking using their clear kayak, but the water was just too shallow and the kayak and oars were terrible so we decided to grab a couple of sun loungers and get some cocktails.
M got the frozen mango margarita while I went for a frozen mango daquiri.
We had booked a cooking class a few weeks beforehand so in the afternoon, Jul, the instructor, picked us up from our hotel.
We learned to make tom yum soup, tom kha soup, pad thai, spring rolls, massaman curry, and green curry. It was a feast!
It was so much fun learning about the various spices and vegetables and though a few of the ingredients aren't necessarily readily available to us at home, enough are that we feel like we can make a genuine Thai meal at home now. We learned that the key to making tom yum and tom kha taste so good is keffir lime leaves.
We got lucky because we were the only ones in the class that day so it was like a private class.
We had so much fun and I highly recommend Jul's class. If you ever have a chance to go to Koh Samui, definitely book in with her. She'll teach you all about the various herbs and vegetables and take you on a tour of her garden. It's a v. rewarding experience.
Our class also included a ride back to the hotel but we asked Jul if she'd just drop us off at the nearby temples instead. The temples on Koh Samui were beautiful but also rather playful. The statues were less stately and more jovial.
We also checked out the Big Buddha. There were signs saying to take off your shoes after 4PM but as it had just turned 4, the ground was still way too hot so we kept our shoes on.
Near the Big Buddha by the bay there are a handful of other statues that I think are worth visiting as well.
It was pretty hot and I was getting sunburned so after we'd had our fill of temples, we decided to grab a taxi back to our hotel. We'd considered going to the Bophut Fisherman's Village but the fun thing to do there is eat and we'd just feasted on a massive lunch at our cooking class and our bellies were still really full so we didn't think we'd have much fun there.
So, we just had some pool time and beach time instead.
For dinner we went back to Tawann because it was convenient and we'd enjoyed it so much. The same servers from the evening before were there and they were really excited to see us. I told my sister that I thought they really liked us and she said she thought they treated everyone that way. The evening before there were no other diners so we couldn't make a comparison but that night, there were a few other families and though our servers were kind to them, they just weren't as smiley and fun and didn't joke with them the way they did with us.

We were given a little mushroom bundle amuse bouche to start, which was slathered in a sweet chili sauce and so delicious.
For our vegetable, we got the stir fried morning glory, which was so good. Morning glory is also known as water spinach and the stalks are hollow tubes with a crisp texture and the leaves wilt into delicious lacy bits that soak up all of the saucy seasoning.
For our main, we got the tiger prawns with tamarind sauce. I could have bathed in that sauce. It was tart and sweet and so sublime, especially with the delicate prawns.
We didn't overdo it on the entrees because we really wanted dessert. We got the mango sticky rice. It came with a coconut ice cream, which was so tasty. The sticky rice itself was gooey and tender and the mango was juicy and ripe.
The next morning, I actually did get up in time for the sunrise and was greeted with cotton candy pink clouds.
We grabbed another hardy breakfast. I loved the noodles and the bits of crispy Chinese sausage.
We didn't have any set plans for this day so all we did was hang out on the beach, we kayaked, we hung out at the pool, we splashed around in our own private pool watching movies, and just lounged around. We also had some fun beach photo shoots. I had been hoping to show off my gym body, but all of the airplane time and jet lag did weird things to my body and left me with a huge bloated gut. But, I did my best to suck it in and this yielded some usable photos, ha.
For happy hour, the hotel hosted a little class where they taught us how to make some cocktails. We were given a lesson in pina coladas, which I loved because that's definitely my favorite beach cocktail. We added loads of ice to a shaker with some dark rum, coconut cream, simple syrup, and pineapple juice and shook it all up. It was so simple but so delicious.
We chugged our cocktails and then ran down to the lobby to grab a shuttle to Lamai town center so we could get a late lunch/early dinner at the Lamai night market.
They were just setting up when we arrived so we did a lap before deciding what to get.
We ended up getting some of the best pad thai I've ever had.
We also got some freshly squeezed orange juice, which was really pulpy but delicious.
I also ended up buying a pair of tie-dyed cotton culottes at this market. I know everyone ends up with a pair of those elephant pants when they go to Thailand but I wanted something I would genuinely want to wear during the trip and when I got back to the States. You'll see that those pants make quite a few appearances during the rest of my trip, and therefore, they will make many an appearance in subsequent blogposts.
We also got the best coconut ice cream from this little stall. the ice cream is served inside of a coconut, which means you get to also drink the coconut water while you wait for the vendor to scoop the ice cream. The texture of the ice cream itself is crazy creamy. According to the signage, it's made with coconut oil. The vendor also scrapes the coconut meat before piling it high with the ice cream which means that when you're done slurping up all the ice cream, you can snack on the coconut meat.
Instead of grabbing a cab, we decided to walk back to our hotel along the beach. It got a little dicey towards the end because the sun went down completely and it was pitch black but we managed okay.
For our final night, we went back to Tawann one last time because they were having a special event: Crab & Claw. Because it was crab season on the island, they had a crab special. M loves crab so we decided we should probably go.

The amuse bouche that night was a little purse dumpling. The dumpling skin was so crispy.
We ended up getting the black pepper blue crab and an order of morning glory. We sucked all the meat out of the crabs; we probably looked like savages.
And even though we were probably going to order mango sticky rice anyway, our amazing waiter told us that since we'd dined there three times in a row, they wanted to thank us with a complimentary mango sticky rice. Unfortunately, they were out of the coconut ice cream so we had vanilla instead.
On our final morning, I got up early again to try and catch one last sunrise.
We had one last delicious breakfast before we finished packing up and hopped in a cab to the airport.
It wasn't easy saying goodbye to Koh Samui because in the short time we were there, we had managed to fall in love with the island and the locals.
Here's my video diary: