Hog wild on Koh Samui
Thailand's second-largest island may be a well-travelled destination, but there are always new experiences to be had
Taking tentative steps onto a long-tail boat on a shallow beach requires a certain sense of balance. After taking our seats, we put on our life jackets. The engine started and we were off in the sunshine and sea breeze to Koh Taen and Koh Matsum, less than 20 minutes from Phang Ka Bay on Koh Samui. By the time we reached the islands, we were drenched from the seawater that splashed us all along the way.
Koh Samui is synonymous with a lot of things: beaches, parties, temples and natural attractions. The island can be reached directly by plane or via ferry from Surat Thani. Most travellers will also be familiar with neighbouring destinations like Koh Pha Ngan, which is equally well-explored by international tourists, and is especially famous for its Full Moon parties. But not everyone is aware of Samui's less-travelled gems like Koh Taen and Koh Matsum to the south of the island.
Snorkelling at Koh Taen.
Our first destination, Koh Taen, is a great snorkelling spot. We put on our masks and lowered ourselves into the water, regretting the fact that we didn't have a waterproof camera to snap some of the amazing sights we saw down there. This was my second time snorkelling at Koh Taen. My first experience had been rather disappointing because of low visibility, but the weather and the conditions were just right this time around. The water was clear and there was lots of seaweed and fish. I even spotted a sea cucumber.
Watch out! Hogs might steal your snack.
There were other boats nearby. One was throwing fish food into the water to lure the little swimmers in. Is that appropriate? I remember hearing that it's bad for the ecosystem and environment. Sadly, not many people seemed to mind.
Pigs are a popular attraction on Koh Matsum.
We didn't spend too long at Koh Taen. And due to time limitations, we didn't go ashore either, but instead headed to Koh Matsum right after snorkelling. This took about another 15 minutes. Then our feet touched the sand once again. We found a table under the shade near a local beach bar and began to wonder where everybody else had gone. That was until we spotted a group of people clustering on one area of the sandy beach with cameras in hand.
The answer? Pigs. Like, literally. They're the stars of the island.
Koh Matsum may not be the Bahamas but it also has pigs chilling on a beautiful beach. These hogs sure know how to draw crowds, just by walking around and rolling in the sand. They were friendly too, and seemed to enjoy having children rubbing sand on their backs. They also loved nibbling on the prawn crackers that tourists gave them and almost stole a beer from one guy.
Seen Beach Club Samui.
It was Saturday when I went there. There were some tourists, but it wasn't crowded -- except around the pigs. The beach was relatively peaceful and it was easy to find a quiet spot to swim and go kayaking in the crystal clear water.
We took out the sticky rice, fried chicken, fruit and cold drinks from our cooler for a pleasant lunch with a great view. There was an eatery on the beach but we only bought coconuts from them for 100 baht each. A little pricey, of course, but that's pretty normal for a tourist spot.
Swim-up bar inside Seen Beach Club Samui.
In the afternoon, we headed back to Samui. It took less than 20 minutes for the long-tail boat to reach the beach outside our hotel. With the rest of the day free, it was only right that we continued our weekend exploration of the best that the island has to offer.
Samui, like many beach destinations, never seems to run out of activities to satisfy even hard-to-please tourists. It caters to a variety of interests and needs, with countless tattoo parlours, massage shops, markets, restaurants, snake and crocodile farms, boxing rings and more. There are clubs and pubs everywhere for those wanting to party night and day.
The beach club's air-conditioned restroom features a fun, cheeky design.
One of the latest hotspots is Seen Beach Club Samui on Chaweng Beach, which has proven to be a great addition to this side of the island. This new resort embraces the nostalgic beach club culture of Miami and California. Its retro 1950s design is stylish and cheeky. At night, the LED lights bring even more colour to its vibrant beach scene.
So bring along your bikinis and party it up with the picturesque sea view right in front of you. There are indoor and outdoor areas to lounge around. Guests can hang out beside the kombi van bar or the swim-up bar. Grab a few cocktails or some Champagne and relax on pool beds or in private cabanas. Or you can dance the night away to nonstop tunes. Seen has it all. It also opens onto a beach with great waves. A few people were even surfing when we were there.
Long-tail boats on Koh Matsum.
And if you get hungry, Seen serves great international cuisine that draws influences from the Mediterranean, Asia and America. The menu has been crafted by chef Joy Imprasittichai, former head chef of The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck in Sydney. Very soon, our table was filled with everything from tuna poke to tacos and four-cheese pizza. In great company, we chatted and dined until we were so full we could barely walk.
Guests partying at the beach club.
Out by the pool, people were drinking and dancing to the DJ's beats. It was indeed a lively afternoon -- a perfect weekend getaway.
Barbecue for Sunday brunch.
A dance show at Seen Beach Club Samui.
Out on Chaweng Beach.
Coconut refreshment on Koh Matsum.
Kayaking on the beach.
- Boats and tours to Koh Taen and Koh Matsum can be found at several piers and tour agencies on the island. Some resorts may also arrange a trip upon request. I stayed at Avani+ Samui on Phang Ka Bay, which offers one complimentary trip to Koh Matsum per guest per stay. The boat leaves in the morning and comes back around lunch time. Customised boat trips can also be arranged for an additional fee.
- Seen Beach Club Samui opens daily from 10am to midnight. Entry into the club is free. However, the use of pool beds and cabanas (maximum of four persons per one) requires a minimum spend of 2,000 baht on food and beverages. There is no minimum spending limit in the restaurant.
- Every Saturday, get your groove on at Sin@Seen Pool Party, starting at 2pm with DJs on deck. Expect Champagne-spraying, cocktail-sipping and non-stop music.
- Feast during the club's weekly Sunday brunch buffet, with seafood, sushi, barbecue, noodle station, desserts, and more on the offer. The brunch starts at 11am and goes on until 4pm. It is perfect for anyone from families with kids to party people who were up late the night before. The brunch is 1,690++ baht per person. Kids aged 6-12 years pay half price, and younger kids eat free.