Ko Samui is the third most popular beach destination in Thailand and has a lot to offer to anybody from backpackers to party people, families and retirees on long-term stays. My second time to Ko Samui was a special occasion and we chose a luxury resort set on a cliff-top location with access to its own beach for a more remote, resort experience. Read on how that turned out and how it compares to the more popular Chaweng Beach on Ko Samui!
On my first visit, I spent time on Chaweng Beach, the main beach with plenty of choices for hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs and activities. There is something for everybody and at every budget! You can stay at nice ocean front resorts, find a nice room at bargain rates set back from the beach or even long-term stay options. And you can party all night long or shop to your heart’s content – read my destination review Ko Samui Chaweng!
If you are looking for a little more peace & quiet, a true, remote tropical island feel – Chaweng is not it and you might be better off with one of the high-end resorts on Ko Samui that have claimed there own stretch of beach far away from the masses to provide a more peaceful experience. We chose the InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam – it’s on the very South West corner of Ko Samui, opposite side of the airport and busy Chaweng beach. Not far away is the Conrad Samui, another luxury choice!
The first advantage of choosing a luxury resort on Ko Samui is the location – these resorts have picked great spots on the island: The InterContinental sits on the cliffside with stunning, unobstructed views of the five islands and the sunset. With few other resorts nearby and only a small, local community, it’s also very quiet and there is no noise from airplanes, bars or the loudspeaker trucks you find in Chaweng! Once settled into your resort, you can claim your private spot on the beach, with few other visitors and no vendors bothering you, making for more of a Ronbinson Crusoe-style experience than you will find elsewhere. Based on your choice of resort, your experience will be consistent end-to-end: from beautiful rooms to high-end dining and luxury spas, you will be treated to an end-to-end 5-star experience!
That luxury experience comes at a price, literally. While my comfortable room at the Mercure Chaweng was $65/night, the InterContinental was $349/night at the time of booking. And you are a captive audience, with equally high prices for breakfast ($24pp) or drinks (mimosa at $30) and spa treatments. Those prices are very high by Thai or South East Asian standards, comparable to luxury experiences at typically more expensive destinations.
Your peaceful isolation also means that you have limited access to anything outside your resort – the drive to the many restaurants and bars or beach activities of Chaweng are about 45-60 minutes from the InterContinental or Conrad, so make sure that the resort experience is all you want out of your trip!
Lastly, in the process of creating a consistent luxury experience for your stay, the resorts loose some of their local flavor or “Thainess”. The InterContinental for example could very well be in Indonesia, the Maldives or Caribbean and you might never know! So, if you are flying half the way around the world to discover Thailand, I would not recommend to only stay at a resort, you’d miss out some of the things that make Thailand so special!
If you are planning a honeymoon or special occasion, you can enjoy a special stay at select resorts on Ko Samui at prices still reasonable compared to the Maldives or Tahiti! If this is your first trip to Thailand, I’d recommend to combine it with a few days on Chaweng Beach for fun and party times and a stop-over in Bangkok to experience the cultur of the Thai capital!
If all that sounds too commercial, read my review of Ko Samed for a true Thai island experience!