Wrong side of the coast
I always seem to forget how much I love the beach when I am not there, I spend most of my time on Bali in Ubud, and the nearest decent beach is almost an hours scooter ride away. Somehow we just never go, because the Bali beaches are pretty shitty, not a destination I would recommend for that, but that will have to be in a different guide.
Maybe for that reason, we (my wife and I) decided to go on a bit of a holiday, and thought that Malaysia would be the place to go, but once we arrived in Georgetown we quickly discovered that we where on the wrong side of the coast line, the water was muddy and dirty looking. Not the way it looked on the pictures, so we hung out a few days on Penang island and ran into a couple, just arriving on the train from Thailand. Needless to say, but we where intrigued. We are used to always flying everywhere, so we saw this as a great opportunity to travel in a different way. We asked them where in Thailand they came from and they answered Koh Samui and I remember hearing a friend talk about it. IT’S ON I told my wife, not leaving her a chance to hesitate, we are going to Thailand tomorrow.
Getting there on a budget
I googled around and found out that I couldn’t book a ticket on the sleeper train, because we needed to do it 3 days in advance, but we took the chance and jumped on the train running cross country from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar on the border between Malaysia and Thailand. From Padang Besar we then bought a different ticket in the sleeper train going to Bangkok (only a few left, so really lucky, please book in advance if you don’t want to sleep on the train station), but of course only to Surat Thani, from where you get to Samui island. Total ticket cost only around 800 baht each (BUDGET!!) From there we payed 280 baht at the train station to get to the island, we used the Phantip travel service, who had 2 guys sitting in a café just outside the train station and a 100 meters to the left. this included 2 buses and a ferry ticket, and takes around 3½ hours.
By the way the train arrives quite late, but there is a cheap motel named Queens just around the corner from the train station. Nothing fancy, but a bed and wifi!
Finally we arrived
Arriving on the island we heard that Lamai would be a nice place to stay, so we bought a bus ride for a 100 baht (maybe a bit much) and jumped of at the ‘New Hut Bungalows’ on the slow area of the beach, but still an easy walk to Lamai town and the market. There is also a tesco in town, that holds everything you need.
At New Hut Bungalows the cheapest bungalow is 250 baht a night, you can do your own conversion but we lived cheaper here than we do in both Ubud and Georgetown. The rooms are simple, basically a floor with a roof, you can check it out on the pictures. It is possible to upgrade to a hut on the first row for 50 baht extra, or even an air-conditioned room with hot water and your own toilet for 500 baht so don’t be scared of just yet.
The surrounding area
The place has a decent restaurant attached and there is a few nice health food places on the main road to, so eating is no problem at all even as a vegetarian turning vegan. We ate both at the Sunday market, at a restaurant called Lamphu on the main road and at the Spa resort just 500 meters to the right when you exit the bungalow area, just to mention a few. At the Spa resort, my wife also did her daily yoga classes, and was really happy with the teachers there, I just wanted to mention that. They have a great healthy menu, with lots of options for vegans and vegetarians also.
What to do while your here
Personally I spend all of my days there waking up early, taking a run on the beach and then a swim. Then spending an hour working on my tan, before getting some work done. We are managing our business back in Denmark. I also work on writing and I create personal training and diet programs, so there is always work to be done, luckily the place have nice WiFi, so no problem there.
Other stuff to do in Lamai, is to go watch the Muay Thai Fights in town, its pretty easy to find, just look for the ‘ring’ where all the gogo bars a located, it’s every Saturday night and all you have to do is pay a 100 baht for a beer and you get a front row seat. I know a lot of people are going to say that there are better places to watch Muay Thai on the island, but this article is about keeping it on a budget, if you insist then go pay 1500 baht at the islands arena in the neighbor city.
The Sunday night market is another pretty cool thing to do, if you are a frequent traveler then don’t expect to be blown away by the selection of ‘chang’ tank tops and souvenirs. What you should really go there for, is the food part of the market. An amazing selection of deep-fried awesomeness, Nutella pancakes, porchetta, fried potato and local thai specialties. We where pretty much blown away by the selection in such a small town.
There is also a decent night life in the city, but again, watch out for all the girls trying to lure you in. Gogo girls is probably the one thing I hate most about Thailand, it’s such a beautiful place and the people are really nice, but all those girls shouting at you, is really distracting and annoying. I guess it’s part of the experience and luckily there isn’t any in the area of ‘New Hut Bungalows’, only peace and quiet.
If you are feeling adventurous then don’t be scare to rent a bike and take a trip around the island, it can easily be done in a day and will cost you around 100 baht, please use a helmet, don’t be an idiot and get a brain damage because you didn’t wanna mess up your hair!
Would i return?
To wrap up this little review I would like to say that we will most definitely return here another time, I really fell in love with the place and the simplicity of it all. The small bungalows with direct beach access is amazingly comfy, and keep you cool with the little fan in the ceiling. The beach is clean, the water is blue and the sand is white and fine grained, very comfortable to lay on it with your towel! The commune toilet and shower sections was always super clean and well taken care of, but note that the showers are not super hot as it doesn’t have a water heater.
This concludes my guide to becoming a budget beach bum in Lamai, and I hope you can use it in your travels. Follow me on social media, and visit my blog, to become more inspired.