Our journey started with a boat trip to Helsinki, where we had an Air Finland flight booked through Finnmatkat. The flight had a scheduled refueling stop in Abu Dhabi for one hour at night. During that hour, a heavy fog came, so the departure from Abu Dhabi was delayed. At first, the flight was delayed by six hours; then it came out that the pilot’s working hours had been finished, so the departure was postponed again. After that, it was announced that pilots had started a strike, and a new crew was sent to serve us. But it took a long time.
During all these hours, we got very little information about what would happen next. At one point in time, we were informed that we would probably depart only after ten hours and would be taken to the hotel. We were already quite happy that we would have a chance to see a little of Abu Dhabi, maybe walk a little, and breathe some warm air. But this dream did not last long. Most of the passengers were Finns, as they did not need a visa to enter the UAE, and the hotel was only for them. We needed a visa to leave the transit zone, and we were told this was not a straightforward procedure. We were 20 people with Estonian and Russian passports who trained for the movie “Terminal” in part two. We also had a 2-year-old child with us. But he seemed okay.
The clerks told us that the transit hotel had no availability, and they offered us to stay in the lounge. We were exhausted. We took a final chance and checked the hotel by ourselves, and luckily we got two rooms. After a shower, the dreams were lovely. It did not matter that the room had no windows or was dark outside. The bed with linen was SO good after spending 20 hours in the terminal.
Our flight was delayed once more, but finally, we took off from Abu Dhabi after spending 32 hours at the airport. I do not remember that taking off from the grounds made me have stronger emotions.
Everything else went very smoothly. We landed at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport, got the visa, entered the country, and even changed the Bangkok Air flights three times. We want to praise Bangkok Air. The booking through the internet was easy. After knowing that we would not be in Bangkok in time, we called them, and they suggested the next flight for us. They apologized every time I changed the flight (three times) that they couldn’t offer us the child meal during that one-hour flight. Honestly, this was our slightest concern. The people on the phone were all incredibly kind and caring. And the Bangkok Air flight was a pure pleasure after the previous experience.
And then finally, we arrived at the most beautiful airport we have ever seen – Samui International Airport. The airport has no walls, and it does not need them due to the climate. After a quick and well-organized baggage claim, we were guided to the taxi stand. We paid 500 baht for a ride to Al’s Resort in Chaweng.
The hotel was booked for one night before the trip through sawadee.com. We were pleased with Sawadee’s service: booking was easy, and feedback came by email very quickly. Also, when we realized that we would get there only a day later, the Sawadee people were accommodating and changed our booking at no charge.
Al’s Resort was excellent (we had two Villa Deluxe for 4100 Baht each) and in the center of Chaweng, although the resort area was tranquil. Wifi was also available; although it did not reach our room, we used it at the reception building.
Chaweng, Big Buddha, and Wat Plai Laem
We woke up after a perfect sleep, had breakfast, and decided to extend our stay at Al’s Resort. Unfortunately, they did not have availability. Before the trip, we read many travel forums, and almost everybody suggested not booking the hotel before for the whole stay. These suggestions promised that there would be plenty of reasonable accommodation available to choose from. With the experience now, I could say that reading the reviews of previous travelers in Sawadee and looking at the pictures gives a perfect view of the reality, and next time I would book the hotel for more than one night at least.
After realizing we needed a new place to stay, we walked on Chaweng beach to find a good place. And our choice was just a few steps from Al’s Resort – Chaweng Buri Resort. This resort impressed us with its stunning villas in a lovely garden. However, this resort was a little more expensive, at 4500 Baht per villa. The pool was perfect, a children’s area and the restaurant were also excellent. But again, it was available for one night. The staff was accommodating and promised to call us if any availability appeared.
We spent some time near the pool when our 2-year-old had a good daydream. After that, we wanted to see Big Buddha. We took a cab (for 400 baht) and drove there.
The Big Buddha temple is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Koh Samui, on the island’s north coast. The Buddha is 12 meters high and sits on a small islet connected to the big island by an unpaved causeway. The Big Buddha statue stands at the top of the ceremonial dragon steps at Wat Phra Yai. Big Buddha is impressive, but so are the views from the platform to the beaches and sea.
In front of the temple is a cluster of shops and food stalls. We also did some souvenir shopping there. After a good walk and stepping on the stairs, we asked the taxi driver to take us back to Chaweng. He did not speak English very well but somehow explained that he wanted to take us to another temple. At first, we understood that he wanted to take us to some shop or sell us something, and we were pretty resistant. After reaching the destination, we were delighted.
The taxi driver took us to Wat Plai Laem. Wat Plai Laem is one of Samui’s most colorful temples and features an 18-arm Buddha statue in the middle of the lake. The lake is full of big fish. Our youngest, a 2-year-old, really enjoyed feeding fish with bread, which seemed to be a top-rated attraction. The Wat was impressive, with its colors and the statues of Buddha. It is very new, having been built only in 2004. It seems that they will continue the construction work in the area. This is a place worth visiting when in Samui.
After these friendly tours, we returned to Chaweng for a tasty Thai dinner in the restaurant across the street from our hotel. The food came quickly, the service was excellent, and the food could not have been better. The price for dinner for four people with some beers was about 900 Baht.
After dinner, we checked with reception whether there was any availability for the next night. Unfortunately, there was none. But the reception guy was accommodating and started to call other hotels to find an option for us. Similar options to the Buri hotel were unavailable in Chaweng, so we looked for alternatives in Lamai Beach. Changing the location was okay for us; we even wanted to stay there in our original plans.
Chaweng is the busiest beach in Samui, but it has beautiful white sand. Both hotel options had great locations, and we recommend staying either at Al’s Resort or Chaweng Buri Resort.
Moving to Lamai Beach
After breakfast, we stayed at Chaweng Buri Resort’s pool for some time, as it was a really great area and had a nice pool. We also did some shopping as Chaweng is the best shopping area in Koh Samui.
Then it was time to move to Rummana Boutique Resort at Lamai Beach. The taxi took us there for 400 baht.
The welcome to Rummana was hot and lovely. After cleaning our hands with ice-cold towels, they gave us some fresh fruit drinks. The hotel was nice, even though it was a little far from Lamai center, but it was very close to the main attractions at Lamai beach—Grandmother and Grandfather rocks. We had two villas for 4800 Baht each.
We enjoyed the lovely beach area and pool, had lunch, and walked around. In the afternoon, we walked to Lamai Center for dinner and to find tours for the next few days. Lamai Center was less busy than Chaweng but had plenty of good options for dinner. We chose Bauhaus Bistro as a restaurant and were so pleased to come back here the following evening.
After a tasty sweet and sour chicken and other good Thai food, we wanted to have some dessert. There was a banana pancake stand on the street. The pancake maker was elegant in his job. The process of making the banana pancake was enjoyable to observe, and the result was just perfect. It cost 30–40 baht.