The best things to do in Koh Samui

Are you heading to Koh Samui in Thailand and you’re wondering what it’s like in there? Where to go and what to do? Where to visit, where to dine? Where to see the most beautiful sunset and where to get the most sexiest tan?

Here are some of the best places we think are worth taking a look at or visit during your trip in Koh Samui.

Best place to hang out?

Coco Tam’s. We don’t personally like spending time on night clubs or foam parties filled with egoistic and shallow youngsters, but rather spend the evening in a peaceful atmosphere listening to good music, toes dipped in a beach’s sand. At Coco Tam’s it’s possible. It may not be Samui’s cheapest place to hang out, but as usually: cheap price and good quality doesn’t really go hand in hand. Coco Tam’s is also a very “instagrammable” place, with swings, hammocks and beach chairs. It also has Beer Pong and Pool tables and possibility to smoke shisha for those who’re interested. There’s also amazing fire show every evening at 10pm.

Coco Tam’s also offers excellent cocktails with the price of 230 baht and up. If you get hungry, there’s also a solution for a problem like that as they also have a own restaurant and a newly opened superfood cafe.

Coco Tam’s, the best place to chill

There’s a fireshow in Coco Tam’s every night

Best coffee shop?

The Road Less Travelled

The Road Less Traveled. This is a very European café, where digital nomads and remote workers will enjoy (or would if there were any in Samui). The café also has a very artistic side, as it is full of great paintings and the place is decorated in an antique style. In addition, various art exhibitions and performances are also presented here.

Best attraction?

Secret Buddha Garden / Tanim Magic Garden. We actually visited this place about a week ago, and it really surprised us. There is an entrance fee of 80 baht, but well worth the price. This tranquil garden, eutrophied by nature, was founded in the 1970’s by a durian breeder who wanted to do something in his old days. So he began to carve various animal figures and statues out of the stone. When the man then passed away and moved to the greener Durian lands in the nineties, his garden remained as a tourist destination. The place is perfect for relaxation, although there are also tourists here with their selfie sticks, just like in every tourist spots in Earth. However, getting to this garden isn’t the easiest route and you should definitely get a 125cc motorcycle or maybe even a car. The hills leading to the garden are so steep that we do not recommend cycling here either.

Goblin of Secret Buddha Garden

Fairy of Secret Buddha Garden

Best restaurant(s) (vegan point of view)?

We couldn’t choose just one, so here are the best choices from different cuisines.

If you want pizza, Hungry Wolf is our number one recommendation. Hungry Wolf also have a completely separate vegan menu, with pizzas, burgers and more. In vegan versions, meat is often replaced with “omnipork“, but there are also other alternatives. They also use vegan cheese. Hungry Wolf, however, is not a “vegan restaurant”, so carnivores will also get their tummies stuffed.

Vegan Diavola-pizza at Hungry Wolf

We would say Haveli being our favorite Indian restaurant in Samui, but since we don’t really visit there anymore (since it’s pretty far from us) we have to mention Tandoori Nights, that is located in Lamai. The owner of Tandoori Nights is an extremely friendly Indian man who shook hands with us at the end of our first visit and thanked us personally for visiting his restaurant. And this behaviour hasn’t changed, the friendly and personal service makes us come back here more than once a month. Unfortunately, we don’t have a picture of the dishes in this restaurant, but sure everyone knows how Indian food looks like. If you don’t know, click here.

For Thai food, our top recommendation is the one called Apple. Despite its name (so it’s not related to the super-expensive laptop brand designed only for using Facebook and blogging). Apple offers both Western food and traditional Thai dishes, as well as a variety of smoothies and healthy juices. Dinner for two (food + soda) won’t take more than 250 baht in your wallet.

Noodle soup @ Apple

Best beach?

Lipa Noi or Lamai Beach. There are two to choose from, because depending on your mood, one is better than the other. If you just want to lay down in peace and swim in the ocean, Lipa Noi Beach is a better for that. The beach is also suitable for admiring the sunset as it is located on the western side of the island. But if you’d like to do some activity (like jet skiing) then Lamai Beach is better for you. In Lamai there are also more restaurants, possibilities to rent a beach chairs and get massages. The downside in Lamai Beach are the jewelry sellers, men forcing you to take selfie photos with their iguanas and the old ladies who constantly provide you a foot care even if you say no five times.

Beach of Lipa Noi is an excellent place to swim and watch sunset

You want to lay down in a beach chair, drinkin’ coconut? Them Lamai Beach is the place for you

Best temple?

Wat Plai Laem. This is not actually a single temple, but a temple complex. Built in the middle of a small artificial pond, this modern Buddhist temple is protected by an 18-handed statue of Guanyin and a smiling buddy Budai. Plai Laem also has several smaller statues from Vishnu, Shiva and Ganesha.

Statue of Guanyin with eighteen arms

However, if you prefer the more ancient temple style, check out Wat Sila Ngu (aka Wat Ratcha Thammaram). Built in the 1930s and colored throughout in crimson, this temple is small but still worth a visit.

PS: For some reason everyone always says Samui’s best temple / attraction is the 12-meter-high Big Buddha, but personally, at least on a short trip, we would choose another attraction. Great view from there sure, but that’s all. It is also filled with tourists and it has its own “tourist village” with cafes and boutiques built around the statue.

The crimson colored Wat Sila Ngu / Wat Ratchathammaram

Best area?

Lamai. The Lamai is a green area with high mountains, great beaches and it offers many restaurants and possibilities for shopping. There are no movie theater or a big mall in Lamai, but maybe that’s why it is the best area on the island. Of course there is tourism, but unlike Chaweng (known for its many nightclubs and cabaret restaurants), Lamai is much more laid-back and family friendly and the locals also speak English better than in northern Samui. But sure there are cocktail bars and smaller girl clubs in Lamai (like the one called SexySex), but they’re not as “dirty” as in Chaweng.

Best sunset spot?

B Valley. You will drive by this place if you visit the Secret Buddha Garden. The B Valley is a café and may not be accessible for free, but the viewpoints entry fee is only 20 baht. We ended up here when the cafe was closed. The viewing platform offers a magnificent view over the whole island and the sun can be seen beautifully setting behind the mountains. Even the Khanom beach in Nakhon Si Thammarat can be seen at the clear weather.

The view from B Valley

 

How expensive is Koh Samui?

When planning a trip you always think about your budget and the price level of your destination. That’s why we decided to offer some help, telling about the price level of Koh Samui. How much does beer cost? How expensive is a Thai massage, how much does a rental scooter cost? We will give more detailed answers to these in this post.

We write prices in euros, for ease of understanding (if you use euros). This way you don’t have to think about currency conversion, because we’ve done the work for you.

(Note: 1 € = 34,2thb and 1 $USD is 31thb)

From Big C you can find everything you need and more.

Food and drink

First let’s start with the most important thing – eating. Sure it all depends a lot on where you eat and what you put into your mouth. In a Thai restaurant, a meal with a soda costs about three euros. This means the simplest portions like Pad Thai, Tom Yum, Curry, fried rice, etc. If you want to have fish instead, the price tag depends of a fish that’s used in your dish but generally the price is 6-10 euros. If you’d like to have hamburgers, pizza, pasta or steaks, the prices are about the same as fish dishes. You can get pizza and pasta at the lowest price of 7 euros, but for example pizza with three different meat with a double cheese and jalapenos will cost more than 10 euros.

We have no experience with Samui fine dining restaurants, but the prices are certainly at a fine dine level, so at least double the prices compared to a “normal” restaurants.

You don’t have to pay more than 3€ to get a Red Curry like this.

But what about the drinking? A half-liter bottle of Coca-Cola at a store will cost about 50 cents and 1.25-liter bottle costs 80 cents. In restaurants, a price tag for half-liter bottle is 80 cents. Fresh coconut can be bought for about 0.8 to 2.5 euros. The most expensive coconuts we’ve seen so far are at the restaurants at Chaweng Central Festival Mall. If you want to bring coconuts to the hotel (and figure out how break them) you might want to get them from the Makro. From there you’ll get eight coconuts with the price of 8.3 euros. They will even brand the coconuts for you if you’d like.

A six-bottle pack of water costs something between one or two euros depending on whether you buy it from a large Makro or from a small 7 Eleven. Juice costs two euros, milk canister 2.6€. The amount of milk, though, is not a one-liter carton, but rather a two-liter jar.

How about the most important drink of them all? Yes: Beer. In stores one bottle will cost 0.8€ and if you buy it from the restaurants you’ll have to pay at least an extra euro. If you want to get smashed and get a whole pallet, you will have to pay € 14-20 depending of the brand. Bottle of great vodka costs about 17€. Prices of a cocktails are from 2.3€ up to 9€. Unless you really want to show off you can pay 17€ for one drink. Yes it’s possible to spend all your money on alcohol in here aswell.

A bottle of wine can be bought from the lower shelf at 6 euros and a bottle of whiskey at 11 euros. If you are a “spaddu man or a woman” (means if you are a smoker) you can get a box of Marlboro for a bit less than four euros. If you want to smoke Thai brands they will cost about 1€.

For the youngsters; The best of the SpärdeSbores (energy drinks), the Shark, costs 75 cents, and the small bottle of Red Bull is 28 cents. Same price is for the local M150 bottle, the one that locals chugs more than water. But if you want your daily energy dose from coffee, the 250g pack of coffee beans costs about four euros. In a cafe, a cup of coffee costs three euros.

Other purchases and services

If you are staying in Samui for a longer period of time or you’re staying in a smaller resort or maybe even in a house that doesn’t include room service, you might be interested this next section.

A pack of four rolls of paper towels costs two euros and a pack of sanitary napkins for women from one to two euros. The price of shampoo and soap is three euros per bottle.

What about clothes? Of course, branded clothing costs (and are mostly available at the Central Festival mall) but you can buy much more affordable clothing from night markets, street shelters and near big supermarkets. Locals often buy clothes from these, because they sell clothes with the price of 3€. However the quality isn’t so great with these and those comfortable and colorful “elephant pants” will most likely rip apart before the first wash. The shirts seems to be a bit better quality but the pants are just waste of money. You can also buy “genuine fake” clothes that has four Adidas stripes, Nike’s logo upside down and with the text “YOU R IMAGINATION IS YOUR IMAGINATINIS” on the side and Gucci’s brand on the washcloth. And if this isn’t enough there are also pants with all of these mixed up.

The “100 baht clothing” might look and feel nice but unfortunately they wont last long.

There are also a number of 20 Baht Shops on the island, where everything costs 20 Baht, equals 60 cents (so pretty much the same thing as in Dollar Stores). These include dishes, cleaning supplies, rugs, toys, and even some electronics. The quality may not be that great but people usually buy brushes, door mats, beach slippers and cheap restaurant dishes from these.

Concerning laundry; Laundry services cost between 0.8€ and 1.5€ per kilo, depending on where you bring your laundry. If you pay a couple more euros, you will also get them ironed.

You can rent a scooter for 4.30€ per day with the monthly price running between 60€ and 90€. This is strongly depending by the season (low or high) and for how long period of time you are renting the scooter. Sure the condition and model of the vehicle also make a difference, but the honest opinion is that no one needs a more powerful one than a 125cc Honda Click. If the guy in a bike shop claims that you won’t get anywhere with the bike less than 150cc, go somewhere else. He’s just trying to fuck you up and get you to pay extra for the things you don’t need.

Note: We were crazy lucky with our scooter rental, as we found a 125cc Click, for which we pay 35€ per month. However, you will not find it that cheap from anywhere, at least not for a short term use.

Refueling your scooter from empty to full costs 4.3€ which gives you a comfortable ride for several days. So the price for a liter of gasoline is about 80 cents. And this is not the environment-friendy NinetyEight, but the NinetyOne that really gives a nice black puff from a pipe. Healthy as f*ck.

Massage services start from 5.8€ for an hour-long foot massage. A full Thai massage costs around 9 euros. Remember that if you see six young and pretty girls (or someone who looks like a girl) in front of the massage place wearing too short shorts you will probably be paying the higher price. Higher prices may include “other services” but usually these places have nothing to do with Thai massage. So you should go to a real massage place or spa where the masseuse is maybe an older lady. You’ll get a better massage and you don’t have to worry about bringing nasty presents back to home.

Cheaper than most places but everything is relative

Here is a little indication of how expensive Koh Samui is and what everything costs. Of course, everything is compensated with the local wage level, so what might be cheap for one might not be cheap for a another. It must also be remembered that “Farangs” always pays more for everything and in some places there are even menus that are different for the locals and for foreigners.

If you want to know more about how much a particular service or product costs, then ask. We’ll find out if we don’t know.

Postcard for you, from us!

We’ve started to write our Finnish blog about nine months ago. And in such a short period of time we have managed to get alot of readers around the world. Sure this blog is kinda new but there’s still alot of you guys reading these posts. We don’t know how you found your way in here but we’re glad you did.

Originally, this was meant to be just a diary for relatives and friends and maybe some random passers-by perhaps as being somekind of inspiration to follow the dreams or even hop off from the rat race. Something similar we did over 6 months ago.

However, the number of visitors to our blog has increased tremendously over the past few months and more followers have started to appear. Thanks to all of you, we hope you visit our blog again and maybe even share your thoughts of our posts or what we do. We would also love to hear what kind of people are reading these texts.

You’ve given us so much in such short period of time, but now it’s our turn to give you something in return. We decided to start a monthly tradition where once a month we send a personalized postcard to one of our readers.

There are three rules:

  1. Post a comment on this post about “Your best travel experience / memory“.
  2. When commenting, make sure your email address is something we can send email to.
  3. You can send your comments until the end of February.

In March, we will look at the comments and personally contact one person selected by WheelOfNames. We don’t choose the “best” comment, but let the Wheel of Fortune decide.

Visa for staying in Thailand

Are you planning on visiting Thailand as a tourist? Or as an expat? What is the purpose of your visit in “The Land of Smiles” and are you planning on staying in country more than 30 days? Then this post is for you and we’re telling this from our point of view and how we did everything.

As you might know; we came here to work. When we first arrived to Thailand we arrived with the tourist visa stamp that gave us 30 days permit of stay in the country. And that’s what we got when we cleared the immigration gate at the airport.

PS: Remember that we have a Finnish passport. This 30 days permit won’t apply for every country in the world. So check your country requirements. You can check them at the MFA.go.th. This link opens a .pdf file that shows the required info for you.

There is a possibility to get 60 days Tourist Visa but you’ll have to apply it before arriving in Thailand. We didn’t do that so lets skip it. If you require more info about the Tourist Visa you can read about it here.

Alleyway in Penang. Picture taken by Hanne

After your 30 days permit of stay is expiring it’s time to take a visit to Koh Samui’s Immigration. Why? To extend the stay. You can do that pretty easily. You need few (might be one or two but take three just to be sure) passport photos, filled application form, 1900 baht of cash and a calm mind. Remember that you won’t be alone at the immigration. There will be alot of foreigners doing just the same thing (or has something to do with staying in Thailand). This process might take 15min or three hours so don’t make too much plans for the day of visit. After you’ve succeeded you’ll have the extended 30 days of stay.

Planning to work in Thailand?

But what if you want to stay longer than two months? You can’t extend your stay more than once in Immigration. So after a two months you’ll have to exit the country. No exceptions. BUT. Here’s the catch. You can do a visa run or “border bounce”. If you’re planning to work in Thailand or to start a business you have to do visa run. There are many ways for this since you can do it by yourself but we must say: Don’t.

Easiest way is to use Visa Run Companies. They will handle everything for you except the paperwork. You’ll have to deliver the required papers (including medical certificate) but usually the company you’re willing to work for will deliver the required papers for you. If they don’t you should definitely re-consider working for them.

There are LOT of street arts in Penang. Especially in George Town.

After you’ve delivered the papers it’s time to hop into the van and head to another country. Usually visa runs are headed to Malaysia’s Penang, Laos’s Vientiane or Ban Laem in Cambodia. We headed to Penang and that’s usually the case with Koh Samui and the company we used was Samui Visa Run – Visa Services. Big shoutout for them since everything went smoothly and there were no complications or misunderstandings.

Visa runs are actually very nice for you since all you’ll have to do is sit in a van while heading to another country. When we left Koh Samui it was evening and we drive to Penang through all night. On the morning we arrived to hotel around 10am and after the check-in you’re free to do what you want. You’ll have 24 hours to hang around the city sightseeing, eating great and cheap street food and do what you’d like. On the next morning the van will come and pick you up and you’re heading back to Samui.

After this process you’ve received a Non-B-Visa to your passport. Now you can stay in Thailand for the next 90 days. After this process the company you work for will apply the work permit for you. Once you’ve received it you can extend your stay for one year.

Cold Brew Coffee @ Wheelers.

Visiting as a tourist?

After your 60 days have passed you’ll have to leave the country. But you can come back with a 30 days stamp and reset the whole process. This is called “border bounce”. It doesn’t mean you can come back immediately after crossing the border (there actually are couple of border stations that accept this but usually they don’t) since you have to stay in another country for overnight. So you can buy a cheap train ticket or bus ticket to some neighbor country or maybe fly somewhere and then come back. This is a great way to see different countries since you’ll have to leave Thailand for every 30 or 60 days. Sure you can always apply for new 60 days tourist visa (that you can extend for 30 days extra) but then you have to be in another country longer since the process might take 3 to 5 days. Or even longer because of Thailand.

Notice: If you arrive the country by land or sea you can come back only twice in a year. If you arrive by air you can arrive max six times in a year.

This is how you can stay in Thailand. But notice that this is written from our point of view. We know there are many other ways to do things and the rules for visas change pretty often. How things will work now might not work after two months. So be aware of that. Or ask Visa Run Companies since they usually know the present rules for these.

Hopefully this helps someone who’s wandering about the visa complications in Thailand. And if you have ANYTHING on your mind that you’d like us to answer; Please ask. If we don’t know we will find out.

Street of Penang. Picture taken by Hanne

How is life in Thailand?

As you may already know we’ve been living in Koh Samui for six months now. We’ve seen the good sides of Thailand and some of the bad sides. But how our life really is? This time it’s about time to tell a bit about ourselves and also our daily life.

Sorry to crack your heart-shaped glasses but living in a ”paradise island” doesn’t really make a difference compared to any other place in the world. Sure in some cities there are skyscrapers, big malls, busy atmosphere and the weather might be different with a snow storms or fallen leaves of autumn. Koh Samui is a small island (228.7km2) that you can drive around in an hour. There are no skyscrapers but there are lots of resorts, villas and hotels and only a one mall. And that’s not even very big one. But the atmosphere is very slow-phased and easygoing and the weather is sunny pretty much every day (except for rainy season of course).

Beached whale in Koh Samui

How is our ordinary week then?

Our weekdays mostly consists of driving to work at noon (because we work with a Finnish time table) and get off at evening. And yes we really have a office for work since we’re not digital nomads or remote workers who can hang around at the beach or at home making phone calls or writing emails. After we get off work we go get something to eat, usually to some thai restaurant because they have delicious food with very affordable price (ordinary thai meal with a soda costs about 3€). We really don’t make the food at home because we get off work so late and we don’t even have an oven or kettle at the moment. It’s much easier to eat outside since the price is pretty much the same compared eating outside or at home + you don’t have to do the dishes.

When we get home we usually spend our time working with our blogs and searching for ways to grow our audiences. Mostly we’ve been focusing on our Finnish blog for the past two weeks but we are still working with getting this English version up to date. We’ve also been doing some collaborations with various Finnish media sites and also with some companies here in Samui.

When we had a private pool. *sniff* 😦

Like we said; our weekdays won’t be anything special. Sure we COULD wake up early and go to the beach or hike up the mountain but no. The pillow is too comfy. We know it’s very bad habit and it would be great to take a swim at morning but maybe we do it “tomorrow”. We actually went to a morning swim every day in our first apartment because we had a private pool but now we would have to drive 10min to the beach and then back. It really isn’t the same. And that’s maybe the stupidest excuse ever. But anyway…

On the other hand we have our own fish tank at the terrace that could fit two person at the same time. But sitting in a fish tank with a few catfish? Maybe no.

We have a fish tank, such wow!

How about a weekend in Koh Samui?

At weekend we usually have too much to do. Why? Because we overbook our weekends with photoshoots, blogging or visiting sightseeings or something like that. Sometimes we’re planning to visit the beach but the truth is that we really don’t have the time. Or would have if we could get our assess up from the bed much earlier. We should really get rid off that pillow… But this is actually a great example of the easygoing life in Thailand. Basically you would have to do only one thing per day because that’s what everybody tells you to do. But we are not at that point yet.

Koh Nang Yuan

We haven’t really done any activities here in Samui because the lack of time. We could try all kinds of stuff from jet-skiing and ATV rides to zip-lining or having a visit on a Elephant Sanctuary (this is the first one on our to-do-list) but we have managed to get to snorkeling and hiking. Snorkeling is definitely the thing we would love to do more since the ”underwater world” is so exciting!

Future plans

Sorry that this blog post wasn’t anything special but we still hope you understand that writing this English blog can be difficult sometimes. Now we’re trying not to repeat the same old too much and we really don’t want to write about all the things we’ve done in the past or translate everything from our Finnish blog directly to here.

In the near future we will tell you everything we know about Visas and visaruns, work permits and the price levels here in Samui. At the start of February there’s also a small surprise for you so keep in touch!

Living in Thailand – pros and cons

We’ve been living on a paradise island of Koh Samui for a six months now. Time has passed pretty quickly and we’ve learned alot during this time. Some of the things are good, some of them aren’t. But as in your home country you will get used to everything. And even the paradise island doesn’t feel so “paradisy” all the time.  Like in Finland (and every other country) even Thailand has it’s pros and cons. So that’s what we are writing today. If you’re looking at Thailand through the heart shaped glasses there might be some shatters in your lenses after you read this.

Pros

Easygoing life: This can be seen everywhere except while on the road. There is even a thai word for lifestyle like this and it’s called “sabai“. Practically sabai is part of life of every thai since you can feel the peaceful and relaxed lifestyle while just looking at them. Things happen when they happen so you have to take your time. At first this lifestyle might seem quite lazy because thai workers are taking a nap at the furniture department of a big supermarkets or on a flatbed of a big truck.

Time to relax after the work is done

On the other hand you have to understand that thais are working 10 hours per day six times a week and get paid something between 250-500 euros so let them rest once in a while. If you should work with the payroll like that you would do the exact same thing.

Nature: This is the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Koh Samui. If you google Koh Samui you are getting lots of pictures of the beaches, palm trees and steep hills. Since Samui is an island there’s nice seabreeze everywhere and you can go to swimming to a ocean very easily. The middle part of the island if basically a mountain/jungle area with all the exotic wildlife so you will hear alot of different birds singing and all kinds of “magical sounds”.

Downside of the nature: The jungle includes huge ass spiders and colorful snek’s that kills you on sight. Gladly you really don’t see them so often since we have seen a snake about once in a month. We aren’t afraid of sneks but it’s better if they stay outside. By the way; there are cobras. So if you see one, backoff or play a flute and hope it will do the dance instead of attack.

It’s also a nice thing that you don’t need to wear ice fishing overalls like in Finland when you leave your house since it’s -20C and it’s windy as in frozen Hell. You don’t even have to wear long pants or proper shoes and you can even go to the market with bare feet if you want. That’s also very accepted and thais do that too.

Food: As you might already know Thai cuisine is extremely tasty, spicy, nutritious and quite cheap and you can find it in pretty much everywhere. At least in some form. On the side of the streets there are streetfood vendors selling satays, fruits, sausages and all kinds of meaty meats. Sure it can be difficult sometimes for us to get streetfood since Hanne is vegan. There really aren’t much vegan options unless you want to buy a fresh fruits or sticky rice.

Vegan curries with spring rolls.

And if you don’t like thai food (well why go to Thailand then?) there’s a lot of different other options especially in Koh Samui. You can eat in fine dining restaurants with the white tablecloths, try western sporty bars offering European steaks and British fish & chips or “bangers and mash” (what ever that is other than some stupid words). Or if you’d like to have some real italian pizza or even hamburgers that’s possible too. There are also Burger King, McDonald’s and Hooters if those are your cup of tea. So you really have plenty of options to eat.

PS: If you can’t find something from the markets or restaurants there’s quite possible that someone is making and selling it. You can find real sourdough breads, vegan cheese or even vegemite. You just have to know where to find or whom to ask. And that’s how we build a “donkey’s bridge” to the next phase.

Other expats: Expats = farang (= mamu: quite inappropriate word in Finland). Just like we are. If you require something and you don’t know where to get it or if you need help on anything the other farangs will help you. Facebook groups have helped us alot and the farang community in here is very supportive. We’ve met lots of nice people because of the Facebook groups and that’s also where we found our cats and received an invitation to a pool party.

It’s very hard to find a hardware store from a city you don’t know. Or find someone to take care of your pets or house while you are on a visa run. Expats are a huge help because there’s always a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy to do the job.

Prices: Even though Samui isn’t the cheapest place in Thailand it’s still cheaper than Finland. Obviously. Most of the fruits and meats, especially chicken, are really affordable compared to our Wintery Wonderland. Of course, as it comes in fruits the prices are understandable, since in Finland we don’t have any exotic fruits. Actually the only fruit we have is an apple.

In here you can even get yourself a fresh durian directly from a tree a kilometer away if you feel like it (and the stink doesn’t make you vomit) or even get a banana from a tree at your backyard.

The best way to see the price levels are the houses and apartments. Let’s take a look at a brand new apartment for comparison. What kind of house you’ll get in the capital area of Finland for 400 euros? Nothing. Okay if you’re very lucky you might get a 11-square-meter sized dog kennel from the government for that price. From the smallest cities you might get a small one bedroom apartment but nothing fancy.

In here we are basically living with the same amount of rental expenses and we have a house with four bedrooms, living room, kitchen and three showers (don’t ask why). You could get also a smaller one with a private pool or maybe with a sea view if possible.

Activities: There sure are lot of different activies. Most of them are different forms of water activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, waterskiing and kite surfing. And if you want to go and see some turtles or even dolphings that’s possible too! You can experience and do lots of stuff from motocross to go-kart or even see elephants in Elephant Sanctuary. Just be aware that there are also lots of safari tours that offers you elephant trekking and you should never support this kind of animal cruelty.

Hanne training in Muay Thai gym

For the americans and hoplophiles there’s also a possibility to visit shooting ranges where you can use all kinds of firearms if you just got the money. You can even visit an abandoned military base and train like Keanu Reeves if you’d like.

And if getting drunk and wasted while partying with ladyboys is your thing; Have no fear! That’s also possible. The flashy lights of Chaweng, cheap booze and busty ladyboys have taken the money and dignities of many men.

Friendliness: Might be a bit fake but anyway. Employees might take their level of customer service a bit over the top even if you would be only just strolling around. Usually you have three or four of them following you everywhere you go just in case you might need some help. For a finn this can be quite awkward at times because our personal space is at least three meters wide.

@finnishnightmares.blogspot.fi

Skills > diploma: This is like a two way street. It’s great that sometimes skills are more valuable in here than having some form of masters diploma to be able to work at a bike repair shop. You can’t fix motorbikes or cars with the piece of paper but with an experience and skilled hands you can.

But then there is this other way of the street. You call an electrician to fix your broken network cables so he shows up and after doing the job he leaves 90 meters of loose cable hanging in the air while convincing he’s a professional and it should be like that. Sure after he’s done with the work your internet is connected but how long and is it safe to you or to your house? He says “Same same”, gives you a thumb up and leaves.

Next day you call a plumber to fix your sink so the same guy appears and fixes your sink. Next time you need a gardener or maybe a help from a moving company? There’s always a same guy standing behind your door and smiling. Does he have a diploma or certificate of anything? No haaave! 🙂

Thai style of connecting cables

There’s no hobos nor beggars: There might be but you really don’t see them ever. There might be some homeless guy sitting next to a 7 Eleven with a small paper cup in his hand but he really doesn’t bother you. He ain’t drinking beer or yelling to people passing by. He just sits and waits if someone might give him a coin or two.

We’re sure there are lots of reasons for this but one of the big reasons is that like in Finland, homeless and jobless people can’t afford alcohol. Also it’s not a part of thai culture. If thai loses his house because of reasons he won’t go searching the future from the bottom of the bottle but tries to build a new house and life around it. It’s also quite hard to starve here since you can always go fishing or get some fruits from the trees and with ingredients like these you can make an excellent meal to yourself. Durian, catfish and various herbs and tadaa; You’re all set.

Cons

Traffic. For some reason we had this romanticed image in our heads where we would walk to work at morning, sipping our takeaway coffee and eating a breakfast we grabbed from a small food stand. But nooooo. Not gonna happen. If you decide to walk to your workplace that’s located in a ten kilometers away your home you will probably die after first 300 meters. Why? Because the traffic is pure carnage. There are concrete trucks driving like they are in Mario Kart, tuningcars straight from The Fast & The Furious and some lunatics with their overlypowered StreetHawks. If you don’t get hit by one of these you will at last get run over by some tourist who just happened to find his driver’s license from a cereal box. If he even has one.

Without a scooter or any other motorized vehicle you really can’t go anywhere. There are not really much proper walking streets anywhere except in Chaweng or near Fisherman’s Village.

You can see pretty much anything while on the road.

Compared to thais (who always has some supernatural skill called Avoiding Collision) tourists are still the main concern on the roads. Usually they are just on the way and somehow blocking both lines. “Samui tattoo” is a very common joke in here and is referred to road rashes they get after flipping over with their Honda Click’s. It’s actually pretty weird how people can crash on the ground while driving straight road. On the other hand: no wonder you will get your pretty face smashed if you’ll pull scooters front brake while driving 80km/h.

PS. It’s a strange thing how tourists can leave their brains home when leaving the home countrys airport. Here in Thailand using helmet is required by law. Just because locals drive without one doesn’t mean you should drive aswell. Why on earth would you drive bare-headed in Thailand when the traffic here is one of the most deadliest one in the whole world. In Koh Samui there are 20-30 fatal accidents for every month and in whole Thailand over 500. So you do the math. How many could’ve been avoided if people would wear a helmet?

Stray dogs and cats. These sad stories are everywhere all over the island. And there are more coming all the time hence the local animal rescues neuters them at monthly basis. At times if feels like you’re watching Silverfang because dogs are moving in big groups barking to each others and defending their territories. Sometimes they might chase motorbikes driving by or jumping against cars. Usually they are harmless but you never know what they might do. So be careful around these bad boys.

People say there are no cases of rabies involved in Samui these days but you should be safe rather than sorry.

Beach doggo hanging around

Dirtiness. What do you think about recycling in the small island of Thailand compared to big cities of Europe? What the people here might do with a pile of plastic bottles, glass jars, tin cans or other household wastes? They gather everything as a huge pile and then stick it into a fire. That’s recycling on it’s best. Gladly plastic bags are nowadays banned in Thailand in supermarkets, 7 Elevens and so on. But still you can see these small dumps near the roads of in the middle of the jungle just waiting to be burned.

And the beaches? Tourists are throwing their Coca-Cola bottles and beercans all over the beachline while waves brings all kinds of waste to the shore. Sure there are some volunteers who are focused on cleaning the beaches but that won’t remove the problem. It’s just cleaning the dirtiness left by others. Let’s just hope there won’t be another Koh Phi Phi situation.

Insects and creepy crawlers. We mentioned this previously but still it need it’s own place in this post. It’s pretty obvious that there are tons of different insects in Thailand. There are crawling ones, buzzing ones, flying ones, rolling ones… Some might even do all these things at the same time. And then there are snakes and scorpions that could kill you in a few minutes if you’re having a very bad day. The worst snakes are the cobras so if you step on a snake you should pray it isn’t one.

Cute mantis!

But the good thing is that there are geckos. They are your best friends against bugs even though they shit all over your house and sometimes makes very high noises. You should be aware of the one called Tokay. They’re a very large geckos with a colorful and bumby skin and the sound they make might really scare you at first. But Tokay is harmess unless you drive it to the corner or decide to touch it. You won’t die on a bite but it will hurt like hell and it won’t let go unless you try to drown it.

Corruption. The best thing when it works with you. The worst thing when it works against you. We don’t actually have any personal experiences with any corruption cases but we have heard the stories of others. There might be a policeman stopping you and asking your driver’s license or checking your bag. When you open your bag for them they might find any item that is prohibited in Thailand and the only way you can get away from the sticky situation is by paying the fee. And you pay it directly to the policeman. It’s very difficult to say how bad is the situation here in Samui but we are sure that it still exists in some form.

Visa runs. This thing is usual in many countries around the Asia. Depending your countrys regulations you can arrive to Thailand and stay for a limited amount of time. That might be 30 days, 60 days or something else. Before the days are over you’ll have to leave the country. But you can come back with the Non B Visa using the Visa Run Companies. With that you can stay in Thailand for the next 3 months.

If you don’t have a work permit (or any other valid reason) you have to do the Visa Run for every 3 months. That means paying to the Visa Run Company and going to another country with their transportation. It requires money and time to arrange this and you’ll be away from the country for a couple of days. The good thing is that you can travel to another country like Laos or Malaysia but that’s pretty much it.

One example of Visa Runs

The income gap. We live high on the hog compared to locals. Even though our apartment is not a castle in the modern world or a fancy mansion it’s still “better” than the one on the other side of the road which is a small wooden barn without the windows. There are lots of these cases where there are two houses that are total opposites of each other. The other might be a large mansion with the electric gate and a swimming pool and the other one is made from wooden pallets, tin scraps, duct tape and some hardly-rain-resistant material.

It is somehow incomprehensible that there really are no “poor” or “wealthy” areas here but they are all mixed up side by side. Sometimes it feels a bit bad for us to order something using the home delivery to this kind of apartment when your neighbor seems like he can’t afford the basic things of life. ON THE OTHER HAND; he has a 2018 Isuzu D-Max pickup truck while we have a Honda Click rental scooter that has fixed with a duct tape.

Our first Honda Click. Now we have a better one.

Whoa, there was alot of text to write and things to say.

Like we Finns and people of many other countries in general; negative things are very easy to find in your everyday life, in your immediate environment, in your acquaintanceship and at work. But can you find just as many good things? That was bit more of a challenge for us. And actually while living here, we have both tried to get rid of this Finnish sin and the curse that we see and remember only the bad things in life. Luckily we have succeeded quite well during these six months.

Closing words

At the moment we’re trying to get this english version of blog up to date compared to the finnish one. Some of the blogs content might be a bit older info since we are translating the finnish version of the blog here and telling the most interesting things. We are trying our best. We hope you understand the situation and the typing errors in these texts since english isn’t our native language. Thank you for reading. Till next time!

Netflix of International Travel Medical Insurances

*The post is sponsored by SafetyWing, and the post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links in this post, we receive a small commission, which does not affect the price you pay.

If you are travelling at long period of times getting a travel insurance can become very expensive and might sometimes be a real pain in the ass during the trip. Your coverage of insurance companies from your home country might not be flexible enough and they can cover up only for short period of times.

What if you’re travelling around the world either full time or living as a nomadic lifestyle moving from country to another? Does the insurance of your home country cover up long term travelling and if so; At what price? For example in Finland most of the insurance companies only covers up 45 days continuously unless you pay for the extension. Also does the company cover you while you’re scuba diving or mountain biking?

We came across an insurance company called SafetyWing which is specifically designed for long-term travelers, or for example, nomads and remote workers who are constantly traveling or staying away from their home countries.

SafetyWing is a travel medical insurance which is as easy to get as opening a Netflix account. You will be charged a four-week period and a cancelling the subsciption can be made any time. You can even start the subscription while you are already travelling. So there’s no need to visit or even contact your home country according the subscription or cancelling.

@SafetyWing

What does SafetyWing cover?

SafetyWing not only protects you in case of sudden illnesses or accidents, but also your checked-in luggage and travel delay and trip interruption. It does not, for example, cover broken or stolen laptops or cameras but it does cover your lost luggage if it is properly checked in for the flight. In addition, the value of an individual item packed in a suitcase shall not exceed $500. So you should also take an separate luggage insurance from a different company just in case something happens during your trip.

But if you get suddenly ill or get into a traffic accident (which is quite common in Asia) or even have to visit a dentist suddenly, have no fear. SafetyWing insurance covers you up to $USD 250,000.

Unlike many domestic insurances, SafetyWing also covers quite a variety of activities and hobbies during your trip. These include scuba diving, skateboarding, mountain biking and many water activities.

SafetyWing covers children between the age of 14 days until ten years old at no additional charge. There is a limit of one child per adult or two children per family. However, at this stage, the life of a digital nomad might not be the ideal solution anyway.

What is not covered by SafetyWing?

As you may already be aware of even SafetyWing doesn’t cover up everything. That includes cancer treatments, routine checkups, chronic illnesses or any other medical issues that needs to be checked or treated on a regular basis.

SafetyWing also doesn’t cover up mental issues or sexually transmitted diseases. So remember always to use protection. We know it’s nicer to drive only with rims but then again don’t make a scene afterwards.

For a complete list of inclusions and exclusions please visit SafetyWing’s website.

@SafetyWing

 

Who can be insured by SafetyWing?

An insurance can be bought anyone who is at least 18 years old unless your home country is Iran, North-Korea or Cuba or you have a Cuban citizenship. SafetyWing also washes it’s hands if you are being kidnapped to Somalia, Nigeria or Afghanistan. So in that case you have to put your trust into something bigger. Like Boeing AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter.

What if I visit my home country? Am I still covered?

Yes you are. However there are few restrictions. For each 90-day period, you may visit your home country for a 30-days and then you have to exit the country. The purpose of the return visit shall not be to seek medical care in your home country.

However, the US is an exception, as US citizens can only stay in their home country for 15 days instead of thirty.

If you stay longer in your home country, your travel insurance will be interrupted until you leave the country again. There’s no way to get any extra days for your insurance. The coverage resumes once you are out of the country again.

@SafetyWing

How do I cancel the subscription?

Same way as you cancel any streaming services. Login to your SafetyWing account and go to your profile and click “Stop insurance”. Easy as that. But remember that you’re being charged on four weeks periods. Your paid premiums will be refunded in full if a cancellation request is received prior to the certificate effective date.

But how much does SafetyWing cost?

That’s the best thing about it since SafetyWing is surprisingly cheap considering how widely it covers and how easy it is to use. A four-week period’s price will start from $USD 37 depending on your age. For travelers to the United States, the package is more expensive since prices start from $USD 68.

If you want to know more about SafetyWing please visit their website.

@SafetyWing