If your idea of the perfect vacation is letting loose, Koh Samui is not a bad choice to get your party on. The vibrant, ever-buzzing strip at Chaweng Beach offers something for every social butterfly, from chilled beach bars to girly joints, chic cocktail lounges to beach clubs. The five kilometre crescent of powder-white sand is a never-ending parade of joggers, poseurs and touts, accompanied by the deafening racket of techno music, jet skis and power boats blaring advertisements for upcoming Muay Thai battles. It's a crazy, chaotic cocaphony ... and I gotta admit, I love it!
|Cocktails on the beach at Chaweng|
But not everyone wants a high-octane holiday ... and sometimes you just want to escape the chaos, and chill somewhere quiet and warm and beautiful. Palm trees, hammocks, blue balmy water and footprints in the sand, that's what I'm talking about!
|No need to hide your head in the sand to find tranquility in Samui!|
Ah, Samui, you never let me down! This lovely, round, mountainous island in the Gulf of Thailand really does have it all; it's a 'choose your own adventure' island, with plenty of quiet pockets to escape the crowds if that's what you prefer. After a night soaking up the irrepressible atmosphere of Chaweng at Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui, we headed south to its sister property, Centara Villas Samui, located at Laemset Bay on the southern tip of the island.
Although only half an hour's drive from Chaweng, this is another world - quiet and relaxed. There are no clubs or bars (apart from the resort's own beach bar) within coo-ee, so nightlife is restricted to dinner under a starlit sky, three different happy hours and chilling with loved ones in your own private villa.
|Perfect spot for a morning walk along the beach|
For those who really need to shop or get a taste of the famous Samui nightlife, a shuttle runs to and from Chaweng (drop off at Centara Grand) five times a day at the very reasonable cost of 80 baht. The last return of the night, however, is at 10.45pm - after that, you'll need to pay for a taxi home (guaranteed not to be cheap, this being Samui after all!)
No two of the 102 villas at Centara Villas Samui are alike. Terraced down a steep hillside and surrounded by landscaped tropical gardens, they fall into eight different categories, according to view, location and whether or not they have a private pool. Even the oldest and most basic of the villas are extremely comfortable, spacious and stylishly fitted out. For a four-star property, the resort really has quite an upmarket feel, largely due to the privacy of each room.
The focal point of the resort is its beachfront butterfly-shaped pool (butterflies being the predominant motif of the resort - there's even a butterfly sanctuary across the road!), which looks out over the tranquil bay and quiet white-sand Natien Beach. The popular sala-style Coral Bar sits beside the pool, flanking the Reef Cafe. It's certainly a killer location, and one of the prettiest places ever to enjoy a buffet breakfast.
|The butterfly pool looking out over Nantien Beach|
Not surprisingly, Centara Villas is extremely popular with Australian tourists - it really epitomises what most of us are looking for in a holiday to Thailand - tropical tranquility and a chance to unwind, but with access to nightlife for the occasional big night out.
Julie Miller travelled as a guest of Centara and Tourism Authority of Thailand.