Koh Samui, Thailand is a pretty special place – a near-perfect balance of local Thai culture, beautiful beaches and nature, and fun shopping, nightlife, and resort-life. It’s also managed to hold on to that balance despite becoming more popular and having a greater influx of tourists.
Despite the fact that other notable destinations like Boracay in the Philippines, Ko Pang Nang (home of the Full Moon Parties), and Koh Pi Pi have become overcrowded, polluted, and sometimes even filled with unsavory elements, Koh Samui has only grown more pleasant over the years.
I actually came here for the first time three or four years ago because my good Australian buddy, Clint, kept talking about it. Clint has been coming here to Samui on family vacations since he was a kid and knows the island well. I agreed to come kick it with him here and was impressed how pretty, well-maintained, and still natural the island was, particularly the less-commercial Lamai Beach area (as opposed to Chaweng Beach). It reminds me of a poor man’s Hawaii in some ways!
Speaking of poor men, I also like Thailand because you get a lot for your money if you do it right, and can be a baller on a budget. But Koh Samui isn’t cheap, and it’s not a backpacker haven like other less expensive areas. In fact, there are plenty of high-end hotels, luxury resorts, and other upper-priced establishments in this area, and that’s also probably why they’ve maintained their balance (more families and young couples vacationing/less partying backpackers.)
So when it comes to finding the right hotel in the Lamai Beach area of Koh Samui, I’ve tried a few. I’ve stayed right on the beach road at Rich Resort (suitable and good location), and again further out in the jungle (great little cottages for a super low price but further away from the action).
This time, I’m actually in Koh Samui again to celebrate Clint’s 40th birthday. It’s going to be a total surprise as he doesn’t know I’m here, but I set it up with his girlfriend to just show up out of the blue at dinner. Anyways, so I got in last night and wanted to stay at a hotel that was nice, but not right in the heart of the beach area where they’re staying.
I got super lucky when I found the Lamai Crystal Hotel online, and, so far, I’m very pleased. It’s not on the cheap end – I think I pay $45 – $50 a night if I recall, but nor is that expensive. The units themselves are very modern, clean, well decorated and equipped, and comfy. Each room also has a big balcony, and the wi-fi works great (good for work) even though I’m on the top floor. They also have continental breakfast (just toast, fruit, juice, and coffee) with a nice sitting area outside. The hotel also features a simple but nice swimming pool, which is perfect for these hot Thailand afternoons.
They even have a gym, although it’s just a small room with an elliptical, spin bike, and on-site massage. The only thing missing is a restaurant in the hotel, but it’s not necessary because within a 5-minute walk you’ll find the Lamai Night Market where you can get a ton of authentic Thai food! Of course, there are plenty of pharmacies and convenience stores around there, too, and the Amazon Coffee there is great.
In all, I’m really looking forward to my stay here at the Lamai Crystal Hotel – and surprising Clint for his birthday!