Independent Adventure Travel – With Just a Little Help – Samui Island, Thailand

Independent Adventure Travel – With Just a Little Help
Samui Island, Thailand

Having strayed from the tourist path on numerous occasions during previous travels, this time I wanted to try a safer option whilst still retaining some of my autonomous travel dignity. However, with no time to make any detailed plans, or even a vague itinerary, I decided to get a flight ticket to Thailand and take it from there. I was not looking for the extremities of adventures depicted in hit travel movie The Beach, nor was I looking for a soul-destroying travel package on one of the well known party islands that regularly spill over with hedonistic travellers looking for a good time. I was simply looking for something that entailed a little more than lying on a beach for a couple of weeks. I touched down and after a few hours studying my treasured Lonely Planet guidebook in a rundown and overpriced hotel I found in Bangkok, I decided to catch a bus south and east, to a ferry port that takes you to the Island of Samui.

The Serene Samui Coast
The Serene Samui Coast
Ko-Samui (‘Ko’ literally means ‘Island’ in Thailand) is a large island about an hour sailing off the East Coast of the Thai mainland. This destination is by no means a hidden paradise, but it is a long way from the tourist-infested locations of Phi-Phi and Phuket on the West Coast. Ko-Samui is quieter and the island can be fully explored either by hired car or by one of the many scooters available for hire.

There are many things to do and see on Samui Island, from elephant trekking, buffalo riding, scuba diving and snorkelling, and there is even an enchanting secret garden that will mesmerise you with myriad statues in a hidden mountain location; all built by one revered man. Information and trips to these attractions can easily be found in one of the many tourist information offices dotted around the island.

The Big Buddha
The Big Buddha
Driving around Samui feels very much off the beaten track, yet at the same time it is easy to navigate and get safely back to the familiarity of your cosy beach hotel, which are mostly scattered along the east coast of the Island in and around the town of Chaweng. If you fancy a little more adventure, you can take a day trip to one of the many small islands near Samui, such as Ko-Tao or Ko-Phangan, which are fantastic locations for snorkelling and experiencing some of the magical marine life found in Thailand’s waters.

You can get to Samui either by domestic flight from Bangkok or by night bus to the ferry port. The islanders are friendly and extremely helpful and one can easily do the trip on a budget.

If you want somewhere that feels free and not too saturated with tourists and noise, Samui is a good middle ground. Safe adventure is possible, and you can come away feeling like you did it all yourself. Well, perhaps with just a little help along the way…


Elephant Trekking
Elephant Trekking
For more information about Ko Samui, visit,, or the gateway at, which has numerous links. Alternatively, there is an excellent section on Ko Samui in the Lonely Planet � Thailand guide that is available from most good bookshops.

Jason J.R. Gaskell is currently earning a living as a teacher and freelance writer in Seoul, South Korea. Contact the author at: jjrgaskell at hotmail dot com.

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