Remote Island Resort Steeped in Thai Culture
Half a century ago, there wasn't a road or car to be found on the island of Koh Samui. The locals—mostly fishers and farmers—often had to navigate miles of dense rainforests just to reach neighboring villages. Today, the island has paved roads and it's easy to get around, which has contributed to its emergence as a popular vacation destination. But Koh Samui still possesses a far-off feel. The beaches along the Gulf of Thailand have fine white sand and seem almost untouched. Nearby, you'll find Elements Boutique Resort & Spa, which honors Thai traditions while cultivating a modern aesthetic.
With the water so close, it's only natural that a lot of the resort's activities take place here, whether it's kayaking along the shore, snorkeling, or touring the gulf in a long-tail boat—a watercraft that's covered by a canopy and powered by an automotive engine. Bicycles are also available for rental; included with this deal, you can take a bike tour past the gorgeous wildlife and to a local rubber plantation and see how rubber is made.
After a day out adventuring, stop by the onsite restaurant, Fai, which serves fresh-caught tiger prawns and lobster. Once a week, you can head to the beach at nightfall to savor barbecued meats and pineapple as local performers dance or spin fire sticks.
Back at the sea-view apartments, there are wooden beds veiled with sheer white curtains. Head out to the private terrace and you can lounge around and peer out at the sea. For a traditional Thai experience, dine at the Bamboo Beach Bar Cafe where 8 open-air bamboo huts allow diners to enjoy Thai cuisine on the beach.
Koh Samui, Thailand: Island Resort Town with Exotic Wildlife and Rich Buddhist Culture
Koh Samui is set amid a cluster of islands in the temperate Gulf of Thailand off the country's eastern shore. Temperatures typically hover near a balmy 86 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, thanks in part to tropical winds off the gulf. The warm climate and clear waters attract throngs of tourists to the island's many white-sand beaches. If you want your experience to go beyond sunbathing, you can snorkel along vibrant coral reefs or go fishing.
You can get a feel for Koh Samui's long-standing Buddhist culture by paying a visit to some of the ornate temples in the area. Or take a short drive east to Tar Nim's Magic Garden, which was built by a local man when he was well into his 70s. These remote "secret" gardens can be tough to get to, but it's worth it to see the misty waterfall, tropical plants, and ornately carved Buddhist sculptures.
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