Check out the Gulf island's new resorts, beachside bars and health cafes that put Bangkok to shame. 

EAT

 
 
 

Vikasa Life Cafe

 
Two European raw food chefs—one from Berlin, the other Paris—move to Samui and shack up in business with Kosta Miachin, the lean yogi master behind Vikasa yoga hotel. Boris Lauser and Cyril Schiv’s health food cafe goes way beyond just raw and vegan dishes, even giving the nod to salmon and tuna at times, though the backbone of the menu remains local island produce with plenty of tropical fruits (they even plan to cultivate their own organic garden). Whether you’re staying at the yoga retreat or looking for a wholesome meal, drop by for raw zucchini spaghetti (B320), quinoa cakes (B320) and superfood bowls (all B320)—as well as to-die-for views over the island.
211 Bontji Moo 4, 077-422-232. vikasayoga. com/the-place/life-cafe
 
Credit: https://www.facebook.com/artoflifesamui/
 

Art of Life

 
An open-plan, rustic wooden house in Fisherman’s Village hides Samui’s hottest seafood ticket right now. Marseille-hailing chef Christophe Scali channels his roots with French-Mediterranean seafood dishes like a traditional fish soup (B350), mussels with aioli and a big plate of fries (B320) and seafood platters of fresh oysters, lobster and crab (B500-4,900). The setting isn’t fussy—exposed wood accents, raw concrete all around—yet the food has real finesse, whether it’s seafood or not. The five-hour-cooked lamb shank (B630) is incredibly juicy and tender, while desserts like the chocolate caramel tart (B220) and lemon pie (B220) are also excellent.
25 Moo 1, Bophut, 080-319 1924. www.artoflifesamui.com
 
 

Cafe Darling

 
Don’t be fooled by the whitewashed Greek styling. This beachfront restaurant may look like something from Mamma Mia with its pots of dangling plants and cool interiors, but the menu is mainly French with the occasional Thai offering. The best seats are on the patio, where white wicker chairs face out to sea. The menu includes healthy smoothies that are well paired with a goat cheese, dried ham and rocket tartine (B390). Or go for their “Le Must Try” lamb burger that comes with fries and salad for B390.
Fisherman’s Village, Bophut, 086-070-9707. www.facebook.com/CafeDarlingSamui
 
 

Sun Lounge

 
The latest addition to Samui’s extravagant and long-standing Silavadee Resort rustles up scrumptious cakes, house-churned ice cream and freshly baked pastries. As well as celebrating all things “deli,” Sun Lounge also has stunning views of the cliff-side pool and the vast ocean out front. The afternoon tea (B690) makes the perfect accompaniment for a lazy afternoon with its bite-sized pastries, cakes and deli sandwiches.
208/66 Moo 4, Lamai Beach, 077-960-555. www.silavadeeresort.com
 

King of Bread 

 
Before taking the turn into Fisherman’s Village, make a pitstop at this rustic log house selling artisanal breads and pastries baked daily. Stock up on decadent treats like pan au chocolat (B20) and cinnamon twists (B40), or come for the focaccia stuffed with olives and tomatoes (B65). The offerings might not be vast, but that only means they concentrate on getting a few things just perfect. Soon they’ll serve Western breakfasts on the porch, too.
Taweeradpakdee Rd., opposite Bophut Market.
 
 

DRINK

 
 

The Star 

 
The recent renovation has brought a fresh touch of style to Silavadee Resort’s cliffside rooftop bar. While enjoying 180-degree views over the Gulf of Thailand, kick back and make your way through the revamped cocktail menu, from the spicy-savory Tom Yum Siam (B350) to the vodka-based Mixed Berry Sour (B350). If you’re hungry, they’ll also bring up food from the restaurant and bakery below—don’t miss: the house-churned ice cream.
208/66 Moo4, Lamai Beach, 077-960-555. www.silavadeeresort.com
 
credti: http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/koh-samui/dining/one-rai
 

One Rai

 
The opening of ultra-luxe escape Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui (see Stay) brought with it a bevy of five-star restaurants and bars. Our tip is this open-space, sundowner spot under a gabled roof. The big, circular sofas each come with a tiny, movable table for placing drinks—a rum negroni (B450), an Aperol spritz (B400)—and things to nibble on. In front of you is the view of the Andaman Sea with palm trees dotted along the shoreline. It’s really a place you can feel at ease. If hungry, head to Baan Talat, a market-themed restaurant doing street food-style dishes.
9/123 Moo 5, Bophut, 077-915-777. www.ritzcarlton.com
 

WORK & PLAY

 
Credit: https://mantrasamui.com/en/work-lounge.html
 

Work | Lounge

The island’s first co-working space sits in the serene surrounds of the Mantra Samui resort, overlooking the ocean. The airy, blond-wood-dominated venue looks to combine working space with lounge, so the vibe is still very much “holiday.” That means in addition to aircon comfort, fully stocked pantry, highspeed Wi-Fi, a printer, an IP telephone for free international calls, hot desks and a blackboard, you get access to a PlayStation, big TV screens and a billiard table. A half-day pass will cost you B300; a monthly one B12,000. They’ve got special packages for working stays of over two weeks (from about B2,700/night) but outsiders can also add pool, gym and restaurant access to their co-working package.
9/124 Moo 1, Mae Nam, 077-951-600. Open daily 9am-9pm. mantrasamui.com

 


STAY

 
 

Cosi Hotel Samui

 
Centara taps into the youth market with this clean, fuss-free and rather stylish new 150-room property in ever-bustling Chaweng Beach. You don’t get wardrobes (clothes racks here suffice) or a work desk (who needs one? You’re on holiday). But you do get smart-phone integrated check-in (no room keys) and TV control, as well as plenty of USB charging ports. The swimming pool is up on the rooftop, while indoors you’ll find what Cosi describes as a “digital playspace” where you can watch movies, play games and hang out. It’s cheap, too. Rates start from just B1,275/night.
209/4 Moo 2, Bophut, Chaweng Beach, 077-430-123. www.centarahotelsresorts.com/cosihotels/samui
 
 

Combo Beach Hotel Samui

 
It’s safe to say that this is a hotel for partygoers. With DJs dropping by to turn up the beats around the curvaceous pool deck most nights, make reservations here to enjoy Koh Samui’s night scene on your doorstep. Rooms with blond wood floors and white-washed walls go for around B4,200.
157 Moo 2, 077-963-730. www.combobeachhotelsamui.com
 
 
 

Santiburi Beach Resort & Spa

 
With the addition of 19 new pool villas to their existing 77 luxurious contemporary villas and suites, Santiburi Beach Resort & Spa is starting to look more like a village than a resort. Replete with all your home comforts, these new 250-sq-meter villas each come with a private garden and pool, which connect seamlessly to the bedroom. The interior is decked out in neutral tones and wood furniture, making for a bright and minimalist space. With rates starting from B17,000, what distinguishes these villas from your typical home is their impressive en-suite bathrooms, which feature a rain shower, a bathtub and a spacious walk-in closet to boot.
12/12 Moo 1, Maenam Beach, 077-425-035. www.santiburisamui.com
 
 

Sala Samui Chaweng Beach Resort

 
While Chaweng might not normally say quiet luxury, the new Sala Samui Chaweng Beach Resort is changing that. The price of entry to this world of warm woods and heavenly whites starts from about B14,493 but it’s worth it: every room comes with its own pool, in addition to tasteful touches like circular bathtubs (very onsen-looking) and lunar-referencing light installations. It’s just the beginning phase for now, with the 52 completed villas and suites set to be joined by 82 more by next year, but the completed ones face the ocean. In addition, there’ll be a spa, gym, hidden oasis swimming pool and beachfront restaurant primed for sunset.
99/10 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach, 077-905-888 www.salahospitality.com/chaweng
 
 

Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui

 
Turning a former coconut plantation into 175 luxurious suites and pool villas, the Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui is easily the island’s hottest new opening. Ritz-Carlton’s second resort in Thailand (you’ll recognize the other from those wedding scenes in Hangover 2) comes decked out in a tasteful blend of neutral tones and natural stone. Standard rooms cost from B10,959 and offer stunning views of Samui’s coastline, as well as access to two private beaches, the resort’s beachfront pool, spa pavilions, six dining outlets and a vast reef that’s perfect for swimming. Or for B25,200/night, you could book an Ocean View Pool Villa, which comes with an outdoor pool perched overlooking the sea.
9/123 Moo 5, Bophut, 077-915-777. www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/koh-samui
 

HOT TIP

This music festival might be your cheapest ticket to Samui

 
If you can’t wait until December’s Wonderfruit to get your festival fix, then you’re in luck. The three-day Mui Fest (www.muifest.com) is set to hit Samui this Oct 26-28, bringing international artists, exclusive parties, art installations, wellness workshops, and sports to the island’s white sand beaches. Oh, and, of course, plenty of Thailand’s finest southern cuisine. A joint venture between Amazing Thailand and Bangkok Airways (who are soon set to regain their monopolyon fights to the island), the festival will offer special fight discounts to partygoers. Early-bird packages will be available any day now on www.eventpop.me, starting at B9,600, inclusive of return fights from Bangkok, a two-night stay at a participating hotel (including the likes of Celes Beachfront Resort Samui and Chaweng Garden Beach Resort), and a two-day festival pass— best grab it while you can, since last time we checked a round-trip alone would set you back nearly B10,000! For festival tickets only, it's B1,000 for a one-day pass and B1,600 for two-days. The lineup is yet to announced, but keep an eye on www.muifest.com for updates.