I love the size of Samui. Big enough to offer tons of variety….small enough to still have that cool island vibe. The island is wrapped by ‘the ring road’. One of my favorite pastimes on Samui has always been to take a lap around the ring road. Not for any particular reason or with any planned agenda. As Canadian rock legends The Tragically Hip would say…..looking for a place to happen, making stops along the way. Now that I got your attention, I might as well throw in a link to a great Hip tune. Check it out:
Now, where were we again? Oh yeah, a lap around the island. Sorry, got a little forgetful there….maybe it’s because today’s journey involved a significant number of cold beers. Today, I didn’t even make the full lap around the ring road. We cut the island in half, making 3 quality stops that this blog entry will tell you about. These take some effort to find and they are definitely off the beaten path so when you’re tired of the crowds and going where everyone else goes, put in the effort and follow this post like a treasure map. I guarantee you it will reward you with pots of gold. Or glasses of golden liquid at least!!
Stop 1: Treehouse Beach Bar
We started our trip from the North East of the island, near the airport. Drove down the ring road just past Bophut, and just as we entered Maenam took a quick right into the Treehouse. It’s a cozy place on a quiet beach (it’s actually called Silent Beach), with nothing to do but relax and enjoy the gentle sound of the tiny waves brushing onto shore. Here’s a google map pin for you to find the place, and a video showing the walk in from the parking lot.
If you’re with a group, I’d suggest grabbing one of the lounge tables in the shade where you can stretch out and rotate between napping, drinking, swimming, and eating. On this day there were only 2 of us so we grabbed seats at the elongated bar table directly overlooking the beach. There’s lots of good food options so if you come hungry you won’t be disappointed. Still early in the day and me being the responsible one, I opted for the Beat-root and Berry Smoothie. A frozen concoction that made my head tingle and my belly say thanks.
After watching a lone dog frolic on the beach and soaking in some relaxing tunes, we decided to continue our tour around the island. The next stop was going to require the energy from the smoothie to kick in. On your way out, take note of the incredibly valuable swamp land for sale. Hurry and snatch it up now!!!!
We hopped back into the pickup truck my friend was driving and continued the adventures. The most common way to get anywhere on the island is the ring road, but several years ago, there was a ‘highway’ developed that cuts right through the centre of Samui. Meant to alleviate worsening traffic on the ring road, this ‘highway’ never took off and now is best described as an empty road the slices Samui in half. To me, it’s by far the best way to get from Maenam to Lamai quickly and it runs through the mountains and puts you right in the middle of the jungle, giving you a feel for what Samui was like before the tourists showed up.
Stop 2 – Pak Dee’s Place
This will be the hardest spot for you to find, but also the one most worth the effort.
Pak Dee is a fine man who inks people up at his tattoo shop in the busier part of Samui but also gives adventure seekers a taste of old Samui and the mountain life at his place here….dead smack in the centre of the island where 99% of tourists will never venture. You’re part of the 1% club that works to find the goodies though, so I trust you’ll follow this google map pin and come up here for a beer.
Pro Tip: The road to get to Pak Dee’s place gets rough, so take a solid vehicle. 4×4 recommended. We saw a group of tourists on mopeds struggling just to inch along the bumpy road and thought to ourselves, “That ain’t gonna end well.”
Once you find Pak Dee’s, park your vehicle and you’ll immediately notice it. Peace. Quiet. Jungle Noise. You’ve done it…..you’ve gotten away from the 100,000 other people on this small island, so enjoy it! Head right into the hut that makes up the bar at this place, meet Pak Dee himself, and order up a cold beverage. I went for Leo this time ‘round. Settle in, chill, and maybe on your 2nd beer, take a stroll around his grounds. You’ll find lots of cool stuff, including a Python he likes to keep on site.
By the 3rd beer, I was feeling adventurous and decided to make the short trek down to the Waterfall, a must-do since you’ve made the effort to come up here in the first place. Just walk out of the bar and turn right and follow the signs that say waterfall. It’s pretty easy to find but just to make it fool-proof for you, here’s a quick YouTube vid that shows the way:
At the end of the 15-minute walk, you’re rewarded by a lagoon and waterfall in a rocky enclave in the middle of a valley, dead centre of Samui. It’s not an easy walk but shit man, I did it in flip flops while carrying a cold Leo and smoking a Marlboro. The walk isn’t the challenge, finding it is. But just walk in what you feel is the right direction, follow the path, and you’ll get there. And if you don’t, there’s always another cold beer waiting for you back at Pak Dee’s. Remember, life on Samui should always be easy.
I didn’t take a dip in the lagoon but I have every intention of going back there again soon, backpack filled with cold beers wrapped in a towel, as I’d love to sit down there for an hour….chilling while the cool mountain stream washes over me and the cool beer flows like that same river. Instead, we hiked back up and continued on. I have a blog to write dammit, and we had one more stop to make. Work, work, work I tell ya!!
Stop 3: Bang’s Place
We continued heading south on the mountain highway and it spat us out in Lamai, conveniently placed near my oldest and dearest Thai friend….Mr. Bang. I met Bang in 1995 when he owned an Art shop and Café in Lamai. He needed canvas and it was hard to find on Samui at the time, so we used to bring him a big roll from Korea each time we’d visit. Over the past 25 years, he’s become one of my best friends in the entire world. And there’s nothing that makes me happier than when a day ends up with a visit to his place.
We did the usual and stopped by a Family Mart to grab a bag o’ beers before hitting his place. Once there, 3 guys did what 3 guys often do….talked shit and drank. No google map link for this one. No writeup about his place either. The moral of this part of the post is not to go visit Mr. Bang. It’s to make a Thai friend. Hell, make several.
So that’s it. A half day tour around the island that you can do with almost no money. We spent a grand total of 900 baht and that got us the beers, smoothies and gasoline that we needed to fuel our trip. So get out there and check some shit out that’s not so easy to find. It’ll probably end up the most memorable part of your time on the island.
As always, comments welcome below. Let us know your favorite hidden gem on Samui and we’ll go check it out!!! Subscribe here to get updates each week when new blog posts drop.