After our crazy journey from Laos back to Thailand, we were really looking forward to enjoying the holidays in the idyllic islands in the Gulf of Thailand. For two weeks, we hopped from one island to another, first Koh Phangan, then Koh Tao, and finally Koh Samui. Some of our friends were coming to meet us in Koh Samui and we were so excited to have the best company to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Our first stop was Koh Phangan, famous for its full moon parties and a major backpacker haven. Even though we weren’t there during full moon and we stayed away from Haad Rin Beach (where the crazy stuff happens), we still got to enjoy a few parties and fire shows on the island (basically every resort hosts its own party), as well as spend some time on the beach. We were there for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Our bungalow on the Thong Sala Beach was only a few meters away from the water, which made it very convenient to go for a swim whenever we wanted. The beach itself was a bit of a disappointment (my standards are quite high when it comes to beaches), as I was expecting a white sand, crystal clear and wave-free water a la Koh Rong style. Instead, all we had was a short strip of semi-white sand and murky water with lots of algae on the bottom. It didn’t help that the weather was cloudy and rainy. I remained hopeful about the other islands to come.
Every night, our resort transformed itself into a party club around the pool and bar area, with DJs, fire shows, free shots and glow-in-the-dark body paint. We joined the party one night and even tried the body paint, which was fun (though we were careful not to stain the sheets or be charged!). We can only imagine what the full moon parties on Haad Rin Beach would be like. All in all, Koh Phangan was a nice start to the holiday season. Next up – Koh Tao!
Koh Tao is the smallest of the three main islands of the Samui Archipelago and we came here mainly for our Scuba Diving Course. Outside of school time, we enjoyed exploring the small village at Sairee Beach.
The narrow road that connected both ends of the beach was very cute and packed with hotels, restaurants, bars and dive centers. We never ran out of options for food or entertainment and by the end of our stay on the island, we felt quite familiar and almost at home there.
The beach was also a significant improvement over Koh Phangan. The water was a nice turquoise blue color and the sand strip was wider and cleaner. Unfortunately, the weather was once again no good – everyday was cloudy with rain.
The highlight in Koh Tao was definitely our diving course, from fulfilling a trip goal to the beautiful corals and wildlife we saw for the first time. We finished the course in four days and we were off to Koh Samui for new years!
We arrived in Koh Samui in the afternoon of the 30th in preparation for New Year’s Eve and to see our friends (hi Abby, Boris and Zlatan!), who came all their way to Thailand to spend their vacation time with us! As soon as we checked in with our hotel on Chaweng Beach, we went to meet up with them. It has been just Julie and I during our travels and we’ve forgotten how nice it is to enjoy the company of good friends. Even though we are always making new friends on the road, it’s not the same as friends from home who know us well. The reunion was filled with jokes and laughter – we knew that the next few days were going to be epic.
The first day we took it easy since we all needed to recover from our respective travels to get to Koh Samui. Dinner together plus a few drinks, while reliving stories from the past, catching up on the latest news and playing some card games. The next day we hit the beach and spent some quality time relaxing there. Chaweng Beach was a beautiful sight – the sand was fine and white, the water was clear and emerald-blue, the waves were fun to play with. The palm trees along the coast line and the mountains in the background completed the scenery.
The beach later became the stage for the New Year’s Eve party and we were excited to ring in the new year on the beach. But first, we were introduced to Zlatan’s friend, Jasmin, who joined our group for the rest of the time on the island. In honour of New Year’s Eve, we feasted at a all-you-can-eat BBQ restaurant.
With our bellies full, we made our way to the ARKbar, arguably the best party spot on the whole Koh Samui island.
By the time we arrived, the beach sandstrip was already packed. Getting drinks at the bar was challenging, but thanks to Zlatan’s persistance, we got a few that lasted us the entire night. We danced on the beach until the countdown to 2015 and the fireworks started. Everyone stopped and watched in wonder at all the fireworks erupting along the coastline.
The beach party continued once the fireworks stopped, but that wasn’t the end of fire displays for the night. ARKbar was also known for their fire shows performed on stages set up in the water. For a few minutes, fire artists spun fireball chains that released small sparks of fire into the air. The result was a continuous swirl of fire, radiating out from the middle. It was really cool to watch. As the fire artists spun even faster and the show became even more intense, everyone responded in appreciated screams. The fire show undoubtedly added to the party, making the night even more special and memorable. There were even drones flying by to record the whole spectacle.
The ARKbar eventually closed and we moved on to the Green Mango Bar. Green Mango was much more like a club than a beach party. I even managed to get one of the free shirt they threw onto the crowd! Needless to say, we had a blast with our friends ringing in 2015. I’m used to celebrating New Year’s Eve on the beach in Brazil, but this was probably the best New Year’s celebration I’ve ever had. It was Julie’s first-ever beach New Year’s, so she had a great time as well. We took the next day to once again chill at the beach.
Our last few days in 2014 were amazing, from Christmas in Koh Phangan to the diving course in Koh Tao to ringing in 2015 with our friends in Koh Samui. We enjoyed every minute! It even felt like a vacation of sorts for us because we paused our traveling and took a break from work as well. Thanks to all of our friends for coming out to meet us on this side of the world – it would not have been nearly as awesome without you! We are looking forward to 2015 and a year filled with happiness and amazing travels for all of us. Happy New Year!
For more pictures from Koh Samui, please visit the gallery!