By Lyra Joy E. Almoite
With the rise of remote work and the trending digital-nomad scene, living on a tropical island and escaping the hustle and bustle of the city is becoming the new normal. Thailand, with its number of famous “Kohs” (islands) seems to be very fitting to those who are looking for year-round sunny days.
Koh Samui is one of the more well-known islands, attracting tourists with its gorgeous white sand beaches. It is the perfect destination for anyone who is looking for a tropical escape or a dream retirement by the sea. But like any other place around the globe, Koh Samui has its fair share of pros and cons.
If you are living in a four-seasoned country and just can’t bear the cold anymore, Koh Samui offers the perfect escape from the chilly and windy nights back home. The island boasts “beach day” kind of weather practically all day, every day. The 28-degree Celsius heat which can go up all the way to 31 degrees is the perfect excuse to hit the beach and work on that tan. Work to do? Free WiFi options are plenty, from coffee shops to beach-side restaurants.
#2: Affordable Living Standards
Living in Koh Samui is pretty cheap, especially if you’re coming here with dollars or euros in your pocket. You’ll easily be able to find a 50 baht ($1.5 USD) filling meal just by walking around the night markets. Rent is also a fracture of the cost you’ll pay at home. For about $500 USD per month, you’ll be able to live in a nice apartment all to yourself. Depending on your preference, living comfortably in Koh Samui can easily be done in an overall expenses of $1,500 USD or under per month.
#3: Friendly Locals
Thailand is called the Land of Smiles, and for good reason. The moment you step foot on this beautiful land, you’ll find the locals greet you with a big smile on their face and a “sawadee kah” or “hello”. Koh Samui, even if it’s 12 hours away from Bangkok, is not an exemption. Thai people love to be friends with tourists from all over the world, even if they are not speaking the same language. They offer world-class customer service and they love to help their foreign visitors at any given chance.
So come enjoy the sunshine, the great food, and be prepared with your best smile!
Koh Samui may be a small island, but getting around it is not so easy. While Songthaews, taxis, and motortaxis are available, you have to do a little bit of bargaining before you depart. Other than those three, there’s really not much way to get around the island aside by foot or driving on your own. Most of the locals and tourists rely on motorcycles to explore the island. If you’ve got the heart to conquer the roads of Koh Samui and have the skill to drive a scooter, renting one is fairly easy and cheap. You can find a lot of rental shops scattered around the island and scooter rentals usually go for 150 to 200 Thai Baht ($3-4 USD) per day. You may be able to negotiate a lower price if you’re planning to rent it for a month or longer.
#2: Endless Bargaining
Unlike living at home where there’s a price tag on almost everything and the prices are fixed, Thai people love to bargain in order to capture the deal before you walk away empty-handed. Remember, many of the Thai people live on a cash-based society, and they rely on steady transactions from wandering tourists. Bartering is one way they ensure they get “at least” something. If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll probably find this fun and you’ll surely get a good deal. But be mindful that the bartering process should be fair to everyone.
While Thailand loves and thrives on tourism, the typical tourist visa lasts only 60 days. You can get an extension of 30 more days for a fee and a quick trip to the immigration office. But at the end of 90 days, you’ll have to leave the country for at least 24 hours before you can return. Visa runs and border bounces are the norm for the farangs (foreigners) living here. Even those who fall in love with the island and with Thailand as a whole, would find this process rather bothersome, even stressful. Considering that Koh Samui is not the cheapest island to fly in to, your options are filled with buses, ferries, taxis, and vans and a full day of travel to get your passport stamped. I guess that’s one way to stop the flow of foreigners into the country.
Koh Samui is such a paradise to live in, where your perpetual-summer-time dreams come true, where the cost of living will actually let you live “the high life”, and the world’s loveliest people with the biggest hearts welcome you into their culture with world-renowned smiles. We can’t blame you if you find yourself not wanting to leave this paradise. However, just like in any relationship, falling in love with Koh Samui comes with a price. But sometimes, just like with the right boyfriend, the short and sweet relationships are the best. We’re sure you’ll love the island enough–even its quirks you will find endearing.