16 | Thursday 27.08.09 Thursday 27.08.09 | 17
vietnam Philippines Malaysia
where: Hong Kong where: Koh Samui, Thailand
CurrenCy: $1 is HK$5.35 CurrenCy: $1 is 23.7 baht
Big MaC, cost: HK$13.3 ($2.45)* Big MaC, cost: 64.49 baht ($2.72) *
getting there: The ferry to getting there: Bangkok
Tung Ping Chau departs from Ma Airways flies direct from
Liu Shui pier, a 10-minute walk Singapore to Koh Samui daily.
from University station on the Flight time is 1 hour 45 minutes.
MTR line. Return fare is HK$90. Tickets cost about $450.
The one-and-a-half hour The Thai boutique carrier
journey takes you to Cheung Sha has launched online specials to
Wan pier, where you’ll find an attract more visitors. For details,
eco map showing key places of log on to www.bangkokair.com
interests around the island. *Source: McDonald’s, The Economist istock photo
* Source: McDonald’s, The Economist
surviving on a
is this Hong Kong? beach budget istock photo
Premier destination can consider renting a motorbike
Koh Samui can also be to explore the island — the most
photos karen teoh
affordable, says Rachel lo popular form of transportation
S’pore expat KAren Teoh small piece of land. Zoom out you from one place to another slug.Watch out for the urchins, electricity or toilets, this is true there. Make sure you have a valid
finds shimmering magic and the landscape is vastly means that you are breathing though, as their needle-point outdoor living. For water, bring KoH samui’s popularity as a va- licence, as traffic on the island can
and a taste of the wild different. fresh air, as far removed from spines will sting. (but, given along a couple of empty jerry cation destination has increased get rather hairy and motorbike
on a remote island Many of the islands that the trappings of the city as you how fresh-from-the-sea uni cans and fill up at a tap in sha by leaps and bounds in the last accidents are common. or, you
populate the waters around can imagine. is a favoured delicacy, perhaps Tau hamlet just 15 minutes couple of years, fuelled partly by can choose to rent a jeep, which
A bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong are uninhabited The most remote of the it’s the urchins that should be from the campsite. the island’s airport expansion, provides a safer ride on the un-
Hong Kong yields a forest or protected country and islands is also one of the most warned instead.) The shallow waters on which can now accommodate dulating roads.
of concrete, skyscrapers marine parks. That there are enchanting places to visit.Tung A walk around the island either side of the campsite are more flights and handle a larger day tours are also popular
Sea urchins are harvested for food. and highrises bursting from a no malls or MTr trains to zip Ping Chau is situated at Mirs takes 45 minutes, during which ideal for snorkelling, as you’ll passenger load. among visitors.Take a trip to the
bay, an hour and a half by ferry you’ll see the coastal landscape swim with shoals of small fish recognising its marketability Angthong National Marine Park
and north-east of the city. shift from dramatic cliffs and with coral, sea cucumber and as a premier destination, the Thai for a fun-filled day of kayaking,
once inhabited, the 2km rocky promontories to pebbly urchins littering the seabed. government recently approved island-hopping and exploring
long, crescent-shaped island was beaches. After dinner, clamber rachel lo a 900-million-baht ($38-million) cave formations.
designated a marine reserve side trails weave through atop the twin promontories (Top) Koh Samui airport plan to improve the island’s in- Tour operators offer half-
in 2001 and forms part of the wooded paths. in the spring, on the eastern edge of the is open to the air. frastructure — such as roads, day or full-day snorkelling trips,
Plover Cove Marine Park. wild sweet blackberries creep campsite overlooking the sea (Above) Chaweng Beach may street lighting and a flood-control while dive trips are available at
As residents moved out along branches, ripe for the and enjoy the sight of a starry be the most popular beach system, especially needed during dive centres across the island.The
with tourists but you can still find
to the mainland, abandoned picking. Hong Kong sky that you can’t quiet, peaceful restaurants on the the monsoon season. dive sites around Koh samui and
village houses fell into disrepair As the sun begins to set, get from the city. sand to have a sundowner. but even though the third- Koh Tao are amazingly beautiful,
but a number have been con- women in rolled-up trousers out in the inky waters, largest island in Thailand (after with a good variety of hard and
verted into hostels for local from the eateries at sha Tau luminous plankton trailing Phuket and Koh Chang) is known soft corals as well as abundant
tour groups. hamlet, five minutes from the squid boats leave a wake of for its abundance of resorts offer- marine life.
The island is serene in pier, head to the rocks near phosphorescence like shim- Saving in SaMui ing five-star services to travellers if you are like me and crave a
the late afternoon and on a the campsite to dig for clams. mering green stars reflecting 1. Beaches such as Big Buddha drawn to its sunny beaches and good massage while on vacation,
calm day, the water around it if you are witnessing this the night sky. and Chaweng offer a wide relaxed atmosphere, Koh samui Koh samui is also an established
is surprisingly clear. Apparently dusk-time industry, then you Mesmerising sparklers range of affordable accommo- is still an accessible destination spa destination. on my recent
dation options, some as low
untainted by the runoff from have missed your afternoon above and below, that’s Tung as under 1,000 baht. to those keeping a close eye on trip there, i splurged on a day of
the Pearl river, it boasts the ferry back to the mainland. Ping Chau’s answer to Hong 2. It is easy to get a cheap meal, their budget. spa indulgence at the acclaimed
at Hong Kong happiness
healthiest and richest coastal in which case, your choice Kong’s neon lights. There’s just eat where the locals eat. on beaches like Chaweng, Tamarind spa.
Disneyland ecosystem in Hong Kong. of accommodation would in- plenty in stock, available ex- Go to Pankbua Market, located big buddha and Lamai, where set in a tropical forest sur-
Find out ho !
in Chaweng, for authentic Thai
dip in the many rock pools clude a village hostel or camp- clusively outside the city. accommodation and F&b op- rounded by verdant greenery
visiting UOB w by food. The popular Will Wait
Booth 5H11 avel at around the island and you might ing. Few visitors set up tents at email@example.com restaurant on Chaweng beach tions are aplenty, visitors can get and towering coconut palm trees,
NATAS Holid during find yourself bathing with snails, the designated campsite on also offers value-for-money a decent hotel room for under the spa pampers guests with five-
ays 2009. Thai fare.
barnacles, crabs and tiny fish that the eastern t ip of the island, 1,000 baht. These are often situ- star service. A key feature is the
3. Rent a motorbike to explore
nibble your toes and bottom. so you are likely to have the iSland hoPPing the island, but make sure ated just a road or two away sauna, which is carved out of a
if you’re lucky, you might place to yourself. Hong Kong’s outlying islands you have a valid motorbike from the beach, and some are huge natural boulder and com-
even spot a nudibranch, or sea With no running water, offer a variety of activities. On licence, or that you know what even equipped with swimming plemented by a refreshing rock
Chueng Chau, where time ap- you’re doing. The traffic on
pears to have stood still some 30 Samui can be a bit hectic and pools for hotel guests. pool next to it.The massage was
A nudibranch, years ago, you can cycle through many tourists get into motor- For accommodation on the also expertly executed.
or sea slug, in the alleys of old villages and bike accidents every day. beach that costs less than 2,000 Needless to say, stunning
the clear waters hamlets. 4. Explore nature on a day trip
of Tung Ping Best known for its seafood
baht, you can head to Ark bar beaches, friendly people and ex-
to Angthong National Marine
Chau. This one restaurants, lamma offers some Park, or island hop to Koh or Al’s Hut on Chaweng beach; cellent service attitudes draw me
measured about of the freshest catch with tables Nangyuan for some snorkel- Cactus bungalow on big buddha back every year.
20cm. overlooking the bay around Sok ling in crystal-clear water.
Kwu Wan pier. At Yung Shue Wan,
beach; or Magic resort on Lamai recession or not, Koh samui
you can explore trinket shops, a 5. Laze on the beach — it costs beach. during low season, the has demonstrated its versatility
book café offering excellent veg- nothing!
rates are very attractive and the as a premier as well as budget-
etarian fare, bars and restaurants, 6. Get a beach massage. It’s only
and local markets set along the 300 baht for an hour-long full- beaches are less crowded. friendly destination.
narrow winding alleyways. body treatment. Those who are adventurous firstname.lastname@example.org