Whether you’re looking to stick to new year’s resolutions while on holiday, or you’re ready for a full-on lifestyle overhaul, Samui has plenty of options for the healthy traveller
Although Koh Samui is primarily known for a plethora of tourist attractions and luxury resorts, travellers seeking nourishing meals, calming atmospheres, and spiritual transformations needn’t venture far. From traditional Muay Thai gyms, vegan restaurants with locally sourced ingredients, and all-inclusive natural detox centres—most of which are set against a stunning tropical backdrop—this island begs to be considered as the perfect place to rejuvenate both mind and body.
Where To Eat
For hungry guests in search of healthier options, Sweet Sisters Café is prime. Don’t be dissuaded by the distance—about 20 km from Chaweng—or their underwhelming website, because the charming piglet decor and handcrafted food is more than worth the motorbike or songthaew trip. Natural elements interwoven with comfortable seating, and strong Wi-Fi signal, means productivity is as important as enjoyment. Upon entering, guests are greeted with the salivating scents of freshly baked organ ic cookies, roasted espresso beans, and a cheery smile from the owner Noy and her staff. Fish cakes come highly recommended, but don’t forget to pick up some Thai chocolate or premade baking mixes at Noy’s organic shop next door.
Indulge in one of the best organic brunches on the island at Life Cafe. Spearheaded by award-winning chefs Boris Lauser and Cyril Shivo, their fusion menu is chock full of raw vegan, Thai, and European specialties that are almost too beautiful to eat—such as chia pudding jars layered with a rainbow of grains, fruits, and spices. When doing sunrise yoga works up an appetite, opt for the impressive brunch buffet here: buckwheat pancakes, quinoa salads, yogurt with a selection of nut, fruit and grain toppings, scrambled eggs, avocados, and freshly pressed juices spread across several large tables. The cliff-side restaurant setting, with uninterrupted ocean views, invites guests to mingle and relax before an open-air meditation session in the afternoon.
For the adventurous travellers, night markets and sidewalk food carts can be found sprinkled throughout the island. Vendors offer a selection of local fruits and vegetables, vegan treats, and juices. Many of the night market stalls sell homemade goods, such as carved incense holders and Jenga sets—because who needs another refrigerator magnet souvenir?
Where To Get Moving
Samui’s first health and fitness camp, Fitkoh—located in Maenam—offers a variety of all-inclusive programmes aimed at weight loss, Muay Thai training, or total body transformation. Onsite kitchens offer organic meals packed with protein to aid the recovery process (if you choose the VIP package, the meals come included). For the savvy chef, small but fully equipped kitchen areas come in each bungalow. Of course, if you’re just looking for a few fitness classes, Fitkoh welcomes drop-ins for a quick sweat sesh.
Conveniently located in the centre of Lamai Beach road, Ultra Bodies Samui is a two-storey fitness centre offering versatile packages starting with a B170 day pass. Open daily from 8am to 9pm, the centre is equipped with the typical offerings: treadmills, free weights, and resistance machines. With complimentary towel service, as well as organic wheat grass, electrolyte, and protein shakes available for purchase at the front desk, Ultra Bodies is an easy way to stick to your fitness goals.
The Lamai Muay Thai Camp, supported by the World Muay Thai Council, is lauded as the oldest and most established training facility on the island. With Lamai Beach as a backdrop, guests can expect an intense workout while learning a mixture of ancient and modern fighting techniques from world-class trainers, Customizable packages are available based on the guest’s experience and fitness backgrounds. And yes, the signature Muay Thai shorts are available for purchase in the onsite store.
Of course, with more than 10 waterfalls on the island, trekking through the jungle is a great way to exercise while taking in the sights. Maenam 1 and 2 are popular waterfall destinations, but for more secluded getaways, take a drive through the Maenam cut-through where the roads are steep but the views are breathtaking. Some of the hikes can be strenuous, so pack solid trekking shoes and plenty of water and snacks.
Where To Transform
Indulge in a signature yoga vacation at Vikasa Yoga Retreat. Located cliff-side in between Chaweng and Lamai, this retreat offers all-inclusive packages with unlimited yoga and meditation classes (all equipment and props included), meals made by award-winning chefs, and private rooms with jaw-dropping views of the ocean. Unlike many yoga retreats with set dates, Vikasa runs on a rolling schedule 365 days per year, and welcomes other yoga instructors to host classes during their visit. Of course, guests with accommodations elsewhere can still eat at the resort’s Life Cafe, and/or pop in for a beachside yoga class.
Open since 1997, Health Oasis Resort is an all-inclusive detox centre specializing in weight loss, stress-relief, and “total transformation” programmes. Guests can opt for beachfront suites where daily massages, aromatherapy treatments, and steam room treatments are the norm. Vegetarian meals are served using local ingredients, and cooking classes are offered for those looking to take some culinary tips home after the programme.
Like the rest of Thailand, Samui has a multitude of temples, which satisfy both cultural and spiritual interests. Travellers looking to quiet the soul might head to Big Buddha, located at the northeastern tip of the island, a popular attraction. But other temples such as Wat Ratchathammaran in its sparkling gold splendor, and Wat Plai Laem are equally as stunning and offer quiet meditation areas. Remember that guests are advised to cover their shoulders and knees before entering the temple.
By Cici Meis