Koh Samui's Holistic Hideaways
Here's a wellness itinerary away from the rowdiness of southern Thailand that’s great for beginner yogis and hardcore health nuts.
The palm-fringed shores of Thailand’s second-largest island, Koh Samui, is one of the country’s most popular tourist hotspots and it’s home to ample luxury spa resorts and backpacker hives dotted across the island. But it’s also a great place to really dedicate yourself to a healthy getaway, whether you choose to hole up in a one-stop villa or explore your choices all throughout the island. And just in case you need to let off steam between green smoothies, the closest bar or beach is never far away...
After the overindulgence of the holiday season your body deserves some good quality, clean nourishment. Feed up on healthy fare at the moderately-priced Vikasa Life Café, part of Vikasa Yoga Retreat (Moo 4, Tambol Maret, Koh Samui, (+66) 77-422-232, vikasayoga.com). Opened by the pioneer of Vikasa (meaning “evolution”) Yoga Konstantin Miachin, the terrace café’s best known for its healthy buffet, but also serves an all-day menu of raw, vegan, vegetarian and meat dishes. Once you’ve acclimatized to your newfound gusto for clean eats, you’ll feel right at home at vegan café and barefoot artist mecca June Art Café (Samui Town Center, Bophut Ring Rd., Koh Samui, (+66) 77-425-587, juneartcafe.com). With another branch in Nathon old town, the café boasts a menu of vegan desserts and delicious fruit smoothies on top of a celebrated tofu salad. Though the menu items are comparatively expensive, the chill, bohemian atmosphere is hard to beat. Detoxing on a shoestring? A small authentic Thai buffet spot Jay Tamachad Vegetarian Restaurant (Hat Chaweng 4, Koh Samui, (+66) 89-6451951), just out of the commercial area of Chaweng, serves up inexpensive vegan foods and a handful of Chinese dishes from as early as 7am.
Let’s get real: just sipping on juice for three days straight while sunning yourself in a luxury villa isn’t going to help you maintain your new year bod. You’re going to have to work for it. Start slow and easy with a beachside yoga session at Marga Yoga (276/1 Moo 3, Taling Ngam, Koh Samui, (+66) 80-88-999-60, marga-yoga-koh-samui.com), a newly renovated center on Taling Ngam beach (re-opening officially Jan 18) that offers relaxing Hatha yoga and shorter Hatha flow classes as well as yoga therapy, from just THB500 ($108). “Yoga on delivery” services are also available, with instructors hired to your chosen location. For something that will make you break more of a sweat, Samahita Retreat (55/20-24 Moo 4, T. Namuang, Koh Samui, (+66) 77-920-090, samahitaretreat.com) offers an integrated “YogaCoreCycle” program: Group fitness classes that fold breath work, meditation, cardio, strength training—pretty much all you need to whip yourself into shape—into workouts complete with sea views.
Sweat it Out
After your exertions, a relaxing day excursion at Tamarind Springs (205/7 Thong Takian, Koh Samui, (+66) 80-56-966-54, tamarindsprings.com) is a must. It’s one of the island’s most longstanding and unique spa establishments, with giant granite boulders making up hot herbal steam caves dotted throughout a lush jungle setting. There are specially designed body scrubs and rock pools for you to cool down before and after sweating out all those toxins. Top it off with a Thai yoga massage treatment, which should do the job of ironing out all the final kinks with a mix of acupressure and passive stretches. Treatments start at THB5,000 ($1,071) for an hour and a half in the forest steam caves and a two-and-a-half-hour massage.
You’ll want to stay away from the hooligans on Chaweng and Lamai beaches, so the quiet northeastern shore of Choeng Mon beach is a good area to look. While most yoga centers and retreats also offer accommodation, one of the most sought-after places to stay on the island is Samujana, a plush villa property just 10 minutes away from the airport. Each villa is individually designed with infinity pools and modern furnishings, and is staffed and equipped depending on your requests. Spa treatments, bookings for outside excursions and private fitness classes are also available within the property. 63/154 Moo 5, Baan Plai Laem, Koh Samui, samujana.com. Prices from US$700 ($5,425)/night for a three-bedroom villa.
Just a three-hour flight away, Koh Samui is easily accessed through Bangkok Airways, with two direct flights leaving Hong Kong daily. Prices start at around $2,180.