Advice from an expat expert

Gold Coaster Leah Matters moved to Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort in 2015 before moving to Koh Samui to take up the position of General Manager of Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort two years ago.

“To sweeten the deal, I met my future husband in Koh Samui at the gym,” she says.

SEE

Visit and experience the pride and joy of Thailand, the majestic elephant. Samui Elephant Haven is one of the only fully ethical elephant parks where the emphasis is on observation and education. The 20 elephants in their care have been rescued from the tourism industry or logging. These gentle giants were victims of lifelong abuse, overwork and injury. Be sure to purchase the fruitcake smash experience; guaranteed to leave you smiling from ear to ear. See samuielelephanthaven.org

DO

Start your day with a hike to one of the many waterfalls around the island for a dip in the cool, pristine streams; Hin Lat Waterfall is one of the most popular. Adrenaline junkie? Zipline tours will have you zipping through the trees in the middle of the jungle. The Tree Bridge Cafe guides have a killer sense of humor. See treebridgezipline.com

TO EAT

Panoramic views, breathtaking sunsets, delicious Thai and Western dishes with an extensive wine and cocktail list to boot, Jungle Club ticks all the boxes. Reservations are essential and be sure to include transfer as the hill is scary. The lamb spring rolls and lemongrass mules are a must. See jungleclubsamui.com

BEVERAGE

Foxtrot Bistro is a hidden beachfront backyard with some of the most beautiful sunsets on the island. While the food is delicious and perfect for sharing, the highlights are their craft cocktails; best on the island. If you want a specially crafted cocktail, just ask Helen and she will create one for you. See facebook.com/foxtrotsamui/

AVOID

While Thais are very open-minded and easy-going, they are culturally very conservative, especially in terms of dress. Of course, dress for the weather (it’s hot and humid here) but try to dress respectfully, especially in temples, restaurants, malls, etc. Would you go bikini shopping in your home country?

BLOSSOM

“Sabai Sabai” means relax, which pretty much sums up island life here in Thailand. Make sure to breathe deeply and go with the flow. Things may not go as planned, but will eventually happen.

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