Christian hails from Austria, but has lived in the ‘Land of Smiles’ for decades - he greets us with a kind, open smile, surrounded by golden sand, swaying boats and clear, turquoise water. I’m tempted to ask him why he chose Thailand as his new home, but I guess the beautiful scenery is reason enough.

Koh Samui Local Tips from Christian, the Local Operator

So, Christian, nice to meet you and looking forward to your Koh Samui local tips! What is the best time to visit Koh Samui?

Oh, that’s an easy question, because it’s all year round. The monsoon season is between mid-October and mid-December, but that only means that usually rains heavily during the night and maybe one or two hours during the day. However, we plan to do our maintenance during that time, like most of the yachties. Also, the famous Ang Thong National Marine Park is closed.

If someone has a week to spend there, what itinerary do you recommend for families and for couples?

We love to cruise in a circle, there are about 70 islands, so depending on wind and weather conditions we take guests around, catch fish to eat for lunch or dinner, take them snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or plan shore excursions to Ang Thong National Marine Park, with a hike up to the viewpoint, from where you can see 41 islands in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand. And naturally, the sunsets in our archipelago are famous all over the world.

With 70 islands, we have many possibilities - if one wants to stay alone, we can find a place, if they want to be in a famous spot like Three Rocks, it’s also possible. We are very flexible, because we just offer private trips.

What is the best itinerary for a group of young people looking to party?

Did you ever hear of the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan? It’s our neighbor island, the bay is called Haad Rin Bay, every full moon there are about 50 thousand people dancing on the beach. If they want to have this experience… I’m too old for that, but young people love it! 

And last but not least, as a Koh Samui local, what is the perfect sailing adventure for very active people and sport lovers?

We have partners in the area for special experiences - we offer combo packages like sailing and diving, sailing and motorbike riding, sailing and golfing, but there are also experiences like jumping into ponds, did you ever hear about that? In Koh Tao there’s a really specialized adventure company, where guests go hiking, free climbing and jumping into ponds. For something less extreme, you can go hiking in Ang Thong National Marine Park up to the viewpoint and take amazing pictures!

What Koh Samui locations are stunning but rarely visited?

There are 41 islands in Ang Thong National Marine Park, and only 5 of them are inhabited. You can see amazing nature out there, and really get the feel for how the Earth was made, about 5 million years ago!

Exactly behind Ang Thong National Marine Park, and to the south, between Koh Samui and the mainland, there are islands like Koh Taen or Koh Madsum, and starting to this point up to the north, there are no people over there. You can only get there by boat - we always take our guests there during our week-long cruises.

Which are your local tips for typical dishes that travelers should try during a cruise in Thailand?

I could tell you know a list of I don’t know how many! What is very interesting is that a few days ago CNN rounded up 50 of the most delicious foods ever created, and the Massaman curry was recognized as number one! I was really laughing! And listen, this is what they wrote - this is really the Land of Smiles, it’s not just a marketing catchline you know? It’s the result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner! One more reason to come to Koh Samui, for sure!

Is it possible to rent a boat without skipper in Koh Samui? What are the rules to be respected?

Very important question. Theoretically it’s possible, but in fact, the law says no. You need to have a Thai skipper license, and there are many special rules, and you can’t learn them within one day. If our clients want to sail by themselves, we send a local skipper with them - the guests can sail by themselves, but the locals can give them the tips and info they need, and look after the boat overnight if guests want to head to the shore for dinner.

Tell us a Thai tradition not many people know of! 

I don’t know what happens on land, I’m a seaman! What I can tell you is that naked swimming, or moving naked around Ang Thong National Marine Park and on board, is simply not allowed in Thailand. Alcohol or smoking on beaches is also not allowed on certain islands. But that’s it with rules! 

What are the main must-do sights and activities in Koh Samui? As a Koh Samui local, I'm sure you have lots of tips!

I always recommend a Thai cooking course. It’s a really amazing experience because you can take something home you’ll use your whole life. Normally they combine it with a walk to the market, where they explain all the ingredients.

Koh Samui is the island of marriages, we have over 200 companies, it’s really the honeymooners’ island! Guests love the sunsets, that’s why they come! All beaches have different things to see, it depends on the guests, whether they want to be alone or in a crowded place. We can find a solution! 

What is the best place to see the sunset in Koh Samui? Tell us your local secret!

That’s easy, most good sunset places have ‘sunset’ in their name, like ‘Sunset Coffee’, ‘Sunset Restaurant’, or whatever. It depends on whether you want to see the sun setting in the sea, or behind the mountains. It’s an island, so we have both! The south of the island is a great place to see the sunset in the sea, near Nathon, the capital of Koh Samui. There’s also a sunset restaurant, and if it’s clear you can see Ang Thong National Marine Park, about 20-25 miles away, while the sun goes down.

Tell us about nightlife…

Thailand is changing. There are places like Pattaya, where nightlife was born at the time of the Vietnam war. That worked for a while, but now there’s talks of changing it, of limiting opening times.

But as I said I’m a seaman, I don’t really know what happens on land. In any case, Koh Samui is not really the place for nightlife. It’s the 5-star island of Thailand, you can’t compare it with Phuket or Pattaya. There are talks to turn Koh Samui into the most exclusive five-star island in Thailand - we already have some big names on the island, like Ritz Carlton, that don’t exist on other islands. And if you don’t have a big budget, there are also some affordable alternatives. 

And what about the best snorkeling and diving spot… what are your Koh Samui local tips?

Everything around Koh Tao. I always tell my guests, in Koh Tao no matter where you jump in the water, it’s simply paradise! I think for 15 years Koh Tao has been mentioned as one of the best dive locations in the world. There are so many dive sites… I love Sail Rock, a 45-meter high sea stack, with caves inside, and when the sea is in the right place, it’s simply amazing. Then there’s White Rock, Chumpon Pinnacle, South West Pinnacle...

Also, in Koh Tao it’s not allowed to anchor, it’s very important to stick to the rules there, because they’re really doing their best to save nature. 

Suggest the perfect one day cruise from Koh Samui!

Most of our cruises are day trips, we do more than 100 a year. There are so many possibilities I don’t know where to start. There is a very special place I love, though. If you start in Koh Samui, we can sail around Koh Phangan, our big neighbor island. Around the northern tip of Koh Phangan there’s a small island, Koh Ma, that’s a place where you can swim in crystal clear waters - usually, guests are so amazed, they stop speaking. It’s great for a day trip. You can stop on the way, do some fishing… it’s so special because it’s connected with a sandbar to Koh Phangan, and you can walk there on high tide. I also have some more secrets, but I cannot tell you!

What do travelers need to know before heading to Thailand?

I only want to say one thing. Thailand is called the Land of Smiles, and if you come here, and try to understand the path of Thai people, how they live and how they think, you will understand that this is not advertising. They are happy and smiling the whole day because there’s no reason to fear anything. This is something you cannot explain, you have to see it. 

And what if someone has never been on a sailing holiday, what do they need to know about life on board before departing?

Most of our clients have never been sailing before, but I don’t really need to explain anything. Most people know that on good yachts you don’t need to wear shoes, and people understand you need to respect Thai people. I’ve never had problems, really. 

Time to pack: what do travelers need to take on board?

We don’t really have a dress code, and we only have private trips so it doesn’t matter - we are not really the kind of yacht where you need white trousers for dinner.
Also, we have 160 square meters in the living room, so there’s space for luggage. The only thing I usually say is ‘separate’, just make sure you have everything you need easy to get to, for example, if you need special medicines that we may not have on board. 

Before saying goodbye, would you like to add something else about Koh Samui?

Remember we’re on the East Coast, the Gulf of Thailand, that’s where Koh Samui is. West Coast is the coast where the tsunami was, 15 years ago. I was there when it happened, in Langkawi, and that is the reason why I chose to move to this side. It's like being in a bathtub - the water is warm year round, and it's super safe. There is really nothing to worry about here - even when it comes to sailing, it's easy to enjoy for people that have never had this experience before.

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