This is long overdue, but I figure better late than never. We traveled to Thailand a full year ago as a honeymoon celebration and the reminders of the memories on Facebook and printing photos for Sean’s US permanent residency interview all prompted me to write this. So here is a review of our itinerary and the resorts we enjoyed. I’ll also detail how we managed to score 5 nights in a suite at the Le Meridien Koh Samui for FREE in a follow up post (Part 2).
The first question I usually hear is, “Why did you choose to go to Thailand?” My husband suggested it since he traveled there in 2012. He originally visited Bangkok, Chang Mai, Chang Rai, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Phuket, and a few other locations. While he was there he actually joined his best friend who worked full time for many years rescuing underage girls from sex slavery. He helped with that for a short period of time and the rest of it was a holiday. Since Sean took advantage of seeing several parts of the country, I trusted him to pick the top destinations he thought would be suitable for our honeymoon. He chose Koh Phangan and Koh Samui!
First Stop: Salad Beach Resort – Koh Phangan, Thailand
Now, you’ve probably come to realize that I love my points and miles. I really don’t like spending money on travel–especially accommodations–because I know I can stay in baller 5-star hotels for next to nothing by maximizing my points strategy. So you can imagine I was skeptical of what Sean’s surprise hotel choices for the first week would be. However, after we arrived to Salad Beach Resort, checked-in, and been escorted to our PRIVATE BEACH BUNGALOW, I politely waited for Sean to tip the bellman and waited for him to leave before turning to him and saying, “Are you kidding me right now, SEAN?! Just how much did this cost? We were supposed to use POINTS for this trip! We just paid for our wedding and now your graduate school tuition is next. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?” He replied with,
“You’re not going to believe me. We get this air-conditioned, private beach bungalow and breakfast buffet every day for 5 nights all for $30 USD a night.”
Come again? I knew I married this man for a reason. Salad Beach Resort was an excellent surprise and a fantastic way to kick off our honeymoon in Thailand. We were right on the beach with a fabulous pool and massage/spa area right outside our door. Thanks to the excitement and jetlag of our trip, we were awake super early each morning to maximize our time at the buffet and the food was incredible. Not to mention we enjoyed dinner on the beach every single night and even had live entertainment with fire dancers.
Truthfully, Sean and I are terrible about remembering to take photos and even worse about posting them online. Hence why this blog is so neglected. You can’t really just write blog posts with no photos! Who would want to read that? So forgive me as I’m still getting used to the idea of taking proper photos and videos. I only have a saved Snapchat video of right outside our bungalow, and no photos of the actual room itself. However, we did manage to progress in the photo department as the trip continued.
I recommend going to Koh Ma beach down the road for at least a day. Also, be sure to go scuba diving with Sail Rock Divers. Their information is always posted at the resort. We had a blast with them! I’m a certified PADI Open Water diver, but Sean was a complete beginner during this trip. Sail Rock Divers usually advertise at the resort and that’s how we discovered them. They charged 2,500 THB ($70 USD) for certified divers and 3,500 THB ($100 USD) for beginners to do two dives and this included breakfast, lunch, equipment, all taxis, and beginner instruction. Such a steal!
I have previously dived in Maui and the Great Barrier Reef and found Sail Rock to be just as exciting and an instant favorite due to all the various schools of fish and the WARM water (no need for anything more than a rash guard). Sail Rock is essentially a large rock in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand and can be described similar to an ice berg as the rock is MASSIVE below the surface and teeming with sea life. Unfortunately, even though it was during whale shark season we did not see any during either of our dives.
Brad was our personal instructor and he gave me a quick tune up (because I had not dived in a few years) and taught my husband the basics for his discovery dive. He was incredibly friendly and professional. We had an absolute blast and it was a great environment for a wide range of ages as there were a few pre-teens present as well. They did not overload the boat with people which made it a very comfortable trip. Breakfast consisted of small, assorted sandwiches and lunch was mild thai food, lady fingers, and cake. Sean said the only improvement he would say is if they could provide a beer after all the dives were complete for the return boat ride.
Second Stop: Milky Bay Resort – Koh Phangan, Thailand
We only stayed here one night for a quick stay in order to have a convenient place to sleep after the Half Moon Festival (which is essentially a rave in the jungle on the lunar calendar). They greeted us with sweet mocktails upon check-in and immediately helped us rent a motorbike. We stayed in a private bungalow right next to the beach and pool area and found it to be quite lovely. It was air conditioned and included a lit candle underneath an aromatherapy oil tray–which was a nice touch.
The included breakfast featured various options and was incredibly good. I have to highlight that the staff is VERY friendly, polite, and professional. Yu, in particular, is personable and remembered our names from serving us lunch the day prior. She spoke great English, made us feel genuinely welcomed, and was willing to help with absolutely anything. The only true downside to this resort is that the beach is not that great…although if you walk far enough into the water there is a sandbar where you can sit. But back to the PARTY!
These people also knew how to cater to the Half Moon partygoers. They hosted a pre-gaming party at their bar on the beach and gave free shots of tequila at 10:00 PM just before the taxis arrived to take us. This was great because it allowed us to meet four other travelers from Wales and party with them the rest of the night.
Third Stop: Mantra Samui Resort – Koh Samui, Thailand