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WiFi is everywhere now – why not try a change of scene to do your e-mails?

 

­12 I had to smile the other day. There was a photo in the news of a small boy offering President Obama his iPad to sign. Note that it wasn’t his autograph book. It was his $800 iPad. It’s just another sign of the times, I suppose. A substantial number of visitors to Samui bring their laptops or netbooks (much more convenient on the move) these days. And the best-selling iPads and their imitators are becoming more common. Even most of today’s humble cell-phones have WiFi connectivity. All the time I see people sitting in the shade by their pool, or in restaurants, taking a nice leisurely hour or so to catch up their mail or send ‘postcards’ back home.

But why get stuck in a rut? Do you really need to stay in your resort, day after day, doing this? Why not get out for a couple of hours? Why not see some different sights and make life just a touch more fun? The only thing you are going to want is that the WiFi is free, that the places you go to will welcome you and that it’s either a pleasant location or an interesting one. And, with that in mind, I’ve compiled a list. It’s by no means everywhere that offers free WiFi – this would be a mammoth task and quickly out-of-date anyway. But these are the places that I know, that are tried and tested, and where you’ll be able to relax by a pool or go snacking in their restaurant with no hassles.

Most of these venues are either in Chaweng or close by. Except, of course, for that super little gem in Lamai, Rocky’s Resort. It’s right on the ring-road, just a little beyond the famous ‘Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks’ (Hin-Ta Hin-Yai), is one of Samui’s prettiest resorts and absolutely well worth visiting.

And just around the corner from Chaweng Beach and to the south, in Chaweng Noi, there’s Impiana Resort & Spa. They have a fabulous lofty panoramic sea view and their shady restaurant, Tamarind, offers a two-for-one happy hour in the afternoon, should all that keyboarding make you thirsty!

And entering Chaweng at the southern end you’ll find Kirikayan Boutique Resort, with its earth-toned Moroccan colouring. Their elevated restaurant, Chalay-Bun is high above the street and a good place to people-watch. Just a little way north of this is another of the island’s prettiest boutique resorts, the legendry Poppies with its shady restaurant, outgoing and cheery staff and a great view of all of Chaweng Bay.

Continuing northwards up Chaweng Beach Road, you’ll soon find Banana Fan Sea Resort. Their signature restaurant, Baitong, is on different levels with a covered deck overlooking the sand. And it’s got several of those big fans that blow out clouds of white super-cooled air to help you chill! And not so far from this you’ll find Buri Rasa with its innovative and shaded timber-clad open restaurant, betelnut, where you’ll also be warmly welcomed.

Striding up towards Chaweng’s heart, near the Soi Green Mango, you’ll see Black Canyon Coffee perched up high fronting the main road. But as well as some of the best coffee around (and much cheaper than the branded chains!) they offer snacks and meals and a really good balcony that’s probably the best street-watching perch on the entire island. But if you really like to gaze distractedly at the sights and sounds, check out the Red Snapper on the right and a little further north. This quality restaurant has afternoon discounts and a reed-fringed terrace right on the edge of the road.

Continuing north and right opposite Samui International Hospital, you’ll be faced with a high grey wall with a discreet gilded ‘Sareeraya Villas and Suites’ carved into it. Don’t be deterred by the wall as this is one of Samui’s more luxurious resorts and their breezy restaurant, Chef’s Table is a truly idyllic spot.

Keep on going up the hills and round the bends until it seems that Chaweng has almost finished. And almost the last thing you’ll see on the beach side is Coral Bay Resort & Spa. Their signature restaurant, Coco Rock, is dramatically circular and open, and very pleasantly secluded indeed.

Head out of Chaweng on the road to Choeng Mon and you’ll find Nora Buri Resort & Spa – hard to miss because of one of Samui’s most imposing landmarks, the multi-tiered The Barge restaurant. This really needs to be experienced … full stop!

But there are a few ‘musts’ outside Chaweng. One resort of particular note is the exclusive Six Senses Hideaway, right up at the island’s most north-eastern tip at Samrong Bay. Their very laid-back ‘Dining on the Hill’ already has laptops available, but you’re more than welcome to bring your own. And then heading west towards Big Buddha, you’ll come to Destination Beach Resort & Spa on your right, and they have one of the best seascapes anywhere from their lovely By The Sea restaurant, complete with rustic fishing boats!

Following on the road from Big Buddha leading to Fisherman’s Village, Which brings us to the surrounding area of the famous Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. Heading from there towards Big Buddha, you’ll come to the vegetarian Amala Restaurant at Prana Resorts & Spa. Here they’ll do you proud with an afternoon happy hour from 3:00 pm until 7:00 pm and that includes a free dish of (veggie) tapas, too. And as you turn the bend at the far end of Bang Rak, the first thing you’ll see on the right is the red-toned ‘Orgasmic’ restaurant. Chef Wally opens the doors at 5:30 pm – perfect to catch the sunset as well as a bite of supper.

Still in Bophut but actually on the main ring-road this time, look out for Bandara Resort & Spa, close to the traffic lights – another super sunset spot and with their famous restaurant, Chom Dao, right on the beach. Carrying on towards the direction of Nathon, but remaining in Mae Nam, there’s Fair House Villas & Spa, but it’s tucked away down a side road next to the first ‘Family Mart’ you see after you’ve passed Zazen Boutique Resort & Spa on the right. And right alongside their signature restaurant, The Bre-Eze, is one of the biggest and most magnificent shrines on the island. Then, further on, there’s the dramatically-designed expanse of Mercure Samui Buri right at the end of Mae Nam Beach (head right towards the Lomprayah Ferry and follow the signs to Harry’s Bungalows). This huge resort is worth visiting simply in its own right.

There are more. There are many. You’ll even come across rustic beach cafés with WiFi and you can certainly plug in with most of the sports bars and pubs. But the idea here is a quiet, relaxing break away from your resort, with a gentle seascape and a photo-shoot sunset (or some fun street-watching!). These are just a few suggestions for you to try. And I know they’re all top notch – I’ve tried them!

 


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