Top 5 Things to Do in Koh Samui

Koh Samui is one of those exotic and culturally enticing destinations filled with countless attractions. It can be a bit difficult to prioritize what to see in a relatively short amount of time, so here is a list of the top 5 places you must visit:



Anyone that admires impressive architecture will be enlightened by the beauty and detail of the Big Buddha. This is probably one of Samui’s most well know landmarks, located in close proximity to the airport making it impossible to miss if you are lucky to have a window seat on the plane.

12 meters high, the golden Buddha was built in 1972 and is located inside the temple grounds of Wat Phra Yai, meaning “Big Buddha Temple”.

Inside the surrounding temple are many different shrines and other smaller ornate Buddhas. There is also a small market selling a wide range of souvenirs alongside numerous food stalls.


2. Namuang Safari Park


Namuang Safari Park is a very well maintained animal adventure park with elephants, jeep rides to mountain vistas and waterfall hikes.

A great place to visit with children and adults will most definitely enjoy a hike to the beautiful namuang waterfall. It was a bit difficult to go all the way to the top with a toddler but a 10 minute steep hike without children should not be too strenuous otherwise.


Namuang Waterfall


3. Lamai Beach

Lamai Beach

Lamai beach is a must for all relaxation seekers. It is very laid back and offers many excellent restaurants that include beach chairs, amazing food, and some even a massage area.

The Black Pearl was one of our favorite restaurants and we found ourselves visiting multiple times during our stay. We recommend the thai style lobster, chicken stir fry, and of course the 300 BHT (9 USD) massages right next door on the beach.


3. Samui Rock Bar by Hin Ta & Hin Yai Rocks

The Samui Rock Bar is located right next to Hin Ta & Hin Yai Rocks (another popular destination also named “Grandma and Grandpa Rocks”) and offers an extremely relaxing atmosphere with its reggae vibe.

It is built on a few connecting rocks, hence the name “The Rock Bar”.

Enjoy some good food, stare at the endless ocean, and enjoy a nice cold Chang beer.

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4. Goddess Guanyin at Wat Plai Laem


“Goddess Guanyin is believed to be a source of unconditional love and a protector of all beings. Her multitude of arms is seen as an illustration of her ability to reach out and provide help across the world.”

Goddess Gunyin is located in the Wat Plai Laem Buddhist temple compound and is a serene and remarkable white structure. Her influence has spread thoughtout East and Southeast Asia and dates back to ancient China.


5. Chawang Market

chawang market

Chawang Market @ Night

The Chawang Market is a must for souvenirs. You will find a enormous abundance of goods as well as music and great food surrounding the countless merchants.

From various t-shirts to jewelry and designer replicas, you will find it all here at a bargain.


Best Ways to Travel with Small Children

I will never forget the words of one of my dear friends: “Be sure to travel before kiddos come into the picture.” Obviously, I was clueless and didn’t really understand what she meant. I think we are all oblivious until we are deeply seeded into parenthood but there is an element of deceit. The media is not very realistic about the struggles of travel with children. From various travel advertisements to social media, most parents present this experience as a happy and easy one. No one likes to depict the cranky mornings or the restless flights with toddlers so our perception of travel with children is a bit skewed.

I mentioned in one of my other blogs that I don’t really consider travel with small children a vacation because what I consider a “vacation” is a restful period of time. Trips on the other hand are active periods of time, which is what travel is with small children. You are not going to rest the entire time but that does not mean that you can’t have fun. You just have to be realistic about your expectations when you do decide to travel.

Our son is a little over two years old now and we have dared to travel internationally with him and have taken a few trips that demanded a plane rides. Here are some things we have learned when it comes to travel with small children:

Accommodation Really Matters

One great way to make trips or “vacations” (I still have mixed feelings about using this term but what the hell) with small children is to find accommodation that is kid friendly. Invest in a nice resort that will make this experience easier on you. From providing a crib or toddler bed, kids play areas, toys, kids pool(s), kids menu, and other forms of entertainment that both you and your child can enjoy, it really will make a difference. Invest in a place that will focus on making family vacations fun filled experiences. Most places offer some form of accommodation involving children but not all have the same level of options. The Four Seasons in Costa Rica for example even offered babysitting and parent’s night out if you are comfortable with it. Our son was a bit young for this but it’s just nice to know there are many options out there. They had an entire section named “Kids for All Seasons” that involved days filled with activities and entertainment for children of various ages.

Be Strategic with Your Flight Plan

If you are going to travel with children, book a direct flight if you can. Don’t make it more stressful than it has to be. If there are no options for direct flights, be strategic and don’t put yourself on long layovers, avoid night flights with infants or toddlers (they will not sleep), ask for a free seat (just by asking, we were given an extra seat for free on flights that had extra room), and try scheduling a flight when your child tends to take their regular naps.

Bring Entertainment for the Plane

This is kind of a no brainer but we didn’t really think things through and actually lacked on variety. We brought the usual toys and a few new ones but if you are going to travel for a longer period of time, bring a lot of new toys. Now that our son is older and enjoys electronics, we will probably have him watch his favorite songs to keep him entertained. Just make sure that you have plenty of things to keep your little one entertained because they are very excited to be on a plane and if they can’t move, they will give you a hard time so be creative with what you bring with you.

Bring Your Parents If you can

On one of our first trips with our son we traveled with one set of grandparents which allowed us to have some alone time at the pool/beach and take turns when we needed some rest. It’s also just a really fun way for everyone to bond and have a good time. Other times we did travel without the grandparents and occasionally also took turns to give each other a break here and there.

Have Fun

The point of travel is to have a good time so don’t stress more than you have to. I think its a little harder when you are a new parent and not used to traveling with children because you tend to overthink and over plan every single scenario. That’s ok but remember that children live and survive in many places on this planet just fine. Everything will be ok and if you choose a safe location (and yes, choose a safe location), there will be resources for almost every scenario. Take lots of pictures because this is your time with your family and they grow up so quickly. The beauty of travel is that you will introduce your children to new experiences with you so that they become used to it as well.


Soccer on the beach in Costa Rica


Things to do in St. Martin

This beautiful and culturally diverse island has much to offer. From incredible beaches, shopping, nightlife, restaurants, and many other exciting things to do, here is a list for those visiting St.Martin for the first time:

1. Maho Beach


Maho Beach is one of the most popular beaches in St. Martin. This is where you can watch the planes land and inhale jet fuel if you decide to get really close to the fence. It is found on the Dutch side of the island in Phillipsburg by the Princess Juliana International Airport. You will also be amazed how many tourists from all over visit this place. Be sure to stop by for a Carib at Driftwood Boat Bar, located right on the beach. They post the flight schedule daily and you get to relax watching the planes land.

2. Restaurants To Visit


Don’t miss going to Le Marrakech. It is one of the coolest middle eastern restaurants to visit. It has a beautiful ambiance and amazing food. From the outside, Le Marrakech looks much like any other Caribbean residence turned restaurant. Step inside and you’ll feel transported straight to Morocco: mosaic topped tables, elaborate metal chandeliers, flickering candlelight and billowy drapes set the scene perfectly. The back patio space is equally stunning and ideal for a romantic date.

Bamboo is an Asian restaurant that serves various Asian dishes with a Caribbean twist. A truly unique cultural twist with food. You can get terrific sushi and sashimi, both classic Japanese varieties and Americanized ones like California roll.

L’Effet Mer is a French restaurant that serves award-winning cuisine of chef Stephane Decluseau. It is in the heart of Grand Case Bay and serves incredible lunch and dinner. You can hang out on beach chairs outside, but the real action is inside, where creative and first-rate cooking is served with charm, precision, and panache.

3. Shops to Check Out


Be sure to visit Sint Maarten Guavaberry which sells St. Maarten’s national liqueur. Crafted of cane sugar, oak-aged rum, and the elusive guavaberries that grow in the island’s central hills, this signature spirit boasts an addictive flavor that visitors come to love.

Shipwreck Shop is a treasure trove of gifts. Goods are characteristically Caribbean and include guavaberry liqueur, local spices and seasonings, and crafts of all sorts. Other great discoveries include artwork, clothing, jewelry, books, an array of delightful domestic goods, and reminders of your time in the Caribbean. An ideal, duty-free stop for souvenir-seekers.

Marigot is the bustling shopping hub on the French side of the island. Designer fashion boutiques are prominent, but perfume and jewelry shops are numerous as well. Manek’s, a two-story duty-free emporium on Rue de la Republique, is a treasure trove of luggage, cigars, liquor, electronics, perfume and apparel.

Belgian Chocolate Shop will have you moan with delight if you are a chocolate lover after tasting the gourmet morsels at this small establishment. Expect to see a line however, as this place tends to attracts quite a few tourists.

4. Nightlife @ The Beach


At Lazy Lizard Beach & Bar Grill, you can enjoy great views of cruise ships and yachts, fabulous food, speciality cocktails and the owner even infuses his own rum. What more could you wish for.

Located right on Simpson Bay Beach, Karakter is ona quiet and calm stretch of sand that is just perfect for the entire family. It is open all day (9am to 10pm) and serves really amazing food.

Sunset Bar & Grill is nested between the runway and sea, the Sunset Bar has perhaps the most photographed beach in the Caribbean. Great place to have some coctails, take pictures of the planes, and listen to some awesome music. They also have a full schedule of when the planes are schedule to land by which airline.

5. Other things to do


Rent a Scooter!
We rented a scooter at Johnny’s Scooter & ATV Rental and had a blast driving around the island. We explored Marigot, Simpson Bay, and Phillipsburg with the ease of parking and had a really great time checking out the island.

Lunch in St. Barts

When we vacationed in St. Martin last month, we made a decision to also visit Anguilla and St. Barts since those islands/countries are 30-40 minutes from St. Martin. Each experience was quite different from each other. St. Martin was an international hub for those wishing to escape winter, Anguilla for those wishing to escape people, and St. Barts for those wishing to meet the rich and famous.

The ferry ride from Philipsburg to St. Barthelemy was very bumpy as the winds are notoriously strong during the winter months. Luckily my husband and I do not get sea sick and we had a lot of fun during the ferry ride. We were greeted by French officials, speaking only in French (of course) and taking delicate time to look at our passports.

Once permitted to enter the beautiful volcanic island, we took a look at the marina and were enchanted by the many restaurants, bistros, and shops. The first shop that we entered was Dolce & Gabbana and there he was, Domenico Dolce. The boutique was new and he stopped by to help decorate it. They asked us to join a fashion show and after party but we were there just for the afternoon and had to politely decline.

We visited a number of boutiques, had some fabulous lunch at La Cantina and walked around the mesmerizing marina. We also had amazing cappuccino at Le Repaire.

St. Barts is the French riviera of the Caribbean. The population there looked like they were mostly of European decent and while having lunch in La Cantina, I was taken back to my time in Paris. I enjoyed observing the French, their gestures and depth of conversion (they could have talked about plumbing, and we probably still would have enjoyed listening to them), the way they held their cigarettes in such an elegant way and the way they gazed at us. It was charming.


St. Martin in Winter (Adults Only)

After my husband and I were brave enough to take our toddler with us on an international trip in the summer to Costa Rica, we soon realized that there is no such thing as a vacation with children. Trips yes, but not a vacation.

Let me me make a clear distinction here for those that do not have kids. A vacation is a temporary period in a person’s life where you completely surrender to yourself and your own needs. You focus on what YOU would like to explore during this period in time and you relax. You wonder around or you simply do nothing. You enjoy a meal for as long as you would like and you sunbathe, sleep in, and lounge around for as long as you would like.

This simply does not happen when you travel with children. Sure, you can explore but you have to do it with caution. Sure, you can have a drink, but be ready to down it quickly in case someone decides they no longer want to be in the room or place where they reside at the moment. You may also be able to check out a beach and catch some rays but you will do it while building sand castles and such.

Alas, we booked our official “vacation” in 2+ years and although it wasn’t easy leaving the little one for an entire week but did make it easier with FaceTime. We are also lucky enough to have a pair of extra hands and who else can best replace a parent, than a grandparent.


Marigot Bay


View from Fort Louis



Philipsburg Marina


Overall, the experience was incredible. We met so many interesting people and explored so much that I am not sure if this qualifies as a relaxing vacation that we intended to have. You will not see a lot of people hanging around the resorts on this island because there is just too much to do.

We also didn’t expect to see such an international crowd. We met Americans, Europeans, South Americans, and those we could not even really identify. I expected to hear a “Jamaican” type accent but it was a dialect I could not understand when heard spoken amongst the natives. They are lovely people and we hope to return one day and bring our son with us.

Anguilla, December 2016

During our vacation planning process to St. Martin, we made sure to include a day trip to Anguilla as it is considered quite the hidden gem in the Caribbean. And that couldn’t be more true, it really is one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen.

It was only a 30 min boat ride from Marigot, Saint Martin. After some bumpy waves, we had finally made it there and spent the day swimming in the turquoise water and digging our feet into the warm white sand.

We spent some of the day on Shoal Bay Beach and the rest of the time, we hung out on Sandy Island, a small island with only one restaurant present, five minutes from the main land.


Shoal Bay Beach



Approaching Sandy Island by boat.



Sandy Island


Great food on Sandy Island’s restaurant.

We also had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people there. From the cab driver Stoney that drove us around the entire island, insisting that we don’t pay him until we depart, to the inspirational couple that decided to take a year off to sail the world (check out their blog here). It truly was an incredible experience.

You can also watch a video of our trip here.