How to live well, eat clean and train dirty in Thailand.
The island of Koh Samui is as much a party destination as it is a retreat for those on the hunt for inner peace and a healthier lifestyle. In need of a time out from my hectic city life, I decided it was time to enrol myself in a yoga retreat to reboot my health and fitness regimen after months of an unforgiving work schedule.
Koh Samui Resort Retreats
Koh Samui’s beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear water
I chose the Vikasa Yoga Retreat for its daily schedule of meditation and yoga classes with a roster of reputable teachers. Other hotels on Koh Samui that offer detox and fitness packages include Six Senses Samui, Absolute Sanctuary and Kamalaya.
As with many of the island’s resorts, when I arrived I was greeted by a stunning, unhindered view of crystal clear waters and sunny, blue skies. I felt less fatigued almost immediately, both mentally and physically – according to local lore, the island sits on a bed of quartz crystal, which believers say exerts a positive energetic influence on its denizens.
Even with this newfound burst of energy, it took a little discipline to wake up for a 7am meditation and asana practice on my first day. Still, it was certainly a refreshing change to start the day with an invigorating sweat instead of lazily reaching for my iPhone when the alarm rings.
For those who prefer to engage in more heart-pumping pursuits, why not pick up a new skill? Muay Thai is the local sport and Koh Samui has plenty of Thai boxing gyms offering lessons for beginners. Many of these places also have a range of classes to choose from, such as CrossFit and self-defence training. Check out Lamai Muay Thai Camp, Jun Muay Thai Camp or Lamai Fitness.
Thai Spa Indulgence
After all that physical activity, it’s time to relax and restore sore muscles with some well-deserved pampering. You can’t go wrong with a Thai massage, where skilled therapists twist and stretch your limbs into yoga-inspired poses to stretch you out. The Magnolia Spa has one of the best reputations in town and is well worth a visit.
Otherwise, treat yourself to a spa treatment at one of the island’s five-star resorts. Whether you’re visiting the W Retreat, Banyan Tree Samui or the Four Seasons Resort, you will leave all stretched out and relaxed, satisfaction guaranteed.
Food, Glorious Food
Of course, no detox holiday is complete without embarking on an ‘eat clean’ diet. What I like about Koh Samui is its variety of healthy eating options for those who are not keen on a strict juice diet. After all, a girl needs energy if she wants to practice yoga and learn kick-boxing!
Those on the paleo diet will love the food at Vikasa’s in-house cafe, which offers meat dishes, on top of the usual vegetarian staples, such as wraps, rolls and salads. The menu is influenced by Thai flavours so you don’t have to miss out on enjoying the local delights even while eating clean.
Thanks to the large numbers of health-conscious clientele, many of the bigger resorts offer a variety of vegetarian options, too, or have in-house cafes with healthy fare. You can also check out the Sweet Sisters Cafe for hearty, wholesome vegetarian meals, or Juice Queen for delicious organic cold-pressed juices.
I was only on this island paradise for six days, but I left feeling refreshed, revitalised and fit, both in mind and body. The challenge, of course, is to keep this momentum going once the daily grind catches up with me again. Thankfully, Koh Samui is but a short flight away!
Best Time to Visit Koh Samui
Weather in Koh Samui: In Koh Samui, expect tropical hot weather with a chance of thunderstorms all year round. However, the best time to visit is during the dry season from December to February when it isn’t too hot. March till August is typically the hottest time of the year and the monsoon season sets in from September to November.
Best Time of Year to Visit: Book flights and accommodation well in advance if you are planning to visit during Songkran (Thai New Year) in mid-April. If you are in Koh Samui for the festivities, join in the celebrations by splashing water on passers-by for good luck and partake in the excellent parties and festivals. For an otherworldly experience, visit the island in November during the Loy Krathongfull moon festival, when locals release paper lanterns and mini candlelit floats into the water for good luck and fortune.
Where to Stay
Feature Image: Wat Plai Laem Temple Buddha Statue in Koh Samui.
Image Credits: Getty Images,