Koh Samui offers a abundance of ways to improve your physical and intellectual skills from Muay Thai classes to Thai language courses. Some say, there’s no better way to stay young than to keep learning. And when you’re on holiday and relaxed, that’s a good time to learn a new skill, be it a one-day cooking course, or something a little more involved.
Rather than waste money on silly souvenirs that will end up in the back of the cupboard, learning a skill when travelling is a great way to remember your holiday – every time you cook a new meal, you’ll remember that cooking course, when you take a perfect picture, you’ll remember your photography course, and probably haul out the holiday snaps and reminisce too.
Here’s a round-up of some of the courses available on Samui. Should you know of others, feel free to contact the office, and we’ll add them here.
Dive schools and charter companies are located mainly in Bophut and Chaweng. Although the dive spots tend to be an hour or more speedboat trip away, most of the dive companies are based on Samui rather than Koh Tao, as from a tourist’s perspective, there’s more to do on Samui so it makes a better base to explore the area. Many dive companies offer PADI dive courses, with training in resort swimming pools, before venturing into the Gulf of Thailand’s clear waters. Once you’re qualified, join a dive charter to explore excellent diving locations not far from Samui.
These include Koh Tao, also known as turtle island, Sail Rock as well as the Angthong National Marine Park. See tropical fish, rays, dolphins and corals and even the elusive whale shark is not an uncommon sight on dive excursions. The Samui archipelago is generally good for diving most of they year, other than during the monsoon season (Mid-October to Mid-December) when visibility decreases, and currents are stronger. Dive by the motto, ‘Take only photos, leave only bubbles’ and respect the underwater environment. Take all rubbish away with you, and leave shells and coral where you found them. If every diver had to take even one souvenir, there would be nothing left for divers in the future. Always practice safety when diving, and go with a reputable company. Bangkok Hospital, on the ring-road in Chaweng houses a hyperbaric chamber for the treatment of divers’ decompression sickness.
Bophut Diving School www.bophutdiving.com
Easy Divers www.easydivers-samui.net
Discovery Dive Centre www.discoverydivers.com
Blue Planet Dive Centre www.blueplanetdivecentre.com
CSI Samui www.csisamui.com
Planet Scuba www.planetscuba.net
Underwater Photography Courses
So you’ve learnt how to dive, but you want to share those magical underwater moments with your friends who don’t dive. Why not try an underwater photography course with Infinity Diving.
Infinity Diving www.infinitydiving.com
TEFL – Teach English as a Foreign
Language, is a great way to finance your travels and see a new place. Although most of Thailand’s TEFL jobs are in Bangkok and the mainland provinces, you can do your TEFL course here on Samui and have a ‘working vacation for a month while you do the course.
Noraburi Resort offers cooking classes at ‘The Barge’. Classes start at 1:00pm, last about two hours and cost only 1,700 Baht per person, which includes a branded apron and chef’s hat to keep, and a certificate to frame for your kitchen, and of course enjoying the results of your labour afterwards.
The Barge Restaurant at Nora Buri Resort www.noraburiresort.com +66 (0) 7791 3555
Tamarind Bar & Lounge hosts cooking classes, and with the new show kitchen, workstations for cooking classes will make the learning process even more enjoyable. Classes last three hours, and start with a trip to the Laem Din market in Chaweng, where the chef will explain the ingredients he selects, so that ‘trainee chefs’ know not only what they’re eating, but also what to look for when preparing the dishes again back home. Traditional dishes such at tom yum (spicy soup), chicken green curry, and sweet and sour chicken or fish are prepared from start to finish and then enjoyed by the newbie chefs afterwards.
The class is great value, at 1,250 Baht per person, which includes a certificate signed by the resort manager and the chef, as well as an Impiana apron to take home. For those that want to try their hand at fruit and vegetable carving, classes are on offer too. Included in this class, is a signed certificate as well as a carving knife to try out on your own – remember to pack it in your check-in luggage, not hand luggage!
Tamarind Restaurant at Impiana Resort Chaweng Noi www.impiana.com +66 (0) 7744 8994
Noori India, well-known on the island for years for their great North Indian food, also has the ‘Noori India Cooking Center’ offering daily cooking classes. Here you’ll learn about using Indian spices, and cook five dishes, from a choice of menus including vegetarian and vegan. Classes last three hours, and are held twice a day, from 10:00am to 1:00pm and from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. Be prepared to get stuck in and do your own peeling, chopping and stirring – they believe in a hands-on approach here, and of course enjoy the meal after. Classes cost 1,800 Baht per person.
Noori India www.nooriindiasamui.com +66 (0) 867 407 873
One of Samui’s most famous cookery schools is SITCA – the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts. SITCA offers two cooking classes a day: Monday to Saturday – one starting at 11:00am, and the other at 4:00pm, at a cost of 1950 Baht. Each day the menu is different, so select the option you prefer from their website. Besides the daily introductory classes, SITCA offers intensive programmes for professional chefs or experienced cooks. There’s the option of a one-week or two-week course, which takes a hands-on approach, covering all aspects of cuisine, as well as instruction in the techniques involved in Thai cooking.
SITCA www.sitca.net +66 (0) 7741 3172
Reiki Master Thailand offers lessons in Reiki and other Asian practices such as Chinese acupressure and Chinese medical cupping, by appointment. The Yogarden in Fisherman’s Village offers regular short courses.
Yoga Instructor Courses
You’ll need to know a bit about yoga before learning to be an instructor. But if you’re tired of the rat race, this may just be the career change for you, and what better place to learn how to teach the ancient art of yoga, than on Samui. The Yogarden in Fisherman’s Village offers several short courses and workshops in various practices, including yoga, reiki and meditation.
Samui’s longstanding day spa, Tamarind Springs, offers various courses in massage ranging from beginner to courses for professionals wanting to hone their skills. There are various courses on offer, including traditional Thai massage, manual lymphatic drainage and reflexology. Tamahita Retreat also offers short massage workshops, some on a one-to-one basis.
Thai Language Lessons
If you intend staying in Thailand for more than a couple of months, doing a beginners’ Thai language class would be beneficial, and help you to feel like a local. Thai Language Solutions is located along the Ring Road, just before Big C supermarket when coming from Bophut. They offer small classes or private lessons, with a new beginners’ class starting each month. A 50-hour course costs around 8,500 Baht, and will take three months to complete, with classes twice a week, for two hours at a time. They offer the education visa option, and also have branches in Bangkok.
Another school that has been on the island for several years and has a good reputation is Mind Your Language, located in the Old Monkey Theatre Road, between Big C and Makro.
Samui Music School, located on the ring-road near Bangkok Hospital offers music lessons for children. Times are flexible, and they cover a number of instruments including piano, guitar, ukulele, cello, violin as well as singing. Sound Good music school is located in the Samui Town Center, Bophut ring-road.
Samui Music School www.samuimusicschool.com
Sound Good Music School +66 (0) 7742 7612
If you’re feeling like creative inspiration during your visit to Samui, Nartana offers art classes. At the age of 16, he began his formal education in art at Fachoberschule fuer Gestaltung, followed by Fachhochschule fuer visuelle Kommunikation (College for Visual Communication).
Nartana left Germany and travelled with paint and brushes extensively throughout the world, eventually establishing himself as an artist and member of the Counsel or the Arts and the Society of Artists in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His work has been exhibited in galleries in Aachen, Berlin, Amsterdam, India and throughout the Southwest of the US. Currently he’s living and painting her on Samui.
Nartana +66 (0) 847 323 162
With Samui being home to Santiburi, one of Asia’s finest golf courses, as well as a few other courses and driving ranges, it makes a great location to hone your golf skills with the help of a pro. Samui Golf organizes lessons either individual or in groups, for all levels. Choose from short courses tuning specific golf skills, to more intense courses for beginners learning from scratch.
Samui Golf www.samuigolf.net
Sailing & Windsurfing Lessons
Khun Sa-ad Panyawan is one of Thailand’s most celebrated windsurfers. He took part in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, was a long time member of the Thai National Team, has been Asian Windsurfing Champion and is a 5 times Gold Medal Winner at the South East Asian Games. You couldn’t be in better hands when taking windsurfing or sailing lessons with Khun Sa-ard.
Saard’s Watersport Center www.saardswatersport.com/watersports.html
SUP Stand Up Paddling Lessons
Naish SUP, located at the top end of Chaweng Beach in front of OP Bungalows, offers boards for rent and for sale, as well as lessons. Lessons are with Nek, and you can paddle out to Koh Matlang, a small island a few hundred metres off shore. A reef a little further out creates a small wave for those that have mastered the flat, shallow water.
Kite Boarding Lessons
There are several locations on Samui to learn kite-boarding. Kite-boarding Asia is well-known in the market, and has several schools around Asia.
Kiteboarding Asia www.kiteboardingasia.com
Muay Thai Lessons
Samui has several Muay Thai training facilities. These training centers are often frequented by some rather famous fighters – both traditional Western boxers as well as martial artists, who come to hone their skills with Samui’s Muay Thai trainers. The intensive fitness routines have a reputation for sculpting the right muscles, losing body fat and strengthening both mind and body. Novices and professionals alike attend training camps so you may just have the chance to rub shoulders or spar with one of your heroes who is training incognito.
Muay Thai training centers offer various packages and will tailor-make one to suit your needs, including nutritional advice, when required. Packages included fitness training, self-defense, boot camp, Muay Thai, weight loss, strength and cardio. Group training sessions include skipping, floor exercises, stretching and sparring, and usually last two hours.
Salsa dance classes are held every Thursday night at a social salsa dance evening starting from 20:00pm at Easy Bar just past Big Buddha when coming from Bang Rak. Every Saturday afternoon there are group dance classes from 14:00 – 17:00pm at Magnolia Café in Chaweng.
Salsa Samui www.salsasamui.com +66 (0) 819 566 206
Jewellery Making Courses
Nature Art Gallery offers one-, two-, or three-day jewellery-making workshops under the guidance of the Rasaili gold and silversmiths. Whether you have a design in mind, or want some inspiration, they will help you from the conceptualising stage through to the finished masterpiece. Guys, can you imagine designing and making your own engagement ring and then popping the question at one of Samui’s romantic venues? How could she possibly say no to such a gesture?
Nature Art Gallery +66 (0) 7742 2594
Coffee academy at Boncafe, Samui Ring Road, Bophut. This well-known Thai company not only provides a big percentage of the resorts and restaurants with their coffee (all from Thailand) but offers barista courses too.
Basic coffee knowledge course for beginners, 1-day 4,500 Baht/person.
Professional program for coffee shop and restaurant owners, 2-day 8,500 Baht/person
Barista program, 3-day, 14,000 Baht/person.
Boncafe www.boncafe.co.th +66 (0) 7742 7486