Now that we have landed in Koh Samui, the next hack would be to:
6. Use Credit Card Instead of Cash
This little hack we found out by fluke.
The evening we reached Samui, we found ourselves mighty hungry. An 18-hour journey with almost zero sleep after a full working Friday had stripped us of our energy and we needed to refuel to get our vacay started – we hate wasting a drop of our vacation time apart from necessary sleep time. So, we freshened up and sat ourselves quite comfortably at a restaurant with a weird name – Top Ten BBQ – just around the corner of the ARKBar alleyway.
Sounds like a listing but serves lip-smacking barbequed anything – from seafood to seaweed. We had a sumptuous meal of pad thai, cheeseburgeer and barbequed red snapper, corn, mushroom and potato.
With the food in our systems, we decided to do a little experiment – using Tathagata’s credit card for bill payment instead of cash.
Turns out, the exchange rate is quite less. At the time of our trip, the inter-banking exchange rate stood at:
1 THB = 2.22 INR
However, money exchanges at the Forex are done according to the purchasing price bank rate, which was at that time:
1 THB = 2.30 INR
Here’s what we discovered – When we paid using the credit card, the exchange rate applied was:
1 THB = 2.25 INR
A surprising win!
Sounds small, but adds up to a significant amount of savings when you calculate this for the entire trip.
Here’s what you need to know: All VISA and Mastercard cards are accepted in Thailand. If you have a RuPay on you, you better leave it at home – it’s of no use in international grounds.
That said, not all eateries and shops accept cards. And your everyday transportation would not accept cards either. So you need to carry enough cash with you at all times.
7. Eat at the Night Markets
Samui, being a popular tourist destination, boasts loads of high-end restaurants that come with a side of views-to-die-for. While researching, we found three such places that we thought of checking out.
Needless to say, the costs are high, some even come with a cover charge but the experience is one of a kind. Even though we couldn’t tick these off our list for the time constraint, we urge you to check out at least one of them. Yeah, it moots the purpose of this budget series, but hey, there are some experiences you cannot slap a price tag on.
Getting back to the point, while you can accommodate at least one of the above experiences in your budget, for the rest of your meals, head to the night markets.
Every popular Samui area has a night market (just like the mainland) and the spread in these markets are to die for! I’ve been to two night markets in Samui – Chaweng and Lamai.
The Chaweng night market is quite large and awash with the aroma of spices, smoke and snippets of conversation. Opens at 1:00 pm everyday, it’s situated a little walk off ARKBar along the Chaweng beach road right opposite Chaweng lake.
This is where you get local food (jumbo size) cooked with love at extremely affordable prices. A large bowl of noodle soup costs less than 100 Baht and is quite too much for one person. You can request them to spice it up (or down) to your taste.
The Lamai night market is a bit smaller and the variety is a little different. While Chaweng lays stress on noodles and rice, Lamai is big on side dishes – chicken, lamb, octopus, squid, fish, corn-on-the-cob, mango sticky rice, banana pancake etc. – enough to over-fill your belly for the night.
On top of that, we were lucky to catch the Lamai Seaside Market that opens only on Wednesdays and Thursdays just one plot-of-land away from Samui Laguna Resort. We had fried quail eggs there and sushi along with some barbequed goodies.
Sometimes you would also want to take in the vibe of the beach-side restaurants along with the local food, especially with all the live music and the jolly crowd singing along. The food and drinks are priced a little towards the high-end of the scale at these places but they aren’t too unreasonable. Be sure to check the menu book kept outside every restaurant to get an idea about the money you could be unloading at these places.
‘Top Ten BBQ’ is one of the affordable ones in Chaweng. And we loved ‘Brown Sugar’ in Lamai. This is where I had Thailand’s popular mango sticky rice which I’ve had my eyes on since our visit to Pattaya. It’s a delicacy!
Other places worth a visit:
- Green Mango
- Henry Africa’s Bar
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Pizza Del Sol
You should also checkout the Fisherman’s market if you are near the Bophut area. The ice-cream corner of the Yin Yang restaurants whips up delish ice-cream rolls. We had the kiwi one.
Read Part 5 here.