Koh Samui is a stunning island off the East coast of Thailand in the Gulf of Siam. Only an hour’s flight from Bangkok, you will find palm-fringed beaches, magnificent temples, beautiful beachside restaurants, and much more. There’s plenty to do, from visiting an elephant sanctuary and splashing around in scenic waterfalls, to trying a Thai cookery course or enjoying food and drink at a beachside restaurant. Nautical types may enjoy a private yacht charter, sailing around nearby islands.

We checked into Tembo Beach Club and Resort, the perfect place to holiday and soak up the Thai vibe. Opened just over two years ago by Yorkshire-born Susan Fields and her partner David Birchall, Tembo has become the “go-to” beach club by locals and expats alike. They have a loyal customer base from both the UK and around the world who come to holiday in the resort’s range of bungalows adjacent to the swimming pool and Bangrak beach.


After a quick check-in, it’s a short walk through the hotel’s reception that takes you into the serenity of Tembo, away from the hustle and bustle of the street.

There are nine spacious villas with balconies to choose from, and one generous beachside villa directly overlooking palm tree adorned beach, with three more rooms planned in the coming months. Some rooms have free-standing bathtubs and are perfect for indulging in spa treatments and a Thai massage within the confines of your ‘Spa-throom.’

The resort, nestled amidst colourful tropical gardens, has been expertly designed by   Susan. Her attention to detail and personal touches throughout the villas and the resort are extraordinary. The white-on-white décor gives a sense of space and cleanliness, accented by luxurious Jim Thompson colourful Thai fabric cushions, 300+ thread count bedlinen, luxurious pillows and fluffy towels.

Immaculately presented and serviced daily, all rooms feature private balconies, walk-in rain showers, air conditioning and ceiling fans. There are also some lovely touches in the bedrooms, including a special ‘Tembo-scented’ air purifier and fine Indian cotton dressing gowns, both of which can be purchased from the resort’s boutique to remind guests of a special holiday in Koh Samui.


Overlooking the crystal blue sea, Tembo offers all day dining, starting with a daily breakfast included in the room rate). The breakfast options are deliciously healthy and indulgent, depending on your desire for the day! Choose a full English breakfast, glorious French toast and fruit pancakes, or traditional Kao Tom Congee and  Sauté, a dish made with shitake mushroom with shallot, ginkgo, ginger, cilantro and onsen egg. 

There’s no need to leave the food heaven of Tembo! The cuisine is incredible, and is created using mainly locally sourced, fresh produce. We particularly enjoyed the Miso Mushroom Scallops, the Prawn Cocktail, Crab Curry, Pad Thai and Tom Kha.

Beach Club

Tembo Beach Club has a unique vibe providing a relaxed atmosphere where the music is spot on for creating ideal pool-side ambience that is perfect for chilling on the sun loungers and chatting by the bar.

In-house guests have priority access to the sun loungers and day beds on the terrace.  Perfect for getting out your favourite book or in my case, a Kindle! Check out my latest holiday read here.

You will have the perfect day sunbathing, beachside dining and swimming in the warm, clear sea or the decent-sized swimming pool.

The bar has a great range of local Thai beers as well as an impressive wine, champagne and cocktail list. Look out for offers including ‘Happy Hour’, two for one all day on Thursdays, with live music from DJ Yil saxophonist, Tapas Tuesday with superstar DJ Jessi, and the weekly-changing Seafood Specials.

Soon to be opened at Tembo include a “chef’s table” intimate dining restaurant, a European-style delicatessen and an art gallery and café.

A colourful aspect of Tembo is its boutique, a treasure trove of colourful and affordable resort wear, accessories and homeware. All the items in the shop are curated by Susan on her travels and include items from Bali, Italy, Spain, India and Thailand. It’s definitely worth having a browse!

Top Things To Do

Tembo hosts twice-weekly yoga morning sessions with famed Samui instructor, Bonnie, on the terrace overlooking the sea. The yoga classes are open to all levels of experience and yoga mats are provided for residents.

For an added Thai experience, book onto the resort’s Thai Cookery Course, learning the tricks of creating succulent Thai dishes and an insight into Thai herbs and their culture of cooking.

Some tourists hire mopeds, but we hired a reliable driver who was good value.  Just a ten-minute drive from the Resort is Fisherman’s Village. In a nod to the Chinese heritage of the descendants of the Hainanese fishermen who migrated there, you can spot red Chinese lanterns along the busy streets of shops and beachside restaurants which sit alongside Thai massage shops.  There’s an interesting array of independent shops selling high quality clothes and jewellery, as well as spa and massage establishments, beachside restaurants and a street market. The most lively nights are Monday and Friday when there is a “walking street” market. Also worth visiting is Coco Tam’s bar and restaurant which hosts fantastic nightly fire shows.

On Tembo’s recommendation, we tried 2fishes Samui, and were glad we made an advance booking judging by the long queue to get in!   We enjoyed this lively Italian seafood restaurant with an impressive menu with an open plan kitchen and grill which is owned by Australian chef with Italian heritage, Leandro Panza. He has just opened a fantastic beachside location between Tembo and Fisherman’s Village.

There are many fabulous restaurants to choose from and another highlight to try is Sale Fino.  After sunset cocktails at a beach bar, followed by a fun time at the brand-new ‘The Lounge’ in Choeng Mon which features regular live entertainment, we headed there for an incredible evening of Italian food.  We enjoyed wonderful seafood and their must-try Pappardelle Lamb Ragu braised in Chianti Wine followed by a perfectly made Tiramisu.

Back in the day elephant rides were popular on the island. Elephant riding is still available, but it is no longer considered ethical. We visited the Samui Elephant Haven where many elephants have been rescued from hard labour, street begging, unsafe situations and, indeed, many years of being ridden with hard metal seating pinned to their backs.  I felt privileged to spend some time with these majestic animals and feed them with their favourite foods.

On the island, it’s hard not to notice how many street dogs there are. Although they are homeless, they are under the watchful eye of dog-loving people, one of whom is Susan from Tembo, who feeds around 30 dogs daily.  She has rescued several island dogs, together with Nikki who runs Pariah Dogs. This organisation has rescued thousands of dogs and provides rehabilitation and a safe haven with the aim of finding them their forever home.  We visited Pariah Dogs and felt like we could have brought them all back home with us! Indeed, several of them have been flown back to enjoy life in the UK.

The Big Buddha Temple built to protect the people on the island in 1972 is one of Koh Samui’s top attractions.  You can see the 12-metre-tall Buddha from the aircraft and from various locations around the island.  We walked up the 72 steps to the top, where we enjoyed a spectacular location sunset.

A short car journey away is the temple of Wat Khunaram. Although, it is not one of the most beautiful temples on the island, it has been made famous by the mummified Buddhist monk, Luang Pho Daeng, who died there while meditating in 1979.  Wearing a pair of sunglasses, his upright remains are left in his mudra pose with legs folded – all on display in a glass cabinet.  It’s an extraordinary sight and one where both Thai people and tourists come together to pay their respects.

Located just off Samui’s south coast lies the small island of Ko Madsum which is better known as ‘Pig Island’. The pigs can be seen wandering along the beach and have become quite a tourist attraction in their own right!  The white sandy beach and stunning blue sea provides a perfect day trip to this unique island, accessed by a 25-minute longtail boat ride.

The safe and friendly island of Koh Samui is magical and has something for everyone, whether you want to relax on a beach or explore and soak up the Thai culture.  It’s an island you can return to time and again and find something wondrous to explore.


Fact File

Fly with Emirates via Dubai to Bangkok.  Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui.

1st Category:      Beachfront Villa (Fully Sea View):             THB 9,500.- net/night/room

2nd Category:     Deluxe Partial Sea View Bungalow:          THB 4,800. -net/night/room

3rd Category:     Deluxe Spa Bungalow (Garden View):      THB 4,800.-net/night/room x2

4th Category:     Deluxe Bungalow (Garden View):             THB 4,300. -net/night/room x6

Email: info@tembo-Samui.com

Phone: + 66 (0) 811618828

Website: https://www.tembo-samui.com/

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