Note: Earlier this year, I spent three weeks in Australia, and stopped off for a week in Thailand on my way back to the United States. Over the next few posts, I'll be sharing highlights from my adventures in Thailand, including stops in Bangkok, Koh Tao, and Koh Samui.
In both writing and travel planning, I'm an insufferable procrastinator. I start out with the best intentions, but these items always get shuffled to the back burner and pushed to the last minute - planning my trip to Thailand (and now finally writing about it) was no different.
I'd had my stopover flight from Australia to Bangkok (and from Bangkok to the States) for more than a month, but waited until my final days in Western Australia to figure out what I'd actually do once I touched down in Thailand. I'd decided to visit the Gulf Islands based on seasonal weather recommendations from a friend living in Phuket and was intrigued by a friend's suggestion to get my dive certification in Koh Tao (more on that later). The main question remaining was whether I'd be willing to commit four full days to the scuba adventure. Turns out, I was.
Combinations of trains, buses, and ferries offer fairly affordable options for getting to Koh Tao, but given my limited timeframe, I felt it was worth the extra expense to fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui (where I would stay overnight on the trek in) and ferry in to "Turtle Island" from there. Plus, the flights in and out gave me the chance to experience the perfect Samui Airport (shown at the top of this post).
Before taking the ferry on to Koh Tao, I spent a night (and some of one day) relaxing and soaking up my newfound solo traveler status at the Jungle Club. With less than 24 hours on the island, my goal was to find a place with: 1. feasible and easy transportation from the airport and to the ferry docks, 2. a beautiful view (see the photo above, shot from the open air coffee shop / bar, above), and 3. chill vibes and the opportunity for solitude.
When I saw the "jungle huts" available on site, I was sold. The lil' guy below was my home for the night, and it was amazing.
The Jungle Club is accessible via 4x4 Jeeps or motorbikes only. I arrived in the evening, so my ride up the hill was in the back of an open-air truck, under a giant full moon that peeked out through the canopies of towering palm trees. It was a perfect way to start the next chapter of my trip.
The resort was pretty sleepy - which suited me just fine. Good bar conversation with staff and travelers while viewing the lights of Chaweng the night I arrived, coffee overlooking the water the next morning, replying to some work emails on the front porch, and reading lazily in a hammock before heading to the ferry - all in a peaceful quiet that drove home the fact that I was really on my own (as a first-time solo traveler, it didn't take long for that fact to sink in). The Jungle Club was exactly what I was looking for - a giant reset button for my brain and a perfect stop to center myself.
As a solo female traveler in Thailand (or anywhere, for that matter) I didn't know what to expect - but I felt very safe and at home during my stay. While the rates definitely aren't backpacker level, my hut (which included an indoor shower and bathroom in the back) ran me about $23 USD, plus pretty nominal fees for the taxi to 4x4 transportation.
More info about the Jungle Club is available here.
Note: I had TONS of photos of this place...but due to an unfortunate iPhone meltdown, I lost them all. The images above are what I could salvage from a WhatsApp conversation - could be worse, but they don't do this place justice.