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Banyan Tree Samui resort in Thailand. Jason Lang and Christopher Wise / Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts
Banyan Tree Samui resort in Thailand. Jason Lang and Christopher Wise / Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts

Bangkok for business, beach for a break

The Life: With its palm-lined shores and turquoise seas, Koh Samui offers a tranquil refuge from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.

Bangkok, one of South East Asia's thriving capitals of commerce, can be a pulsating place to do business.

But it can also be exhausting. The toxic mix of pollution, traffic and heat can take its toll on even the most seasoned business traveller.

For those keen to escape the hustle and bustle and with a few days to spare, the island of Koh Samui is a good bet.

Located just over an hour's flight south in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui has earned a reputation as a getaway paradise in the same league as places such as Goa and Bali.

The name Samui is even thought to have originated from the Malay word for "haven."

It was Malay fishermen who first settled on its coconut palm-lined shores 15 centuries ago.

The island, Thailand's second largest, is sometimes dismissed as too commercial. Steer clear of the east coast town of Chaweng, with its McDonald's restaurants and retailers of counterfeit DVDs - a mini Bangkok itself - and the island feels closer to its fishing roots.

Secluded resorts nestled between lushly-vegetated rolling hills and white-sand beaches will restore even the most jaded soul.

After some R&R, it is worth sampling the island's variety of activities. Pose for a photo with a tiger at the Namuang Safari Park, take an elephant trek through the jungle or search for souvenirs in the Fisherman's Village, a cluster of trendy shops and restaurants.

Business travellers looking to lie low after a string of meetings can even recreate their own version of The Beach, by visiting the tiny nearby island of Koh Phangan, where the author Alex Garland set his best-selling book.

Although the paradise described in the tale, and captured in a 2000 film adaption of the same name, has been largely swamped by backpackers, the natural beauty of the sculptured limestone scenery is still breathtaking.

The Quote: "Trust me, itís paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed." Richard, the main character in The Beach, a best-selling book set close to Koh Samui

tarnold@thenational.ae

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