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Those with a taste for spicy food are in luck: the southern-style Thai food served at restaurants and cafés in Koh Samui is known for packing quite a kick. Don’t worry, however, if you prefer your food heavy on flavor but light on heat: Kitchen staffs here happily cater their cuisine to Western palates used to milder foods. From tropical fruits to fried noodles, here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the best food experiences in Koh Samui:
1. Rambutan. This small fruit grown throughout Southeast Asia is encased in a spiny, almost furry bright-red skin. Peel it open, and inside you’ll find a delicious off-white colored center with a gummy texture that tastes like a mix between a grape and a lychee.
2. Coconuts. You’re on a tropical island teeming with coconut palm trees so, naturally, Koh Samui is a perfect place to dig into as many fresh coconuts as you’d like. Though they’re available just about anywhere that serves food or drinks, our favorite place to enjoy a coconut is right on the beach, where you can purchase one from a vendor who hacks it open with a machete and pops a straw in the top. Don’t forget to dig out the coconut’s flesh after you’ve drained the milk.
3. Thai kalamae candy. Available in a variety of flavors and colors, this locally produced sweet treat is a chewy, carmel-ish candy made from rice flour, coconut milk and palm sugar.
4. Phat Thai. The delicate, ooey-gooey phat Thai served at restaurants in Koh Samui will taste nothing like the greasy platters you get from your local take-out joint back home. Thailand’s most-famous dish here is prepared in many different ways — we recommend ordering it with fresh prawns and wrapped in egg.
5. Khanom jin. Rich and as spicy as you want it to be, khanom jin is another classic Thai dish made with fish sauce, fermented rice-flour noodles, red curry and coconut milk.