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Samui Dining, Thailand

One of the things that makes Samui so appealing is the fact that you can still stop at a street cart for a 30 baht plate of Phat Thai or Fried Rice, while just around the corner a lavish buffet is being served on the beach. All the options are here, including several Thai vegetarian restaurants.

In recent years an international community of entrepreneur restaurateurs have brought to Samui the cuisines of Japan, Italy, Germany, India, Switzerland, France, Sweden and Mexico, among others. Good Western cuisine can now be found in almost every village on the island. Need a "back home" style snack or a fast-food fix? There are excellent bakeries, ice cream parlours, and the islands first Big Mac is in Chaweng with two other well known pizza outlets.

If you stay long enough for your digestive system to begin to get acclimated, you might try eating at one of the outdoor evening markets that locals frequent. Here you will find some of Samuis most authentic (and spicy!) Thai food. The seating arrangements may be crude and the air filled with the noise of nearby locals relaxing after work with Karaoke, but the food will be hot, tasty and cheap.

There are a lot of magazines on the island with lists of where to eat and an especially good restaurant guide to help you to decide.

Restaurant Hygiene All restaurants and food vendors serve safe bottled drinking water, and most use clean factory-made ice cubes. Vegetables are washed in tap water but safe when cooked. You may want to avoid eating raw ones.

Many seafood restaurants display their wares on ice for customers to see. When choosing fish, look for bright (not cloudy) eyes, and a bright crimson color under the gills. The fish should be firm to the touch. Dont hesitate to smell shellfish for freshness before choosing it.

A final tip: If going to a buffet, try to get to there early. In a tropical climate, the longer the food has been exposed, the greater the chance for contamination.