Assuming that Thailand’s borders won’t reopen to leisure travellers until next year*, Koh Samui (and many Thai tourist destinations) really need your help. REALLY need it. As mentioned in this island update, 90% of the island’s economy relies on tourism. So grab your Visa and do what you’ve done best since this all started: Add. To. Cart.
*See updates on the newly announced Special Tourist Visa
How to help Koh Samui through COVID-19
- 1. Sisters on Samui ‘Feed Samui’ campaign
- 2. Support Koh Samui’s animal shelters
- 3. Marie Kondo: Pet Edition
- 4. Sponsor an elephant
- 5. Buy elephant food … or try elephant yoga
- 6. Shop in support of ocean clean-ups
- 7. Support island beach clean-ups
- 8. The “no money, honey” option
- 9. Get in touch with your favourites
- More questions?
- To Share
*New! Meet Doctor Pouchy – my own COVID project to help Koh Samui.
1. Sisters on Samui ‘Feed Samui’ campaign
This is THE campaign to help people on Samui. Since the start of COVID-19, Sisters on Samui (SOS) has been offering food handouts twice a week to anyone who needs it. Care packs include rice, noodles, eggs, cooking oil, fish sauce, baby food, diapers/nappies and sanitary items.
- Donate money (a THB1,000 donation (US$32/£25) buys a 40kg bag of rice).
- Or, donate specific food items at the SOS Facebook shop.
Future projects will include community gardens to grow vegetables and raise chickens for families whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19. The first garden for three hundred families is currently underway in Chaweng.
2. Support Koh Samui’s animal shelters
No tourists mean no donations in coin boxes around the island. While Koh Samui’s animal shelters are chronically underfunded, this year is particularly tough. Below, find the donation pages for three Koh Samui animal shelters and a shop page for Thailand’s largest animal non-profit organization, Soi Dog Foundation (with sites in Bangkok and Phuket).
3. Marie Kondo: Pet Edition
If you’ve got pets who are overdue for a Marie Kondo dose of minimalism, consider mailing any extra supplies or toys to Dog and Cat Rescue Samui or Soi Dog Foundation. Find their wishlists and mailing addresses below.
Please note that the customs declaration should read: “Donated expired veterinary supplies for charity. Not for resale.”
Dog and Cat Rescue Samui
- Dog toys (old ones in decent condition are very welcome)
- New or used dog collars
- Flea collars
- Advocate medicine for dogs (expired is fine, see customs note above)
Dog and Cat Rescue Samui Foundation Chaweng
112/35 Moo 6,
Surat Thani 84320,
Soi Dog Foundation
- Squeaky toys for puppies
- Cat toys (wand toys, cat tunnels, sisal scratch mats)
- Bio-degradable poo bags (especially ones in a holder)
- Slip leads (leashes that don’t need collars; no collars please)
- All-weather toys for outdoor use
- See full wishlist, including medications
Soi Dog Foundation
167/9 Moo 4, Soi Mai Khao 10,
Mai Khao, Amphur Talang,
4. Sponsor an elephant
In recent years, Koh Samui finally got two ethical elephant sanctuaries (no riding, no tricks, no bathing-with): Samui Elephant Sanctuary and Samui Elephant Haven. As with the puppies, no tourists = no tours = no income … with some very big mouths left to feed. The two sanctuaries both offer elephant sponsorship, with some other options as well.
Samui Elephant Sanctuary
- Sponsor an elephant (sponsorship starts at US$5/month)
- Donate US$50 and over and get a Zoom call with the herd!
- All US donations are tax-deductible
Samui Elephant Haven
- Sponsor an elephant (sponsorship starts at THB1,000/US$32 for one year)
- Choose the THB10,000 (US$320) sponsorship to receive a family pass to Samui Elephant Haven for one year!
5. Buy elephant food … or try elephant yoga
Samui Elephant Sanctuary’s Elephant Food Campaign: Donate banana health balls (THB200), a basket of sugarcane (THB300), a basket of bananas (THB600), and so on. Prefer a dramatic entrance? Me too. In this case, donate an entire pick-up truck of bananas (THB8,000). Just a cool half tonne of bananas. Especially from you!
Samui Elephant Haven’s Elephant Food Shop: Choose from buying food for the herd (tamarind rice balls at THB700, pineapple tops at THB6,000, or bananas or grass). Other donations sought include an elephant jungle gym, swimming pool and new trees.
Samui Elephant Haven’s Painted Elephant colouring book: A downloadable elephant colouring book for adults and children alike. THB 500.
Elephant yoga videos (by donation): Choose your donation price (THB250, 500 or 750) to download two twenty-minute yoga and guided meditation videos filmed at Samui Elephant Haven in partnership with Koh Samui yoga studio futurehippie (Meike Schröder).
6. Shop in support of ocean clean-ups
As you’ll read in the “COVID good news” post, Koh Phangan’s Center for Oceanic Research and Education (COREsea) has been busy while we’ve been stuck at home. While regional dive teams have had time due to lack of tourists, they’ve been doing wonderful things clearing ‘ghost nets’ (discarded fishing nets) from waters around Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Love the ocean and want to cheer them on? As they explain in their shop, “surprisingly, small NGO’s do not get filthy rich from their normal work, we need some extra cash.”
***Update: Shop’s closed!***
Shop COREsea apparel (a fundraiser for Bring Back the Buoys). Shop COREsea photographic prints Please note: delivery time overseas is 2-4 weeks.
Read more about COREsea’s work during COVID.
7. Support island beach clean-ups
Recently, Trash Hero Koh Samui has been busy clearing island beaches from the debris that washed up following a recent ferry disaster, during which three large garbage trucks were sunk just offshore from Koh Samui.
8. The “no money, honey” option
If you’ve been fairly wiped out by COVID (and I get it – I sell travel guidebooks to a country that’s shut), you can still help by sharing this post – perhaps spam all your friends on WhatsApp or work colleagues on Slack, or share it on Facebook with friends and relatives who know and love Koh Samui too. Grab a shareable Facebook image above (and Pinterest images below), or click any of the share buttons.
9. Get in touch with your favourites
If you’ve spent any time in Thailand, you’ve made friends with someone in the tourism world – especially so if you’ve ever stayed at a small hotel or a family-run resort. In addition to my suggestions above, reach out to these friends on Facebook or Instagram and see how they’re doing. Maybe you can help them directly – maybe we can add to this list here. Perhaps they’re offering “book now, stay later” options. Even a friendly “hello, see you soon” on Facebook is a wonderful way to show that you care (the exact number of mask-wearing emojis is up to you).
- Learn more about the current situation on Koh Samui (e.g. what’s closed, what’s open and what’s next)
- Find out what’s happening regarding Thailand, tourism and COVID – including current immigration and quarantine details.
- Keep getting details as they develop – join my email list for weekly updates
- Finally, read some really good news (you can’t say no to baby sea turtles, can you?)