Districts of Koh Samui
Koh Samui has many distinct areas or districts each with their own features, characteristics and history.
Chaweng is the beach on the east coast of Koh Samui and has a reputation for a pristine white beach and an excellent nightlife infrastructure especially at the northern end of the beach.
Chaweng is the largest and most popular of Koh Samui’s beaches and is divided into three areas: north Chaweng, central Chaweng and Chaweng Noi (Little Chaweng). Chaweng beach is the longest beach on Koh Samui, along the east coast. The beach is beautiful here and local developers are finally cleaning up some of the trashy areas. It attracts many young travelers, couples and families alike and still remains good value for money.
Chaweng beach is approximately 7 km long with powdery white sand. It meets sapphire blue waters and a coral reef barrier breaking waves and leaving the bay quite peaceful. Not far from Chaweng beach are two small islands near the coral reef. After swimming, you can explore the nearest island by walking to it through knee deep water or go for snorkeling and kayaking at the second island which is larger and a little further out.
The central part of Chaweng beach is a bit more crowded than the quieter north. Many vendors pass by offering beverages, fruit, ice cream, Thai food and a variety of local crafts and Thai souvenirs.
Chaweng beach is usually accessed through the hotels that run along it as there are no beach roads to disturb the peacefulness of the area. It is very relaxing but noticeably more touristy during the high season. The water is clean with usual temperatures between 25-28°C.
Parallel to Chaweng beach and clustered in the middle of the strip lies Koh Samui’s greatest concentration of restaurants, bars, market stalls, souvenir shops and of course, fast food and convenience stores.
Chaweng is a few minutes’ ride south from Koh Samui’s airport. Taxi drivers rarely use taxi meters here. If you decide not to use the booking desk at Koh Samui airport, negotiate the fare in advance with the taxi driver. It should cost from 300-500 Baht. Or you may book a transfer with your hotel.
Chaweng has a lot of water sport activities available and tours or trips to Koh Samui’s attractions and neighboring islands can be arranged nearby.
There are lots of souvenir shops around Koh Samui and Chaweng is no exception. It is not uncommon for the shopkeepers to ask 5 times the normal tourist price particularly in the central areas. Bargaining is always possible when it comes to souvenir and souvenir-like products. Even when a price is indicated a discount up to 50% might be available. As many shops and the often cheaper market stalls sell mostly the similar products ask at several places to get an idea of what is a reasonable price before starting haggling for the product you really want.
On the beach, vendors will sell beach clothes, jewelery, beach toys and games, and food (coconuts, sliced fruit, satay, roasted corn, ice cream, water, etc.). Be prepared to bargain. Most food items are generally 50 baht/piece. They vendors will not bother you if you ignore them or say no.
In the evening several restaurants along Chaweng beach offer seafood and almost all hotels offer beach front dining experiences so compare prices.
Downtown Chaweng is full of back to back bars and restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines and atmospheres. While the bars along the main street and side streets tend to be more packed, take one of the small walkways to the beach for a unique waterfront experience.
Ark Bar Beach Club – Every Wednesday and Friday there is a beach party from 2pm until 2am, with a free BBQ @ 4pm, live international and local DJ’s, live musicians (drums and saxophone) and firework displays. The restaurant (on the beach) is open all day and night and is praised for the fresh seafood and over 300 dishes to choose from.
Bar Asia, Soi Reggae – Nice staff and owner, with a nice crowd. Tuesday pool competition brings a large and fun crowd.
Bar Solo – Large mainly outdoor club in the center of Chaweng that opens early evening till sunrise. Bar Solo has 2 dance floors and about 6 pool tables.
Black Jack Pub – Long established English style pub. No bar girls hassling you, just cold beer & plenty of live sport.
Green Mango Club – Koh Samui’s main nightclub and main tourist spot.
Henry Africa’s, Soi Green Mango – Lively bar packed every night with tourists, expats and local girls. Free pool (3 tables), very friendly staff.
Reggae Pub – A Koh Samui institution but don’t be fooled by the name, some nights are more techno than Marley but this area does tend to be more laid back.
Sweet Soul – Lively dance club in Soi Green Mango.
Chaweng is the heart of Koh Samui. The once abundant backpacker bungalows and hostels are disappearing and being replaced with new, modern and obviously more expensive resort orientated hotels. Always insist to see the room before you book in any hotel if you choose one of the more affordable hotels. Be aware that the nightclub district is not far from many of the good beach hotels, which tend to be on the north half of Chaweng. This is fantastic if that is what you want on your holiday but not suitable for the quieter more romantic holiday.
Lamai is a beach on the east coast of Koh Samui.
The southern third of Lamai beach has the widest strip of sand, which is the best for swimming and has several restaurant and shopping options nearby. In the northern part of Lamai beach, the water doesn’t get deep enough for swimming until you’re quite some distance out. The further north you go, the narrower and quieter the beach becomes eventually becoming rocky towards the headland.
There are a significant number of girlie bars along the main street in Lamai as well as in some side streets. They are most prevalent in the southern part of town while the northern part is virtually free of them.
Hire a jeep or motorbike and explore the surrounding areas of Lamai as there are plenty of interesting attractions to see. Koh Samui’s most popular tourist sites are in this locality so if you’re getting bored swimming all day, try some exploring around the area instead.
Once you go past the Muslim fishing village Hua Thanon in the south of Lamai, you can get a feel for what Koh Samui was like before becoming a popular tourist destination. It gives you a view of lush greenery, coconut trees, livestock grazing in the fields and local roadside cafes selling drinks and Thai dishes.
Between Lamai and Hua Thanon lies two famous rock formations: Hin Ta and Hin Yai also known as Grandfather and Grandmother rocks. These formations look like the male and female genitalia. What makes these rocks even stranger is that they are close to each other, giving way to a legend explaining how they came to be.
Close to Hin Ta & Hin Yai is a small beach. It is not for swimming but it allows you to paddle & cool your feet. Small souvenir shops sell clothes, postcards, drinks and snacks including the local delicacy “galame” which is caramel made from coconuts grown in Koh Samui. Parking is convenient and viewing these popular formations is free.
The Wat Lamai temple plays host to temple fairs along with weddings, funerals and various religious festivals. It features concerts, fairgrounds games, food and an outdoor cinema. Temple fairs are week long celebrations and are worth seeing if you happen to be in Lamai during one.
The Cultural Hall within the Lamai’s temple contains a collection of artefacts from Koh Samui’s past. The collections range from brass and earthenware containers to a 2000 year old metal ceremonial drum dug out from a Lamai village.
Wat Khunaram just south of Lamai houses the body of one of Koh Samui’s most famous monks, the mummified monk, Loung Pordaeng. Loung Pordaeng passed away 20 years ago and by his request his body was placed in a glass case. His body has remained in the specially made glass case since his death and amazingly shows only a few signs of decay.
Lamai’s Night Market is not far from McDonalds on a side street which opens from 6pm until midnight. There are numerous stalls selling all types of handicrafts, jewellery, art and presents. Most vendors enjoy bartering with you and will accept a lower price than they first offer. Although not the cheapest price to buy things from in Thailand, it is one of the cheapest places in Lamai.
Every Sunday, Lamai’s beach road becomes the Walking Street. The whole road is closed off to traffic and is full of stalls selling clothes, handicrafts and food. The area is full of Thai people when the market is on so prices are cheap and the food is fantastic.
Tesco Lotus opened in Lamai in September 2009 and is one of several in Koh Samui. There is a small mall before entering the supermarket with many shops selling clothes, beauty products and electronics and also some restaurants including KFC, Wine Connection and Black Canyon Coffee. Tesco Lotus itself has clothes at cheap prices and food which is price marked; great if you are self catering.
Bargaining is always possible when it comes to souvenir and souvenir-like products in Koh Samui. Even when a price is indicated a discount up to 50% might be available. As many shops and the often cheaper market stalls sell mostly the similar products ask at several places to get an idea of what is a reasonable price before starting haggling for the product you really want.
In the evening several bars and restaurants offer seafood on Lamai’s beach. Almost all hotels offer dining at the beach so compare prices.
Whilst the development of Lamai beach has made many places expensive, cheap rooms still can be found by looking off the main beach road. Internet cafes are plentiful and typically offer international calls, fax services and flight confirmations. The connection and speed is generally good.
Nathon & Lipa Noi
Nathon is Koh Samui’s main town and ferry port to Surat Thani on the south west coast. Nathon is connected through the Koh Samui ring road with the towns on the island.
Nathon is famous for its picture perfect sunsets in Koh Samui. Most tourists have come specifically to enjoy the spectacular views and the quaint little shops and restaurants that line the ocean front. The town itself is quite picturesque and is fast becoming a known great shopping and dining destination.
Nathon is good for experiencing a little of real Thai life. It is a lesser visited tourist town but still features shops, restaurants, tour agencies and hotels but amid the touristy atmosphere you can still experience an authentic local village as many of Koh Samui’s local residents live there. Nathon also retains a few old teak Chinese shop-houses and cafes.
All Koh Samui’s government offices and bank are located in Nathon and it is the primary point of connection with the mainland and other islands close to Koh Samui. Shopping here is less expensive than in Chaweng or Lamai and there are lots of interesting knick-knacks for sale. Most shops are on the inland road, which is one-way heading south. However, the ocean road has a number of good restaurants for breakfast or lunch and the teak shop house lined middle road gives a decent glimpse into Koh Samui’s local world. The beach is not really attractive, but the small town is worth a stop. Visit the fresh market on the main street to discover the variety of fruits and vegetables typical of south Thailand.
A little further down the road going south is the way to “Best Mountain Viewpoint”, which affords travelers spectacular sights from Koh Samui at a height of 467 meters. The way up to the viewpoint is a bit difficult to find. Shortly after Wat Chaeng looks for a sign with “Tazan View” (this is not a spelling mistake) on it. If you feel confident in your driving skills, you can try the 6km drive to eat a simple lunch on a wooden terrace overlooking Maenam and Bophut bays. Weather permitting; you’ll also be treated to a splendid view of Koh Phangan. The first five kilometers are nicely paved, but be aware that the last kilometer is rather steep, slippery and dusty. It is not recommended in case of rain. If you’d rather not attempt the drive yourself, there are many tour companies next to the pier in Nathon offering well organized trips in 4×4 with qualified drivers.
Lipa Noi is in close proximity to Koh Samui’s main car ferry piers, making it a suitable choice for anyone intending to drive back and forth between Koh Samui and the mainland. It’s one of the best beaches on Koh Samui for kids, because there are no rocks or coral in the water and the sand is fine and soft. This water is shallow up to 100 metres out and so great for paddling.
Big John Seafood is the most popular of a few spaced out bungalow accommodation options. The attached restaurant is also worth a visit for its fresh meals, lively entertainment and friendly service – a great place for a party. There are a few beach side luxury villa properties for rent and the Koh Samui Dhama Healing Centre, one of Koh Samui’s more intense fasting spas, is in walking distance.
The remoteness of Lipa Noi’s beach is what makes it most attractive to the visitors who return here year after year. The demographic of tourists here is older than you’ll find elsewhere on Koh Samui and mainly comprised of couples and families. If staying in Lipa Noi, be prepared to be independent and either rent a motorbike, car or strike a deal with a taxi driver. Shopping is very limited in the area so you’ll need to frequently go 5km down the road to Nathon.
Maenam is known for it’s 7km stretch of beach. The beach has white sand and is lined by coconut trees. The sea is typically calm, however there is a moderate drift and the water is not usually clear. Maenam actually means river, ‘mae’ meaning mother and ‘nam’ water.
The sunset from the east end of Maenam’s beaches are exceptionally pretty in Koh Samui.
There’s a couple of market shops near the 7-11 in Maenam’s centre.
Mister Pu – delightfully named restaurant on east end of Maenam. Barbeque meat on your own table, all you can eat for 119 baht.
Uncle Noi – Thai family owned restaurant on the main street. Very good and very cheap food, often full in the early evening.
Snack Stop – near the 7-11 by the main cross roads. Italian and Thai cuisine plus a big vegetarian selection.
There’s a few relaxed beach bars with reclining beach beds. For nightlife head on to Chaweng.
Ban Tai is fairly close to Maenam but it retains a removed and quiet atmosphere making it a good rest and relaxation spot. There are a few sandy bays of varying size that run from the north west corner of Koh Samui all the way to west Maenam and this whole area has a very peaceful feel.
In the centre of Ban Tai is a longer beach that offers views from Koh Samui to neighbouring Koh Phangan. Some areas are pretty good for swimming, while others have coral reefs so get your mask & snorkel and go snorkeling. At the end of the day, you’ll have a choice of a number of restaurants lining the main road, mainly Thai and specializing in fresh seafood at very affordable prices.
Ban Tai is in the ideal location to make the most of spas on offer. These smaller scale spas, in addition to the usual services, offer treatments such as botox, colon irrigation and the kind of treatments that you’ll need to set aside the best part of a day to do.
You can also head up to the hills and enjoy some great views of Koh Samui and its surroundings. Altogether Ban Tai affords plenty of options for a rejuvenation of the body and spirit.
Ban Tai is twenty minutes from Nathon and 20 minutes in the opposite direction to Koh Samui airport.
Bang Rak / Big Buddha
Bang Rak beach is located in the north east of Koh Samui and has white sand, nice swimming options and safe for kids. Bang Rak is more than just a beach. The surrounding village and a must visit for its restaurants, low key but fun nightlife and general fun atmosphere.
Bang Rak is a quiet area in Koh Samui but there’s a lot on offer. The restaurants are of an international standard at one end and impossibly cheap yet delicious at the other. A number of resorts offer dining right on the beach, close to the gentle water.
You can enjoy swimming all year round in Bang Rak because the waters are so calm. Then, retiring to the sands for a rest, you won’t be bothered by vendors selling their trashy trinkets like elsewhere in Koh Samui. Big Buddha is within easy reach.
Bang Rak also has several quieter local bars, with friendly Thai and expats as patrons, and all feature big screen TVs for watching a multitude of sports events.
There are several piers in Bang Rak for speed boats and ferry boats leaving Koh Samui to Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and to Haad Rin for the Full Moon Party once a month. There are also daily trips from Koh Samui to Ang Thong National Marine Park. Ang Thong Marine Park has a good claim to being paradise on earth, so is a must visit.
Big Buddha beach is up in the north east of Koh Samui and takes its name from Koh Samui’s most famous landmark, a 12 metre tall statue of the Buddha, with views of the beach below. The statue has been standing at the top of a steep climb of steps for 30 odd years, and is now surrounded by market stalls and Buddhist themed offerings and superstition in the grounds below.
Big Buddha beach is one of the more quiet spots on Koh Samui, the water is blue and warm and relatively untroubled by sales people, dogs and motor boats. It’s a nice place to relax. The waters are fit for swimming. So if you’re looking for a quieter holiday, bare this place in mind.
Big Buddha beach is adjacent to Bang Rak, which is a secluded bay with calm waters. Bang Rak has some fun nightlife bars of all types, and some decent restaurants. The fun of the place is certainly in taking a walk up and down the main area and seeing what takes your fancy. The restaurants range in terms of cuisine and standards.
Big Buddha has a few eating spots of its own. The shops stock basic necessities and there’s a bank. We bet, though, that you’ll want to keep things as independent and as personalized as possible.
Bophut is a beach village located on the northern coast of Koh Samui. Confusingly, Bophut is also a large administrative and postal district even encompassing Chaweng. Therefore a Bophut address is no guarantee that it is located in or around the village in Koh Samui.
Bophut is one of the few famous places on Koh Samui that retains some of the island’s original Thai-Chinese atmosphere. It has recently experienced a boom with new hotels and guesthouses sprouting up at a frantic pace. The traditional core of Bophut, known as the Fisherman’s Village, is a charming village on the east side of the beach while the new developments are to the west. In contrast to Chaweng there has been a conscious effort to dissuade the more commercial elements of Thai nightlife from setting up shop and instead aiming for couples and young families.
Bophut’s beach road retains much of its charm although the new construction took a bit away. Old Chinese shop-houses crowd the narrow street many with sympathetic conversions to modern use as restaurants and cafés and small trendy shops. The beach itself encompasses some 2km of white sandy shoreline fringed by coconut palms and the calm waters of the bay make this a popular spot for playing or relaxing, rather than swimming because the water here is often very murky especially around December.
Bophut is just 15 minutes away from Koh Samui airport by bus or taxi. Many speed boat charters from Koh Phangan and Koh Tao dock at the small pier at the center of Fishermans Village.
Activities in Bophut are pretty much limited to the beach, which is quite narrow and drops off rapidly. Jet ski hire operators are located (mercifully) at the western end of the Fisherman’s Village. A Go-kart track can be found on the main road adjacent to the village. Bophut is famed for its sunsets, fine restaurants, numerous pubs and complete absence of girly bars. Thai Massage, (temporary rejuvenation on the beach or in the village’s numerous mini-spas) manicure and pedicure treatments are popular bargain spends for visitors of either gender.
There are a number of minimarts and souvenir shops in Fisherman Village, including a few moderately interesting Chinese-themed boutiques.
Bophut has a reputation for being one of the best places to eat on Koh Samui. The village boasts many fine restaurants offering a wide choice of specialty cuisines in addition to a wealth of Thai dishes. French, Italian, BBQ, Indian and seafood outlets predominate, but there are several pubs and two bakeries offering standard European style snacks and typical British and Australian pub grub. Currently some 30 bars and restaurants are located in little more than 700m of village street. All the places below are clustered in the Fisherman’s Village within easy walking distance of each other.
Choeng Mon & Plai Laem
Choeng Mon is located on the north coast of Koh Samui, between Chaweng and Maenam.
Located to the north east of Koh Samui, is Choeng Mon. Choeng Mon is made up of a series of bays featuring white sandy beaches. Although only about 15 minutes north of Chaweng and 5 minutes from Big Buddha, the intervening coastline has kept Koh Samui’s beaches quiet and the waters clean.
Choeng Mon beach is a small but magnificent bay, it features wide sandy beaches with a rock formation on one side and a small island you can paddle out to on the other.
Choeng Mon is very family friendly area is dominated by a handful of 3 to 5 star resorts, making it a relatively up market area; inexpensive accommodation is virtually non-existent.
Despite Choeng Mon’s proximity to the other beaches, Choeng Mon is very accessible since songtaew taxis pass by very frequently. If you do not wish to spend so much cash on cab fare, it is advisable to hire a car or motorbike for the duration of your stay in Koh Samui.
Choeng Mon is famous in Koh Samui for its water sports activities. If you want to try one, you can kayak all the way to the islet of Ko Fan Noi which sits offshore Choeng Mon. During low tide, you may walk to Ko Fan Noi since it is in close proximity to the main beach. But if you feel like doing nothing, beaches at Choeng Mon are perfect for lazing the afternoons away since there is not a lot going on outside the resorts. It is preferred by tourists who want to avoid the hubbub of most beaches in Koh Samui.
Food is not hard to come by in Choeng Mon since there are a number of restaurants off the beach. But don’t expect any authentic Thai cuisine because the restaurants offer most western food and entertainment.
There are a number of quaint restaurants and cafes throughout in Choeng Mon. The beach itself has many restaurants and offers a beautiful night view over the bay; it doesn’t usually get to busy but has music, cocktails and reclining beach beds.
Choeng Mon’s resorts attract more of the foreign cliental, a fact which is reflected in the food and entertainment offered in the resort’s restaurants. Thus the Thai cuisine served won’t be too spicy. However, do expect traditional Thai dancing and Filipino bands expertly playing covers of western pop standards.
The nightlife is relaxed, best bet is to have a drink on the beach based restaurants.
Ban Plai Laem is silent! That’s something that’s becoming harder and harder to find on Koh Samui. There are no large hotels or large resorts, no construction cranes; the place is what you’d hope for from a tropical island such as Koh Samui.
Plai Laem’s sand stretches for 2km and is white and soft. The water is kept warm and calm by an of shore coral so it’s great for paddling or swimming and a bit of snorkeling. You’ll spot the occasional Thai fisherman or visitor passing by but it’s as close as you’ll come on Koh Samui to having your own private beach.
If it all becomes too private and peaceful, you get to Chaweng in 15 minutes and Bophut in 10, both of which have restaurants, bars and nightlife. There are some local shops selling basic necessities within walking distance. A slightly longer walk will take you to a few bars and restaurants near the Big Buddha statue and Plai Laem temple.
There are small local shops within walking distance and several bars and restaurants a slightly further walk away down by the Big Buddha and Plai Laem temples.
Koh Som is opposite and reachable by kayak or swimming, depending on how competent you are in the water. The sea is only 2 metres deep, so there are no jet skis and motorboats around as it’s too shallow, so the area stays quiet all day. Plai Laem is a great place for sunbathing and reading. Koh Samui International Airport is just 5 minutes away.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find pure and unspoilt beaches on Koh Samui. Koh Samui is rising in popularity as a holiday spot and so in places has lost its remote tropical island feel. Inevitable. However in certain locations where beaches have become privately owned, you can still get a feel of that untouched paradise feel.
Thong Sai Beach is one of those places, in the north east of Koh Samui and as secluded a spot as you’ll find anywhere on the island. It has beautiful white sand coves, extensive coconut groves and a laid back pace.
Thong Sai beach is dominated by the unobtrusive Tongsai Bay Resort, where not a single palm tree has been cut and where the fresh seafood and silk shopping and Thai entertainment are laid on without any of the pestering and noise and squalor. There is 25 acres of sandy beach, sloping lawns and tall palms concealing a mini village of fun friendliness.
There’s snorkeling, sailing, spas, swimming pools and several restaurants to choose from. If you want the best of Koh Samui in one place, the Choeng Mon area is a good choice. Amongst a variety of birds, there is a good diversity of butterflies at Tong Sai bay. This is one of their last depleting sanctuaries for back animal life on Koh Samui.
Crystal Bay, Coral Cove & Silver beach
Coral Cove bay is less known and yet more appealing to visitors to Koh Samui who seek a private piece of paradise with calm, quiet and seclusion. The beach is located off an inconspicuous turning along the hilly main road connecting Chaweng and Lamai.
The beach is roughly 200 meters in length, yet remarkable you’ll find more space to yourself here than in the busy Chaweng. At either end are boulders and rock formations creating perfect frame and the ever present Koh Samui coconut trees are in view. And the water is clean and warm.
Coral Cove Resort has a main access to the beach, a family orientated place that also appeals to honeymooners and couples. The resort is reasonable priced, and well worth considering if you’re after that private beach experience. The area between Chaweng and Lamai offers a few other delights of its own. There’s open air rock climbing for the brave hearted. A new golf course (The Royal Samui Golf & Country Club) is in development. Restaurants make the most of the cliff op views, and this is all before we get to the offerings of Chaweng and Lamai.
Staying at Coral Cove means you’re in ten minutes travelling distance to both Chaweng and Lamai. Chaweng is the busier of the two, with a contemporary feel. Lamai is slightly less in your face, and has a pleasant bohemian feels like an English seaside resort of the 1970s. Both have a range of restaurants, shops and bars.
Silver Beach is located between Chaweng and Lamai in Crystal Bay, home of Koh Samui Yacht Club. Silver beach is a lovely beach with dust-like white sand, that squeaks up between your toes. There’s ample shade and very good snorkeling offshore. The beach is quiet and beautiful and if you walk 100m down the sands, there is a break in the rocks where you can bathe in the warm ocean.
Silver beach comes close to being paradise on earth. The view is immaculate and the sand is perfect. The water is a little shallow, so fine for paddling, but be sure to move slowly to avoid scattered pebbles. The beach massages are cheap and effective and easily reached from the main sands.
Accommodation wise, there is a range of options, though the cheaper stuff is pretty variable. Those in the mid-range to more expensive budgets should be well-satisfied. Most of the restaurants are attached to the various resorts, though you’re just a short ride away from Lamai or Chaweng beach.
The surrounding area offers a range of restaurants of high quality, making the most of the stunning views, and there’s also an outdoor climbing wall, plus a few cool bars, so you won’t even need to venture into Chaweng or Lamai for entertainment if you don’t want to.
Hua Thanon, Laem Set, Ban Kao
Hua Thanon is a traditional Koh Samui village and that means only one thing – fishing. The original settlers of Koh Samui came here from China and survived as fisherman. In Hua Thanon, not much has changed.
There are things to do here other than fish, people watch, or live it up in your private villa. Natien Beach is a quiet stretch of sand close by and the Butterfly Garden is just a short walk from the beach.
Hua Thanon is a good place to stay in Koh Samui if you want some peace and quiet, and some authenticity in your experience of Thailand. Accommodation does extend beyond Centara Villa complex to a few smaller places in the area at a lower cost. Beach bungalows are a Koh Samui tradition and are improving in standards along with the island.
Laem Set Beach is found right down on the south coast of Koh Samui. It’s one of the more relaxing areas of Koh Samui void of nightlife and shops. You’ll have to drive 20 minutes to Lamai or 40 minutes to Chaweng if you want up scale amenities you may be used to.
That said there are a few attractions of quaint charm that make this a special holidaying destination on Koh Samui for visitors of all ages. The Butterfly Garden is up on a hill, with its tropical greenery habituated by colorful insects. It’s a pleasant and unusual day out.
The Koh Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo are nearby. You’ll see many fish and corals, turtles, sharks, catfishes and other creatures from around Koh Samui and Thailand. Visitors can feed giant turtles in their tanks and even have their photo taken with a Royal Bengal tiger
Laem Set has a few high end hotels and boutique resort and spas first class dining and dedicated spas. It’s in easy reach of Koh Samui’s waterfalls and is really a nature and animal lover’s dream escape. The beach is soft sand, and a great place for afternoon cocktails.
Laem Set is as of yet one of the least developed and quietest places on Koh Samui. At the rate of development on Koh Samui, it’s worth visiting soon before the magic is lost.
Ban Kao is in the south of Koh Samui and home to some of the most beautiful beaches on Koh Samui. Ban Kao is a good spot if you’re after the quiet life in visually pleasing surroundings.
Ban Kao’s beach is 2km in length and fairly good for running. The sand is flat down by the water’s edge and soft and fine elsewhere, so it’s fine for rolling around with beach games and merriment at your leisure. You’ll have to stay close to the palms for shelter. It gets very hot in the afternoon. Some people prefer to deck themselves out on the sands after 5pm when it gets little cooler in Koh Samui.
Ban Kao is an isolated area so the sands and sea are usually free of people. The waters are warm pretty much all year round and like everywhere on Koh Samui are clear and clean so it’s great for a swim.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing better than relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sunset. The Ban Kao sunset is one of the highlights of Koh Samui. The merging of sultry colors and abundance of meteorological marvels are a sight to see every evening.
One of the rare and most curious sights on Koh Samui is located on Ban Kao. Inside the vaults of Wat Khunaram temple, open to the public for a limited period of time are the remains of a Mummified monk.
Laem Yai & Bang Por
Laem Yai beach is a secluded beach on the very north west tip of Koh Samui.
Coming from Nathon, head 3 miles north, then take a left just before the road rises steeply and turns east. Coming from Chaweng, head west approximately 12 km along the northern ring road, take a right turn at the bottom of the hill when the road veers to the left.
Beautiful sunsets, shallow seas and idyllic coconut palm lined beaches await Koh Samui explorers.
Many small restaurants are dotted along the main ring road in Laem Yai. For more upmarket eateries try The Terrace.
Bang Por can be found in the north west corner of Koh Samui, between Nathon and Maenam. Bang Por’s beach is 4km long and faces Koh Phangan. The waters are calm in this area of Koh Samui and the beach is very clean. Palm trees line the edge. There are shallow coral reefs nearby which provide excellent snorkeling. There is not much development in this area. Very limited accommodation, no tourist shopping or nightlife. The price for land in this area is less than other areas of Koh Samui. The result is many housing developments with houses for sale and rent. The road in this part of Koh Samui is very close to the ocean and quite hilly.
The views in Bang Por are very picturesque. The bay looks out over Koh Phangnan, Koh Samui’s little sister and is secluded by natural rock formations at either end. The sand is soft and white and the sea, churned by gentle winds, keeps the soft waves rolling to pleasantly audible effect. The warm waters are great for swimming, and the breeze makes this one of the best locations for sailing all year round.
Bang Por is right by the sea and so provides an array of well served restaurants, providing fresh fish daily cooked in a variety of styles. You’ll see the catches being brought in each day and the chefs choosing the prime choices for that day’s cooking. Guests can always ask for their fish to be cooked in a certain way, so don’t feel restricted by the menu.
Bang Por Seafood is a well known seafood restaurant in koh Samui, located on Bang Por beach. Bang Por Seafood with coconut terrace at beachfront offers local style cuisine, authentic Thai food and seafood varieties.
Namuang, Thong Tanote & Taling Ngam
Namuang’s waterfalls on Koh Samui may not be the tallest you’ll find in Thailand, but they are all certainly blessed with a personal and distinctive charm. Each is worth a visit during your stay, providing an instantly refreshing break from the lively and built up areas of the island.
Namuang 1 is one of the more popular waterfalls on the island for its ease of access and picturesque swimming area. You’ll find the well signed turning off the 4169 ring road between Nathon and Hua Thanon in the south west of Koh Samui. Natural rock formations form a steep and scenic stairway down to the base of the fall. Elephant trails run nearby, and seeing the elephants amble over waters downstream with trekkers on their backs ads to the other-worldly feel. The heavily populated pool at the base of the fall must be approached with caution as the waterfall’s foam hides sharp edged rocks underneath.
Namuang 2 is Koh Samui’s most beautiful waterfall, with stunning rock formations and verdant surroundings bathed in a brilliant natural light. An enjoyable ten minute walk brings you to the fall and is part of the fun. You can pick up something to eat and some souvenirs at Namuang 1 to break up the trip. Follow the concrete road to the left, south of Namuang 1 on the ring road until it becomes a walking track. Remember to bring a camera!
Accommodation is off the main road and in nearby towns such as Lamai and Hua Thanon.
Thong Tanote feature quiet shallow beaches with views to the neighboring islands and the mainland, and mostly 4 and 5 star accommodation can be found here. The south coast of Koh Samui is very relaxing and there is no shopping or nightlife nearby though it is only a 20 minute drive to Lamai or 30 minutes to Chaweng.
Also in Thong Tanote is the small fishing village of Thong Krut, with a nice view of Koh Tan and 5 Islands to the south of Koh Samui. Along the beach are traditional Thai wooden buildings on stilts, which are nice places to have a drink. Before arriving at Bang Kao, take the small road to Laem Sor on your right hand side and drive a kilometer to discover a surprising, yellow-tiled pagoda built right on the seaside. It’s a great place to take some pictures!
Along the road are many typical, old Thai homes and some very small shops selling basic necessities for the local population. These shops are often run by smiling, friendly old people, so why not stop in and say hello! Some places in Thong Tanote seem not have changed in decades and are interesting to have a look at.
Taling Ngam in the south west of Koh Samui is 45 minutes from Koh Samui airport and 40 minutes from Chaweng. It’s far removed from the rest of Koh Samui and enjoys an almost spiritual and soothing ambience in an alluring hazy light.
Taling Ngam enjoys views of the 5 Islands, the mainland and the sunsets over Ang Thong National Marine Park. Visit the Five Islands restaurant for some delicious food and great views.
Baan Taling Ngam is on the beachfront up to the hillside. It has multiple restaurants and a spa, shops with local products as well as international tailoring and the amazing signature views.
Taling Ngam has small, unpopulated beaches with very clear waters, great for restful beach holidays and snorkeling. From here you can get to some of the most popular attractions on Koh Samui. Visit the charming Namuang waterfalls either by foot or on elephant back.
Taling Ngam village is traditional and retained its Thai practices. You can get something fresh to eat at some of the local Thai restaurants along the beach. If you’re missing international food, have no fear. Head up to Baan Taling Ngam resort or over to Baan Sabai on the beach and take delight in what they have to offer.
Ultimately, the atmosphere is what people will remember from Taling Ngam area. That particular aura of the place can’t be done justice in word or even pictures. It’s an experience that will make you happy to have made the trip and one that you will not soon forget