CHAWENG BEACH KOH SAMUI
…is Koh Samui’s most popular beach. It’s on the east coast of the island and has hotels, bungalows, restaurants, shops and beach bars scattered between the palm trees along the seven kilometre stretch of sand. The central Chaweng area is the island’s largest town and has the biggest selection of nightlife venues. Food lovers will be in their element in Chaweng with every taste catered for from Thai to Western with some delicious seafood restaurants right on the beach. The wide bay has been the focal point for the development of the island’s tourism industry and the majestic seven kilometer long crescent is bordered by rocky headlands on either end, with an offshore reef and the tiny island of Koh Matlam to the North.
Over the past twenty years, Chaweng Beach has been transformed from a near deserted tropical bay, inhabited by a handful of fishermen and visited by a few adventurous backpackers, into a vibrant, busy, cosmopolitan resort town.
This is undoubtedly the most popular tourist area on Koh Samui, and with its 7-kilometere white-sand beach, water sports, entertainment venues and shopping facilities, as well as a fabulous range of dining options, it is easy to see the attraction. Accommodation ranges from a few remaining backpacker bungalows, which are nevertheless considerably more expensive than elsewhere on the island, to five star Hotels & Resorts. Given the amount of bungalows, resorts and hotels jammed along the beach, it comes as a pleasant surprise that the beach itself isn’t usually packed with people. Obviously it’s a lot busier than anywhere else on the island, but getting a sun-lounger and a reasonable degree of privacy isn’t a problem.
Please note: If you are intending to accommodate your self and spend most of your evenings in the centre of Chaweng but prefer peace and quietness’ at your hotel, it’s advised to choose accommodation to northern and southern ends of Chaweng Beach road. In the center of Chaweng, the party and music can go on until early morning.
BOPHUT BEACH KOH SAMUI
Close to Samui’s famous Big Buddha landmark lays Bophut Beach. Two kilometers of white sandy shoreline fringed by leaning coconut palms – an ideal place to chill out. Bophut includes the charming Fisherman’s Village lined with old wooden houses, small trendy shops and relaxed restaurants…
Fisherman’s Village is fast gaining a reputation that stretches way beyond Samui for being the most elegant and well-preserved place on the island. Lined by old wooden Chinese shop-houses, interspaced with a few modern buildings that match the tone, it retains a distinctly Mediterranean feel. This has probably got a lot to do with the fact that it was the main French outpost on the island for many years. Accommodation is limited in Fisherman’s Village itself, though some of the island’s best Hotels & Resorts and the stylishly upmarket Apartments are located beachfront here. At the western end, beyond Fisherman’s Village, No less than three five star resorts are located in close proximity to each other. That said, the average quality of accommodation in Bophut has always been higher than in neighboring Maenam and the existing Hotels & Resorts tend to attract well-heeled independent travelers drawn to funky and fashionable places.
CHOENG MON BEACH KOH SAMUI
Choeng Mon is made up of a series of bays on the north-western tip of the island, which are dominated by a handful of three to five star resorts. Most of the activity of places like the White House, The samudra and Tong Sai Bay is kept in-house, meaning that apart from a few tailors and local restaurants there’s not a lot going on outside the hotels. Still, when guests can have their own private beach as offered by Tong Sai and the Peninsula, there’s not a great deal of incentive to leave either. Most of the resorts attract an older, package tour crowd, predominantly from Germany and France. This is reflected in the food and entertainment on offer in many of the resorts’ restaurants. So don’t expect the Thai cuisine served to be too spicy and do expect traditional Thai dancing and numerous Filipino bands expertly playing covers of Western pop standards.
A big advantage for anyone traveling with children, is that the Hotels & Resorts are all built on substantial grounds and therefore have all got much bigger swimming pools than can generally be found elsewhere on the island. Cheap accommodation, on the other hand, is virtually non-existent in Choeng Mon.
LAMAI BEACH KOH SAMUI
This is Samui’s second most popular and most naturally beautiful beach, and is a little smaller and quieter than Chaweng. Stroll inland a short way from the white golden sand beach and you’ll find yourself in amongst coconut plantations and banana groves. There are plenty of hill tracks that can be explored on foot or by bicycle or you can follow the headland road out to the Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks which are is favorite spot for locals to meet and picnic. The main street and the small lanes branching off from it is crammed full of shops, restaurants, bars and even a few late night disco’s. Lamai is never as busy as Chaweng and some will argue that the swimming in Lamai is even better than on Chaweng beach. The long perfect white sand crescent of the beach is also considered to be the finest on the island.
The general atmosphere is laid back and Lamai has slightly older, and by extension cheaper tourist facilities than Chaweng, although there is some indication that the area is slowly being rejuvenated. Along with the rest of Samui, there is a steady trend away from the ‘cheap and cheerful’ toward smarter, high-end accommodation, dining facilities and new Hotels & Resorts.
Lamai beach is lovely – a stunning crescent of palm-fringed powdery white sand that’s perfect for whiling away the day sunbathing and a deep central stretch of water great for swimming and watersports. If you are looking for a relaxing few days on the beach, the local amenities can cater adequately to all needs and you wont have to move too much at all.
MAENAM BEACH KOH SAMUI
The tranquility of Maenam still continues to draw those in search of peace and quiet, retaining its old Samui character. Maenam is home to both backpackers and well heeled guests. Some of Samui’ most expensive new deluxe resorts can be found here… Lots of excellent local restaurants plus new age spa centres for those in need of new age stress relief. A good place to stay if your priority is not necessarily a hectic party nightlife.
Perhaps it’s the excellent views of Koh Phan Ngan that have kept Maenam as Samui’s last predominantly backpacker beach. Or maybe it’s the fact that many of its Hotels & Resorts are located at the end of long rambling pathways, affording a degree of privacy unavailable elsewhere. Either way, Maenam is still the place to be while away for a few weeks on a low budget, staying in one of the many cheap fan bungalow operations that are dotted along the beach.
Maenam beach is one of Samui’s prettiest and quietest beaches where a quiet evening with your loved one is bound to be more than sipping cocktails with your partner as the sun sets. Despite what many will tell you, this quaint coastal village has far more on offer, nightlife wise, than meets the eye.
NATHON TOWN KOH SAMUI
On the west coast of the island is Nathon, Koh Samui’s capital city. Apart from housing all the main administrative offices on the island, Nathon also offers streets of bustling shops, some traditional Thai architecture and an evening food market. Of course being on the west coast, Nathon also boasts wonderful sunsets.
For anyone arriving by boat as a passenger, Nathon is the island’s main port (car ferries also dock at Lipa Noi, a few kilometers south) and jumping off point for the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and mainland Surat Thani. To service the backpacker trade, a small cottage industry of sarong shops, bakeries, second hand bookshops, travel agents and internet cafes have sprung up along the waterfront.
Samui’s administrative and business centre doesn’t offer a great deal to the short stay tourist. ATM’s and postal facilities are now available in most other places on the island, but Nathon is the place to go for full banking services and the main Post Office, which also has a telecoms centre for overseas calls.
OTHER BEACHES KOH SAMUI
Taling Ngam Beach is a quiet cove, well away from the crowds. Bang Por Bay has calm seas and fringing coral reefs offering some of the islands better snorkelling. The four kilometres long beach is undeveloped apart from a few traditional bungalows. Thong Krut Bay at the south of the island has a very small village and an unscheduled ferry service to Koh Taen (known also as ‘No Dog Island’) which is just three kilometres away.
Lipa Noi beach is also one of the best locations on the island from which to catch a beautiful sunset. Especially on the weekends, the shallow waters and white sands attract many local families and children. During the week though, it’s very quiet. A few bungalows and a restaurant can be found close to the beach.
Apart from the beach, there’s little else to do in the area – its very remoteness is what makes it most attractive to the regular visitors, who come in quite large numbers. It is certainly not the place to come for a party and this is reflected in the older demographic of tourists here. There’s not much in the way of entertainment in the area but driving through the coconut plantations will provide you with a pleasant and relaxing sense of being in tropical paradise.
Hua Thanon And Bang Kao are amongst the least developed parts of Samui with only a few resorts spread at leisurely intervals along the two beaches on the island’s south-west tip. So if you want total peace and quiet…this is it.