In which area or on what beach in Koh Samui should I stay? This should be answered even before deciding on the best hotels or resorts at which to book your accommodation. Location is everything when your surroundings determine the atmosphere you will experience, tourist volumes, the proximity of restaurants, markets, nightlife and whether you prefer a secluded location or hotels with a private beach.
All around the island spectacular locations play host to a plethora of places to stay from cheap to opulent luxury, but take a word of advice, if you have not been to Koh Samui before, do not simply book your hotel accommodation based on a nice image. First identify the area you would like best to stay in so your expectations will be met and then decide on a hotel in that location.
Below we offer an abbreviated description of the most popular beaches in Samui, but need to point out that you are not limited to these locations only and many other small bays might be just what you had in mind. Looking at a map of Samui the most popular areas are situated on the eastern and northern shore. Popular does however not mean other locations should be avoided, but rather that a higher number resorts are located here resulting in higher tourist numbers. Whether a particular area in Samui is a nice place to stay is relative to what you like.
Along the east coast Chaweng is cosmopolitan and the busiest by far. You will find many luxury 5 star hotels on Chaweng Beach, even more mid range accommodation and countless budget resorts. You can swim here safely year round and everything is at your finger tips. The road running parallel to the beach has an energetic vibe featuring anything from McDonald fast food outlets to Kentucky Fried Chicken, countless bars, restaurants and markets and the epicenter of the island's nightlife scene runs just off the main road.
There is water sport, waiters run back and forth among gleaming bodies on deck chairs and cool tunes drift from bars along the seafront. In the evening you can stroll barefoot in the sand, find a bar or restaurant you like, kick back with a drink and amuse your self with the activity around you. If this sounds like your scene, Chaweng is without a doubt the best area for you to stay in Samui. Want to be close to Chaweng's thrills but not directly in it? Toward its southern end is Chaweng Noi, a smaller bay cut off from main Chaweng by a rocky headland. The location is much quieter, but you can be in the action within moments.
Do not like the busier scene of Chaweng, but do not exactly want to be in a quiet location either? Lamai is a 10 minute drive to the south of Chaweng, separated by a small peninsula. Between the two there are several smaller bays, one of which is very exclusive and home to the luxury Banyan Tree Resort and Spa. Lamai is nothing near as busy as Chaweng, but you are not going to have that secluded feeling either. The town is a dreamy place during the day, but do feature enough shops, restaurants and other amenities to ensure convenience.
At sunset things changes a little when the town reveals a quaint nightlife scene with an uplifting mood. Then an assortment of restaurants and pubs lining the narrow streets and along the beach comes to life with DJ's spinning the decks. The southern end of the beach is the active part, but the further north you go from the centre the quieter it becomes. To help you decide on the right hotel for you, check out our useful information about where to stay in Lamai Beach featuring hotels you can book with confidence.
On the north-east shore of the island between Maenam and Big Buddha is Bo Phut with views of Koh Phangan and 20 minutes from Chaweng. The atmosphere and attractions it features has seen it gain popularity over the past few years resulting in some first class hotels including places like the 5 star Anantara Resort and Spa being established. In its centre is the quaint and historic Fisherman's Village where everything really started on Samui revealing its French colonial and Chinese heritage.
Fisherman's Village features many market stalls, boutique shops and restaurants as well as a dive centre. Its two kilometer ribbon of sand lends it that typical tropical island look with a powdery white beach contrasting with the rows of coconut palms. The whole area is tranquil and relaxed and not nearly as overwhelming as Chaweng could be for some. Hotels seemingly cater mainly to couples and families looking for a restful location without being cut off from attractions and activities. There is a Friday "Walking Market" a go-kart track, a selection of restaurants, especially trendy ones weaved into the many shops and vendor stalls of Fisherman's village.
Only 10 minutes from Chaweng is up-scale Choeng Mon, one of the best beach areas to stay if you enjoy exclusivity, mainly 5 star neighbors which do not intrude on each others space, and safe swimming. Choeng Mon is not as long as Lamai or Chaweng, but rather made up of separate coves and definitely one of the best in Samui for some R&R. The atmosphere is relaxed, there are great restaurants, a few shops, but nothing to really disturb the peace, yet Chaweng is in close-by for shopping and partying. Choengmon Beach falls within the Bophut district, so don't get confused when you see the address for hotels listed in this area.
Maenam is located on the island's northern shore next to or west of Bo Phut and a few things needs to be emphasized about this spectacular location. It is peaceful, utterly romantic and at 7 km it is not only a very long pure white ribbon of sand, but also one of the most pristine and idyllic locations in Samui where nothing disturbs your peace. The views across the sea all the way to sister island Koh Phangan is nothing less than spectacular and, due to a lesser number of resorts in the area it affords a level of privacy not often found elsewhere.
Maenam "Walking Street" where vendors sell hand craft, clothes, snacks and drinks is a nice place to spend evenings. Restaurants to visit include Barracuda, Sea One located right on the beach and The farmer Restaurant set between rice paddies. If you stay in hotels toward its eastern half you would be moments from Fisherman's Village's attractions. Finally, Maenam feature some of Samui's top hotels namely the luxury W Retreat Resort and Spa set on a 900 meter private stretch of sand, Belmond Napasai and romantic places such as La Perle.
Other Samui Beaches
It's impossible to name and discuss them all, but one of the best things to know about them is that you can enjoy exclusivity at relatively low cost and be within quick reach of areas like Chaweng and Lamai. Beaches we can recommend include Hanuman Bay where Sea Dance Resort and are located. It is tranquil and serene, romantic and located between Chaweng and Choeng Mon. If you were looking for a quiet beach in the perfect romantic location and still be near nightlife, this is it.
Just a quick hop south of Lamai is Laem Set where Centara Villas is located. Along the western shore famous for its sunset views things become much quieter in areas like Thong Krut, Taling Ngam and Laem Yai. Some of the best hotels in Koh Samui are located here which include luxury 5 star resorts like The Four Seasons which is without a doubt one of the top family friendly places to stay. Another is the Conrad Samui Resort between Tong Krut and Taling Ngam. Both offer private pool villas right on the beach. The only busy area on the western shore is Nathon Bay which is also a primary ferry port picking up and dropping off visitors to the island.