THE ISLAND OF KOH SAMUI : has been a hidden treasure for paradise seekers over the past 40 years. Today the beaches remain to be the passion of the island, with resorts and hide-away bungalows spilling out and onto the white sands. Each beach on Samui has maintained its own personality, relating to the area that it lies within. Featured here are some of the highlights of each of these areas for the holiday traveller to enjoy.
Chaweng is the longest and most popular beach on Samui. It is also the largest tourist centre with more than 1.5 million travellers visiting annually. Five Star luxury resorts share the space with more economical accommodation choices, along with a 5 kilometer street of stalls and shops that sell everything Thailand is famous for. Prices are a little higher here than in other areas of the island, but the range of choices in food, accommodation and entertainment is impressive, making this beach and its surroundings, the center of activity for many visitors.
Lamai has often been referred to as Samui’s second beach, but there are many who believe it has a greater beauty then that of Chaweng. The waters are excellent for swimming and the beaches and streets are less crowded. The southern end of the bay features elegant granite boulders while the beach itself seems endless. The nightlife in Lamai hosts some excellent restaurants and bars scattered along its strip. The surrounding area notably hosts some of the islands best spas and health resorts available. If you wander off the beaten track here, you might get a glimpse of some true Thai culture.
If you stay is brief, Big Buddha Beach area offers convenience due to its close proximity to the airport, as well as to boats chartered for Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Prices for accommodation and provisions remain reasonable, and there and a growing number of fine dining options to compliment the local Thai restaurants and beach bungalow cuisine. Facilities and services are abundant along the main road, making this one of the best locations for a vibrant night-life. The Big Buddha itself can be seen overlooking the entire area and remains to be one of the main attractions.
The beach is a huge horseshoe of soft sand that offers a spectacular view of the neighboring island of Koh Pangan. There are a number of good local restaurants and businesses along the beach, as well as being located on the main ring road. Mae Nam is home to many of the island’s residential developments with a growing quantity of long-term visitors and expats, giving the area a strong sense of community. The hills behind Mea Nam provide the location for the island’s spectacular world class golf resort.
Bophut stands out as the only village on Samui that exudes authentic island charm. It consists of a single street lined with traditional shop houses, many of which have been converted into restaurants, sales shops and guesthouses. The distinct designs of the beachside dining sector, as well as the chosen cuisine that is available, have created constantly, generating new wining and dining options every year. Despite its growth, the essential seaside appeal remains, making it one of the island’s most attractive locations.
The unspoiled South-West Coast of Taling Ngam & Lipa Noi has seen the least change of any area on the island. The romantic coastline here overlooks the spectacular Five Islands, and Anthong Marine Park. Several excellent beachside seafood restaurants, bungalows and resort can be found scattered along the coast offering the most idyllic locations to watch the sun setting into the sea. Palms come right down to the water’s edge, dense greenery right up to the sands, with swimming and idyllic experience. Out to sea are the mountains of the mainland, distant and hazy, fading to purple as evening comes.
The Muslim fishing village of Hua Thanon offers a handful of seafood restaurants, but its main attraction lies in the ancient cultures of the local fishermen. Intricately painted wooden boats are used to this day to catch and deliver fish directly to the local markets. Take a stroll through its market and capture a glimpse into the lives of one of the island’s original communities. Beyond Hua Thanon, the southern coast offers some of the most unspoiled natural scenery on Samui. You will find quaint local villages and coconut plantations that have endured the test of time.
This is the island’s main administrative centre. All government offices, banks, as well as the main ferry pier are located in Nathon, making it the most important place for communication with the Thai mainland. Nathon also boasts a number of original teak shop-houses, lining the quiet middle roads, showing the more traditional, Chinese influenced Samui life. Any major local events, ceremonies celebrations are held in the car park in front the main pier in Nathon. Visitors tend to pass through this beautiful village on their way to either Chaweng or Lamai, missing some of the least expensive shopping on the island. A nightly food market establishes itself here regularly, giving visitors their first taste of the delights available on Samui.
Choeng Mon is made up of a series of bays, speckled with white sandy beaches upon its coastline. Despite its close proximity to Chaweng, about 15 minutes north and 5 minutes from Big Buddha, the beaches have remained quiet and the waters clean, Choeng Mon’s wide sandy beaches feature a rock formation on one side, and the island of Koh Som that you can easily paddle out to on the other. This is a very family friendly area, with exclusive resorts abundantly situated along the water’s edge. Relatively up market, inexpensive accommodation is virtually non-existent in this area. This lesser-known beach is located in a very secluded part of Koh Samui, on the northeast corner of the island here most of the bays have been given over to private residential developments.