Chaweng is the beach on Koh Samui where you will find most bars, discos, clubs and pubs. This is where you should head if you are a "party animal". Chaweng Beach Road is 6-7 km long, so it may be wise to consider a taxi if you are going between two places. Remember to always negotiate the price before you enter the taxi so you don't end up in a minor scam situation.
Chaweng is Koh Samui's Party Central. All along the Beach Road you will see sois (streets) leading off into warrens of bars and pubs of varying appeal and popularity. The epicenter of all this hedonism and fun is undoubtedly Soi Green Mango in Central Chaweng, with Soi Reggae, by the lake, coming in a close second.
Before we get too hyperbolic about Chaweng's nightlife it's best to remember that bars close at 02:00 by order of the police so the party curve zooms upward past midnight and peaks a little earlier than some would prefer. And yes, some bars stay open later – those whose owners have friends in high places.
Here are some Chaweng night areas to check out.
THE ISLANDER: Chaweng Beach Road, close to the Soi Green Mango. Canadian owner Dennis Hodgkin son has successfully repeated the winning formula that he used in his Phuket "Islander". An excellent restaurant serving enormous amounts of very good food. The "Daily Menu" is outstanding and incredibly good value for money. Check out the fish and chips and prepare to be amazed. This place also doubles up as a bar and shows all the live sporting events from around the world. Unlike many, the service is fast and polite! One place you cannot go wrong with.
THE GREEN MANGO DISCO: This one of the most famous discos/bars in Samui. It opens at 8 pm but the disco does not get lively until around midnight, and then it gets VERY busy. The DJ's are great, often coming from leading clubs around the world.
The dance area is large and very lively, especially on the stage area, where people like to show off. If you fancy a game of pool before the dancing starts then they have the best-quality pool tables in Samui and it only costs 150 Baht an hour! Once the disco does get going they play popular dance tracks through to techno. As with all clubs in Thailand now, it closes at 2 am. One word of caution, there are a lot of 'katoeys' (lady boys) here who normally hang about near the pool tables, on the opposite side of the bar as you walk in.
SWEET 'N SOUL BAR: Just across the narrow street is a smaller bar, no dance area (people do it standing up!) but open onto the street. Cosy, intimate, dark, popular and crowded! The music is generally more laid-back, (Dire Straits, Chris Rea, Dido etc) and if you can find a seat, it is a good place to land after you've worked up a sweat dancing.
CHRISTY'S CABARET BAR: Christy's Cabaret Bar / Show, with lady boy’s or transsexuals has moved again to a non air-conditioned bar and has in a way returned to its roots as a beer bar / cabaret.
THE REGGAE PUB: Samui's first and oldest disco. Alas, now not so popular as it was a few years ago. This rarely gets going till about midnight, and, as its name suggests, before this time plays reggae. Midnight, the sounds switch to house and techno and it starts to fill. More popular now with older visitors and those that read old copies of "The Rough Guide". Hipsters and those in the know stick to The Green Mango and the Beach Parties!
Ark Bar: Another Samui institution, the Ark Bar has been at it for quite a few years. Even though it's changed hands several times the bar/restaurant still uses the same methods to draw people in with fire dancers, ambient music, dining and dancing on the beach and a relaxed atmosphere that extends to a child-friendly vibe, even late at night.
Location: Ark Bar Garden Beach Resort, Chaweng Central Beach Road
Bar Solo: Bar Solo has a cool, sleek interior and a great music policy as well as a pool table and six plasma screens showing major sporting events. Solo Bar is a good option to start a night out, when you can take advantage of their 1/2price cocktails from 14:00 – 20:00. Later in the evening, the bar gets lively with DJ's spinning funky, uplifting house and chilled lounge tunes.
Location: Central Chaweng Beach Road, next to Starbucks, Open: 14:00 - 02:00
Three examples stand out when it comes to non-central nightspots: The Bar Ice, on the northern road leading out to Bohput and high on the hill above the Bar Ice, Q Bar entices people to admire the views over Chaweng and enjoy its unique vibe. Springers, on the southernmost part of Chaweng's Beach Road leading out to Lamai, is another nearby hotspot.
Bar Ice: One of the coolest places in town – in more ways than one: The walls, bar, sculptures and seats are made from Canadian ice and are permanent fixtures. And no, it's not the usual tiny, fridge-like arrangement that many ice bars go for; Bar Ice is big enough to hold elephant and tuk tuk sculptures and has separate rooms. The chilliest is kept at -7 degrees, lit by an atmospheric LED lighting system with a full color spectrum. You can chill in the pub-like part and even sit outside in a beer garden if you wish to smoke. A unique and worthwhile experience.
Open: 16:00 – 21:30 Happy Hour with two-for-one cocktails.
Location: On the road heading out of northern Chaweng to the Ring Road. A ten-minute walk from Central Chaweng
Q Bar: Overlooking Chaweng from its northern end, Q Bar stands regal on a hillside. Along the same lines of its Bangkok counterpart (though less snobby), you simply can't miss the huge neon 'Q' up the road from Bar Ice and this place is bopping later on in the evening and in the early hours. International DJ's spin into the night and punters can choose between the music-filled interior or the ultra-cool exterior with those groovy views. Q Bar also holds special parties and fashion events. This is truly a place to see and be seen in. Be careful heading back down the hill, though.
Location: On the hillside above northern Chaweng.
Petch Bucha Thai Boxing Stadium: This large stadium near the Reggae Pub is the centre of Muay Thai boxing in Samui. Starting at 21:00 and going on until midnight, fights here are the real thing, unlike some semi-staged efforts at several tourist centers. Seat prices vary but in reality it's much the same experience buying a bleacher pew as in the 'VIP' section, perhaps better. It's a noisy, thrilling and sometimes shocking evening of thrills and spills. Bar available. (Read more about Thai Boxing in Chaweng...) Location: at the entrance of Soi Reggae , Fights: start at 21:00
BEACH PARTIES: Take your ease with tribal harmony! Once upon a time...it was The Full Moon marathon over at Koh Pha Ngan (pronounced " pan gan"...unless you have watched "The Beach", when you will call it "pan-yan" for some odd reason)Now there is The Black Moon Party, The No Moon Party and The Freedom Beat Beach Party. All have the same basic theme: get stoned, paint something on your body, interact with humankind, wriggle about, crash out and go home. Two problems. You have to get to Koh Pha Ngan by boat. Come back this way too. First boat back is at 6.00 am. so if it is raining or you are NOT a happy bunny, you're stuck! Second problem: the place is crawling with police (many in plain-clothes)...and others (particularly lady boys) who are just waiting for you to get so stoned that they can remove your money/watch/camera/Walkman etc.
LAKE VIEW PARTIES: The Black Moon Party and Half Moon Party is another alternative. This is well-organized, with open beach pavilions to crash/shelter in, toilets, food and drink stalls, proper parking for cars and bikes and a cheap and regular set of taxis running from Chaweng. Try this before you decide to go across the water.
Bar girls: Prostitution is present in almost all parts of Thailand, and also on Koh Samui. However, the phenomenon is mainly confined to a few bar areas in Chaweng and Lamai. If you want to avoid these areas, it is no problem at all. Prostitution is formally illegal in Thailand, but still fairly widely accepted. However, it is strictly forbidden to buy sexual services of people less than eighteen years of age and this can result in a very significant term of imprisonment. Do not forget to venereal diseases (STD) including HIV and AIDS also are present on Koh Samui. We urge everyone to be careful and not to get anything unwanted with your home.
What to Do at Lamai Beach
Smaller than Chaweng, the scene at Lamai has everything from the ubiquitous bar beers to discos, music venues, and even lady boxing. There's lots of foot stomping at Fusion and a few genuine pubs as well as restaurant/bars for those who like munching as they booze.
Fusion : On Lamai's main street is the ever popular Fusion nightclub. Featuring two excellent resident DJs the music ranges from acid jazz to funky house and suits the darkly atmospheric club. Shake the night away on Fusion's heaving dance floor or people watch in one of the comfortable seating areas. This is where the after hour denizens congregate.
Location: Main Street Open: 18:00 – late
Super Sub Club: Located just behind Fusion nightclub, this cavernous venue has plenty of pounding techno and house music to keep revellers awake. Sub has an excellent selection of drinks and a large beer garden outside with a huge TV screen to keep sports fans happy.
Location: Main Road, Lamai. Open: 21:00 – 02:00
Chill In: Chill In on Lamai Beach is popular with tourists and residents alike due to its relaxed atmosphere, chilled-out music and range of seating areas. You can chose to chill on large comfortable bamboo chairs, swing in a hammock or lie on the beach on a tradition Thai 'mon' – triangular cushion. Chill In also serves food all day at fairly reasonable prices and has a good drinks menu. Location: Lamai Beach Open: 08:00 – 02:00
Shamrock Pub: Next to Bauhaus Bistro in central Lamai is Shamrock Pub, favorites with football fans but not the place to go if it's a quiet night you're after. There's live rock six nights a week and live sports on the TV on Saturdays. Shamrock also features a professional pool tables, darts, lots of Irish beer, pub food and a good crack. Location: Main Road, Lamai Open: 09:30 – 02:00
Outback Bar: Styled like an outback saloon without walls, lots of bar stools and Australian and Thai beer make this the perfect place to perch and watch the world go by. Live sports shown and allegedly this is the place for the best English breakfast around.
Location: Lamai Beach Road Open: 14:00 – 02:00
Smooth Pub: Slightly south of outback bar is the Smooth Pub. Don't let this venue's cave-like appearance put you off; there's live music every night, starting around 22:00 and the musicians are up for a jam anytime, in case you have itchy fingers.
Location: Lamai Main Street Open: 16:00 – 02:00
Bar Beers by McDonalds: There are a bunch of bar beers (yes, bar beers, this is Thailand) to the side of McDonalds, some sporting dancing poles, with names like Sexy Lady, Holly-Wood, Why Not – all playing their own music at various volumes – producing a head-splitting cacophony. In high season this is a happening place.
Location: By McDonald's Main Street
Thai Boxing # 1 (Muay Thai): Thailand's most famous sport and a must-see for any visitor Muay Thai is hosted by two different venues in Lamai. Lamai Stadium runs fights on Monday nights starting at 20:30. Expect to see lots of hopping around, the occasional bit of action and a lot of male (sometimes female) pride getting pounded.
Location: Soi Haad Lamai Monday nights starting 20:30
Thai Boxing # 2: For a less traditional but hugely entertaining experience the small boxing ring opposite Fusion Nightclub on the Main Street presents lady Thai boxing on Saturday nights. Entry is free – just buy a drink at one of the surrounding Go-Go bars. Each Saturday there are several bouts of lady boxing, men boxing and if you're really lucky the hilarious sight of lady boy boxing – once seen never forgotten! Get there early to ensure a good view.
Location: Main Street Starts: 21:30
Red Fox Too: For regulars, this is the best bar in Lamai, even if it is sometimes the most dysfunctional one. A sign outside states 'Bad jokes told in a strange dialect' and this just about sums up the bar owner's role in life. A weekly host to the area's Hash House Harriers, the Red Fox also has Sunday roasts later on in the afternoon. It's the friendly ambience that keeps people coming back and the cocktail-mix of British and Thai hospitality, carefree hum our and beer is an addictive one.
Location: Just off the main drag up a small road opposite the Billabong bar
Beach Republic: An ambitious beachside location, Beach Republic incorporates lazy, poolside dining, chilled-out music, very modern design and pioneering tapas and mains menus. The scene here is decidedly cool and the Republic throws events with international DJ's and also has movie nights. Call for information.
Location: Beach Republic residences - North of Lamai Beach off the Ring Road – look for the signs
Tel: 077 458 100 Open: 08:00 – 23:00
The Club: Popular with Hi-So Thais, The Club isn't the most rocking venue around but it does have a good beach ambience and a unique feel to it. If sipping cocktails beach-and-poolside is your thing, away from the madness and girlie bars, this is a decent option.
Location: North of Lamai on the Ring Road to Chaweng opposite Buddy Hotel
What to Do at Night in Bophut & Fisherman's Village
The centre of Bophut is called Fisherman's Village and yes, you can still see a few old salts around the pier but make no mistake about it, the whole centre of town is now dominated by upmarket boutiques and restaurants.
It's simple to explore nightlife in Bophut; either take a right or a left at the pier. A left-hand turn will take you to the heart of the action whereas going right leads to a few pretty good restaurants and select guesthouses and eventually to the road to Bangrak.
There are no Go-Go's, girlie bars or dodgy massage parlours here and as a result the atmosphere is much more laid back and friendly.
Karma Sutra: This is a well-run bar/restaurant/boutique right on the corner at Bophut Pier. A converted wooden Chinese shop house, the interior is attractively decorated and fitted out with wood. There's a friendly buzz to the place and it's light years away from the bawdy atmosphere of a typical Chaweng or Lamai bar. Meals served all day.
Location: Bophut Pier , Open: 08:00 – 01:00 , Tel: 077-425198
Sirocco: Located in an old teak converted Chinese shop-house, close to the pier, this bar takes one back to the 60's era. Background Beatles or jazz music played at just the right level so as not to disturb any conversation helps one relax as you sip cocktails or dine on good snack food. The staff members here are friendly and the atmosphere perfect for a little time out from the beach.
Location: Bophut Centre , Open: 12:00 – late. Closed Tuesdays
The Pier: A classy-looking, black-themed restaurant with views out over the Gulf of Thailand. Thai and international dishes with an emphasis on seafood are served up by young, chic-looking staff members. An exterior wooden staircase takes diners up into a comfortable and breezy eating area. Expect to pay more.
Location: next to Bophut Pier Open: 11:00 – 24:00
Gecko Village: A very pleasant Bali-style beachside setting enhances one of Samui's most musically astute bars. Resident DJ Gary G plays a range of house and ambient tunes throughout the week and hosts the Gecko's weekly Sunday Session party, which kicks off at 14:00 and regularly features big name guest DJ's and live percussionists. There's also a Full Moon Warm Up Party and the resort has its own speedboat to get revelers over to Koh Pha Ngan afterwards. The Gecko has bungalows for rent but they can get very noisy on party nights. Location: Route 4169, just east of Bophut, Open: 08:00 – 02:00 ,Tel: 077-245554
Emerald Irish Pub: With a beautiful sea view, Irish Beer (it's Irish owned) and English breakfasts as well as all-day pub food, this is a good place to chill amongst the genuine Irish pub fittings. If you're after a livelier atmosphere go along on Friday evenings when the Emerald hosts live music.
Location: Central Bophut , Open: 11:00 – 02:00
The Crow's Nest: Another beachfront pub with great views out over the Gulf of Thailand to Koh Phangan. The Crow's Nest has sports coverage, draft beers, cocktails and a welcoming staff along with delicious sea breezes. Location: Central Bophut , Open: 16:00 – 02:00
The Pub : Almost identical to the Crow's Nest next door, The Pub is nevertheless busier most nights. Its simple set up – one long bar, a few tables and a couple of TV's – attracts a lot of regular punters. The British pub grub is high quality and their Sunday roasts are particularly popular. Music is never too loud and the conversation amusing.
Location: Central Bophut. , Open: 11:00 – 02:00
The Billabong Surf Club : The Billabong ensures that it fulfils all the rules of any good Aussie pub: lots of sport on TV, free flowing beer, including VB, a suitably rowdy atmosphere and plenty of pies! It's also the official clubhouse of the Samui Simians Rugby Club, so anyone looking for a game or just wanting to talk about one, can contact the Simians there. There are also a couple of sea-view rooms for rent upstairs.
Location: Central Bophut , Open: 09:00 – 02:00, Tel: 077-430144
The Frog and Gecko: Owned and managed by long-term expats Graeme and Raphael, who work hard to ensure everyone enjoys themselves, the F&G is busy most nights, but packed on Wednesdays for their pub quiz – so get there around 20:00 to ensure a seat. Musically, expect lots of quality 70's tunes, Brit Pop, rock and punk. The Thai food and Indian curries are highly recommended. With sports TV and pool table. Location: Central Bophut Open: 11:00 – 02:00
Admiral Lord Nelson's Pub: A more traditional than trendy English pub with special events shared between the Bophut and Bang Rak locations. Pub grub, Thai food, onscreen sports and friendly service – and of course a good range of beer – are all good reasons to check this place out. Apartments for rent upstairs.
Location: Central Bophut
Bob Marley Pub: There had to be one hadn't there? In this case the Bob Marley is a couple of bamboo tables and chairs near the beach and a friendly barman.
Location: Down the side alley after the Billabong. Follow the sign.
Bakubung: One of the best sunset-watching venues around Bophut, Bakubung is a café/restaurant/bar in a garden, seaside setting. The absolutely perfect chill-out spot, Bakubung is not necessarily a nightlife spot but is certainly a place to appreciate the evening breezes in stylish comfort.
Location: On the Bophut-Bang Rak Road, Open: 10:00 – 21:30 , Tel: 084 636 9090
Irish Times: The Irish Times offers a huge number of popular draft beers, including of course Guinness. The bar also has an extensive food menu featuring foreign and Thai food. Run by those clever people from Tropical Murphy's, you can expect quality.
Location: On the ring road, beside Bandon hospital. , Open: 09:00 – 02:00
What to Do at Night in Maenam
Many will tell you that Maenam is a dead-end as far as nightlife goes. This is not entirely true. Sure it doesn't have trendy discos, a-gogo-bars and the like, but it certainly isn't dead.
It has some great pubs (bars) and is one place where having a quiet drink with your partner or friends needn't necessarily be land based. Not only that, the hotels and resorts in the area, often have exciting night-time entertainment options that will certainly keep you up till the 'wee-hours'.
The Lazy Coconut: Run by a troika of friends, The Lazy Coconut is pretty much the only happening pub in Maenam. It's a fairly large place with outside and inside seating, a pool table, darts board and sports on TV. Featuring all-day breakfasts, an unpretentious menu and lots of beer, nothing is over complicated at the Lazy Coconut – perhaps that's how it got its name. With the occasional live band, DJ's and regular barbecues there'll likely be something happening the night you visit.
Location: On Ring Road opposite Siam City Bank
Style: Pub , Cost: Affordable, Tel: 084 689 0128, 089 651 8414 , Open: 12:00 – 01:00
Rim Talay Beach Bar: Surely our most frequented and popular venue, with tables and sun beds scattered among the many coconut palms that shade's our spectacular beach. The bar serves a fabulous selection for snack meals and tropical cocktails to compliment your island experience. The beach bar is the perfect place to enjoy a sun downer.
Location: at the beachfront of Santiburi Dusit Resort , Style: Beach Bar , Cost: Pricey , Open: 10:00 – 22:00
Taksin Lounge : This is a perfect venue to relax with an aperitif or after dinner drink while enjoying live music from the resident band six nights a week.
Location: Santiburi Dusit Resort, Style: Lounge bar Cost: Pricey , Open: 10:00 – 24:00