From bustling Chaweng to laid back Bophut, Koh Samui is home to some of Thailand’s most attractive and appealing beaches. Not only famed as sublime relaxation spots, the beaches across the island are also popular with water sports enthusiasts, and many of Samui’s sandy stretches of coastline also boast fabulous ocean view restaurants and charming seaside shopping streets.
Chaweng is Samui’s most developed tourist hotspot, so it’s a great choice for those in search of a lively atmosphere with plenty of bars and restaurants. From chic beach clubs and cocktail bars to local outdoor restaurants, visitors will find they are spoilt for choice by Chaweng’s array of facilities. Situated on the east coast of the island, Chaweng’s sandy bay stretches for 7km along the coast. To help visitors get their bearings, the beach is divided into four sections: North Chaweng, Central Chaweng, South Chaweng and Chaweng Noi. The best nightlife options can be found towards the northern end of the beach.
Lamai Beach is Koh Samui’s second-most developed resort area after Chaweng. This means a wealth of options are available to visitors in terms of restaurants, bars and accommodation choices, including private villas for rent. The area is also home to a handful of the island’s most fabulous spas. In general, the ambience in Lamai is slightly more chilled out than in Chaweng, making it the ideal choice for visitors that want a full array of tourist facilities close by, but with a laid back, tropical feel.
Big Buddha Beach
The area surrounding Koh Samui’s famous Big Buddha statue and temple has been the site of much development in recent years, and is now undoubtedly one of the island’s most up and coming tourism hotspots. Not only does this part of the island benefit from close proximity to the international airport; it is also home to an array of boutique restaurant and accommodation choices. The beach is fairly quiet compared with the likes of Chaweng and Lamai, which make sit a family-friendly destination with plenty of trips and water sports activities on offer.
Bophut is one of Koh Samui’s more relaxed stretches of coastline, and the area’s famous Fisherman’s Village is one of the few places on the island that has managed to retain its traditional Thai-Chinese charm. Bophut is a world away from the bright lights and glamourous nightlife of Chaweng. The range of restaurants and shops in the area cater mainly towards couples and families in search of a more laid-back ambience. The beach itself stretches several kilometres and is also an ideal jumping off point for scuba diving trips to nearby island like Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Mae Nam Beach
Nestled on the peaceful northern shore of the island, gleaming Mae Nam beach is located north of Bophut. The beach itself is a fair distance from the main road, which means that visitors can find a truly secluded spot away from the noise of the traffic and crowds. The water off Mae Nam is calm for the majority of the year, which also makes it a hit with families in search of a beach for swimming. At one time, Mae Nam catered mainly towards backpackers, however a growing number of high-end amenities now accommodate visitors that want to enjoy the location’s laid back atmosphere in contemporary comfort.
Lipa Noi Beach
Lipa Noi is the perfect stretch of coastline for families with children that need a safe place for paddling and swimming thanks to the absence of any rocks or coral in the crystal clear water. Lipa Noi’s secluded location is also a far cry from the bright lights and loud music of Chaweng, although the addition of Nikki Beach Samui means there’s an option for a party. A number of appealing private villas also occupy prime beachfront spots in this part of Koh Samui, so if you’re in search of a tropical paradise set in acres of coconut plantations, Lipa Noi may well be your best choice.
Taling Ngam Beach
Taling Ngam beach is another of Koh Samui’s hidden coastal gems. Located on the island’s west coast, Taling Ngam is one of the less developed beaches – a fact that helps the area retain much of its tropical, pristine allure. Views from the sand look out over five craggy limestone islands rising from the shimmering turquoise ocean, which visitors can sail to on day trips offered by the nearby Five Islands Restaurant. Although the beach is positioned some way from the main resort areas, it is still only around 30-minute drive from the airport and 45 minutes from Chaweng. Thanks to its west-facing orientation, Taling Ngam is also one of the best places on the island to catch breathtaking sunsets.
Laem Set Peninsular
Forming the south-west corner of Koh Samui, the Laem Set peninsular is celebrated for its traditional attractions and splendid beaches. The sheltered coves and bays of this stretch of island coastline retain a simple way of life, which is evident in the quaint Muslim village of Hua Thanon. Stretching north is a series of white sand bays that are home to a number of small fishing communities where it’s also possible to dine on some of Samui’s best seafood at local restaurants. On the western side of the Laem Set peninsular is Bang Kao beach, which boasts some of the most luxurious boutique accommodation choices on the island. The Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo is also nearby.
Updates by Wayne Hue