Koh Samui is an amazing holiday destination. As Thailand’s second largest island, it has an airport with quick transfers to all beach locations. One of the best things about Koh Samui is that there is a main road that loops around the entire island but it is set far back from the beach. This means you have a nice bustling road with shops, restaurants and bars, but the beaches are tree lined and quiet. At 25 km long and 21 km wide, this Thai island has something for everyone. Here is an outline of all the main Koh Samui Beaches.
We recommend that you choose your beach carefully, using this blog and other online tips to make the right choice. After you know which beach is right for you, you can then choose your hotel. There is a map at the bottom to help. Good Luck!
Mae Nam Beach
Mae Nam beach is a lovely, quiet, 7km long beach which is shallow at low tide so great for small kids. This beach is less protected than Bophut, Chaweng, or Choeng Mon so can get choppy but this attracts kite surfers. The beach and the beachfront resorts are really far from the main road giving it a remote, tropical feel that visitors love. There is high end and budget style accommodation on Mae Nam beach and visitors come year after year. With more than 70 resorts and hotels nestled into beachfront, Mae Nam is popular with longer term travellers because there are some good quality long stay apartments here that are very affordable. There are some relaxed beach bars in Mae Nam that are open late into the night but if you want a busy nightlife, Chaweng is only 2o minutes away.
The sand is not as powdery as other Koh Samui beaches but the scenery at Bophut is beautiful and the water calm and great for swimming . The beach itself is nearly 2km long and there are some really lovely resorts here to suit any budget. The highlight of this beach is that it has a thriving village as part of the area that pre dates tourism and so there are some authentically Thai things to see. Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village is a collection of chic shops, restaurants, and bars that have a Chinese/French vibe due to its colonial history. The effort that has been put into making this a trendy place to visit is impressive and it is a great part of why you should consider staying on this beach in particular. Most of the accommodation is on the beach rather than in Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village.
Bang Rak Beach
Bang Rak Beach (sometimes called Big Buddha beach) is at the northernmost tip of Koh Samui. It has nearly 40 hotels and resorts to suit everyone’s budget and has a 4km long beach but because it it not totally pristine, the accommodation tends to be cheaper. Bang Rak is a good place to stay if you intend to take a speed boat to the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan since there is a pier that can take you. Bang Rak has a more hippie vibe than other beaches and it is still possible to find beachside fan aired bungalows. There is a relaxed party atmosphere at night that is lively enough to suit most people. Bang Rak Beach is a favourite with many who don’t want to see any big brand chains such as McDonalds or Holiday Inn. For budget travellers, this is my top pick of all the Koh Samui beaches.
Choeng Mon Beach
Cheong Mon Beach is a crescent shape white sandy beach, plus 3 other quiet bays to the north and south. (Plai Leim, Thongson and Thongsai bays) The 4 beaches combined have more than 130 hotels mainly in the 3-5 star bracket but other than jet skis on the main beach of Cheong Mon, the area is peaceful in a very good way. Only 15 minutes from the main tourist centre of Chaweng Beach, Cheong Mon is more peaceful than the number of hotels it has suggests. The area caters to a slightly more upmarket and older crowd, with much of the night time entertainment kept inside the resorts. This area is very popular with French and German tourists and so the cuisine of these nations are well represented here. This area has something for everyone apart from those who want a big party scene. It is also very popular with expats because it is quiet but still close to Chaweng Beach and the party life there.
With more than 200 hotels and resorts, Chaweng beach is the main tourist area on Koh Samui. The beach is 7km of stunning white sand and is great for swimming. The north and south ends are quietier while the main strip of beach gets busy with tourists and seaside activities. At dusk the beach is taken over by candle lit restaurants serving barbecued seafood and other excellent dishes. The main street is packed with shops, bars, restaurants and nightclubs and it can be a lot of fun especially for the younger crowd. All sorts of accommodation is available and while some folk may spend their nights enjoying the regular nightlife (including some girlie bars) there are some very high end clubs up in the hills that have a global reputation.
Lamai Beach is the second busiest beach area on the island of Koh Samui, with more than 160 resorts and is full of lots of hustle and bustle. However the beach itself is really stunning and fairly quiet in areas although the main slip of beach has bars and jet skis. It is a great beach for swimming and there are quieter beaches that are easy to reach from Lamai. The fact that Koh Samui does not allow high rise buildings does mean that Lamai it is still quite charming. There is plenty of shopping and eating options and lots of night life after 10pm. There are many girlie bars lining the main road in Lamai but they are easy to avoid if you want to do so. Lamai has a large expat community and because of this you will find lot of western style bars and restaurants. As with all beaches in Koh Samui, you will find accommodation of every kind here. The most expensive resports are on the beach front.
Lipa Noi Beach
Lipa Noi has 2 beaches and has around 30 hotels and resorts making it a small and quiet place to stay. It has fine white sand and is shallow at low tide, making it ideal for kids but only good for swimming at high tide. The area doesn’t really have any nightlife and is more popular with the over 30’s. It does have some lovely restaurants though and good access to shops, a supermarket and a local market. The famous Nikki Beach Club is also located here.
That concludes our brief outline of Koh Samui Beaches. We hope it gives you more of an idea of the location you would like to stay. Good luck!
Map of Koh Samui Beaches
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Koh Samui beaches Images courtesy of Flickr.com. Featured image by irumge (Lamai Beach) Mae Nam Beach by Per Meistrup, Bophut beach by Christian Schmitt, Bang Rak Beach by Ben Grantham, Cheong Mon beach by Brian Fagan, Chaweng beach by Aarron Toth, Lamai beach by jipe7, and Lipa Noi beach by Patrick Cam