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Best Areas To Stay In Koh Samui

Koh Samui: It’s the island has become one of the must-visit places when in Thailand, hosting some of the best resorts in the country, combining tropical paradise with unmissable activities, and the accessibility to visit neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao makes it a perfect base to explore more.


Within this blog, we will guide you in picking where to base yourself whilst on Koh Samui and suggest why the areas are different. Whether you’re a solo traveller or arriving as a big group, locating yourself in a spot to get the most out of your time on the island is important as travelling around the island can be time-consuming, so sit back, relax and let's decide where to stay!



How to get to Koh Samui


By Plane:

Koh Samui Airport (USM) is one of a kind, with its relaxed setting and the majority of the airport being outside, arriving at the airport starts your trip to the island in a way like no other airport, especially if you are arriving from Bangkok. Or if you are departing, grab one of the bean bags or swings to relax before departing the island. If budget is not an issue, then the easiest way to get to Koh Samui is to fly in. Koh Samui has an international airport located between Bophut and Chaweng and there are regular flights from the mainland if you are travelling from elsewhere in Thailand.


By Bus / Ferry / Taxi:

If you’re travelling to Koh Samui from elsewhere in Thailand, there are regular ferries that run from the mainland, with buses and minivans available to catch to the ferry port. Regular ferries also run between Koh Samui and the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. Our advice for a smooth transfer when you land on Koh Samui is to pre-book your pick-up taxi from Koh Samui Airport or the Piers through Koh Samui Taxis. They offer fixed prices and provide air-conditioned SUVs or Van vehicles which fit all passengers with their luggage. If you want to have freedom and flexibility, hire your scooter. However, be careful if you are not confident or experienced on a scooter, the traffic in Koh Samui is much busier than on some of the smaller islands.


How many days do you need on Koh Samui?

We would recommend having at least 5 days on Koh Samui. This will give you time to explore the different areas of the island and get a day trip in too. Koh Samui is a large island and anything less than 5 days would feel rushed. Compared to the neighbouring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, it will take you a few days to explore and see everything you want to do on the island.


Where to stay and what to do on Koh Samui?

With Koh Samui being a large island, picking the wrong area to stay in can result in spending unnecessary money on transportation to the hot spots. The main spots for accommodation and attractions are Lamai, Chaweng, and Bohphut.

It’s hard to choose between the three because it depends on your desired atmosphere. You can choose to base yourself in many different areas of Koh Samui, but let's compare the three areas we’ve mentioned. However, unless you want to be very secluded and have utter peace and quiet, then you will want to base yourself in one of the three main areas: Lamai, Chaweng, or Bophut / Fisherman’s Village. Let’s dig a little deeper to help you make your decision on where to base yourself whilst in Koh Samui. 


 

LAMAI

Lamai is a good place to base yourself if you want to have a more relaxed break, but still have access to a great selection of bars and restaurants. It is popular with couples, families and older holidaymakers but that doesn’t mean that it’s boring! Whilst there are not large nightclubs here, there are plenty of bars with live music open until late, and there’s a lively atmosphere in the evening along the main street.

 

Where to eat in Lamai?

In terms of places to eat in Lamai, you’ll find pretty much everything here – upscale western restaurants, sports bars, cocktail bars and small, local cafes tucked down the side streets. Here’s a couple of recommendations from my stay in Lamai:


Lamai Viewpoint Cafe

This cafe is at the top of Lamai's viewpoint. Entrance is 50 THB (£1.20) to walk the 15-20 minutes uphill, or you can pay 100 THB (£2.30) to take the short hill train. Go to the top deck of the cafe for the best views over Lamai Beach. When you get there, order a delicious smoothie to go with the view – the blueberry and yoghurt smoothie is to die for! They also serve fresh coconut juice and beers, as well as a selection of snacks and lunch items. Prices are relatively reasonable for the location.


The Secret Brunch

Come here for delicious sugar-free juices, organic coffee and vegan sweet treats! They also have a great healthy breakfast and lunch menu, again with lots of vegan and gluten-free options. The cafe is cosy and has a great atmosphere. It is located on the main road south of Lamai with on-street parking.


Pure Vegan Heaven

Another great vegan option is this small cafe that sits at the end of the main street in Lamai. Serving a wide range of coffees, smoothies and juices alongside acai bowls, poke bowls, wraps and Thai food, this place is popular. The prices are a little higher than others nearby but the portions are good and the food is fresh and tasty.


El Dorado

They have a great Western and Thai menu and a good selection of cocktails too. The service was good when we were dining and it is a nice restaurant if you are after something more formal yet affordable.


What is there to do near Lamai?

Lamai is a great place to stay if you want to visit some of the beautiful scenery on Koh Samui. The Na Mueang waterfall (a must for all hikers and waterfall lovers visiting Koh Samui!) is easily accessible from Lamai and the Lamai Viewpoint cafe and Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks lookout are also both close by. You can visit most of Koh Samui’s popular viewpoints from Lamai, including the now Instagram-famous Overlap Stone. There are lots to see and do near Lamai (including lots of free places to visit!), so this is a great place to stay if you like to go out exploring and are on a budget. 



 

CHAWENG

If you want a party atmosphere in Koh Samui, then Chaweng is the place for you! Chaweng is popular with younger backpackers, couples and groups and has the liveliest nightlife on the island, with lots of nightclubs, pubs and beach bars. As well as having a great nightlife scene, Chaweng is also a great place to stay if you want a central location to base yourself on the island. From Chaweng, you can easily access the sights near Lamai in the south and up to Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. It is also conveniently located at the airport.


Where to eat in Chaweng?

There’s a huge selection of restaurants in Chaweng, from popular Western chain restaurants to low-cost local cafes and beach bars. Here’s a couple of our recommendations:


The islander

If you are craving some home comforts, this is the place to go in Chaweng! They have an extensive list of both Thai and Western food, including pies, mash and Yorkshire puddings! They also show a lot of sports matches on the big TVs, so it can get quite busy, but there’s a great atmosphere and the food is good.


Central Samui food court

In the centre of the Central supermarket is a food court where you can buy fresh sushi, roast dinners, pasta and salads. There’s also a bakery. You can sit in the food court to eat your lunch or take it away with you.


Elephant Beach Club

There are several beachfront clubs and bars to choose from in Chaweng. Heading to the beach is one of the best ways to spend the evening in Chaweng. Elephant Beach Club has a nice atmosphere if you want a more relaxed vibe. There’s also a fire dancer show at night (it wouldn’t be Thailand if there wasn’t fire dancing on the beach!).


Lub D Chaweng Beach

Next to Elephant Beach Club is Lub d Beach Bar. Lub D is a hostel and there’s more of a party vibe here, with it getting quite lively at night. During the day you can relax in their infinity pool sipping cocktails.


What is there to do near Chaweng?

Living up to its party reputation, most activities in Chaweng revolve around two things: the beach and going out! One of the best things to do in Chaweng is to enjoy happy hour cocktails at one of the many beach bars. When you need a break from that, Chaweng is a great place to go shopping on Koh Samui. The Central shopping centre holds many Western high street brands as well as a cinema. Across from the shopping centre is a small market, which extends to the opposite side of the road, by Chaweng Lake, every weekend for Chaweng’s night market.


 

FISHERMAN'S VILLAGE

In the north of the island and is where you will find more upscale luxury resorts and large hotel complexes. This area is popular with couples and those who are on vacation, with a bit more money to spend on accommodation, rather than long-term travellers or budget backpackers. However, there are some affordable places here too. We stayed at The White Cottage – a small independent hotel which sits behind the popular beachfront Karma resort. It was a little walk along the beach to the Fisherman’s village area or a short taxi ride. Some of the other larger hotel resorts include the Anantara Resort and Hansar Hotel, both with infinity pools overlooking Bophut Beach.

 

Where to eat in Fisherman’s Village?

Fisherman’s Village has fewer choices for diners on a budget, as most of the restaurants here are slightly more expensive than average for Thailand.

 

Bar Baguette

This is one of the best places in Fisherman’s Village for breakfast. They also serve great coffee and tasty smoothies. The cafe is open all day and the casual vibe is a great alternative for evening dinner.

 

Coco Tams

One of the most famous beach bars on Koh Samui, Coco Tams is always busy! If you want to watch the sunset here, you need to arrive early to grab a bean bag on the beach, or a table by the window. There is often entertainment on the beach, such as fire dancers or fireworks. The prices here are quite expensive compared to other places nearby but there’s a great atmosphere and both the food and service are good quality.

 

Frog and Gecko

In contrast to some of the more upscale places to eat in Fisherman’s Village, the Frog and Gecko is a simple, casual pub with great food and generous portions. They often have live music and quizzes so it can get noisy but it’s a great atmosphere and perfect if you fancy fish and chips or a burger.

 

Beach Coconuts Bowls

Famous for making some of the most photogenic smoothie and acai bowls, the food here not only looks pretty, but it is also delicious, fresh and healthy. The atmosphere is lovely and relaxed too.

 

What is there to do near Fisherman’s Village and Bophut?

Bophut has some of the best beaches on Koh Samui, boasting long stretches of soft, clean, sand. With gorgeous beaches and great places to eat, it’s not surprising that Fisherman’s Village and the wider Bophut area have some great beach bars. Coco Tams is the most popular, on Bophut beach, however, you will also find Tembo Beach Club and Chi Samui, further along the coast. These are both popular spots for watching the sunset.

 

Outside of Fisherman’s Village, Bophut is also where you will find the Koh Samui Big Buddha. After paying your respects at the Big Buddha, and taking in the view along the coast, take some time to wander around the small market here and treat yourself to a smoothie or ice cream before you leave. Finally, no trip to Koh Samui is complete without visiting Wat Plai Laem, known locally as the ‘Temple on the Lake’. Built on a lake filled with Coy Carp and turtles, this colourful temple is beautifully unique and is one of the best things to do on Koh Samui.



 

KOH PHANGAN AND KOH TAO

Visiting Koh Phangan from Koh Samui is so easy. It’s only a 30-minute ferry ride between the two islands, so you can easily do this yourself if you don’t want to book a tour. If you are catching the ferry by yourself, we would recommend booking this in advance during the peak season (December – February). You can catch the ferry from Maenam or Bangrak Pier in Koh Samui to Thong Sala on Koh Phangan. During the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, there are also ferries that you can take directly to Haad Rin.


Although Koh Phangan is smaller than Koh Samui, there is still a lot to do here. If you have time, we would recommend spending at least 3 days in Koh Phangan visiting all the popular spots. However, you can see some of the highlights in one day, especially if you rent your scooter from the ferry port, or hire a taxi driver for the day.


The ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Tao is 90 minutes (plus waiting / check-in time etc.) so visiting Koh Tao on your own for the day can be very time-consuming as you won't get much time actually on the island to explore. We would highly recommend having at least 3 days on Koh Tao. The island might be small but it’s beautiful and has a great atmosphere. Spending 3 days here will give you time to go snorkelling, enjoy the cafes and bars and visit the famous John Suwan Viewpoint.


However, if you don’t have enough time to spend several days on Koh Tao, then a snorkel or dive tour from Koh Samui is a great way to experience the beautiful marine life around the island.


We hope these tips help you have an unforgettable experience on Koh Samui! If you have any questions or need more advice, feel free to reach out to us at Koh Samui Experiences. Safe travels!

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