Koh Samui with its picturesque beaches is located in the Gulf of Thailand and is also known as the Coconut Island. Most of the hills and mountains are still covered by dense forests of coconut trees. It is also one of the largest islands of Thailand, only Phuket and Koh Chang are larger. Sometimes the name is spelled as Ko Samui, although Ko Samui is usually seen as incorrect spelling.
Tourism in Koh Samui started with the arrival of backpacker tourists in the 1970’s, back then the principal activities on the island were fishing and coconut farming. In fact, Koh Samui supplied the majority of all coconuts used for consumption in Thailand. Nowadays, tourists from all over the world come to this island paradise to enjoy the sun, sea, beaches and myriad of activities on and around the island.
Tourism is now by far the largest ‘industry’ on the island, which results in a good tourism infrastructure, accommodation types to suit all budgets and a host of different activities. Especially the beaches of Chaweng and Lamai are known all over the world for their beauty and popularity.
Luxury resorts rub elbows with the few left backpacker accommodations on island of Ko Samui, a 15-mile-long palm-covered tropical oasis located off the Thailand's east coast.
Chaweng Beach: This beach is approximately 7km, or a little less than 4.5 miles long. Chaweng is seen as the most popular and well-developed beach of Koh Samui. Accommodation can be found along its entire length, and while there is now a distinct leaning towards more upmarket hotels and resorts you can still find a few budget bungalows left over from the islands days as a backpacker haven. Chaweng is also home to a lot of the islands nightlife as well as featuring the highest concentration of shops and restaurants.
Chaweng deserves its reputation as the place to party on Samui. There is a huge range of venues to sample on a night out, everything from relaxed lounge bars to full-scale dance clubs. In the warm-up to a night on the town, a stroll along the main beach road offers ample choice of European style pubs and bars where you can while away the after-beach hours, grab a bite and a drink, watch world sport or just let the world go by.
Choeng Mon Beach is located at the northeast corner of Koh Samui. The beach is still very peaceful and unspoiled. A small but magnificent bay, it features wide sandy beaches with a rock formation on one side and a small undeveloped island on the other. The island can be reached on foot or by kayak, making for a fun activity. It is the best spot for people who like to spend a quiet and relaxing holiday on one of the best beaches of Koh Samui and still be only a 10 minute drive to the busy Chaweng beach.
Choeng Mon have some of the most beautiful and exclusive hotels on the island. The only welcoming public access to Choeng Mon beach is from the Choeng mon beach hotel. Most of Samui long term resident come to enjoy the beach at this spot, swim a bit and relax on the beach chairs provided free of charge by the hotel beach restaurant.
Lamai Beach: The beach at Lamai is shorter than at Chaweng and generally a little less crowded. The water is excellent for swimming as the water is deeper then most samui beaches. The best beach-experience at this location, we recommend the southern part of this beach as the northern part has more rocks and corals washed ashore. Although slightly less developed than Chaweng, Lamai still has its share of nightlife, restaurants and shops as well as more mid range accommodation options. Smaller than Chaweng, the scene at Lamai is slightly older with everything from the ubiquitous bar beers, to discos, music venues with lots of foot stomping, classical Thai dancing, and Thai lady boxing.
Bophut Beach is one of the island’s more recently developed villages and as such has managed to retain some of its traditional Thai charm and values yet still has a slight Mediterranean feel. The limited traffic along this stretch of road gives the feeling of a more relaxed ‘walking street’, something which is increasingly difficult to find on Samui. Many of the converted shop-houses offer romantic beach side dining.
Maenam Beach on the North coast still offers a wide selection of budget accommodation however there are now a number of top end luxury resorts located there, with a number of restaurants and shops springing up on the main road to cater to visitors. Maenam is also home to many of the new villa developments on the island, and was one of the first areas to feature such development.
Big Buddha Beach is located on the North coast close to the airport and the island’s most famous landmark – the Big Buddha itself. Like Maenam it still offers a number of more relaxed and relatively low priced resorts. There are also a surprising number of excellent dining options in the area, and it is also home to the weekly Secret garden music festival.