An insiders guideto Koh Samui

by Little Wandering Wren

Koh Samui is known for its gorgeous beaches, and sparkling turquoise waters. Without International visitors this island once the most popular tourist destination on the Western Ggulf coast, is quiet. It needs some love.

If tranquility is your friend, and deserted beaches your dream, then what are you waiting for?  There has never been a better time to visit once you know what is open and where to go! 

Taking advantage of not to be missed Bangkok Airways special flight deals, Expat Life in Thailand wandered the length and breath of the island asking the locals and visitors for their top tips of what they are currently enjoying and what is not be missed in Koh Samui. 

Koh Samui is half the size of Phuket, it’s easily drive around in a day. Driving on Koh Samui’s empty roads is a pleasure at the moment. Car hire at Samui Airport was THB 800 per day.

Here are some of their ideas:

North Koh Samui

Wat Plai Laem

A series of intricately decorated and elaborate statues and structures that are well worth the visit if you have any interest in Buddhist temples. The 18-armed statue of the goddess Guanyin is a particular drawcard. The unspoken rule in Thailand that you can always find good coffee at the onsite coffee shop also holds true for this one.

Wat Phra Yai

The “Big Buddha Temple” is a beautiful, golden lighthouse with an incredible ocean view as much as it is a Buddhist temple. Set on Koh Fab and reached by a causeway that connects it to the mainland. 

Laem Yai Beach · 5 km north of Na Thon 

This beach is worthy of exploration and for its great seafood.

Bophut beach & Fisherman’s Village  

A good choice for boutiques, souvenir stalls, restaurants and bars.

Coco Tam’s beach bar · Fisherman’s Village

One of the most popular (if not the most popular bar) on the island, Coco Tam’s continues to attract the in-crowd for cocktails, music and a nightly fire show from 9.30pm. Get there early for a seat at sunset or be prepared to join the queue.

Cafe Darling · French bistro · Fisherman’s Village

A rustic, warm setting that overlooks directly onto the beach, the freshness of the ingredients, the passion for what they do, the lovely service by the local staff.  We only ordered the non-Thai dishes. Our overall experience was so good, that we made time to return for lunch before we left the island. I REALLYreally could have lingered longer over our meal there.

The Shack  · Steakhouse Bar and& Grill · Fisherman’s Village

Mouthwatering barbequebarbecue with a side of seafood and Mexican, set to a soundtrack of jazz and blues with occasional live music that you would actually want to listen to while you enjoy your meal. All you can eat Taco Tuesday and Sunday Ribs are not to be missed

The Emerald Irish Bar · Restaurant· Fisherman’s Village

According to Mick our Irish friend, you must go there for the beautiful beach views and the warm Irish welcome! Also a great sports bar.

Suppattra Thai Dining · Seafood restaurant · Wine Bar · Bophut Beach

The Thai fusion food is outstanding. Suppattra is the owner chef together with her husband, they are self taught and passionate about their food. Friendly service and a great international Wwine Llist. This normally hard to get a table is a ‘do not miss!’

Full Moon · Premier chargrill · Bophut Beach 

Loved this stunning pool/beachfront setting at the Anantara Bophut. The whole menu was fabulous, a highlight being Chef David’s dry -aged beef. We went back a second night for the good value 3 -course set dinner. Check out their own Anantara Origins gin.

Dragon Fly · Lebanese cuisine · Cocktail bar · Bophut Beach 

Amazing views and really good Lebanese cuisine.

Two Fishes· Italian Restaurant · Bophut Beach 

High -end Italian restaurant serving excellent food at reasonable prices in a casual yet modern open -kitchen setting. Though the best items on the menu will always be the catch of the Dday as recommended by the chef, Leandro Panza there are a variety of choice options to choose from.

Stay at:TAY AT :

Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort · Bophut Beach 

We had a fabulous stay, love the resort, rooms and location. A 4 -minute walk from Fisherman’s Village, Bophut. Gorgeous gardens, incredible pool area, fine dining at Full Moon restaurant and fabulous spa.

Hansar Samui Resort · Bophut Beach 

We choose this hotel for its location to the airport (there is no airport noise) and for the ease of transport to and from the Koh Phangan ferry. The room is lovely with a sea view balcony, it won’t be to everyone’s taste with the glass walled bathroom, but they can add screening. Next to Fisherman’s village. I loved every moment of our stay at Hansar.

Zazen boutique Rresort· Bophut Beach 

Whether you prefer a beachfront room or a garden suite, this hotel is a piece of paradise. Though the spa is temporarily closed, there is almost no need to leave the resort. All sorts of amenities like a sun hat and beach bag in your room to use on your stay or purchase from the impressive gift shop. It’s impossible to say you have nothing to do with a fully equipped gym, tranquil meditation/yoga studio space, mountain bikes, kayaks, SUP board, billiards table, and a plethora of board games including chess in the room  

Mae Nam Beach

Pepenero · Restaurant · Mae Nam Bbeach

Fine dining in a beautiful indoor-outdoor garden restaurant, specializingspecialising in tapas, steaks, and meat with an extensive wine selection. 

Hua Kati Cafe · Beach Bbar · Restaurant · Mae Nam beach

It’s just like the old Samui beach bars of yesteryear, make yourself comfy at one of the swing chairs at the bar, and challenge the laid-back friendly owner Kreang Sak to make you the cocktail of your dreams. Perfect for a beautiful evening on the beach try the Tom Yum Gong.

Note: The cafe is found beachfront behind Samui Buri Beach Resort. There is a small road opposite the night market to drive to the beach, ring Sak and he will direct you in! 

Choengmon Beach 

A sandy beach and a good area for swimming that’s not overdeveloped.

Anong Thai Food Samui · Restaurant · Choengmon Bbeach 

For those who prefer to live like a local, pop in and visit these two sisters who are excellent Thai cooks. You’ll feel right at home wherever you are from.

Bang Rak Beach:

La Fabrique French bakery · Lamai Bbeach · Bangrak · Chaweng  

With three locations to feed not just your coffee craving but desire for fantastic bread, pastries, and desserts. Also, a great stop for all -day breakfast with a good selection to choose from. 

https://www.facebook.com/lafabriquelamai/?rf=628532903851640

Ko Pha Ngan . island hopping

This famous island is a great place to not just for Full Moon parties but also for breathtaking beaches, views, snorkelling, and diving.  You’ll only find tour options to get there on Fridays and weekends at this time but private tours are available any day of the week. 

The journey times are as follows: Maenam Ppier (20 mins) Bangrak Ppier Bo Put (30 minutes) Nathon Ppier (30 minutes)

Anantara Rasanada . ( Sarah can link to Twin Island Bliss ion Expat Life website please?where is this)? 

Add in the blurb…

East  Koh Samui

Secret drive: Soi Meanam 1 to Lamai beach

Check out this cut through road Soi Meanam 1, known only to the locals. You drive through the middle of the island, it’s a beautiful drive past a waterfall, organic farms, past is a leave and swap bookshop along the way.

Vikasa Life Ccafe 211 · Organic Restaurants · Bontji Moo 4

Great food, good vegan and vegetarian menu and view over the ocean. BK Magazine calls it “the next -level health food cafe”

https://maps.app.goo.gl/oFcFQzVcTmcuJaSS9

Lamai beach

Hin Ta Hin Yai · Lamai beach

The Grandfather’s and Grandmother’s Rocks are not for those with delicate sensibilities but there is an interesting tale that accompanies them. It could be lotads of fun for those who like to have a good laugh or enjoy taking mischievous pictures. 

For some it may be an ‘is that it’ destination, but add in a purchase of Kalamar candy made from coconut and coconut milk and it’s worth the 30B baht the insistent car parking lady is going to charge you! Put it this way if you are trying to work out what to buy the girls in the office this is it.

Overlap Stone · Lamai Bbeach

Great spot for pictures at this unique viewpoint. Found on Google Mapson Google maps off the 4169 High Ring Road. Just south of Hin Ta Hin Yai and the road opposite the Snake Stone Pagoda

Crystal Bay beach (Haad Ta-Khain) · Lamai beach

Ask the locals for their favourite beach on the island and this one comes up time and time again for water that is simply crystal clear and very white sand.

Lamphu Health Shop · Lamai beach

A health shop with a healthy eats cafe found opposite Tesco Lotus. Check out the coconut cake, you will ask for seconds!

Frog’s restaurant and lounge · between Lamai & Chaweng

Excellent food, great ocean view, and a good sense of humour. The secret on their menu would be that they may have the best pizza in Thailand.

Chaweng beach HAWENG BEACH 

This once hip and happening 7 km stretch of glistening sand fringed by palm trees used to offer the greatest variety of hotels, restaurants, and bars on the island. 

Chaweng is nowadays a shadow of its former party self, with much closed, being renovated or just boarded up. However there was a reason this developed into one of the most popular parts of the island. Expat Life enjoyed:

SEEN beach club · day chill out · Chaweng beach

If there was one place where all the action was it was here in this 1950’s retro themed Bbeach Ccllub. They absolutely win the award for bringing the most fun to the area. Cool concept, good vibes, chill atmosphere. Check opening hours

Samui Paradise  · Rrestaurant · Chaweng beach

Fabulous place for a great casual meal at the Hhotel’s Paradise restaurant, amazing views of the whole bay friendly staff beautiful Thai and Western food.

Banana Fan Sea hotel  · Rrestaurant · Chaweng beach

Charming Chaweng with a beach front location, we had a great meal here, there is the choice of Western and Thai food. Live band were great. 

The Hungry Wolf  Bburgers · pizza · vegan friendly

We went for the vegan menu. Quite good but the street neighbourhood is sorely lacking customers. Their drinks, vegan burgers and vegan cheesecake were very delicious.

The Jungle Club · Chaweng Noi beach

Definitively the best viewpoint in Samui with a fantastic bar, restaurant, and resort to enjoy. Worth the trek up the hill to get there! Unless an avid hiker, and willing to enjoy the view as a sweaty mess, driving there recommended.

44/11 Koh Samui Surat Thani 84320

081 891 8263

https://maps.app.goo.gl/Y1AZzLoVANkRwdLC9 https://www.jungleclubsamui.com/

Central Festival Samui · largest lifestyle shopping complex in Samui

From grocery shopping to picking up souvenirs or anything including the gear you might have forgotten to pack for your trip to Samui island, the best stop would be here. A few must-see stores worth mentioning would be the self-explanatory S‘souvenir station’, as well as, the lovely bathing suit, clothing, and accessory boutiques nearby.

South Koh Samui

Sweet Sisters Cafe  · Na Mueang 

A whole -food cafe serving delicious, healthy and original food from local produce. The Asian fusion menu has a distinct Southern Thai accent. Highly recommended for shakes, juices coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great shopping and healthy products and gifts.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/z6htep3pm3cHuFLG8

Boys Organic coffee · Taling Ngam

An absolute gem of a place, serving the finest organic coffee on the Highlands of Thailand. A coffee highlight on Samui and worth the drive!

Stay atTAY AT :

Kamalaya Wellness · Na Mueang

Luxury Wwellness Ssanctuary and Hholistic Sspa offering detox retreats and holidays in Thailand. Check out their exciting offers for an incredible holiday that you’ll never forget. See more at Expat Life in Thailand

Avani plus+ Koh Samui  · Phang Ka bay

A tropical, bright and spacious resort on the south-western side of Samui offers a peaceful, remote getaway location. The open -air Essence restaurant offers a fusion menu (with a plant-base twist) views over one of the swimming pools and across the bay. The beverage pool truck will please the cocktail insta queens amongst us FULL REVIEW HERE

Sunset Kayak ·  Phrang Ka bay

This tour is offered for guests at the Avani plus + Samui by kayaks or paddle boards from Phrang Ka bay beach.

Secret Buddha garden · Pom Mountain

The Secret Buddha garden features an unusual collection of statues in a small private garden on a picturesque hilltop. You wi’ll find statues of animals, deities and humans, all of which are sculptured by Khun Nim Thongsuk, a retired durian farmer. A new road across the centre of Samui makes driving there easier now than in the past.

Island tours and snorkelling SLAND TOURS & SNORKELLING:

Koh Tan Coral island 

For great snorkelling off the coast of Koh Tan, a tropical undeveloped island just of the southern coast of Koh Samui

Madsum island (Pig island) Thailand’s answer to the Bahamas!

The latest craze in recent years is to take a long tail boat to the nearby Madsum Iisland (10 mins). Here an ever growing family of friendly pigs are waiting to be fed. We have it on high authority the pigs are rather partial to watermelon and corn. Once you have befriended your pig they seem quite happy to pose with the bevy of ‘insta queens’ who delight in endless pig photos!

The island is pretty and there are a few bars to chill at whilst people and pig watching!

AVANI+ Samui – offers a daily complimentary tour of Madsum Iisland for residents

Five Islands long tail boat Ttour – a beautiful tour, you don’t set foot on the protected National Park islands, but recently we hear pink dolphins have been spotted in the surrounding waters.

Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park

An incredible place to just visit or do some snorkelling or diving. There is a 200 Baht cost to visit the island since it is a National Park. Like Ko Pha Ngan, there might only be tour options on Fridays and the weekends but you can book a private tour anytime.

West Samui


Samui Renong Coconut Museum

A small, peaceful museum. It was well sign posted between Nathon and Lipa Noi and so at the very least it might be worth a quick visit for the best virgin coconut oil on the island. Free Eentry into the museum and shop.

Best Ssunsets beaches · Bang Po · Lipa Noi

Some of the best viewing spots for sunsets lie along the island’s wWest-facing coast, such as the beaches of Bang Po and Lipa Noi.

Aromi diversi Italian restaurant pizzeria beach bar 

Great for sunset dining, food is unbeatable – the best Italian on the island!

https://maps.app.goo.gl/Ub8s1Bm7NX4f79Db8

We hope you have enjoyed our little tour around Koh Samui and that perhaps we have introduced you to some new places to visit and new cafes and restaurants to enjoy. 

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