There is no doubt that Thailand’s Southern Gulf region is home to many heavenly islands. One island that has become quite popular to the international tourist crowd is Koh Samui/Ko Samui. Just beside Koh Phangan, which is more like a backpacker’s haven; Koh Samui’s tourism setting is more geared towards families and honeymooners. The island may be gifted with many natural attractions but the main reason why this Thai isle has gained prominence is its gorgeous beaches.
Now the only trouble with Ko Samui’s beautiful sandy stretches is finding the right one to spend time on. Of course, you can always spend a day or two beach hopping, but it would be still nice to get an idea about the beaches on the island. To help you get out of this (not so bad) predicament, here are some key details about the top beaches on Ko Samui.
(a little side note: the Thai word “hat” means beach)
Hat Chaweng is undeniably the most popular beach on Koh Samui. This 6-kilometer stretch captivates the crowd with its clear Andaman sea water and surrounding coral reefs. The beauty and vastness of this beach is well complemented by its pulsating nightlife. You will find plenty of the bars, pubs restaurants, shops and cafes are on the road parallel to the beach. Some of the largest and most upscale hotels on Ko Samui are lined up on this beach. Chaweng is undoubtedly more developed than other beaches and is frequented by the most diverse groups of tourists. It offers a very lively beach atmosphere and there are always people that you can hang out with.
Some savvy Thai travelers claim that Hat Lamai can compete with Chaweng when it comes to natural beauty. Others even believe that Lamai beach can even surpass the former. The trademark of Hat Lamai is its granite boulders and rock formations that provide contrast to its white powdery sand, consequently adding more character to the beach. Lamai has also its own fair share of tourist facilities. There are plenty of bars to choose from on the main road.
Both Chaweng and Lamai are located on the eastern side of the Island. These two beach areas are equipped with the largest number of accommodation options and they tend to be the most crowded during the day.
Hat Bo Phut
If you want to get away from the crowd a little bit, Bo Phut is an excellent alternative. The beauty of this beach lies in its tranquility and isolation. The beach is stripped of bars, touts and throbbing disco lights. Bo Phut highlights the more laidback and cultural side of Koh Samui. The hotels and resorts that populate its shore are more boutique-style. Just on the west of this sandy stretch is the fisherman’s village, which houses a number of Chinese shophouses, where you can have a dinner or drink. Over recent years, Bo Phut has attracted more of an upmarket crowd so it is quickly becoming an high-class destination compared to other beaches on the island.
Hat Bang Rak or Big Buddha Beach
Located on the island’s northern end, Big Buddha Beach houses a small pier used by boats going to and from Koh Pha Ngan. It is very close to the only airport on the island. This beach is narrower than Chaweng and its golden sand is usually more compact. But the accommodation facilities around this beach are usually cheaper and its accessibility to the pier and airport makes it an attractive base.
Hat Ao Thong Sai
If you want a quieter and more serene beach atmosphere, the kind that will make your mind wander freely with the wind and the waves, then Ao Thong Sai is the “one” for you. This wide and clean white-sand bay is sometimes overlooked. But take note that Ao Thong Sai does not boast a plethora of restaurants or a decent nightlife scene. After sunset and dinner, you pretty much have to retreat to your room or hut and just embrace the dark and silent night.
How to find the cheapest rooms on Koh Samui?
Koh Samui has rooms ranging from luxurious to ultra budget friendly. Booking early during peak season is a must. The most popular hotel/guesthouse site in Thailand is www.agoda.com. With over 1200 different accommodation choices on Koh Samui alone at the time of writing, it’s no wonder why Agoda is the preferred choice for backpackers to Thailand. Another solid alternative that we use in Thailand is www.hotelscombined.com. Hotelscombined is particularly useful if you want to compare prices prior to booking. Many of our “backpacking” readers love this about their site.