Koh Samui | Travel Destination Guide

Known for its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves and dense, mountainous rainforest, plus luxury resorts and posh spas.
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Lolly
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Chaweng Beach Nightlife Action

Soi Green Mango is to Koh Samui what Soi Cowboy is to Bangkok and Walking Street is to Pattaya, albeit on a smaller scale. It is the beating heart of the island’s nightlife, home to cheap drinks, loud music and good times. The highlight of the street is the namesake establishment at the very end of the road – The Green Mango Club, which has been an institution of Chaweng’s nightlife for decades. There are a good few beer bars and couple of go-go bars to be found, all with the compulsorily scantily-clad girls stood outside trying to lure you in. The popularity of the street has started to slip in recent years, particularly with the rise of Samui’s beach clubs and especially ARK Bar. However, Soi Green Mango still has a lot to offer once it comes to life after midnight and into the small hours of the morning.

Galaxy Samui - Styling itself as a “world class erotic cabaret club”, it is effectively a high-end go-go bar with Russian and eastern European dancers. Significantly more expensive than Thai-style bars like Dream Girls, you do at least get what you pay for, with bottle service and exciting special dances and performances, as well as private rooms for individual performances (that’s not an innuendo). Located in one of the darker sections of the street, opposite Hush bar, the interior is very plush and swanky. Opening Hours: Daily from 9:00 pm to 3:00 am

Food Point No night out is complete without some horrifically unhealthy food to help soak up some of the alcohol. Fortunately, Food Point is ready to serve you all the traditional late-night treats. Technically a collection of outlets, prices start at 170 THB for the customary kebab, 90 THB for a slice of pizza and 105 THB for a sandwich, with hot dogs, ice cream and more also available.

Dream Girls The only Thai-style go-go bar in the whole of Soi Green Mango, Dream Girls is quite small and simple. It features comfortable tiered seating around the outside of the room and a ring of bar stools right by the revolving stage. That’s about as racy as it gets because there are no raunchy shows or special acts. The girls are quite shy about coming to sit with punters, but are nice and friendly once they do. With a local beer costing 130 THB and a drink for your female companion costing 190 THB, it is one of the priciest places on the street. Opening Hours: Daily from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am

Gecko Village: Its slick with polished concrete, soaring ceilings and an infinity pool. By night, it's a different creature. Techno and house fans spill in for the Sunday sessions that are now legendary thanks to the famous names that play, including Dirty Vegas. Website: https://www.facebook.com/Gecko-Samui-39269995686
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Lolly
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Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:04 pm

Koh Phangan | Full Moon Party

Of course the most major attraction is still the legendary Full Moon Party on Haad Rin beach. This monthly happening is a drug- and booze-fuelled cavorting - and very commercial - hullabaloo, and while it had its origins in a very low key, personalised gathering, today, with package tours coming out from London solely to attend the party, it's a far cry from the days back then. The party often attracts in excess of twenty thousand people who dance and party away from the evening well into the next day. But it's not exactly the group love-in you might be imagining - drugs for sale are almost as common as undercover police, rampant theft (both from unattended bungalows and passed out partiers on the beach) and violent and sexual assault are major concerns. Fatalities are more common than the English-language press in Thailand lets on.

That said, it's not all bad, and thousands upon thousands of people attend every month suffering no more than a headache the next day. To try to minimise the dangers, try to stay in control, if you are going to use drugs, don't leave them in your room or on your person and don't walk up to complete strangers asking to buy acid - you will get busted. Drugs are illegal in Thailand, the penalties are severe and don't bank on the assumption you'll be able to buy your way out of the police station. Use your guesthouse's safe to store your valuables and basically don't head out with anything you can't afford to lose. In fact there seems to be many ways to skin a moon and don't be disappointed if your timetable doesn't coincide with the actual Full Moon party — there is after all the Half Moon Party, Dark Moon Party and various other excuses for a romp taking place throughout the month. If you're on Ko Pha Ngan for anything more than a couple of days, chances are there'll be a party somewhere. The Full Moon Party takes place at Haad Rin Beach, but it isn't necessary to find accommodation there to attend the party, as every beach will run transport to the party on the evening - indeed many commute over from Ko Samui for the night.

But there's much more to this island than parties. It is ringed by over a dozen beaches - some with fine white sand that squeaks between your toes and others with a more grainy, yellow sand. Most of the beaches are reasonably easy to reach -the road network improves every year and few beaches are only reachable to boat. This ease of access means that it is far easier than it used to be to base yourself on one beach, but do day trips to others. The south coast of Ko Pha Ngan, running from the island's capital at Ao Thong Sala, though Ban Tai and Ban Kai to Haad Rin and Haad Saikantang are the islands most exposed beaches.

Facing south towards Ko Samui, the beaches are protected by an offshore reef and the waters are very shallow, making this an ideal option for travelling families with small kids. It's possible to walk almost the full stretch without leaving the beach (though you'll have to wade a small river at one stage) and there's a wide variety of bungalows and small hotels for the entire length. The east coast, running from Haad Rin north to the twin bays of Thong Nai Pan Noi and Yai offer some of the most isolated beaches on the island. The drop-off from the beach tends to be sharper on these beaches and the swimming is consequently better. Bungalows range from rustic shacks on Than Sadet through to luxury villas on Thong Nai Pan Noi.

The north coast encompasses Bottle Beach - long a backpacker haven, and Chaloklam Bay - the island's main fishing port - and the epicentre of Ko Pha Ngan's small diving industry. The north coast is also home to the islet of Ko Ma off Mae Haad Beach. As with the south coast, the beaches are a bit more exposed. The west coast, like the east, is riddled with small bays and secretish beaches. The southwest corner of the island, just before you reach Thong Sala has some terrific budget deals. Though the beaches on this coast feel isolated, they're actually relatively well connected to Thong Sala by road and the development reflects this.

As the road network has improved, so has the range of accommodation on Ko Pha Ngan. In part due to their being an international airport on nearby Ko Samui, this is no longer a destination of nothing more than thatch bungalows. Indeed if you've money to burn there's a growing supply of truly luxurious villas and resorts on offer but also a glut of characterless over-priced mid-range accommodation. Land developers are also having a bit of a feeding frenzy - with plots for sale all over the place. For the most part though, the accommodation is focused on backpacker and flashpacker bungalows and mid-range hotels and resorts.

Aside from the beach, Ko Pha Ngan has great potential for boat and fishing trips, elephant trekking, diving, ATV rides, zip lines and even kite-boarding as well as other watersports. There's a smattering of waterfalls, many detox and yoga centres and the island is fast becoming renowned for meditation retreats. On the east coast, you'll also find Sanctuary and the related Wellness Centre - famous around the world for its seven day fasting courses. But if all that is way too hectic, equally compelling for many is just spending a few weeks in a hammock, watching the sun rise and fall.

Weather wise, the best time to visit Ko Pha Ngan is during the hot, dry season from January to April. From May to September the island gets a little afternoon rain courtesy of the Southwest monsoon, but the weather is still enjoyable and the seas calm and clear. From October to December it gets both windy and wet thanks to the northeast monsoon. The crowds thin out then, however, making the island appealing to some travellers - on the downside the few unpaved roads left do deteriorate. It's connected to Ko Samui, Ko Tao and Surat Thani by ferries - see the transport section for details on frequency and cost. If you're coming from Bangkok you can fly to the airport at Ko Samui and then get the boat, or there's a variety of train, bus and ferry combo tickets available. See our story How to get from Bangkok to Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao for more information.
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Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:23 pm

Koh Samui Dining Guide | Dining under the Stars

With a wealth of luxurious resorts placing the focus on dining, Koh Samui has an array of fine dining restaurants to venture to, combining the local ingredients and traditions of authentic Thai cuisine with contemporary culinary techniques and some of the island’s most scenic locations. Enjoy the soothing ocean breeze after a day of poolside tanning and relaxing for your unique, pop-up dinner in Samui. Once a week, tiki bamboo tents will appear along the quiet side of our exclusive beach under the soft glow of fairy lights. Experience service that’s as spectacular as the view. Sample delicious creations made from locally and internationally sourced produce. While the rest of the Samui crowd dines along the touristy sands of Bophut and Chaweng, try our secret weekly supper club under the stars. Tables are limited, so we recommend making a reservation.
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Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:33 pm

Koh Samui Street Food Markets

Here are some of the popular local street food dishes you’ll find on the island, especially at the night markets. Som Tam (Papaya Salad) Som Tam is a cold dish that originates from northeast Thailand. It typically includes shredded green papaya, chilli, garlic, tomatoes, peanuts, and asparagus beans, and sometimes preserved crab. It’s a dish for when you feel a little adventurous, as it may get rather spicy Roti (ThaiPancakes) Thai pancakes are one of the most popular snacks you’ll find on Koh Samui. Orignally from India, this flatbread is usually served with egg, condensed milk, bananas, chocolate sauce, jam or other toppings and condiments. It’s also a relatively cheap snack, costing up to 50 THB. Kao Mon Gai (Chicken and Rice) Kao Mon Gai is a simple dish of poached chicken breast with rice, originating from southern China, and adopted into Thai cuisine. You’ll usually find it served along with a small bowl of chicken broth, vegetables, and chili sauce.

Na Thon Night Food Market
This buzzing food market pitches up every evening in Na Thon pier's car park just as the sun begins turning the horizon a crimson red. Ideally located for grabbing a bite just before you board your ferry, but if you do have the time, nothing beats tucking into the best street food in Na Thon sitting among the largely local customers. Location: Na Thon Pier from 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm The market gets extra marks for its no plastic foam policy.

Hua Thanon Market
This local market in the heart of the Muslim village of Ban Hua Thanon offers a glimpse of real southern Thai cuisine. Follow the path round to a row of food stalls where you'll find delicious Thai Muslim dishes including chicken biryani, fiery curries and toasted rice with coconut, bean sprouts, lemongrass and dried shrimp. Simply delicious.

Laem Din Market
A busy day market, Laem Din is packed with stalls that sell fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, and stocks local Thai kitchens. Pick up a kilo of sweet green oranges or wander the stalls trying to spot the ingredients in last night’s curry. For dinner, check out the adjacent night market to sample tasty southern-style fried chicken and curries.

Chaweng Night Food Market
It's a little bit pricier than other food markets on the island, but there's always a great buzz here in the evenings as groups of revellers sit together clinking beer bottles and tucking into one of the many local or western dishes on offer before hitting Chaweng's lively strip for the night.

Lamai Day Market
Lamai’s market is a hive of activity, selling food necessities and takeaway food. Visit the covered area to pick up fresh fruit or to see vendors shredding coconuts to make coconut milk. Or hunt down the ice-cream seller for homemade coconut ice cream. It’s next door to a petrol station.
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Koh Samui Dining Guide | Maenam Beach

The Farmer Restaurant and Bar
Meals at The Farmer Restaurant and Bar come with sweeping views out to the rice fields. The menu features a range of Thai fusion dishes and international fare. Favourites include the massaman lamb shank, crispy duck and tom kha gai. 1/26 Moo 4 Maenam, p. +66 77 447 222. Open 12:00 pm – 10.30 pm.

Namu | W Hotels
The decor sets the stage for your impending culinary experience. You will be surrounded by clean lines and innovative, stylish elements. Once you pass through the impressive entrance and amazing water feature, you will be greeted with an intimate dining area illuminated with subdued lighting. The textured ceiling has a dramatic downward spiral, with eye-catching green bamboo made from glass on either side. There are six tables inside, or, if you prefer to dine outdoors, there is a terrace overlooking the beach. However, the best seats at Namu are the ones at the counter alongside the open kitchen. Here you will get a first-hand peek at the action.

Kobori Japanese Restaurant
Step into Kobori, and you’ll immediately feel welcomed thanks to the warm hospitality of the owner and the staff. The venue never fails to draw in a crowd with its fresh, quality Japanese fare. 183/4 Moo1, Maenam, Koh Samui, p. +66 83 174 6530. Open 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm daily.

Bang Po Seafood
A meal at Bang Po Seafood is a test for the taste buds. It’s one of the only restaurants that serves traditional Ko Samui fare: recipes call for ingredients such as raw sea urchin roe, baby octopus, sea water, coconut and local turmeric, served in a delightfully local setting that spills onto the beach.

Passa Restaurant
Passa, a fine dining venue at the Khwan Beach Resort checks off all the right boxes: the wood-clad interiors are stunning, the menu features scrumptious Thai fusion food, there’s a pool bar to lounge at and traditional Thai dance and live music performances are held regularly. Khwan Beach Resort, 67/61 Moo 1 Mae Nam Beach. Koh Samui. Open 7:00 am – 10.30 pm daily.

Woobar
Chic decor, elegant ambience, hilltop vistas, chill out music – Woobar is the place to be for stylish vacationers in Samui. Come in the evenings to take in the dramatic sunset scenery, as you sip a signature cocktail and munch on delectable nibbles. 4/1 Moo 1 Maenam, Koh Samui, p. +66 77 915 999. Open 11:00 am – 12:00 am daily.
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Koh Samui Dining Guide | Bophut Beach

L’italiano
Italian restaurants are aplenty in Samui, but L’italiano stands out with its tasty fare, cosy setting and personable service. Take your pick from a wide-ranging menu featuring mains like wagyu beef and pasta, a good selection of Italian wines and desserts. 34/1 Moo 1 Fisherman Village, Bophut, Koh Samui, p. +66 86 080 7032. Open Tue – Sun 6:00 pm – 10.30 pm.

Poppies
With both International and Western cuisine to choose from, even the pickiest of diners will be able to find a dish that fits their culinary needs. The restaurant first opened in 1995, and since then it has been working to find new ways to impress its diners in terms of its aesthetics as well as its cuisine. Found near Chaweng Beach but away from the crowds, this is the perfect place to frequent if you want both a delicious meal and some much-needed privacy on a busy island such as Koh Samui. The restaurant has an Ayutthaya-style teak pavilion that overlooks its crystal clear swimming pool. Be sure to check out Poppies Restaurant on Saturday, when the restaurant has live traditional Thai music and dance performances for diners to enjoy with their delicious meals.

Dining on the Rocks
Dining on the Rocks is set high up on rock formations overlooking beautiful Bophut Beach. The restaurant offers Indochina and European cuisine in 3, 5 or 8 course meal sets paired with wine. To enjoy the stunning views of the sea at the restaurant, try arriving before sundown so you can catch the sunset for a romantic dinner.

H Bistro | Hansar Hotel
French cooking at its best; in Thailand. H Bistro is the signature dining destination of the Hansar Samui resort and is unrivalled in its beauty. With the option of dining out under the stars or sitting in the well-appointed restaurant, this is a place for the trendy. The à la carte menu offers some of the finest French dishes you could hope to eat including a Bresse Royal Pigeon that any Michelin-starred chef would be proud of. There is also a fine selection of Thai specialties that deliver the flavour and warmth one would expect of the local cuisine. The menu is varied and prices range but – if you wanted to choose the unique ‘dining under the stars’ experience with your own barefoot butler – expect to pay THB 5,199 (or 7,699 with wine pairing).

Full Moon | Anantara Hotel
Having garnered awards for its culinary offering, Full Moon at Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort offers diners a personalized dining experience with table-side preparation of dishes such as beef tartar, along with a selection of flavorful chargrilled seafood and meat, and other specialties including octopus carpaccio with Chiang Mai greens, citrus and caviar.

Salefino
Salefino’s breezy, feet-in-the-sand setting offers breathtaking views out to the sea. From the entrée to dessert, you’ll find that each and every item on the menu is wonderfully prepared. Be sure to round out your meal with the homemade limoncello. 4171, Bophut, Koh Samui, +66 91 825 2190. Open Tue – Fri 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm. Mon & Sat 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm. Closed on Sun.

La Côte de Bœuf Koh Samui
La Côte de Bœuf Koh Samui is a great option if you’re in Bophut, and are in the mood for authentic French fare. The setting is warm and welcoming, as is the service. 30/26 Moo 4, Bang Rak, Bophut, Koh Samui, p. +66 98 990 0217. Open Thu – Tue 5:00 pm – 11.30 pm. Closed on Wed.
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Koh Samui Dining Guide | Choengmon Beach

Pepenero
Pepenero is a family-run, dinner-only venue that dishes out excellent Italian fare. Recommended items include the homemade gnocchi, grilled tomatoes and ‘nduja sausage, Parma ham with mozzarella and more. 4/5 Moo 1, Maenam, Koh Samui, +66 77 963 353. Open 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm daily.

Dining on the Rocks
Date nights, anniversaries, birthdays and celebratory dinners are best enjoyed at Dining on the Rocks. It’s the signature restaurant at the luxurious Six Senses Samui, and it’s a venue that gets everything right. Diners will enjoy the impeccable fusion food, attentive service and prime waterfront setting. 9/10 Moo 5, Baan Plai Laem, Bophut, Koh Samui, p. +66 77 245 678.

Aroma Boutique Cafe
Aroma is a great place to stop over for a coffee break when you’re sightseeing in Samui. Settle into the plush velvet sofas, and enjoy the cafe’s selection of paninis, salads, desserts and coffee. 24/53 Moo 5, Choeng Mon, Bophut, Koh Samui, p. +66 93 612 3258. Open 9:00 am – 10:00 pm daily.

Kiriati
Excellent Thai - and Seafood Restaurant right at the Beach
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Koh Samui Dining Guide | Bang Po

Bang Po Seafood Takho
This beachside restaurant is well-known for its fresh seafood dishes. The setting is casual and unfussy, the vibes are relaxed, and the menu is extensive. Choose from classics like the crab curry, stir-fried clams and steamed seabass, to exotic options like fried sea anemone curry or wasp larvae with coconut milk. 56/4 Moo 6, Mae Nam, Koh Samui, p. +66 77 420 010.

The White Pearl Beach Club
The White Pearl Beach club offers a family-friendly setting, multiple dining spaces (there’s an indoor dining area, beachside bar, terrace and alfresco dining section) and fun events like beach barbecues. It’s located along a quiet stretch of beach too – just perfect if you want respite away from the tourist crowds. 76/14 Moo 6, Bang Por, Koh Samui, p. +66 91 719 2415. Open Mon – Sat 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sun 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
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Dining in South Samui

Compared to the other regions of the island, South Samui is quieter and laid back – so you won’t find many dining venues around. Your best dining options are in Thong Krut, but if you’re looking for a change of scenery, you’re just a 15 minutes’ drive to Taling Ngam or 25 minutes’ drive from Lamai.

Hemingway’s on the Beach – Hemingway’s on the Beach wins diners over with its rustic decor, beachfront setting and delicious Thai staples. We loved the seafood curries, pineapple fried rice and chicken with cashew nuts, but there’s lots more on the menu to choose from (including a selection of Western dishes). Unit 2. 79/1 Moo 5 Road, 4170, Ban Thong Krut, Koh Samui, p. +66 61 178 5550. Open Mon – Sat 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. Closed on Sun.

The Hideaway Pub & Restaurant – Chill out with a cold beer, take in the ocean views and take your pick from an extensive selection of Thai and Western fare. Do note that the restaurant is open only during the day, and are closed in the evenings. 58/3, Thong Krut, Ko Samui, p. +66 93 603 2303. Open Sun – Fri, 11.30 am – 6:00 pm.
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Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:21 pm

Koh Samui Dining Guide | Hua Thanon

Vitamin Sea Restaurant
Ocean views, beachfront location and well-executed French-Thai fusion fare – it’s impossible not to enjoy a dining experience at Vitamin Sea Restaurant. We’ve enjoyed every single dish we tried – from the smoked duck breast salad, to the Burgundy snails, shrimp carpaccio and croquettes. Moo 1, Tambon Maret, Koh Samui, p. +66 99 045 1039. Open Mon – Sat 11:00 am – 12:00 am. Closed on Sun.

The Fisherman’s Outlet
The Fisherman’s Outlet is a great option for casual, relaxed dining. Come for the fresh seafood and tasty Thai staples, served in generous portions. Green curry, shrimp cakes, pad thai, fried snapper – we’ve tried them all, and would give two thumbs up to the restaurant. Laem-set Road, Maret, Koh Samui, p. +66 77 418 435. Open 8:00 am – 10:00 pm daily.
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