It’s easy to see why Thailand is one of the prime destinations in southeast Asia for travelers and holiday- makers. Along with a balmy climate and friendly locals, the country has one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines. Top of the list for travelers looking to experience some of the best beaches Thailand has to offer is the country’s third largest island, Koh Samui. With over 50 kilometers of pristine coastline, an unrivaled party scene and a vast selection of accommodation options, Koh Samui is guaranteed to suit every taste and budget.
With almost 8 km of pure white sand lapped by crystal-clear turquoise waters, Chaweng Beach is one of Koh Samui’s top destinations. During the day, the beach makes an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling and other beach sports. In between activities, beach-goers can grab a snack or an ice-cold beer from one of the many nearby vendors offering beverages, ice- cream and samples of local cuisine. Relatively peaceful by day, Chaweng turns into party central by night, with a teaming entertainment strip full of live music joints, nightclubs, bars and restaurants. The vibrant party scene attracts a noticeably younger crowd, but Chaweng’s wide range of great value accommodation options makes it an equally attractive destination for families and couples hoping to enjoy the best the island has to offer on a budget.
2nd in popularity only to Chaweng, Lamai Beach makes an ideal destination for families and couples looking for a quieter and more relaxed alternative to Chaweng. Despite its laid- back atmosphere, Lamai still has plenty to offer, with a great selection of affordable accommodation options, and enough restaurants and dining opportunities to suit almost any taste and budget. Characterized by a long stretch of sandy beach fringed by palm trees, the beach is well served by a host of local vendors offering ice-cream, snacks, cold beverages and beach games. Beach-goers looking for some pampering may enjoy the services of one of many massage salons studded along the beach, while fans of more active pursuits are equally well catered to, with the opportunity to rent jet- skis, kayaks, or even charter a speedboat for the day.
Situated in the North of Samui, Bophut consists of two distinct parts. The first part is the beach itself, a great sweep of sand stretching between Big Buddha and Maenam. The second part is the Fisherman’s Village, a charming strip characterized by its wooden Chinese shop-houses, authentic Thai restaurants and unique local boutiques. For holidaymakers looking to grab a bargain, the Fisherman’s Village plays host to a weekly walking market, with scores of vendors offering a wide selection of hand-made crafts, high- quality local fabrics, bespoke jewelry, and cheap Thai fashion. Fans of Thai cuisine will love the market’s impressive range of food and drink stalls, with vendors offering some of Thailand most famous treats, including tempura seafood, pad Thai and banana pancakes. The market also provides the perfect opportunity to take in some local entertainment: from beatboxing to traditional Thai dances to Muay Thai demonstrations, the local streets performers are sure to delight.
One of Koh Samui’s most popular backpacking destinations, Maenam offers some of the most low-cost accommodation options on the island. Despite its popularity, Maenam has a sense of peace and tranquility sometimes missing in the island’s larger resorts, making it ideal for holidaymakers seeking a relaxing break away from the crowds. Although it may be something of a backwater, Maenam still has enough on offer to keep you busy, including a weekly market offering traditional Thai food and local handicrafts; a few Thai temples (and even one Chinese Temple); and the usual spread of vendors offering Thai massage, pedicures and spa treatments. Small and charming, Maenam has an appealing Thai authenticity that will delight those looking to experience the Thailand of old.
Big Buddha Beach
One of Koh Samui’s fastest growing resorts, Big Buddha beach is within excellent proximity to the airport, making it an ideal destination for those looking for a quick getaway, or as a launchpad to some of Asia’s many hotspots. The beach itself consists of a long stretch of white sand studded with affordably priced bungalows, making the resort an excellent option for those on a budget. Holidaymakers looking for a little luxury are well served by the many spas on offer, including Ban Sabai, one of the most deluxe spa retreats on Koh Samui.
Although not as busy as Chaweng, Big Buddha still has its fair share of restaurants, dive shops, bars and nightclubs. Thanks to its large expat community, it also has a decent number of traditional British pubs. Chief among the resort’s attractions is the 12-meter-tall statue of Buddha that gives the beach its name. Located on Wat Phra Yai on the northern causeway, the statue is unmissable, and attracts thousands of visitors from around the globe each year.