SD › Thailand › Koh Samui › Best Hotels
Updated: April 2, 2021
• Best Hotel: Four Seasons
• Boutique Hotel: Hansar
• Cheap Hotel: Smile House
• Family Hotel: Anantara Bophut
• Best Beach: Vana Belle
• Best Pools: Six Senses
• Best for Nightlife: Library
Koh Samui Hotels – Tips & Recommendations
- Booking.com – the best website for booking Koh Samui hotels.
- Koh Samui is my favorite island in Thailand. Awesome beaches, superb food, wonderful hotels. A great place for tourists without feeling too touristy.
- The best places to stay on Koh Samui are the beach towns of Chaweng (busy with lots of restaurants & nightlife), Bophut (quieter, but still plenty of restaurants and some nightlife) and Choeng Mon (quiet, with a few beach restaurants).
- The best time to visit Koh Samui is from Janaury to April but any time between mid-December and early September will have good weather.
- Best Beaches on Koh Samui: Chaweng (great sand and swimming, best nightlife, lots of restaurants) • Bophut (great swimming, boutique hotels, and trendy restaurants) • Choeng Mon (calm shallow water, great sand, quiet vibe).
- Best Luxury Hotels on Koh Samui: The Four Seasons • Six Senses Samui • The Hansar • The Library • Vana Belle • Banyan Tree
- Best Cheap Hotels on Koh Samui: The Privilege Hotel Ezra Royal Beach (Lamai) • Weekender Resort (Lamai) • Smile House (Bophut) • Coco Palm Beach Resort (Mae Nam)
- Best Hotel for Families on Koh Samui: Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort
- How To Book Hotels Online
The 32 Best Koh Samui Hotels
1. Amari Koh Samui – Chaweng
Recently refurbished and looking beautiful. Great pool and beachfront location. Situated in a quieter section of North Chaweng Beach but still an easy walk to restaurants, nightlife, and shopping. The Deluxe Family Duplexes are great for families.
2. Ammatara Pura Pool Villas – Lamai
Unparalleled opulence, outstanding beach, exclusive yet convenient. Only offering pool villas, this resort is regal and sumptuous, if a little ostentatious. With views of the ocean, gardens and/or pool, they contain one or two bedrooms but promised ‘sea views’ may be distant or mostly obstructed. The Thai-style villas are lavish or garish; it’s hard to decide. The main pool is superb, with bridges and infinity edges, but the open spaces are crammed with statues and buildings of unapparent purpose. With a golden beach of perfectly-raked sand, it’s in a low-key area of Lamai beach, one of the island’s more popular areas.
3. Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort – Bophut
Elegant, superb facilities, smaller than most and very family-friendly. The rooms are similar, with only views of the sea (upper floors) and tropical gardens (ground level) really different. They are in low-level blocks, with windows angled towards the ocean – yet, surprisingly, some don’t have a functional balcony. Separated and raised, many of the suites face the beach for unspoiled sea views and direct beach access. The infinity pool is magical – lagoon-shaped and beachside, with ‘islands’ of palms – while the beach offers white sands and calm waters. Also adding to the allure are the kids’ club, playground, games room, tennis court, and movie theater.
4. Banana Fan Sea Resort – Chaweng
A good mid-range resort in the middle section of Chaweng beach. Among the vast array of rooms, villas, suites, and bungalows across a narrow block, only a few boast precious sea views. Some Superior Rooms are in a poky area near the lobby, while most are among the gardens, and all are spacious, airy and lovingly decorated with Thai influences. In clusters of four facing the gardens, the bungalows are smaller, more like a functional motel inside, and the balcony may offer glimpses of the sea. Most villas are semi-detached but still huddled close together, so a balcony may directly face another across the garden path. Attached to the main beachside pool are a children’s splash area and two jacuzzis.
5. Bandara Resort & Spa, Samui – Bophut
Ideal location, comfortable and decent for families. Among extended lawns and gardens of banyan trees between the main road and beach, the accommodation is in two separate areas, but none have direct sea views. The villas are very secluded behind elevated walls and feature a splendid pool and stylish sunken bath flanked by private gardens, but there’s too much concrete and not enough color for my tastes. There is a focus on families and the resort offers some facilities for children. Of the four pools, one is lagoon-shaped and infinity-edged, mostly for adults; another is long, with elephant spouts and thatched cabanas. And the photogenic beach has wonderful sand and sloping palms.
6. Banyan Tree – Between Lamai and Chaweng
Great views, fantastic pools, private beach, good restaurants. The perfect marriage of luxury and seclusion. The restaurants and nightlife of Lamai are within a short drive.
7. Belmond Napasai – near Mae Nam
Luxurious beach front villas put you steps from the sea. Secluded location is great for honeymooners and those seeking peace and quiet. Lots of stairs for some villas so not the best choice if you have mobility issues.
8. Bo Phut Resort & Spa – Bophut
Likable Thai design and distant from the bustle. Rooms are dotted among immaculate gardens of lofty palms, and with no building higher than two levels they have commendably resisted the urge to overbuild. Villas are separated and secluded, and some feature a sparkling blue pool. Elegantly furnished, with a four-poster bed, large sofa alcove and colorful tiles, there are also plenty of windows. About 100m from the main road, no rooms are affected by traffic noise. The main pool is particularly inviting, and the beach is idyllic – sun-bleached and lovingly raked, with island views – and pleasingly distant from jet-skis.
9. Buri Rasa Village Samui – Chaweng
Tasteful and central, with a unique tropical village vibe. The traditional design is immediately likable: all buildings are no higher than two levels, with mustard-colored bricks on the ground floor and deep wooden finishes on the upper level, and are dotted along a garden path lined with fish ponds. All villas are very spacious and vibrantly decorated with boutique touches, and vary according to size and position. Those on the upper floors feature an elevated ceiling, balcony with garden views and/or sea glimpses, and a majestic bathroom with a sunken tub. Those at ground level are secluded behind walls, and contain a private garden; even a miniature plunge pool is provided in some. But the main pool is surprisingly uninviting: raised in the middle of the lawn, it has grey tiles and no edges, decking or shade. The beach is wide and clean, although busy because the resort is in downtown Chaweng, the most popular area on the island.
10. Coconutspalm Resort – near Lamai
Personable, peaceful, but curious design and isolated. Hidden behind ferns, the bungalows face the main pool, which is long and shady. The suites are clustered together in a separate section facing a second pool, with direct access from each patio. They are more spacious and airy, but the art may be too unconventional for some. At the end of a 200m lane, it’s pleasingly distant from the main road, but also remote, and there’s no decent beach nearby. So, jump on a songthaew taxi truck to Lamai (five minutes away), which offers a wide range of facilities and a dazzling beach.
11. Farmer’s Boutique Resort – near Mae Nam
Unique peaceful setting but a tad distant. It offers rows of wooden villas facing inwards and overlooking rare rice-fields (also enjoyed by geese). With virtually the same design and décor, all are spacious, with plenty of windows and a sizeable balcony. A handful of more luxurious villas, with a private pool also facing lily ponds, feature a high ceiling, windows on three sides, abundant luggage space, and incongruous Romanesque lampshades. The raised infinity-style pool is substantial considering there are few guests but seems a little neglected by staff, while the elegant pond-side café is worth visiting anyway. Yet all this Bali-style serenity is only 150m from the main road in Bang Por and another 700m from a beach. Although this region along the north coast is considerably less developed, there are some facilities within walking distance and it is accessible by infrequent songthaew taxi trucks.
12. The Four Seasons – west of Mae Nam
I prefer staying in one of the fun and lively beach towns but if you want a quiet and pampered vacation then the Four Seasons is the best luxury hotel on Koh Samui. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the island it leaves the crowds far behind. Suites and villas have amazing views from their perch on the hill. The onsite restaurant, Koh, is one of the best on the island. The resort has kick-boxing lessons, kayaking, sunset views, and a kids club. There’s a nice beach (though small) and a beachfront pool and restaurant.
13. Hansar Samui – Bophut
Central position, lovely setting, beautiful pool, pebbly beach, and popular with families. All rooms are in attractive low-level blocks. The main block faces the ocean, and even rooms on the ground floor are likely to enjoy precious ocean views, while the other 2 blocks face the lawns and pool. The breezy balcony in the Seaview Rooms is partially enclosed to ensure privacy, and the décor is self-described as ‘chocolate and cream’. The beach is wonderful – though more small pebbles than sand – but serenity could be shattered by jet-skis. The pool is raised and infinity-edged, with even a tiny rice-field alongside. The lawns are limited, with fewer palms than expected, but this means sea views are less likely to be blocked. In central Bophut, with plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants along the main road. It’s at the end of a delightful beachside cycling and pedestrian path leading to the renowned Fisherman’s Village, a converted area of bistros and boutiques.
14. Idyllic Samui Resort – near Choeng Mon
Secluded, exclusive, ideal for groups but very remote. Perched on the far northeast tip of the island, there are gated clusters of villas, each with between two and five bedrooms and sharing a pool. Perfect for groups or families, it is still private and peaceful if renting just one villa. Each is huge, and features a spacious lounge area, fully-equipped kitchen and plentiful outdoor furniture along lengthy patios. But the minor bedrooms may be undersized and a little dark. It faces a scenic cove of white sands and calm waters, but only one cluster of villas faces the ocean. This seclusion comes at the cost of convenience, however: it’s only accessible by chartered taxi, although shuttle services are provided to a local beach and village. There is no café onsite, but meals can be cooked or delivered, and there are restaurants in 2 neighboring resorts.
15. Khwan Beach Resort
Something different – adults-only safari-style camping (and villas). This place provides an unusual combination of villas and ‘glamping’, i.e. camping in luxury tents. Hidden behind bamboo walls facing the pale-blue pool, the Tented Villas are typically beige and khaki, with a little too much of the same ‘safari lodge’ colors. The split-level brick Pool Villas feature a kitchenette, modern décor, and sizeable garden, but some face a stagnant creek. The beach is about 100 meters away.
16. The Library – Chaweng
An ultra cool, trendy, and luxurious hotel in the heart of Chaweng. The red-colored pool catches everyone’s eye and the cocktail bar attracts the hip crowd. Beautiful minimalist suites (ground floor with patio) and studios (upper floor with balcony). Breakfast served on the beach. Two of Chaweng’s coolest bars are on the property: an open air beach bar and air-conditioned wine bar on the street-side.
17. Lotus Samui – near Mae Nam
Serene but isolated luxury villas ideal for groups or large families. A handful of plush villa complexes with 2-5 bedrooms are lined along a narrow block. Guests can book the entire villa complex or, if available, individual bedrooms, each with an attached bathroom. Each group of villas shares a sizeable pool and sumptuous lounge room; some even have access to a personal chef and private kitchen. All bedrooms are spacious, swish and individually decorated with elegant furnishings. Only 1 villa complex faces the ocean, but all guests can use the main beachside pool alongside a breezy pocket of sand. The neighboring Banyan Beach Villas can also be booked entirely or partially, with separate bedrooms. It’s in Bang Por, half an island from the main beach resorts, with little nearby.
18. Mercure Koh Samui Beach Resort – near Lamai
Comfortable, roomy and motel-style, with a pleasant beach. The stylish blocks of rooms are squeezed between the main road and beach, so those near the lobby may be noisy. Many rooms face the beach, but only those on the top floors are likely to enjoy any ocean views. They are all pleasingly spacious and airy and feature a long balcony, but views are irritatingly spoiled by a hotel banner across the floor-to-ceiling window. Closer to the beach and further from the road, the villas are secluded behind walls and hedges, and even roomier inside. It’s on the quieter southern fringes of Lamai town, a popular area for tourists, but not along Lamai beach. Some cafés are nearby, while Lamai is only a 5-minute trip by songthaew taxi truck or hotel shuttle bus. The pool is sizeable, and the sands in front are much nicer than the busy beach at Lamai.
19. Peace Resort – Bophut
Laidback and central, with 1970s-style bungalows. One of the island’s very first backpacker lodges is now totally renovated but still maintains an easy-going charm. The pool villas are separated and hidden behind hedges, and others are on two levels with classy wooden shutters across the upstairs bedroom. Most accommodation offered is in bungalows dotted around the extensive gardens. With a rustic appeal, these are very comfortable with plenty of windows and a decent-sized balcony. Although separate, they are tightly packed together. The lagoon-shaped pool offers breezes and views while the beach is small and spotless. There’s also a small library, onsite dive center, and substantial building for cooking classes. And with a kids’ club and generous playground, it caters well for families.
20. Poppies Samui – Chaweng
Exquisite, relaxed, and romantic garden oasis in central Chaweng. Sister to the renowned Poppies Resort (one of the first on Bali). A winding garden path flanked by tropical plants, lotus ponds and ‘waterfalls’ leads to only 24 cottages. Featuring an adorable traditional design of ornamental roofs and terracotta tiles, most are semi-detached, and all are secluded behind thickets of ferns. A sliding door from the tiled balcony leads to a spacious open-plan lounge/bedroom and gorgeous bathroom with a sunken bathtub-cum-shower overlooking an indoor garden. Side windows facing lush greenery add to the feeling of space and tranquillity, but some are a little dark inside at times. The pool is small but substantial enough for the limited number of guests.
21. Rocky’s Boutique Resort – near Lamai
A magical and secluded location south of Lamai (but not within walking distance). Great food and pools, small but picturesque beach. Deluxe Villas have private pools.
22. Rummana Boutique Resort – Lamai
Tropical gardens, tasteful décor, and fewer guests than most resorts. Along a very narrow and astoundingly lengthy block bursting with plants, villas face the snaking garden path, while a couple of suites boast superb beach frontage. Each villa features a colorful décor, substantial sofa alcove, pink bathroom (that needs some updating), and windows on 2 sides that add to the serenity. The balcony is small but serviceable, and faces a pocket of private gardens with chairs and ponds. The kidney-shaped pool faces the thin sloping beach (which mostly disappears at high tide) and views along the bay and across to distant islets are brilliant. The Rummana is about 100m down a laneway from the southern edges of Lamai town, but not on Lamai Beach, which is accessible within minutes by hailing a songthaew taxi truck or strolling along the sand.
23. SALA Samui Choengmon Beach – Choeng Mon
1 and 2 bedroom villas with private pool are truly spectacular. There’s a beautiful beach front pool, a great spa, and good quality restaurants. If you’re on your honeymoon be sure to mention so at checkin as you’ll likely get some nice freebies.
24. Samui Jasmine Resort – Lamai
Charming, boutique-style and picturesque beachside setting. This hotel is delightful in every sense: from the affable staff to the oceanfront location and elegant décor, which is refreshingly different in each room. It offers a limited number of rooms in a low-level block and bunches of villas secluded behind thick foliage, although none are separated. Rooms feature a very likable modern Thai design, with weavings above the bed, and an open-plan bathroom. Along the upper two floors, substantial balconies offer views of the sea but are usually obstructed by the back of some villas. The décor in the villas is even more contemporary and chic. The pool is meters from the beach, which is busy but still appealing.
25. Santiburi Koh Samui – Mae Nam
Opulent, vast, quiet, and superb for families. Set in colossal grounds where guests need buggies and the staff ride bicycles, villas directly fronting the sea have an entrance lounge with a sofa alcove, and a huge marble bathroom with attached walk-in closet. Those with private pools overlook the gardens and feature a modern décor, private massage area, and dining table, with as many full-length windows as possible facing luxuriant private gardens. About 300m long, the beach is studded with palms and particularly serene. Added attractions include a substantial games room, jogging path, and free bicycles, while children are well provided for with a playground and excellent kids club.
26. Sheraton Samui Resort – Chaweng Noi
Luxurious and extensive with a perfect beach that’s ideal for families. The Superior Rooms and Studios are similar, but the latter provides more space, a Jacuzzi on the balcony and sea views (palms permitting). The 1 and 2-bedroom suites feature a large lounge area, double balcony and extensive views of the pool, palms, and sea. The pool is large enough for sandy ‘beaches’, while the real thing is wide and spotless. And the younger ones are actively welcomed with a games room, children’s pool and one of the best kids’ clubs in Thailand. It’s in Chaweng Noi, just south of Chaweng which is a few minutes away by songthaew taxi or hotel shuttle bus (but not walking distance).
27. Six Senses Samui – near Choeng Mon
Extraordinary setting, truly worth a splurge, but a little isolated (or secluded, depending on your tastes). The grounds stretching along the hilltop isthmus between 2 coastlines are so vast that guests need buggies to get around (and some villas are only accessible via steep steps). Luxury pool villas and suites are offered – each separate and secluded, with jaw-dropping views (mostly of the sea) from floor-to-ceiling windows. All are downright sumptuous and opulent, without being ostentatious. Down rickety stairways is a scenic beach cove of raked sands and calm waters, while the clifftop setting of the infinity pool is surely one of the very best in Asia. Adding to the immense appeal is the library and games room in thatched huts. Such space and seclusion inevitably means isolation. At the far north-eastern tip, it is only accessible by taxi, and there are no other cafés or facilities within walking distance.
28. The Tongsai Bay Resort – near Choeng Mon
The pool villas here are simply wonderful. This is a favorite resort for honeymooners and couples seeking rest, quiet, and a beautiful beach. The shops and restaurants at Fisherman’s Village are a short taxi ride away, but there’s not much within walking distance.
29. Vana Belle – Chaweng Noi
Chic, new, serene, sumptuous and not too isolated. Water cascades through ponds from the street-level lobby to the sea far below as guests are given a ‘welcome wash’ (of face and hands) to cleanse the spirit. Only offering suites and villas with a private infinity pool, all are separated and boast outstanding sea views. The Tropical Pool Villas are truly massive, with full-length windows on 3 sides, a refined Thai décor and open-plan bathroom with a free-standing tub overlooking a private garden. A personal butler is also included. The sands below are bleached-white and immaculately raked, while the main pool is substantial considering all guests have a private pool. The entrance is 300m from the main road in Chaweng Noi. This beach is smaller and to the south of Chaweng, easily accessible by songthaew taxi truck. Some unpretentious cafés are also dotted along the main ring-road nearby.
30. W Koh Samui – Mae Nam
Trendy luxury hotel on a good (but not great) beach. All rooms have a private pool. Free shuttle to Chaweng. The resort provides footwear to save your feet from the choral just offshore. Stay here if you’re after luxurious pampered service, huge rooms, and private pools – but for location and beach quality there are better choices.
31. Weekender Resort – Lamai
Practical and affordable, with a prime location. This sparkling new resort provides a variety of rooms and villas tightly packed together in a limited area. For the budget-conscious, the standard rooms offer a modern décor and comfortable furnishings, but no views. The Superior Rooms provide extra space, including a decent-sized tiled balcony overlooking the pool, and more color. (The purple bed-head and green sofa somehow match.) One block of only 10 rooms directly faces the sea, so the views are immediate and uninterrupted. Featuring a contemporary Thai design, the villas are separated, but only 5m to 10m apart, often facing another villa just across the path. Others are more secluded and feature a private pool. The main pool faces the beach, which is clean and shady but reasonably busy because the resort is halfway along Lamai. The beach nearby is also sprinkled with cafés.
32. Zazen Boutique Resort & Spa – Bophut
Quaint, romantic, and idyllic beachside setting. The arched entrance of bamboo poles leading to a lobby of swinging chairs and goldfish ponds sets the scene and tone superbly. 26 villas face the gardens or right on the beach; the Garden Villas are beautiful and feature plenty of windows, a huge L-shaped sofa at entrance level and a bedroom 2 steps up and lined with Thai arts and crafts. Deluxe Villas are semi-detached and more modern, while those on the beach are more compact but otherwise faultless. At the end of a cove, and alongside a creek, the beach is small but very private, with swinging hammocks and swaying palms. Other attractions include a yoga area, games room, and library, all in thatched huts. A few other hotel restaurants are within a brief walk but central Bophut is a good 15-minute walk along the beach.
Koh Samui Hotels with Private Pools
Many hotels have suites with private pools – from good-sized swimming pools to smaller plunge pools. Even when the resort has a large pool for the entire property it’s still a nice luxurious touch to have a private pool at your villa or suite.
Hotels with Private Pools
- The Library – Chaweng
- Buri Rasa Village – Chaweng
- Chaweng Buri Resort – Chaweng
- Synergy Samui Resort – Chaweng
- The Briza Beach Resort – Chaweng
- KC Resort & Over Water Villas – near Chaweng
- Vana Belle – Chaweng Noi
- Royal Muang Samui Villas – Choeng Mon
- Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort – Choeng Mon
- Six Senses Samui – near Choeng Mon
- Tongsai Bay – near Choeng Mon
- Anantara Bophut Resort – Bophut
- Bandara Resort & Spa – Bophut
- Pavilion Pool Residence – Lamai
- Royal Beach Boutique Resort & Spa – Lamai
- Rocky’s Boutique Resort – Lamai
- The Lamai – near Lamai
- Banyan Tree Samui – near Lamai
- Samui Buri Beach Resort – Mae Nam
- W Koh Samui – Mae Nam
- Belmond Napasai – Mai Nam
- Santiburi Koh Samui – Mae Nam
- Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui – near Mae Nam
- Conrad Koh Samui Residences – West Samui
- InterContinental Koh Samui Resort – West Samui
Where to Stay in Koh Samui?
- My 3 favorite beaches on Koh Samui are Chaweng, Bophut, and Choeng Mon.
- The best beaches on Samui are found on the stretch of coast from Mae Nam (in the north) around the northeast corner of the island and down the east coast to Lamai. The south coast and west coast beaches are good for seclusion and quiet but are rocky and can turn to mudflats during low tide.
- Many beaches on Samui get quite shallow from late April to late May which can make swimming impractical in places. The farther west the beach is the more it tends to be an issue. Chaweng, Lamai, Choeng Mon, and Bophut beaches generally do not have this problem.
- Best nightlife on Koh Samui: Chaweng (dancing, beach parties), Bophut (trendy pubs, wine bars)
- Best restaurants on Koh Samui: Chaweng or Bophut
- Best budget choice or long-term stay: Mae Nam
- Best for families: Choeng Mon, Chaweng, Bophut.
- Bophut Hotels – One of my favorite beaches on Koh Samui. The sand is a little on the coarse side (it gets softer as you move south away from Fisherman’s Village) but the scenery is beautiful, the vibe relaxed, and the water calm and great for swimming. There is a nice selection of boutique hotels and upscale resorts right on the beach. Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village is a low-key collection of shops, restaurants, and bars that are fun to wander around. Recommended Hotels: Hansar (trendy luxury) • Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort (resort luxury) • Zazen (boutique) • Peace Resort (moderate) • Smile House (moderate)
- Mae Nam Hotels – The current favorite of flashpackers and expats, Mae Nam has a nice beach which is great for swimming (though the sea can be a little rough at times as it’s less protected than Bophut, Chaweng, or Choeng Mon). Lots of fun and relaxed places to eat both on the beach and on the streets back from the shore. Mae Nam is popular with longer term travelers that rent a place for a few months (enquire at the cafes or restaurants around town if you’re looking for a house to rent). Recommended Hotels: W Koh Samui (luxury) • Samui Buri Beach Resort (luxury) • Coco Palm Beach Resort (moderate – great for families) • Harry’s Bungalows (budget)
- Chaweng Hotels – The best beach on Koh Samui though not for everyone. It’s busy, has a bit of a party atmosphere (but not hardcore by any means), and has the most hawkers of any beach on Samui. The beach in Chaweng is a 7km stretch of sand and can roughly be broken into 3 sections:
- North Chaweng – The beach is more of a lagoon and at low tide is very shallow and rocky. It’s quieter here and it’s where you’ll find a few of the budget accommodations in Chaweng – alongside some top end resorts. It’s a short walk along the beach to nicer sand, more restaurants, and central Chaweng. Recommended Hotels: Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort (luxury) • Amari Koh Samui (luxury, just renovated) • Briza Beach Resort (luxury) Nora Chaweng (budget)
- Central Chaweng – A lively and fun party area. I’d still consider it family-friendly (until 10pm anyways) but don’t be expecting peace and quiet. Restaurants spill out onto the beach and as the sun sets tables appear on the sand for dinner and the music goes up a couple notches. The beach is very nice here. Recommended Hotels: The Library (luxury/boutique) • Baan Chaweng (moderate) • Ark Bar (budget)
- South Chaweng – The nicest stretch of beach in Chaweng with great sand. The only downside is that come evening the beach restaurants here feel pretty lame (like you’re dining at an all inclusive in Honolulu) – but the funner, livelier eateries of central Chaweng are only a 10 to 15 minute walk along the beach. Recommended Hotel: Poppies (luxury – boutique hotel)
- Chaweng Noi Hotels – Though this is called Chaweng it’s really a separate beach on a little cove south of Chaweng. There are only 5 or 6 resorts here and 2 or 3 restaurants. It’s very quiet but near perfection if you don’t want the busyness of Chaweng. The sand is perfect and the calm waters protected by a reef which makes it perfect for kids. It’s a long walk to the shops and restaurants of central Chaweng (30+ minutes), but taxis will get you to the main strip in less than 10 minutes. Recommended Hotel: Vana Belle (wonderful luxury hotel)
- Lamai Hotels – Like Chaweng and Bophut, Lamai has good swimming year round. The sand is slightly more coarse than Chaweng but the beach is quieter and doesn’t have as many hawkers. Recommended Hotels: Banyan Tree (luxury) • Zara Beach Resort (moderate) • Pavilion (boutique) • Rocky’s Boutique Resort (boutique, south of Lamai) • Samui Jasmine (moderate, very nice) • Lamai Wanta (budget)
- Choeng Mon Hotels – Many visitors think this is Samui’s best beach. A beautiful crescent of soft sand and calm waters. The beach is lined with a handful of restaurants and hotels and is much quieter than Chaweng, Lamai, and even Bophut. It’s a great location for families (the water is calm and shallow) if you’re ok with the limited dining options. Chaweng and Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village are a 10 minute taxi rides in either direction if you need more dining or nightlife choices. Recommended Hotels: Sala Samui Choengmon Beach (luxury) • White House Beach Resort (moderate)
- Bangrak (Big Buddha) Beach – Not a great beach but it has good budget options, a decent beach, is very close to the airport, and is the easiest place to catch a boat to Koh Pha Ngan (scheduled departures 4 times per day). Koh Faan island, with it’s huge seated Buddha, is just offshore and worth a visit.
- Emerald Cove and Lipa Noi – These 2 beaches are the nicest on the west coast of Samui. Both become unswimmable during low tide but if you’re really looking to get away from the crowds they’re good choices and have some very affordable accommodations (and beautiful 5 star resorts).
- Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao Travel Guide
- Best Hotels for Families in Koh Samui
- Best Beach Hotels in Koh Samui
- Where to Stay in Koh Samui
- Best Time to Visit Koh Samui
- Getting from Bangkok to Koh Samui
- Phuket or Koh Samui
Fantastic site as everyone has said.
Do you have a view on the new Ritz Carlton for a family of 4 (2 kids 12 and 15) travelling? Or a better alternative? What about the Centara in Chaweng?
Thanks in advance.
The Ritz Koh Samui is a great luxury resort but isolated from the main towns (though not a long drive) and the beach is not great – not even good, really. Grounds and pool are wonderful though. The Centara has been refurbished and is reopening as the Centara Reserve. The sand is great in front of the hotel and there lots of places to eat an easy walk along the beach.
Is Koh Samui good to visit during 1st week of October?
Generally, it’s not a great time but there can always be surprises and weather could be ok, even good. Certainly, you’ll get some great hotel deals.
Dear Dave! We plan to visit Koh Samui with my husband. We plan a romantic week mid February. Please suggest us a nice hotel where there are not too many children. We would like a nice Thai hotel close to the center and very close to the beach. Preferably a hotel with pool. Thanks in advance!!
Koh Samui is a lovely place for a romantic holiday.
The four main beach tourist areas on the island are:
1) Mae Nam – along the north coast, away from the crowds but with far less facilities nearby
2) Bo Phut – the best area along the north coast, with enough facilities within walking distance, and many wonderful boutique hotels and large resorts
3) Chaweng – the busiest and most developed area, with a few malls and a nightclub scene
4) Lamai – quieter than Chaweng, but with plenty of places to eat, drink, stay, and shop (the scene here has been improving in recent years)
From your comments, Bo Phut or Lamai would suit your needs. Both beaches are long, white and sandy, and the water is calm and inviting. The best way to avoid staying in a hotel popular with families is not to book anywhere with a kids’ club and large children’s pool. Anywhere describing itself as ’boutique’ and ‘romantic’ is unlikely to attract families.
Without knowing how much you want to spend on accommodation, it’s hard to make specific recommendations, but here are a few options. All hotels listed below face a beach and feature a large pool.
Bo Phut Hotels
1) Bandara Resort – mid-priced bungalows, with Thai decorations, in extensive gardens and with an adults-only pool
2) Bo Phut Resort – with lovely Thai ambience, immaculate gardens and idyllic beach
3) Zazen Boutique Resort – the perfect boutique hotel: secluded, small, elegantly furnished and genuinely romantic
1) Mercure Koh Samui Beach Resort – motel-style rooms and secluded villas on a private beach, just outside the main area
2) Rummana Boutique Resort – secluded villas, with tropical gardens and fewer guests, and two minutes from downtown Lamai by local transport
3) Samui Jasmine Resort – the best in Lamai: small, elegant and gorgeous Thai design and décor
Probably the most romantic hotel on the island is Poppies Samui. With delightful Thai decorations and ambience, the stylish villas are dotted among stunning tropical gardens. It is Chaweng, but along the quieter southern end.
Your site is brilliant and full of great info! We’ve never been to Thailand and we’re planning our next holiday to Samui and Koh Phangan next March. We were thinking of staying for 4 nights in Koh Phangan (either Santhiya or Ananatara) and then the remaining 7 nights in Samui. Have you been to Koh Phangan and if you have which hotels do you think are best? And what about Koh Samui? We went to stay in a quiet area but not too isolated with a great long beach (we love long romantic walks) and we want a luxury accommodation with great food (vegetarian) options.. Many thanks.
The Santhiya and Anantara resorts are located in Thong Nai Pan beach, which is accessible by direct speedboat from Koh Samui, if you’re staying in a luxury hotel that can arrange this; or via a bumpy 20-minute ride across the island from the main ferry terminal. This beach is actually smaller than most, barely 500m long, but postcard-prefect.
The Santhiya is renowned for its traditional Thai design and decor, which is surprisingly unusual among Thai resorts. Most of the resort and rooms are up a hill, which means more views for everyone, but some paths are a little steep at times. More contemporary in design but also stylish, The Anantara is on the beach, which means only a selected few villas get precious direct beach frontage and uninterrupted sea views.
Also worth considering at Thong Nai Pan are the four-star Buri Rasa, which is more affordable and located on the beach; and the amazing five-star Panviman, also spread up a hill, offering superb sea views from most rooms.
All four resorts are truly wonderful, and your holiday is bound to be superb staying at any of these places. As you may know, rates can dramatically increase, traffic becomes unbearable and ferries burst at the seams during Full Moon Festivals, so perhaps avoid the island 3 days before and 3 days after a full moon if you want a quiet holiday. Although the parties are a long way from Thong Nai Pan, up to 15,000 revelers come to the island at that time.
Koh Samui also offers an amazing array of resorts on beautiful beaches. Some are in isolated bays, which means limited choices of places to eat and very few genuine vegetarian options. The main beach areas, which offer a good range of things to do and places to eat, and public transport to get around, are Chaweng, Lamai and Bophut.
The Sheraton, Vana Belle and Impiana resorts are at Chaweng Noi beach, separate to Chaweng and, therefore, quieter, but within a 5-minute taxi ride of Chaweng. Within Chaweng proper, Poppies is an matchless oasis, and the delightful Buri Rasa Village has a genuine village feel . In Bophut, recommended are the gorgeous Zazen, the perfect seaside boutique hotel; the Peace Resort, one of the first with renovated old-fashioned bungalows; and the Anantara, sister to the luxury resort on Koh Phangan. And it’s hard to find anywhere quiet in Lamai.
Great site, well done – my wife and I are taking a romantic getaway in September for 16 nights to Koh Samui. We are after a place with amazing breakfast, great pools, and beautiful beaches, with some local restaurants not too far away (15-20 mins walk at most). Currently thinking Zazen for 6 nights, Hansar for 5, and Sala Samui for 5 nights. But given both Zazen and Hansar are on the same stretch of beach, what else do you suggest around that price in a different area that has an amazing beach etc? Do you know much about Sensimar? Seems to be getting glowing reviews on some websites. Also some reviews mention mozzies being an issue at Zazen so am unsure about it from that perspective as well – and even some complain about the beach there? Any advice would be great. Thanks, Ben
Zazen is great but yes, beach is narrow in front of the hotel. The beach is better/wider as you move east towards town but by the time you get to Hansar (basically right in town) it’s a pebble beach (which I’m fine with, but some don’t like). In September (the start of rainy season) mosquitoes will be worse around Zazen than Hansar. Sensimar is fine if you want to hang by the pool and walk on deserted beaches but not so great to be close to restaurants and activity. Poppies and The Library, in Chaweng, are other hotels I’d recommend and have a look at.
We are heading to Koh Samui in August for our honeymoon. Tossing up between Bo Phut Resort & Spa (not Anantara), Chaweng Regent Beach Resort or Melati Beach Resort & Spa. We are in our mid 30’s, like bars rather than clubs and want the option of doing some activities ie snorkeling but nothing too strenuous! Let me know your thoughts. Cheers.
For what you’re wanting, go for the Bophut Resort, for sure.
Trying to plan a trip to the Gulf Islands in August (I know might have some rain), thinking Ko Samui is best choice. I have come across many many hotels but cannot figure out what is best. Looking for a room with a pool and ocean views and a good beach. Will be looking to do some sights and city adventures. Any good choices?
Try Poppies in Chaweng.
Hi Dave! Congratulations for this BRILLIANT review!
My wife and I are going to spend 4 days in Koh Samui (beginning of May), and we are looking for a beach to relax, not so full of people, hawkers nor parties, but also with a good option of moderate-range price hotels and a good structure of restaurants. I’m torn between Bophut and Choeng Mon beaches. What would you recommend?
All the best,
Choeng Mon is much quieter and the beach/sand are better quality. Choeng Mon has some restaurants but not a lot of choice. You’ll likely be hopping in a songthaew (at least a few times) to get somewhere else for dinner. Bophut has much more in the way of bars and restaurants but is quite a bit more busy (though never rowdy or crazy).
Awesome Read Dave! thanks so much!!!
My buddy and I are looking for the perfect mixture of relaxation and a bit of fun. were both single and in our mid 30s from southern California. Right now we are stuck between Centara and Poppies. We like the beach in front of Centara but the rooms and grounds at Poppies look more relaxing. Is the beach in front of Poppies really nice? Please help us make this decision. Sergio
You’re right. Poppies has more character. Beach in front of Centara is a little wider and pool is bigger. Centara is a much bigger resort.
Great stuff. This is the only data one needs. I have been considering Outrigger Koh Samui as well, its on Hanuman Bay at Bo Phut beach. Can you please help, whether that will be a good choice?
Nice hotel on a small but good beach. Not a lot within walking distance so if you’re wanting to be near shops and restaurants this isn’t a great choice. (It’s located in the Bophut region but not on Bophut beach.)
Thanks for all the great info! We are planning a trip all over Thailand for March. Two adults, an 18 year old, and 16 year old. We are looking for a 5 star hotel, (like a Four Seasons), with a beautiful beach, and walking distance to shops and great restaurants near a town. Does this exist? Dana
The very best hotels and resorts in Koh Samui are not near a town. That said, there are still some very very nice ones that are near the towns and walking distance to shops, nightlife, and restaurants. My favorites in Chaweng: The Library, Poppies, the Centara, and the Amari (recently refurbished). In Bophut: The Hansar and the Anantara.
This is an amazing post. My fiance and I want to honeymoon for 7 days in Koh Samui. We would like to stay at a resort with little to no kids and is somewhat luxurious. We want to be on the beach with great sand and a 5-15min walk to restaurants and nightlife/trendy bars, but a little secluded. Do you have any places that you could recommend?
Thanks for absolutely wonderful info. I used your site for my travel to Greece and now want to plan for Koh Samui. It’s our 17th anniversary and we plan to spend 2 nights in Koh Samui and for us the resort is more important in terms of ambiance, beauty and scenery. Please advise on your recommendations. We are planning in February this year.
Koh Samui is loaded with great romantic hotels but the Hansar is probably my favorite in that category – especially if you want to be walking distance to good restaurants and trendy/relaxed bars (but no clubs).
Your article is wonderful and full of information for people like us who are travelling for first time. We are a couple and travelling to Samui on 29th December for 2 days. We want to stay in an all inclusive moderate range but a very nice beach resort. PLease help help by suggesting some also what would be the best way to travel from Ao Nang to Samui.
I would not recommend an All Inclusive hotel on Koh Samui even if there was one (definitions of AI are flexible and there are a few that have packages but these are rare). Great food is a highlight of Thailand and All Inclusives are disappointing in this regard. Much better to walk out your door and find a great local place. In any case, almost all hotels have restaurants and serve alcohol so if you want an AI-like experience then that’s easy to do too.
Hi Dave I stumbled on your site and just love it! Some advice please, I’m going for my honeymoon in early mid-December and was looking for something quiet, good beach, but not terribly far from restaurants. We’re only staying for 2 days. Thank you!
There are lots of great choices but Poppies would be right at the top of the list.
I need some advice please! We are going to Koh Samui at the end of January for 11 nights. Our friends are staying at Replay and i have been trying to find something more chilled and relatively close by.
We are travelling as a couple and enjoy a nice sea view (beach quality not so important) , chilled vibe, good food, not too isolated..
I have narrowed our list to:
-The Waterfront Resort
-The Secret Garden
-Peace (depending if available)
Any opinions/suggestions appreciated!
The Waterfront Resort is nice and a very short walk to shops, restaurants, and bars of Bophut. Not much of a beach here though. If you want a better beach then go with Peace Resort (but that will be much farther from where your friends are staying).
Hey Dave, love your blog! My wife and I are going to Koh Samui in late November and would love your quick input. We’re currently looking at the Renaissance, Zazen, and Le Meridien. Do you have a favorite out of those 3? Beach quality is an important factor to us.
If you want a nice beach then definitely go with Zazen. Meridien has a pretty lousy beach and Renaissance has a very shallow beach which is unswimmable during low tide. Zazen also has much more within walking distance (along the beach).
Hey, we’ll be coming on 29 December for 3 nights, i.e., 29, 30 and 31. There are 6 of us. We were thinking of Infinity Resort. We are planning to book a 4 bedroom penthouse. How is that? Can you suggest some other hotels in that price range? Is it nearby to the main clubs and party places in Koh Samui?
Nice place (large suites with private pools) but it’s a long way from anything and very secluded up in the hills. Nightlife is a good 20 minute drive.
Thanks so much for your comprehensive site. Just looking for a resort recommendation for 3 ladies celebrating our 40th birthdays. We will be travelling to Samui in late June next year and looking for a resort at Chewang, on a nice beach close to the restaurants, etc. We were looking at Nora Buri but now worried it might be a bit too far to walk to town. Would love any suggestion you may have. Michelle
Yes, Nora Buri is a nice hotel but not much within walking distance. You can walk to town but most people taxi or use the free hourly shuttle. If you want to be close to restaurants and beach life this is not the hotel.
Hi there, love your web page so help full. We have been to Koh Samui (Hansar) a few years back and loved it was one of our best holidays, so we are returning for our anniversary but even though we loved Bohput Hansar we didn’t venture over to Chaweng much, so was thinking of staying in Chaweng for a change but do love luxury and waking distance to restaurants but love the serenity of a quiet beach . Can you suggest a great hotel spent so long looking .
I’d recommend Poppies for you. Beautiful hotel on a quiet stretch of beach in Chaweng but still a fairly short walk (along the beach) to restaurants and nightlife. (Not as close as the Hansar but it’s an easy enjoyable walk.)
We are planning to be in Koh Samui on 28th of October and can’t decide between 3 hotels – Sala Samui, Anantara Lawana, and Hansar.
We are coming for our anniversary and we are in our 30’s. We want a beautiful hotel with a good beach. Please suggest.
All are very nice hotels. Sala Samui has the best beach in a quiet town with a handful of restaurants but no nightlife. Anantara is fantastic but the beach is lousy and there’s not much within walking distance. Hansar has a trendy vibe, lots of bars and restaurants are steps from the hotel but beach directly in front of hotel has coarse sand (still nice but it’s not the idyllic soft sand you might want – for that you need to walk down the beach 5 or 10 minutes).
Awesome work ! Very Informative site. Loved it ! I’m planning to go on a honeymoon to Koh Samui in mid december. I would like a resort with good beach, with a private pool and best service. I have shortlisted Vana Belle, Six Senses Samui, Banyan Tree, Coco Palm and Baan Haad Ngam. Vana Belle and Banyan Tree are a bit expensive for me. Any other options?
Another thing is I know its hard to find good vegetarian food options but any recommendation of restaurants or hotel which serves good veg food would be helpful.
The Vanna Belle has beautiful private pools and a great beach (the best sand of the hotels you listed).
Hi Dave. Great job on the website, very informative. My wife and 2 year old will be in Samui for a short weekend break in Mid-October. We wanted to be in a lively area preferably in Chaweng (not too crazy like Ark Bar) but in luxury. Price is not much of a factor as I will only be there for 2 nights. Was thinking of either the Vana Belle, W Retreat, or The Library.
1. Would appreciate your recommendation on the hotel and also weather at that time (would it be too rainy)?
2. Any other 5 star hotels would be much appreciated (preferably in Chaweng with a good beach and walking distance from restaurants)
Thank you for help!
The 3 hotels you mention are all very nice but the Vana Belle (Chaweng Noi) and W (Mae Nam) are not central and don’t have much within walking distance. In October, Koh Samui is quiet so these out-of-the-way places will be especially quiet. Along with the Library I would recommend Poppies in Chaweng – great hotels and walking distance to many restaurants.
Hi we are a couple looking at going to Phuket or Koh samui in March for our 30th anniversary we have been to both places before and loved them both, but preferred Koh Samui more we stayed at the Hansar and loved it for the location, beach, restaurants, bars all walking distance to great hotel. Our question is we would like to go back but are a bit worried about going back to same hotel as we dislike doing a holiday the same. We do like five five star with no kids can you suggest any other hotels like the Hansar? Not interested in party Chaweng. Hope you can help.
Thank you Louise
Yes, the Hansar is one of my favorites and there isn’t anything quite like it on Samui. But closest would be the wonderful Zazen – more boutiquey than Hansar, the beach is nicer here and the vibe more relaxed. The only thing that might not work for you is that it’s a 10/15 minute walk along the beach to bars and restaurants of Fisherman’s Village (though it’s easy to grab a taxi back if it’s too far in the dark).
I really enjoy your page along with great advise etc. Me and my soon to be wife are planning our honeymoon to Koh Samui. We are still young and active. We would enjoy the night life on the beach, sunny days in the ocean and some island exploring. We are looking at staying at the Kala Samui for the 8 nights? Do you recommend this hotel? Do you think we should stay in various hotels during our trip? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
Kala Samui is very nice and good value for the 4-star quality that’s there. But there are some cons to be aware: no direct beach access, few places to eat within walking distance, need to take a shuttle or taxi to get to Chaweng (where the nightlife is primarily located). If you’re happy relaxing by the pool with gorgeous views of the sea then it’s a great choice. For a typical beach holiday, not so much. Regardless of where you choose, yes, with 8 days I would stay at 2 different hotels in 2 different towns.
Hi SD, have you any thoughts on the Outrigger hotel? Have booked for early September for hubby and me for our first holiday without the (now adult!) kids. I know it’s a quiet location but just wondering whether we should pay extra and change to a different hotel which we can access things to do more easily? Doesn’t seem to be recommended on any travel sites and although has good reviews, there aren’t as many as with other hotels.
Nice hotel but not much of a beach (though pools are nice, and pool villas are great value) and very little within walking distance. If you’re looking to relax it’s a good choice. If you want to be able to walk out your door and enjoy some drinks or choose from a bunch of restaurants then yes, you’d be better in Chaweng, Bophut, or even Choeng Mon.
Hey Dave! Great work here. I have a question about Fair House Villas and Spa. I’m reading a few conflicting reviews online and was hoping you can help steer my decision. Wife and I looking to chill, snorkel, and swim around ocean.
Good value 4 star hotel. A little isolated with only 2 or 3 restaurants within an easy walk but a great choice if you’re looking to relax and don’t want to pay the prices at the Hansar or Anantara (for example). Pretty easy to catch a taxi or sangthaew to Bophut or Chaweng – or use the free shuttle from the hotel. Pool is great. Beach is ok/good.
Are the majority of eateries located on The beach road in Chaweng or are their other areas close by that would offer better prices off the main touristy road. I’m looking for open air local hole in the wall places or street food carts. Ted
Walk south on the beach road to the area around the Centara and they’ll be cheap restaurants and a few carts off to the right.
Hello SD, I just booked a stay in Phuket (air tickets paid already bkk-hkt-bkk) and recently found out Phuket beaches do not have or allow beach chairs anymore on beaches (mats/towels only). Not sure about umbrellas but this is an issue for me and a lot of folk who have back issues. I called a few hotels in Samui and they said they have chairs for hotel guests so seems no issue in Samui but can you confirm this? I’m a middle aged male traveling solo who is past the Ark Bar party scene days. I would like a nice beach (with chairs) that has local food joints and some bars around somewhat close but I will rent scooter so doesn’t have to be walkable. Can you give me a couple more choices similar to Poppies (but a little cheaper). Also where could I get a good detailed map of island to use when riding around island? Thank you in advance.
Yes, beach chairs are allowed on Samui beaches. Good hotels that are a little cheaper than Poppies are the Banana Fan Sea and Chaweng Beachcomber. Both have good beach and are an easy walk to good restaurants. You’ll see free maps at some hotels and restaurants with Koh Samui Map on the cover. Pretty good for roads, hotels, restaurants, and beaches.
Awesome site Dave! What are your thoughts on Le Meridien if staying in one of their Pavilion Pool villas? They were offering 30% off so seemed like good value relative to other hotels with villas and private pools. For some background, just going for a 40th birthday with my girlfriend. Not looking to party. Just a reasonably priced luxury experience around $300 USD in early July. Willing to travel to the best beaches and restaurants. More about the villa, public spaces (spa, pool), service and food experience for us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Le Meridien is a wonderful hotel but the location is not great (20 minute walk to Lamai) and the beach is not good for swimming, though it is pretty and makes for a nice setting. This is a good choice if you’re happy sitting around the pool or within your luxurious room.
Do you know the best way to travel from Koh Phayam to Koh Samui?
Your blog is so helpful!
There are direct mini buses that run between Surathani and Ranong. So, using these, you’d have to take a boat from Koh Phayam (these run on a regular schedule) to Ranong, hop on a minibus from Ranong to Surathani then catch another boat to Koh Samui from Surathani. Depending on the schedules, you’ll probably need two days to accomplish this.
Another option would be to take a boat to Ranong and then fly to Bangkok from Ranong. Then you’d catch a flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui. Nok Air runs two to three flights per day to/from Bangkok to/from Ranong, some in the morning. There are lots of flights to Samui from Bangkok so you could link up the flights fairly easy with the hope your Nok Air flight wouldn’t be delayed. This option would obviously cost a lot more than the bus but it would be much more comfortable and quick.
Could you please advise where would be ideal to stay for our Honeymoon? We looked at Peace, Centara Grand, Anantara BoPhut, and Pavilion.
We were ideally looking for somewhere where we would be away from family with kids and could do a bit of touring/island hopping too?
Those are all nice hotels but Centara and Anantara Bophut have lots of kids and families so I would skip those for a honeymoon. Pavilion is in Lamai which does not have a honeymoon vibe (a little too seedy for my tastes). But Peace Resort would be perfect. Great beach but still close to the charming shops and restaurants of Bophut.
These hotels all seem really beautiful. I need to find some pictures of what they look like on the inside. That one with the red pool seems rather interesting in particular. I wonder what made them think to make their pool red.
The Library Hotel is a trendy boutique hotel with a beach bar (beside the red swimming pool) and a hip wine bar/restaurant on the main road. Great place to stay in central Chaweng.
Hi there Dave,
Firstly Congratulations on a wonderful and informative site!!! AMAZING!!!!
We haven’t had a holiday in over 2 years so we really don’t want to get this wrong.
Looking at going to Koh Samui for 15 days in mid June with my husband and 2yr old Daughter. (Is the weather ok at this time? Is there a lot of rain?)
We were thinking of breaking up our stay in 3 x 5days. (Do you think this is too much or stick to just two accommodations over this time?)
1. Choeng Mon Hotels (Sala Samui, Tongsai Bay, Melati, Outrigger, or Royal Muang)
We are wanting relaxation for the first 5 days, great beach, great pool and not too fussed being a little secluded.
2. Bophut Hotels (Hansar, Anantara, Bophut Resort, or Bandara)
Beautiful hotel preferably with a King size bed as we co-sleep, Nice beach, great pool and walking distance to restaurants.
3. Chaweng Hotels (Centara, Anantara, Sareeraya) – or any other suggestions as i know you said South Chaweng has the nicer beaches.
Great Beach, great pool, and walking distance to restaurants but don’t want to stay next door to something like Ark.
Are the beaches on Koh Phangan nicer than in Koh Samui? Is it worth staying there for 5 nights?
Thank you for your time in advance!
These are all great hotels so you’ve chosen well. The only one I would question is the Anantara in Chaweng, which though it’s a lovely hotel does not have a great beach and is not walking distance (or at least, not an easy walk) to central Chaweng. My favorites would be Sala Samui in Choeng Mon (Tongsai if you want more luxury and more seclusion). In Bophut, the Hansar (trendy boutique) or the Anantara (very family friendly, lots of kids). In Chaweng, the Centara (large family friendly resort) or Poppies (smaller and more intimate but not as many kids).
Your other questions: weather should be good in June – some rain here and there but generally sunny skies. 3 towns each for 5 days sounds perfect to me. Koh Phangan is wonderful and worth a visit. Are the beaches better there than on Koh Samui? Not a huge difference but maybe by a tiny bit.
Hi Dave! Your website is amazing! Such a huge help! Thanks for putting all of this together. My husband and I are traveling to Ko Samui in mid September for only 3 days and have been back and forth on where to stay. We are looking at either Centara or the Banana Fan (and booking the beach villa). Priorities: Beautiful views (from the room/balcony), great beach steps away, walking distance of great restaurants (we are big foodies), and a room that is somewhat modern and very clean. We are also looking for that “Thai feel” and not necessarily a resort that you can go to anywhere. I know you highly recommend Centara, but we are a newly married couple, no children. Centara seems highly child filled. It also seems like many of the Centara rooms don’t have a great view of the beach (though I could be wrong), and many of the TripAdvisor reviews have negative reviews of the Centara being old and not well kept. Any thoughts between the two? Your reviews on Greece hotels were spot on, so I trust your opinion and would love your feedback between the two options. Thanks!
I wouldn’t stay at the Centara if you were looking for a non-resort hotel (especially if you don’t have kids). Banana Fan Sea is a better choice. And better still is Poppies (great thai vibe right on the beach). All 3 are on a great stretch of beach with good restaurants within an easy walk.
I am visiting Samui in the early July with my family – 2 adult and 2 children age 11 and 14.
I plan to stay at the Santhiya in Phangan for 4 nights and I want to stay in Koh Samui for 4 nights. Looked at Royal Muang. Perhaps you can suggest a good resort and not far from good restaurants. Our budget is around 300 dollar per night for the room.
Royal Muang is very nice. It’s on a quiet calm beach with several restaurants nearby but not a lot of choice – and not nearly as many places to eat as Chaweng or Bophut. For more options read The Best Hotels for Families on Koh Samui.
Hi Dave! Thanks so much for the info on your page and for helping out so many people trying to find their dream hotel/ beach in Samui.
My boyfriend and I are in Samui from late April to the beginning of May (8 nights in total). As we can’t decide on one place to stay the entire 8 nights, we’ve decided to split our stay into 4 and 4. The first 4 nights in somewhere a bit more happening (not completely in the action but a short walk away). And the 2nd 4 nights in a rusticy style, romantic, more secluded bungalow type place (but again not completely isolated – we are massive foodies so anywhere near where we can get delicious Thai dishes will be a winner!).
We’re looking at the moment at the Beluga Boutique Resort just south of Lamai, or somewhere towards the south of Chaweng for the first 4 nights, and Eden beach bungalows or Baan Bophut Hotel for the 2nd 4 nights (although we would also consider Mae Nam and Choeng Mon). What do you think to these or are there any other suggestions you have? We are both mid-20s and would like places on a nice beach that’s not crowded with deck chairs and kids.
Thanks for your help!
Beluga is a very nice hotel but not my favorite location for enjoying nightlife and dining as it’s in Lamai which is not nearly as nice as Bophut (trendy bars and restaurants) or even Chaweng (better nightlife). I’d stay at either of those towns before Lamai. South Chaweng Beach is a great if you want a good beach, quiet location, but still walking distance to clubs and restaurants. Eden Beach Bungalows is on a great stretch of beach in Bophut and a 5 to 10 minute walk along the sand to the shops and restaurants of Bophut. Baan Bophut is on the other side of Bophut town (from Eden) and the beach is not as nice here but still fine for swimming. Baan has restaurants and trendy bars (never really noisy) just out the door – central Bophut is a 3 minute walk away.
We, a family of 4 with kids aged 9 & 2 are planning a trip. Could you pls recommend a hotel with close proximity to beach (kids friendly for swimming) at the same time walking distance to shopping / dining. Basis on previous comments short listed the following;
* Saree Raya
* Centara Grand
* Buri Rasa
* The Library
* Muang Samui
* Chaweng Garden
I know I’ve listed many…. Appreciate if you could recommend basis my requirement (#1 being the best match)
They are all good choices (except for the library which is more of a chic couples hotel). The Hansar (in Bophut) is the best for being an easy walk (steps, really) to shopping and dining but the beach here is a little coarse (I rather like it but most people prefer softer sand). The Anantara Bophut is right next door to the Hansar and has more of a family-feel. (There are two Anantaras on Koh Samui, the other is Lawana and though it’s a beautiful resort it does not have a great beach or convenient location.) The Centara Grand (south Chaweng) has a great beach and pool and is very kid-friendly. It’s a 10 minute walk to the main shopping/dining area of Chaweng. Buri Rasa and Chaweng Garden are the most central and beach is good – but not as nice as Centara. Muang Samui and Amari are a 5 to 10 minute walk from central Chaweng. The water here is protected and very calm but beach is not as nice and water can look a little lagoonish. It’s still fine but not as beautiful as the beach in south Chaweng. All the resorts I mention would be fine choices with Centara probably being the best.
Hi Dave, amazing job and amazing blog!
I am going to Samui in May, I have decided to stay on Chaweng, as I am looking for a nice beach resort and some nightlife, restaurants, not too busy and noisy but with a walking distance to everything. I am considering Baan Talay Resort as it seems to be relaxed, chilled vibe place and quite good standard. I am also considering King’s Garden Resort. Both are in my budget, I would like to spend 2,500 Bath. Which of those two would you recommend? Or maybe you could recommend something different but with similar standard and with similar price range? I am little afraid that Baan Talay may be too dated. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
Both are very nice mid-range resorts. King’s Garden perhaps slightly nicer but not by much. King’s Garden is more centrally located and nightlife and wider choice of restaurants are within an easy walk. Baan Talay has a nice pool (no pool at King’s Garden) and the sand is a little softer down here at the south end of Chaweng. It’s a 10 to 15 minute walk to nightlife from Baan Talay.
A friend and I are planning our trip to Thailand for May and are having a hard time deciding where to stay in Koh Samui. We’re willing to splurge and were looking at either the W or Vanna Belle, would you recommend one over the other? We’re looking to relax, do some day trips, and enjoy some of the nightlife, so want to be in a good location but also want to enjoy the luxuries of a nice hotel. I’d also love to know where you would recommend if we wanted to save a little rather than going all out on one of the aforementioned hotels.
Both of these are luxurious resorts but are lacking in some areas that are important to you. Neither have great locations for nightlife as there’s not much around either (taxis are necessary to get to clubs and beach bars). The beach at the W is not one of the best on Koh Samui. The beach at the Vanna Belle is great but some units are far from the beach so you’re not walking out your door and onto the sand. A good alternative that would likely cost less is Poppies on Chaweng beach. The sand is great here and clubs and restaurants are a 10 minute walk to the north.
Hi Dave, love your site!
We’re group of 6 and looking to stay at central chaweng, whats your recommendation between Chaweng Garden Beach Resort and Chaweng Regent Beach Resort? Or any recommendation for a good one around there at the same price point? Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated and any hotel recommendations would be great too.
Thanks in advance.
Both are nice places with good location. The beach is a little better in front of Chaweng Garden and it’s a few minutes closer to central Chaweng shopping and restaurants. Chaweng Regent is a little quieter.
I am going to Koh Samui beginning of September ( after attending wedding in Singapore). This is the first time to Thailand and brother-in-law was thinking of booking Baan Haad Ngam Resort Hotel. Any thoughts? Tricia McDaid
Nice hotel (has a boutique feel) at the quiet end of Chaweng Beach. The beach is not as good here as in South Chaweng and can disappear during high tide. Nightlife of central Chaweng is a 10 to 15 minute walk along the beach.
How do you rate the Laem Set area for beaches and eating places? How far is the airport from Laem Set?
Laem Set (in the southeast of Koh Samui) is one of the lesser developed parts of the island and because of that it feels worlds away from the rest of Samui. The beaches are white and not as sweeping as the ones in the more developed areas of the north but they are also considerably less busy and have some scenic limestone outcrops, blue water, and shade from coconut palms. The water can get fairly shallow in some places at low tide making swimming difficult and unpleasant (unless you can get out past the coral reef 100m offshore). Because it’s more remote, most people eat at their resort or rent a car or motorbike to drive to eating places. There’s really not that many eating options around right in Laem Set. Driving west along the south coast there are some fantastic, very authentic seafood places, and most are right on the water – Ging Pagarang is the most well known. Otherwise going north towards Lamai turns up more tourist-oriented places, some of which are very, very good – the local market in Lamai is fantastic for snacks and Thai treats and there’s also an excellent French bakery. From Laem Set to the airport is about 45 minutes.
Just a note to endorse your web site. We have just returned from Koh Samui, we had booked before I discovered your site. BIG REGRET. Everything you said about Laem Set was spot on.
The information and advice is 100% tourist friendly, I had a vehicle most of the time so saw 90% of the island and could relate to every thing on your site.
We moved up to Bophut for our last two nights and stayed at the Smile House which was lovely for the 3500 Baht b.b. Rate.
So fellow tourists : Use this site !!!!!!!
Just wondering what your thoughts are on The Sheraton Samui, any information is much appreciated!!
Large resort (be prepared for some hill walking or waiting for a golf buggie to get from the beach to the suites) on a great beach with good swimming. A few restaurants along the beach but for nightlife and more choice you’ll be taking a taxi to Chaweng 5 to 10 minutes away. (It is walkable but most people take a taxi.) The Sheraton doesn’t have a lot of character so it wouldn’t be my first choice.
Thanks for all your hard work, your site is awesome. My boyfriend and I are planning a trip out to Koh Samui at the end of November. There are a ton of great resorts, and we were looking for suites with a private pool that are affordable. We found The Kala Samui and The Sarann are almost right next to each other. Do you know anything about either of these hotels or can recommend a similar one around the same price point?
Kala Samui and the Sarann are both nice but pretty isolated (no shops or restaurants within walking distance) and neither hotel is set right on a beach (though the Sarann is a very short walk from the beach). I’d recommend Coco Palm Beach Resort in Mae Nam. Bungalows have nice private pools and it’s located on the beach. The area is quiet but still some good restaurants and a mini-mart within a short walk.
I am a solo traveler heading to Koh Samui in March. You website is great. I’m looking for a safe relaxing upscale hotel on the beach but in walking distance to shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Would OZO Chaweng be a good choice? Would Bo Phut be a better option? And top 3 tourist attraction/must see :-)
Ozo is a wonderful hotel with a great beach front location. It has a nice pool and plenty of nightlife and restaurants within a 10 minute walk along the beach.
The top activity for most people is taking a day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park. The boat trip includes kayaking, snorkeling, lunch on the beach, and time to hike around some deserted island and/or relax on the beach.
Diving is popular but it’s more expensive from Samui than from the nearby islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. The sites are magnificent though and there are even chances of seeing whale sharks. If you’re not a diver, Samui is a good place to try it or get certified.
Renting a car and driving around the island for a DIY tour can be very fun. The southern part of the island is the most wild and beautiful and there are lots of places to stop like Magic Alambic (the rum distillery), a waterfall hike to Nam Tok Nam Muang, and authentic seafood restaurants on the south coast. If you don’t feel like driving hiring a driver doesn’t cost much more and is much easier.
There are lots of spas, yoga, and meditation all around the island. Although lots of people like going on elephant treks and to safari parks, it’s important to note that the animals are rarely well-cared for. If you’re interested in elephant parks then visit Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
Most people come to Koh Samui to relax on the beach, be pampered in luxury accommodation, or to party at the bars (mostly on Chaweng and Lamai) so that’s a great plan too!
Hi Dave, we have booked the Amari in chaweng for 6 nights from 3 April. It opens on the 1st so I’m a bit nervous! Do you know much about what the renovations are doing and what will be changing? And I guess if it will be all finished or generally do these things keep going once opened?
They say that work will be complete by April 1. Sounds like a very thorough redo, with new pools, restaurants, lounge area, dive center, and kids’ club.
I really appreciate your work. I am planning to visit Koh Samui and Phuket in the middle of September. Later I found that September will having heavy rainfall. But many sources gives different notes. Shall we visit these places in mid September? Can we get all the sports and enjoy the places during that time?
There are no certainties with the weather and that’s doubly so with Thailand. Yes, on average there is plenty of rain in September in southern Thailand. Typically there is more rain in September on the west coast (Phuket) than on the east coast (Koh Samui). But it’s common for people to visit during September and have great weather (it will often rain once a day then clear to sunny blue skies). One thing that I’ll say with more confidence is that the sea will be rough in September on Phuket and not very swimmable. If you wanted to play the odds then visit Koh Samui as the rains usually hit later in the year (October/November) and September will usually have nicer weather than on Phuket.
Hi Dave! My husband and I are going to Koh Samui in March. We actually went to santorini last year and stayed at Absolute Bliss (after your recommendation). We wanted to get your opinion on Bandara, Nora Buri, and Ozo. We are looking for relaxation and beach with a nice pool. Mainly clean and high end. Last question (random) I’m terrified of spiders and have been reading that Thailand is full of tarantulas haha. Wondering what my chances are of seeing one? Also should we rule of chiang Mai because of the smoke? Thanks!!
All are nice hotels (I’d call them good quality 4 star hotels). The biggest difference is location. Nora Buri has a lousy beach and not much around it but it has great views and is wonderful for relaxing (and is a popular hotel for weddings). Bandara has a good beach and is a very short walk along the sand to Bophut’s shops, bars, and restaurants. Ozo has the best beach of the 3. It’s in a quieter area of Chaweng but it’s only 5 or 10 minutes to nightlife and restaurants.
Yo mate! Brilliant site.
I’m planning 2-3 weeks in Samui with my wife in November and December. We wanna do a cheap – but nice – beach bungalow.
I’m not into that whole Full Moon party vibe, but don’t really want absoulte peace and quiet. A nice couple of bars and resturants on the beach plus a couple of local pubs (showing sport etc) would do me fine.
I was thinking of Treehouse Silent beach bungalows on Maenem. Question is though, as I don’t want to hire a scooter to get around, is Maenem going to be too quiet and secluded? If we wanted to go into a town for drinks / music one night – is this the wrong place to go?
Mae Nam is certainly quiet and the Treehouse is in an even quieter section of the town – there’s not a lot within a 10 or 15 minute walk. You can certainly get a drink in Mae Nam and have a nice meal but you’d have to taxi to Bophut for anything that feels like nightlife or a sports bar.
Awesome website and I love the photos of all the beaches and your recommended quality of each!
I’m travelling to Koh Samui in June/July with my husband and two kids aged 4 and 6. I can’t seem to decide between staying in Choeng Mon or South Chaweng. We love a great beach that is safe for swimming with kids but also with some options for restaurants along beach and small town. We don’t need too much noise and colour at night time but happy for a bit of action and not just a deserted town. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated and any hotel recommendations would be great too! We hope to stay directly on the beach. Thanks in advance for your response ?
I prefer South Chaweng as there is much more within walking distance but still quiet by most measures. When I stay in Choeng Mon I inevitably spend a fair bit of time in a taxi getting someplace else. A quiet beach sounds good in theory but after sitting around the beach all day it’s nice to be able to mix it up with some different dining options. However, the beach in Choeng Mon is more kid-friendly. The water is shallower and calmer than Chaweng.
You’ve put together a great resource!
I wanted your advice – we were looking to travel to Samui at the end of March (Easter weekend).
We are a few couples who are traveling there with the intention to party (hard, but not too hardcore!)
Following your article, we’ve decided to stay in the Chaweng area, and we wanted to be as close to the action as possible.
We wouldn’t want to stay in a hotel like Ark, but at the same time we don’t want to stay somewhere too secluded.
We are a little late in booking for this long weekend, but I would appreciate it if you could suggest us some good hotels. Basically a 5 star property, but nothing over the top (as we don’t expect to spend too much time in the hotel).
Two very nice hotels (4/5 star) near Ark Bar and the stretch of beach with lots of nightlife are The Library (trendy, with 2 cools bars of its own, one on the beach, one on the main road) and Muang Samui Resort (more relaxed and resort-like). While both hotels are a short walk along the beach (in different directions) to Ark Bar they’re not close enough to hear the music of the clubs.
Hi Dave. I know you recommend booking online to get the best deals but we’re having trouble reserving 7 hotel rooms for our families during a honeymoon weekend at the Banyan Tree. Any advice?
For large groups it’s better to contact the hotel directly.
Contact Ms. Pawadee at +66-77-915333 extension 7110. Good luck.
Congrats for your site, it is amazingly managed, helpful and up to date, great job!
My wife and I are honeymooning on Koh Samui next week.
I would like to take the opportunity to ask few question if you do not mind.
We will stay a few days in Koh Samui – any experience or comments on Pinnacle Samui Resort in Maenam beach and Imperial Boat House in Choeng Mon?
We are also planning to go to Koh Phangan for 1 night or 2 (as we are interested in Full Moon Party – we thought if we are there once why miss it … is it safe, worth it?
What currency is the best to take from Europe? I heard USD.
Where is the best place to exchange money on Samui?
Where is the best place to get taxi from on Samui? I’ve read a few bad things (like rip off).
Where is the best place to go snorkeling?
I’m so much appreciate your effort answering these questions, only if you have time.
– Both are nice mid-range hotels with great beaches. Pinnacle does not have a lot nearby but is close to the ferry to Koh Phangan. Imperial has one of the best pools on Koh samui.
– Full Moon Party is very fun and as long as you know what you’re getting into (it can get a little crazy) is definitely worth it. And best to stay overnight for a day or two to enjoy it properly.
– USD or Euros are both fine. Lots of ATMs and that’s the easiest way to get baht.
– If you get your hotel to arrange a taxi (usually the hotel mini van) you’ll pay a little more than the local rate but you won’t get ripped off and you won’t have to negotiate.
– There isn’t much good snorkeling on Koh Samui but many day trips that take you to good snorkeling sites.
Hi Dave! Loving your blog–such a great travel resource, thank you! I will be traveling throughout Thailand and Cambodia with my boyfriend (we’re both in our mid-twenties) from March 18 – April 1. We are spending the last four nights and five days of our trip in Koh Samui and are having a bit of difficulty deciding between two or three luxury hotels. We are looking for something luxurious and romantic with a great pool and beach. Although we are hoping for a very relaxing vacation, we may want to go into town for a fun night or two during our stay. We have narrowed it down to SALA and Vana Belle with Hansar coming in as a close third. What is your preference between Vana Belle and SALA? And how does Hansar stack up against those two?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!
I like Hansar because you can walk everywhere (within Bophut) from it. With Vana Belle and Sala you’ll be in the taxi a bit. Vana Belle is the most WOW! It has a trendy 5-star feel (but can also feel too big at times). Sala is the most relaxed. Both Vana Belle and Sala front beautiful soft-sand beaches. The beach in front of Hansar is beautiful to look at but to find soft sand you have to walk 5 or 10 minutes to the west.
Firstly, thank you putting this site together. The information is fantastic and I particularly like the beach quality pictures. Very helpful indeed.
I have posted this on Tripadvisor but after finding your site, if you wouldn’t mind, I would like to get your advice?
My Wife and I are travelling to Koh Samui in June and are spending 5 nights there in total, with 3 nights in Koh Phangan sandwhiched in between.
I was hoping for some help/advice on which area to stay in Koh Samui when we return for 3 nights. I have spent weeks researching the island and I am completely torn between Chaweng, Bophut and Choeng Mon.
I believe Chaweng has the nicest beach but I am slightly put off by the thought of the craziness of the place. It seems the type of place we would like to visit for an evening but maybe not be there for three nights. Then I looked at Bophut and that seemed to have a decent nightlife but heard not so good things about the beach and the sea. Apparently the sea water is quite murky in places? Then the third place as I mentioned is Choeng Mon which seems to have a nice beach but is the quietest of the three.
We would like somewhere which has a nice balance of a good variety of bars and restaurants to choose from and a nice beach at the same time. We are late 20’s if this helps.
The hotels looked at are Poppies, Buri Rasa, Ozo, Sea Dance, Sala, Bo Phut Resort, and Spa plus a few others.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I think South Chaweng or Bophut. While there are parts of Chaweng that have a party vibe I don’t think anyone would call South Chaweng crazy. It’s pretty quiet. Bophut has a nice beach (and gets nicer the farther west you go). It’s a nice mix of trendy nightlife and good swimming. Choeng Mon has a wonderful beach but is very quieter (both Bophut and Chaweng are a 15 minute taxi ride away).
Love the website! Super useful information. I’m hoping you can give me some advice. We will be meeting our 19 year old son in Koh Samui at the end of his gap travels and want to spoil him a bit. I’m trying to decide between Hansar, Anantara Bophut and Rocky Resort – maybe push the boat out for the Sala resort. I’m quite fussy and would like something with a bit of style which makes me think of Hansar, but it looks a bit bleak with not much greenery around it. Rocky Resort looks cosier, but does it still have the Wow factor? Also am a bit worried about what you say about Lamai. Is Anantara very busy with little children? What do you think would be my best bet? I’d be grateful for any advise. Thanks, Sarah Wimborne
Stay at the Hansar if you want something trendy, great restaurant, great pool (but back a little from the beach, separated by a lane). Stay at Rocky’s if you want something quiet and relish the idea of hanging around the pool all day (not much within walking distance). The Anantara has the best of both but can have a lot of kids. I’d go with the Hansar.
your articles are very comprehensive, and I hope you can help me with my struggle!
We are planning honeymoon in Thailand, and staying in Koh Samui the last 5 days (6 nights) form 27th June to 3rd July.
Our travel agency suggested Rocky’s Boutique, but I’m concerned for the low tides. Plus the upgrade to the private pool option is a bit exaggerated for just the two of us.
So I have carefully looked into your list of resorts and down-selected the following alternatives, which can give us nice private pools:
SALA, Six Senses, Anantara and Tongsai.
1. Given they are all (apart form Anantara) secluded, which one would offer the best beach considering the time of the year (low tides)?
2. How far are the SALA/SixSenses/Tongsai from the main town with bars and restaurants?
3. What do you think of Rocky’s? Still a good option?
PS: We are not after the crazy nightlife (and definitely not for drunk people), but more looking for less-western more-eastern village/town with nice local touch of bars and restaurant.
1. Sala has the best beach. Then Anantara.
2. It’s about 15 minutes from Sala, Six Senses, and Tongsai to Bophut and Chaweng.
3. Rocky’s is great for sitting around the pool. The hotel itself is wonderful. But not much of a beach and nothing much within walking distance.
I am planning my trip to Ko Samui mid march for the full moon. My question is what’s the best Hotel to stay if you are looking for 3 star room but value for money? And also near to Chewang? Also what’s the best way to get to Koh Phangan from Samui? Thanks
The Chaweng Beachcomber Hotel is a very nice 3 star hotel with good rates and right on the beach. There will be speed boats from Chaweng Beach to the Full Moon Party – I personally would not take these for safety reasons especially if you plan to come back in the middle of the night. Larger boats leave from the Bangrak and Mae Nam ferry piers and are a safer option.
I need your help. I will be with my wife and 12 year old in March for 6 nights. After countless hours of research, it’s either OZO Chaweng or Chaweng Regent. My wife prefers central location near massage shops and restaurants hence Chaweng Regent and I prefer the quality of the beach so OZO. Is there a big or noticeable difference in quality of the beach for these two hotels. (i.e. crystal clear/clean water, fine sand, good for swimming). Can you tell me if there are massage shops and restaurants close to Ozo so we don’t have venture into the central part of Chaweng daily. Which hotel would you pick? Thank you for your help.
The beach and swimming are definitely better at OZO. Chaweng Regent has nice sand but the water there is more lagoonish – still nice but not like OZO. There are many massage shops around and I’m almost positive there’s one directly opposite OZO on the main road so finding a place won’t be a problem. Good restaurants are easy to get to from both.
People like you make travelling much more fun.
1) I have booked Briza Beach Resort for 2 nights for my honeymoon, and still I am left with 3 more nights on Koh Samui, please suggest me a good budget hotel. Will Ark Bar be a good option to stay also? Or shall I go for some secluded place in Mae Nam? Also I want to remain connected with the night life of Koh Samui.
2) How’s life near Briza Beach Resort? Is the beach good? How far is Chaweng Nightlife from Briza?
1) Ark Bar is a party place with nice modern rooms but nothing special. Food is lousy, beach is decent but probably the worst spot for swimming on Chaweng Beach. Basically, you stay at Ark Bar to party and sit around the pool listening to the djs (usually good to great). Mae Nam is the polar opposite (very nice beach, quiet restaurants, local slow-paced vibe), so you need to decide what environment you want – and I can’t help with that.
2) Briza is a 15 minute walk from Ark Bar. A decent selection of restaurants nearby. Beach is very good (but not as nice as south Chaweng).
Thanks for your fantastic website! I would love love love to ask you a few questions. Me and my partner are going to Phuket and staying at the Katathani and then to Koh Samui for 8 nights. I initially liked the pool look of the Melati but then found that it had kids and was far from bophut. Bophut sounds upper class and trendy so I’m really unsure which hotel to pick. We want luxury and water sports and shops and a clean beautiful hotel. I’m looking at the Hansaar after everything you have said about it although the gym there looks a bit daggy. I would love to hear your thoughts. I want that real special feel of beautiful lights at night lit up around the restaurants near the water and just being able to walk anywhere and have that true holiday feel.
I love the Hansar – great pool, great suites, great restaurant, great location (steps from Bophut’s shops and restaurants). The only caveat is that the beach directly in front of the hotel is fairly coarse. I happen to like this style of beach but many prefer softer sand and for that you have to walk 5 to 10 minutes to the west (away from town) and the sand gets nicer and nicer. Regardless of the sand, the swimming is great on the entire stretch of beach.
Thanks so much Dave – yeah I think we will do the Hansar for 4 nights and then thinking of going to the Impiana for another 4 nights. There aren’t many nice luxury hotels for couples in South Chaweng. The hotels that seemed to look good are ones like the Peace resort, The Hansar, and the Impiana – most other dont seem to have that resort holiday feel (without the kids). What do you think of the Impiana? If we toss up between the Hansar (though I don’t think this has the best beach) where else would you suggest to divide the trip up with soft sand and beautiful beach? Would the Impiana suit something like this? Thanks Dave :-)
Impiana is a nice hotel (though definitely not luxurious like the Hansar) on Chaweng Noi. It’s a long walk from the center of Chaweng and a 10 minute taxi ride. The beach here is great but not a lot of restaurants. It’s divided from the main Chaweng beach by a rocky headland.
I have decided on the Hansar but am thinking we might get a little bored there for 8 nights… do you think its a good idea we split the stay and perhaps go over to the Sareeraya? We want luxury but also a beautiful beach thats close to walk to restaurants and shops. So Bophut and the Hansar sounds perfect for this. Just thinking if we should split the stay and maybe stay somewhere else also luxurious on south Chaweng? Centara looks too family orientated and to be honest not that luxurious :-) Love to hear your feedback – thanks lovely.
Yeah, I would probably split my time between the 2 places. Hansar and Sareeraya have a very different feel. Hansar has more nearby and a trendier funkier feel. Sareeraya has more of a beach feel – it’s quieter but the main nightlife area is a 10 minute walk south along the beach. The Hansar is more luxurious while the Sareeraya has a larger room for similar rates.
Hey Dave! What hotel would you stay at for something trendy and luxurious like the Hansar but in south Chaweng? I can’t seem to see any good hotels around there that are clean and luxurious. What would you suggest? Thanks.
The Library is the hotel most similar to Hansar. Trendy and fun. Cool beach bar and hip restaurant on the main road (back from the beach). It’s debatable whether this is central or south Chaweng.
Hi Dave! After some extensive research on costs and rooms I have found Peace Resort as option one and have booked at 5 nights for $1k. I am looking to go over to South Chaweng way because of the beach being beautiful and relatively close to walk to things. I was wondering your advise and am looking to book a stunning beach view for about $1500 for our other 4 nights. How would you rate these – Nora Beach, Nora Buri, Bhundari, or the Sheraton? I think the Amari Palm is undergoing construction. Would love to hear your thoughts on the best quality of these or others around that price point! Thanks heaps.
Those are all nice hotels but none of them are in South Chaweng. Nori Buri (great resort but not much around it and beach is only so-so), Nori Beach (not quite as nice as Nori Buri but a little closer to central Chaweng and nicer beach), and Bhundari Spa & Resort (nice beach but still not much within a short walk) are in north Chaweng. (There is also a budget hotel called Boundary Chaweng that is in south Chaweng.) The Sheraton is in Chaweng Noi – a small beach area south of south Chaweng (it’s separated from Chaweng by a headland that juts into the water) – and has a great beach. There are a handful of restaurants in Chaweng Noi but you’ll still likely be taking a taxi into central Chaweng for more options.
I really enjoy your site. Was hoping you could give me a bit of advice. My fiancé and are heading to Koh Samui from July 19th to July 24th and we are trying to decide on a hotel to book near the fisherman’s village in Bophut. We are currently deciding between Zazen, Hansar, and Bo Phut Resort and Spa. Which would you recommend. I see that you have a lot of good things to say about the first two but i was wondering what you thought about the Bophut Resort and Spa? We are looking to stay somewhere that is romantic and private with a great beach that is good for swimming but we want to be close enough to walk to the fisherman’s village so we can enjoy the food and shops there. Also, i’m a little worried about July as i know the weather isn’t the best that time of year. Does it rain a lot in Koh Samui towards the end of July? Please let me know your thoughts. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Hansar would be my pick but all are very nice. Bo Phut Resort & Spa has a very relaxing and romantic feel (while Hansar is more trendy romantic) and it’s an 8 minute walk along the beach to the shops and Restaurants of Fisherman’s Village. The food is better at Hansar and the pool bar often lively and fun. Hansar is steps from Fisherman’s Village. Zazen is great but a longish walk from Fisherman’s Village – especially at night.
Thanks for the info..We booked Hansar! Thanks so much for your help!
Fab site – It’s been a great help in planning my trip! My boyfriend and I are leaving on Monday, here is our plan so far – Bangkok (2 nights) > Koh Samui (4 nights) > Ko Tao (2 nights) > Koh Phangan (2 nights) > Then we plan to leave Koh Phangan and head to Phuket, Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and any other small islands close by. We are flying home from Phuket would you say we would be better off to start with the islands and then head to Phuket or do Phuket first and finish up on the islands. Any advice would be appreciated.
I would do Bangkok, bus/ferry to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, fly to Krabi, ferry to Koh Lanta, Phi Phi, Phuket, fly home.
We’ve already booked flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui as we wanted to spend Christmas in Samui and wanted to go to Koh Tao before the Full Moon party in Koh Phangan as once that is finished we will then head to Islands/Phuket, so from Koh Phangan were would you suggest first Phuket, Phi Phi, Koh Lanta or Krabi?
I would recommend flying (as you save a full day of travel) and that would mean a flight from Samui to either Krabi or Phuket. It will probably come down to what’s available as flights fill quickly during the holiday season.
Thanks had a look but not one single direct flight from Koh Samui to Krabi or Phuket is left. So ferry will be our only option I think.
Many thanks Dave!
Hi Samui Dave!
A) You are awesome! Your website is hands down the #1 resource for Samui.
B) My fiance and I will be on the island the first week of June. We are considering Tongsai Bay or the Anantara Bophut. We had been looking at Zazen, but the reviews say the water is too murky. We like the secludedness of Tongsai, but the ability to walk to the Fisherman’s Village from the Bophut is also enticing. In either case, we want a lovely beach as this is our first trip to any island– much less on in Asia! I’m pretty sure I know your recommendation, but I wanted to double check.
Personally, I would stay at the Anantara as I like being close to restaurants and bars (and it’s steps to a wide choice of both). The Tongsai does have a better beach and is more secluded and private. Directly in front of the Anantara the beach is nice but the sand is coarse. A short walk (in the opposite direction of town) and you’ll find great sand – it just gets better as you walk west. The Anantara does have more kids and families.
Firstly what a great informative travel site.
I’m travelling to Thailand at the end of January for about 3 weeks with my fiance. We plan on spending 2/3 days in Bangkok then making our way to the islands, Koh Tao/Koh Samui, then Koh Phi Phi.
Firstly – which is the best island to get to from Bangkok? Koh Tao or Koh Samui?
Secondly – which hotel would you recommend in Koh Samui in Chewang near Ark Bar? We are late 20s couple and don’t want backpacker style but can’t afford the real luxury – something between on the beach.
Thanks in advance,
Koh Samui is the easiest to get to if you fly (it has an airport and Koh Tao doesn’t). If you get a good deal (which could be hard for January as it’s high season and not far away) then it’s not much more than train/bus/ferry and well worth it. The second best choice is train/ferry and though Koh Tao is closer the connections work better for Koh Samui (recommended to do the overnight train with sleeper). If you have to do bus/ferry then Koh Tao is the quickest.
For a nice hotel with good rates near the Ark Bar (but not too close) try P&P Resort.
We are a family of 4 (2 seniors). Visiting Ko Samui for the first time in January, Where should be the best place to stay for 4 nights, near to places of interests other than the night life frequented by youngsters?
Bophut if you want some night activity and lots of good restaurants, Choeng Mon or Mae Nam if you’re looking for something even slower.
Very helpful website.
I found the Moonrakers Samui House at the beach, it looks amazing but have you heard something about it and how is the area there?
Thanks for your help
Great location if you want a quiet spot on a nice beach. A few good beach restaurants within walking distance and shops and restaurants of Bophut about 10 minutes away by taxi.
Another question…how long does it take the bus to travel, on average, from Bangkok to Surat Thani? Thank-you.
Bus takes about 10 to 12 hours. Most people do it as an overnight. If you do it during the day you’ll arrive at night and there won’t be any ferries (to Koh Samui) until the next morning.
I am planning a family holiday, husband + two boys aged 9 & 13 to Thailand. Was considering going to Chiang Mai for say 5 days, then Koh Samui for 7-8 nights. We want to go to the elephant sanctuary, zip-line, ride bikes to villages etc whilst in Chiang Mai. I think I read somewhere that the smoke hazard can be bad during March, so should we still consider Chiang Mai at that time of the year, or leave it for another trip? Thanks for your wonderful blog. Narelle.
Yes, March can be bad for air quality – but some years it’s not so bad. I wouldn’t call it a hazard (unless you have related health issues) more of a nuisance. Chiang Mai is definitely a better destination for those active outdoor pursuits you’re looking for. Koh Samui does have zip lining but the elephant camps are pretty lame. If you think you’ll be back to Thailand soon that put off the visit. If not then probably worth taking a chance on a few days. Another option is Kanchanaburi which has some of the attributes of Chiang Mai but smaller and closer to Bangkok.
Thanks for your answer.
Finally we are arriving the November 29 and booked the fist 6 days at Shantaya in Koh Phangan.
The last week, we followed your advice and booked the Peace Resort, Bophut.
Hoping on good weather and a fantastic Thailand holiday.
Keep up the good work with this page.
Rune and Chatrine
There has been rain but lots of sun too throughout November. The weather usually turns for the better by early December so with a little luck you should have a great holiday. And if there are some rain storms … don’t let it get you down. It will pass.
Congrats on the website. I’ve found myself coming here now and again for information! I’m travelling to Thailand in February with my girlfriend where I’ll be popping the question in Chiang Mai. The 1st 7-10 days will be quite busy so at the end of the holiday (in Koh Samui) I’ve booked one of the ‘Sitara Residences’ near Laem Set beach. I’ve booked this place as it looks amazing and peaceful however on further investigation (should have done this prior to booking) I’ve read that these residences are pretty secluded and away from any of the better beaches or nightlife (Chaweng Beach etc). I’ve booked it as a peaceful retreat and it’s all been arranged but was wondering if you thought that where we’re staying will be a problem with what we want to do or is it still pretty accessible? We won’t mind getting the odd taxi etc within reason as long as our residence isn’t a complete pain to get from and to.
It’s definitely a little isolated. You’re looking at 15 minutes to Lamai Beach (not my favorite town on Koh Samui), 30 minutes to Chaweng, 40 to Bophut. When you stay in the quieter areas you get great value for the money so I’m sure your place will be wonderful. So, depends what you’re priorities are. Personally I would stay within walking distance of the main beach towns.
I am planning a trip to koh samui in early/mid december for 4 days. Since I will have limited time, I want to be near a beach has guaranteed white sand and crystal clear water? (taking into account the weather and month) I do not prefer complete isolation but neither the hustle and bustle of overcrowded beaches since its a honeymoon trip.
We won’t mind a shallow beach as long as we can do some decent swimming (not expert swimmers here) 4-5 ft deep water. Also we want some nightlife / restaurants etc. and decent clubs without the sleaziness associated with thailand.
The south end of Chaweng Beach (for example at Poppies Hotel), the west end of Bophut Beach (Zazen Hotel), or anywhere on Choeng Mon (though this might be too quiet for you).
Hi, firstly i love your blog,
I hope you can help me a little bit, due to the Egypt crisis and left looking and panicking for another holiday with my husband &. We are travelling to Koh Samui (Chaweng) 1st-20th December. I would like a beach front hotel or bungalow/villa and as we are staying for a while I would like something very reasonable, I would also like your advice about maybe staying somewhere else for maybe 5 days or so (instead of being at the same place incase its not nice) and i noticed you mentioned Koh Phangan to someone. I hope you can help its a very important holiday many thanks, Julie.
Chaweng Beachcomber Hotel is very nice and one of the cheaper hotels on Chaweng Beach. Yes, Koh Phanang is wonderful and I highly recommend it. 5 days minimum to really get into the vibe and relax over there. The boat trip from Samui is short and there are many every day. Head north for the best beaches on Koh Phangan.
My husband and I will be on Koh Samui at the end of February. We are looking for nice moderately priced accommodation with a kitchen (three weeks into our trip, we will be tired of eating out every day – and we love cooking in other countries). From the great information on this site I think Bophut or Choeng Mon would suit us best. Would you have any recommendations?
Thais eat a majority of their meals out (usually at a street stall) so kitchens are surprisingly rare in Thailand. But certainly there are some rentals with kitchens. Go to booking.com and with the filters on the left select kitchen – you’ll get several reasonable choices but they will not be on the beach.
I am going to Koh Samui in Feb with my 3 kids (aged 11, 14 and 18) and partner, we are looking for a lovely hotel on a gorgeous beach. peaceful with not much around, but where we can walk along the beach to bars or to get a taxi into town. I last went to Koh Samui 20 years ago!! I have looked at Anantara Bo Phut, Vana Belle, Zazen, Sala Samui or the Conrad, where would you recommend or do you know anywhere else?? thank you, your website is fab!
All are great hotels. Anantara is the best for close proximity to bars and restaurants of Bophut (nothing too happening like in Chaweng but still plenty of fun to be had). Zazen is on the same beach but another 10 or 15 minute walk along the sand. From both the Vana Belle and Sala Samui you’d need a short taxi ride. The Conrad is a long way from any nightlife – go here only if you’re looking for quiet and seclusion (but great place).
Hi dave, i was in Samui and KPG in May and experienced very low tides, versus the east coast at Kata Beach where I enjoyed deeper water and good swiiming. Is this a issue year round on the east?
No, it’s not year round and only a problem from late April to late May – just a handful of weeks and only on some beaches. Chaweng, for example, almost never has this problem.
We are heading to Koh Samui in March. I was wondering what your opinion is about Nora Buri Resort and Spa? I noticed you said that the beach turns marshy as you head north. Does that include this far north?
The beach at Nora Buri Resort is not great for swimming – too rocky and shallow – but it does make a nice view. The pools are wonderful at Nora Buri. Chaweng is a 30 minute walk along the beach (there is a portion where you have to walk in the water) or a 5 minute taxi ride.
Can’t decide between Vana Belle or Hansar. I’m heading to Koh Samui for a week. First staying in Kamalaya on my own and then meeting with some friends. Vana Belle’s pricing is high, but I like the idea that its close to night life. Any thoughts?
Vana Belle has a nicer beach directly in front of the property but is in a quieter area than the Hansar. From Hansar you can walk out the door to many low-key bars (but no clubs), not so for Vana Belle. Both hotels are a taxi ride away from the real nightlife in Chaweng.
Fabulous website, been really helpful in narrowing down where to stay. Can you help me though as I’m stuck. I love the sound of the beaches at Chawang and dining on beach in the evening, but think I prefer the sound of fisherman’s village as don’t like mad busy towns. Should I stay in a quiet part of Chawang or stay in Fisherman’s Village and Bophut?
Thanks in advance, Kate
In Chaweng you’ll tend to spend a majority of your time on the beach (beach restaurants and bars) and the town is easy to avoid if you want to. In Bophut you’ll probably spend more time on the streets and alleys of Fisherman’s Village (when you’re not around the pool or suntanning) as that’s where the bars and restaurants are. So, that’s the big difference.
My wife & I plus our 10-month old baby are going to Samui in mid-September for 5 days. Can’t decide between Bhoput / Choeng Mon / Chaweng (either south or north, a little far away from the noisy area). We plan to take it easy mostly, and with a very young baby, I think we will be spending most of the time in the hotel / resort. Of course, we would go walk on the beach, go out to restaurants, maybe walk around a little bit, etc. Hotel / resort that is right on the beach would be great, sea view room is a plus. With around 2,500 THB budget, where can we stay at which the hotel / resort itself is great to stay in, not near the noisy area at night, and at the same time quite easy to walk or short taxi ride to establishments.
Really appreciate your inputs! Thanks!
Bophut is the best of the 3 (by far) for taking a stroller out for dinner. Choeng Mon has the most kid-friendly beach – very shallow calm water. Chaweng has the most dining options and casual beach restaurants to relax at.