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Koh Samui Hotels – Tips and 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 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
- Best Day Trip from Koh Samui: Ang Thong Marine Park: Full-Day Kayaking & Snorkeling Tour (good tour with hotel pickup, breakfast and lunch)
- How To Book Hotels Online
The 33 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. The resort offers some limited facilities for children, and following substantial renovations in 2017, there is more of a focus on families. 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. Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui – Chaweng
**Currently closed for renovation, re-opening in 2020** Massive gardens, perfect for families, beachside yet close to downtown Chaweng. With extensive grounds parallel to the beach, this is the only major resort in central Chaweng. The classy colonial-style design provides a relaxed ambience throughout. The landscaped gardens are immaculate and the lawns, with petanque, badminton nets, and futsal goals, are immense. The lagoon-shaped pool is also idyllic, with a swim-up bar and ‘islands’ of palms, while the beach is long and sandy. The library, games room, and tennis courts add to the attraction. Almost all rooms boast sea views – albeit at a distance of 50m to 100m – except those on the ground floor, which are compensated with a private plunge pool. All are elegantly furnished, although the black-and-white tiled bathroom is so big that the bedroom seems undersized. And with a playground, kids’ club, and activities for the young and old, it’s ideal for families.
11. 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.
12. Farmer’s Boutique Resort – near Mae Nam
Unique peaceful setting but a tad distant. Certainly not another unexciting beach resort, 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. Sala Samui Resort & Spa – 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.
25. 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.
26. Santiburi Samui Beach Resort – 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.
27. 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).
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. W Retreat 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.
32. 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.
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. Only offering 26 villas facing the gardens or right on the beach, the self-described ‘Moroccan’ design is not evident – but who cares. 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. The 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 hammocks swinging, palms swaying, and no jet-skis. 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
- The 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
- Le Meridien Resort & Spa – near Lamai
- Banyan Tree Samui – near Lamai
- Samui Buri Beach Resort – Mae Nam
- W Retreat Koh Samui – Mae Nam
- Belmond Napasai – Mai Nam
- Santiburi Beach Resort & Spa – Mae Nam
- Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui – near Mae Nam
- Conrad Koh Samui Residences – West Samui
- InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort – West Samui
Where Should I Stay on 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 Resort & Spa (resort luxury) • Zazen (boutique) • Peace Resort (moderate) • Smile House (moderate) • World Resort (budget – great for families)
- 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 Retreat (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 Resort & Spa (luxury) • Amari Palm Reef (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 Hotels: Centara Grand (luxury – great for kids. Currently closed for renovation, re-opening in 2020.) • 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 Hotels: 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. The main strip in Lamai is filled with girly bars – not overly lude or offensive, but enough to give Lamai a tacky touristy feel that most other beach towns don’t have. Unless you have a specific reason for staying in Lamai choose Chaweng, Bophut, Choeng Mon, Mae Nam, or honestly, pretty much anywhere before you choose Lamai. The Banyan Tree and Rocky’s listed below are not in Lamai and are completely removed from the Lamai scene. Recommended Hotels: Banyan Tree (luxury) • Zara Beach Resort (moderate) • Pavilion (boutique) • Rocky’s 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 Resort (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).