Slip into the rhythm of this village market slightly south of Lamai; it’s a window into the food ways of southern Thailand. Vendors shoo away the flies from the freshly butchered meat and housewives load bundles of vegetables into their baby-filled motorcycle baskets. Follow the market road to the row of food shops delivering edible Muslim culture: chicken biryani, fiery curries or toasted rice with coconut, bean sprouts, lemon grass and dried shrimp.
Pristine jungle shrouded beaches and stunning views of Anthong Marine National Park combine to make Taling Ngam one of the most picturesque parts on the island. There are a couple of cheap bungalow options and a highly regarded seafood restaurant, Five Islands, but it is a 20-30 minute drive even from Nathon, the nearest town of any significance and almost an hour away from Chaweng. That said, if you’re after a relaxing, lazy, holiday above all else, Taling Ngam is hard to beat. Given that the area is also fast becoming a residential property hotspot, this may not be the case for too much longer.
Lipa Noi Beach is the only good swimming beach on the west coast of coast of the island. Looking due west it has amazing sunsets every night. Also this is one of the least touristy beaches on the island.
The southern third of the beach has the widest strip of sand, is the best for swimming, and has the most nearby eating and drinking and shopping options. To the north, the water doesn’t get deep enough for swimming until you’re quite some distance out, and the further north you go, the narrower and quieter the beach becomes, eventually becoming rocky towards the headland.
There is a significant number of girlie bars along the main street as well as in some side streets. They are most prevalent in the southern part of town, while the northern part is virtually free of them.
Minibus transfers between Lamai and Samui Airport cost about 150 baht/person; a private taxi charter costs around 300-400 baht.
A minibus from the ferry terminal (normally) sets you back 60 baht, but most tourists are asked (and do pay) 100 baht. See the Ko_Samui#By_bus section about how you may try to avoid that.
A songteow to and from the pier costs B70. Do not use as a private hire – just hop on as it comes and go with the location.
Mae Nam is known for it’s 7 km stretch of beach. The beach has white sand and is lined by coconut trees. The sea is typically calm, however there is a moderate drift and the water is not usually clear. Mae Nam actually means river, ‘mae’ meaning mother and ‘nam’ water.
Easy transfer from Bangkok with a 1h direct flight. A songthaew from Chaweng (50 to 100 baht) or Nathon (50 baht) is the cheapest option. Easy to find as the busy ring road stretches through Mae Nam.
Chawing and Chaweng Noi is the largest and most popular of Samui’s beaches, and is usually divided into four sections: North Chaweng, Central Chaweng, South Chaweng and Chaweng Noi (Little Chaweng) which is around a headland and at the southern most tip of Chaweng. Chaweng Beach is approximately 7 km long, making it the longest beach on the east coast. It is lined with coconut trees and boasts year long, warm (temperatures range between 25-28°C.). The ocean brings a lot of debris on the Chaweng Beach and while most of it is natural, it still makes the beach look dirty. The beach tends to have bigger waves and stronger currents than most of the other beaches of Thailand. Visibility in the water is very poor.
Located eastwards past the airport turnoff is Choeng Mon. Choeng Mon is made up of a series of bays featuring white sandy beaches. Although only about 15 minutes north of Chaweng and 5 minutes from Big Buddha, the intervening coastline has kept the beaches quiet and the waters clean.Choeng Mon Beach is a small but magnificent bay. It features wide sandy beaches with a rock formation on one side and a small island you can paddle out to on the other. It’s is very family-friendly area, and being dominated by a handful of relatively upmarket resorts. Inexpensive accommodation is virtually non-existent.Despite its proximity to the other beaches, Choeng Mon is not very accessible as songthaews do not pass by very frequently. If you do not wish to spend cash on cab fare, hire a car or motorbike for the duration of your stay.
Bophut is one of the few places on Samui that retains some of the island’s original Thai-Chinese atmosphere. It has recently experiencing a boom with new hotels and guesthouses sprouting up at a frantic pace. The traditional core of Bophut, known as the Fisherman’s Village, is a charming village on the east side of the beach while the new developments are to the west. In contrast to Chaweng there has been a conscious effort to dissuade the more commercial elements of Thai night life from setting up shop and instead aiming for couples and young families.