Are you planning to visit Koh Samui (Thailand)? Would you like to know what are the best areas to stay in Samui? Some of the renowned hotspots on the island are Chaweng Beach, Lamai, Bophut, or Choeng Mon. However, there are so many other places that you can explore, which is why it makes sense to figure out where to stay in Koh Samui.
Koh Samui, or Samui Island in English, is a melting pot of visitors and travelers from different countries all over the world. The island attracts many budget travelers who want to experience it for several days to months. It also appeals to wealthy holidaymakers, families, and honeymooners.
Whether you want to go to a site with a relaxed atmosphere or a lively one, you will find what you are looking for on the island. Koh Samui is truly one of the most unique islands in Thailand and it maintains a broad appeal for all its visitors.
Samui is situated in the Gulf of Thailand’s Chumphon Archipelago, which is about 700 km from the southern part of Bangkok. The island is recognized all over the country for its natural beauty and is home to more than 40,000 people.
Koh Samui is the second largest island in the country, measuring almost 250 square kilometers. It is the largest out of all the islands found in the Chumphon Archipelago and is, therefore, a chosen site when it comes to diving and kayaking.
The first settlers on the island were fishermen who came from southern China and the Malay Peninsula about 15 centuries ago. The name of the island is still a mystery though.
Many believe it is an extension of mui, which is one of the native trees here. Perhaps it is a variation of Saboey, which is a Chinese word that means “safe haven.”
Samui was an independent community that was not connected with central Thailand until the 20th century. Even in the early 70s, the island did not have any roads. People needed to trek through the mountainous jungles for one whole day to get to the other side.
The first backpackers came in the early 70s. They were traveling on a coconut boat when they arrived and the island started constructing a few bungalows. Some of the tourists would visit here and there but it was only in the early 90s when the island caught the attention of people from different places.
Soon enough, tourists would arrive on full boats to discover assorted sights and sounds in Koh Samui. After that, the island has grown considerably, becoming the second most popular destination after Phuket.
Where to stay in Koh Samui: Best areas
This world-famous island contains a few commercialized beaches. You will also find peaceful choices and attractions, such as coral beds and natural gardens. Other activities that you can do include diving, Muay Thai, and of course eating Thai dishes.
To learn more about the island, you need to find a good place where you can rest for the night. Without further ado, here are the best areas in Samui that you need to check out when looking for options:
1. Chaweng, where to stay in Koh Samui for nightlife
If your main goal is to experience the club scene, Chaweng is undoubtedly where you should stay in Samui. This part of the island is a perfect destination for you if you want to go out at night, visiting the bars, drinking some alcohol, socializing, and having fun until the early morning.
The area is considered the epicenter of the island in which it is made up of long stretches of water on the northeast. While Chaweng may be one of the favorites of tourists and is typically the first place that people go to when they arrive on the island, it is not recommended for everyone.
If you wish to be in a tranquil area, Chaweng will disappoint you. It is jam-packed most of the time, even though it is not as congested as the Phuket beaches. If you want a secluded beach with not a lot of people, you may want to search elsewhere.
Still, Chaweng is well-liked because its beach is magnificent and it is great for water sports. You can also go sunbathing or partying at night, which is why those who love playing on the beach head here first.
You will also find new people who are ready to mingle, which makes Chaweng one of the best spots for socializing. At night, it is one of the most energetic with music, bars, and clubs everywhere in sight.
When you are done partying, make sure you have somewhere to go to, especially when you get a little tipsy.
The good news is that you will find low-cost hostels in the area, which will suit your budget. You will also find midrange hotels and expensive ones, along with family-friendly options.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CHAWENG
2. Chaweng Noi, great area in Koh Samui for families and relax
About five minutes away by car from the noisy area of Chaweng Beach, the Chaweng Noi Resort stands. Its perfect location grants you entrance to the town center, which is approximately 20 minutes away on foot.
Chaweng Noi offers restaurants where you can taste local Thai dishes and wade into the outdoor pools later.
Chaweng Noi is where you want to be if you want a much less noisy spot. You will love observing the sunset here from the terrace. This particular beach is a popular destination for those still searching for areas in Samui where they can relax, play certain water sports or go swimming.
When it comes to staying in Chaweng Noi, villas, hotel rooms, and family-friendly accommodation are all over the place. Resorts are here, as well as luxury and boutique options with spa and other facilities.
Since Chaweng Noi is a fragment of the island’s commercial districts, you will uncover places that have been revitalized recently. Some spaces are suitable for travelers, while others are great for families. All in all, Chaweng Noi is an exceptional place to stay in Koh Samui.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CHAWENG NOI
- ($$$) Vana Belle, A Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui
- ($$) Baan Sawan Samui Resort
- ($) Chaweng Tara Hotel
3. Lamai Beach, where to stay in Koh Samui for couples
If you are with your special someone and you ask locals about their recommendations on where to stay in Samui, they will most likely tell you to go straight to Lamai. It is a great place for couples, which is why it is often a top choice for those on a honeymoon.
Lamai Beach is one of the most popular, just like Chaweng. However, the nightlife here is not as rowdy as the other stated beach. Nevertheless, you will certainly have a fun time while in the area.
There are plenty of resorts that line the coast of Lamai Beach. This place is prominent as a swimming site with the waters cool and clean. Many locals and travelers visit the beach, particularly the center and the south because they are ideal for swimming.
The splendid sunrise will take your breath away. It is one of the reasons why the travelers who visit the place choose to wake up early so they can witness the beauty of the sun going up the sky.
Even though there are lavish hotels in the area, they are much more affordable than those you can find in Chaweng. You do not have to pay more to experience great service and get a comfortable place to sleep in.
In addition to the immaculate beaches in and around the area, Lamai has a walking street market where you can enjoy fresh food on the cheap. Plus, it is recommended for those with kids because Lamai is a very family-friendly destination.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN LAMAI
4. Maenam Beach, great for families and quiet holidays
Maenam means “Mother of Water” in English and is a favorite of those who want to steer clear of the noise and parties in Chaweng.
This beach is one of the longest on the island and yet it is quite serene. If you want to spend a calm and quiet holiday that is far from the crowd, this place is a top option.
Families with children often stay here because it is not as busy and loud as the other neighboring beaches. Unfortunately, there is not much to expect here except the Walking Street, which takes place every Thursday.
If you are searching for bistros and a place for a few outdoor events, Maenam is worth checking. Many visitors come here to go kite surfing, tree climbing, zip lining, and Frisbee golfing.
Many of the extravagant beach resorts in the area present private villas, which are wonderful for couples and newlyweds who want solitude. The villas mostly showcase Thai and Balinese cultures and they have all the facilities you need to keep you relaxed throughout your stay.
Midrange hotels are also an option, such as the Hacienda Beach and the Pinnacle Samui Resort. If you aim to stay in Koh Samui, particularly in these not-so-expensive options, you want clean and comfy beds.
Most of these choices are in a good location, so you do not have to drive for hours to get to a restaurant, for example.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KOH SAMUI IN MAENAM BEACH
5. Bophut, best area in Koh Samui for families
Another one of the great areas in Samui is Bophut, which is also recommended for families. It is beach-oriented and provides visitors with unforgettable views.
If you go around the place, there are plenty of shops that cater to tourists. You can purchase mementos here that you can take home with you and show to your friends.
For many people, Bophut is charming and is where you may want to stay in Koh Samui, especially if you wish to be close to the Fisherman’s Village.
This historic place is believed to be the site where it all began. As mentioned at the start of this post, fishermen reached Koh Samui and the village was where they settled.
In recent years, Fisherman’s Village has greatly evolved and showcases the heritage of the island. Here, you can see various shops, houses, and architecture where the Thai-Chinese influence is apparent.
The whole Bophut area has some art galleries, which make the place a fantastic stop for art lovers.
It is where you want to stay in Samui if you are searching for an area with many eateries. Also, if you have kids with you, there are family-friendly destinations that you may want to stop over.
The village is a favorite of tourists and has gained recognition as one of the best markets in Koh Samui. Bophut is indeed great for families – even those with young kids. Many accommodation options in Bophut are kid-friendly with activities for the youngsters and adults.
Wherever you plan to stay in Bophut, the Big Buddha statue is seen, which is famous for its immense size, standing over 39 feet tall. In this area, you will find cheap hostels, budget hotels, and luxury options for accommodation.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BOPHUT
6. Choeng Mon, where to stay in Koh Samui in an upscale area
While in the northeast Koh Samui, Choeng Mon is worth exploring. This place is exceptional with its series of bays that come with beaches that boast white sands.
However, many people, especially couples, will love Choeng Mon because of its quietness. Its clear waters are also a draw and yet the tourists do not stay in this area.
Its privacy is one of the main lures, making it an ideal option for those wanting a calmer place than the busy cities in Koh Samui. It does not mean you cannot do anything while you are here.
You can go to the restaurants, which you will truly love to bring your date with you. They mostly cater to sweethearts and even those with kids, but there are food selections for everyone.
Another great thing about this place is that it is not far from the other popular sites. You can reach Chaweng in just 15 minutes and the Big Buddha is five minutes away.
Unfortunately, Choeng Mon does not have many low-priced accommodations and backpacking rooms, so you may not want to stay here if you are looking for an economical place.
You will find family-friendly accommodations, some midrange hotels, and numerous luxury hotels all over the area.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SAMUI IN CHOENG MON
7. Bangrak Beach (Big Buddha Beach), where to stay in Koh Samui on a budget
The Big Buddha Beach, also known as Bangrak Beach, is thought to be one of the fastest rising areas on Koh Samui. This particular area benefits from its location because it is near the airport, as well as the top attraction, which is Chaweng Beach.
If you are planning to go to where the Full Moon Party takes place in Koh Pha Ngan, Bangrak Beach is your gateway to it. Be sure to catch a speedboat or a ferry toward that spot.
Big Buddha has a long wide beach with different bungalows, ranging from budget to midrange prices. Therefore, if you are looking for a place to stay in Samui, this specific area is where you can find affordable options.
Several bungalow operations and different other accommodation types are linked to restaurants. Whenever you want to eat, all you need to do is go out of your room and find a place to enjoy good food.
It is also a great place to relax, especially if you love to unwind at spas. Ban Sabai is situated in this area, which is one of the magnificent spas in Koh Samui.
On the other hand, the main road has been praised ever since it improved. It now has dive shops, bars, and other nightlife options, and supermarkets. British pubs like Elephant and Castle are quite famous here.
Backpackers are the major clientele in the area, so you will not find it a challenge to pick a site for you to stay in Koh Samui, mainly if you are in the Big Buddha. Explore beachfront resorts, boutique hotels, villas, and affordable hotels all over this spot.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BANGRAK BEACH
8. Taling Ngam, picturesque coastline and unspoilt nature
If you wish to witness spectacular views that the Gulf of Thailand can offer, one of the best areas in Samui to visit is Taling Ngam. Many of the selections of hotels and other types in this place will give you a room where you can easily observe the gulf right from the window.
Many people, including tourists from other parts of the world, opt for this part of the island because of it’s picturesque coastline and unspoilt nature. It is not as noisy as the other areas and you can also see the beauty of nature by simply gazing outside.
Expect to see pristine beaches that green jungles obscure from your view, as well as the chance to see the Angthong Marine National Park. Several visitors and even the locals will agree that Taling Ngam is a true beauty to feast your eyes on, making it one of the most scenic areas in Koh Samui.
Discounted bungalows are in this section of the island but of course, you will also find quality hotels. Countless people cannot wait to talk about the best seafood restaurants they have tried in Taling Ngam. It is why when you get here, tasting the seafood options is an absolute must.
The nearest town from this place is called Nathon, but it is almost 45 min from Chaweng and will take you at least 20 minutes to get there from Taling Ngam. Still, if your goal is to simply enjoy the beauty of this area, you will not be disappointed even if you stay here for the rest of your vacation.
It is recommended for those who aim to relax during their time on the island and enjoy a lazy holiday. Several accommodation options in the area include hotels, both affordable and expensive. No matter what your budget is, you will find a room to stay and sleep comfortably.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SAMUI IN TALING NGAM
- ($$$) InterContinental Koh Samui Resort, an IHG Hotel
- ($$) The Sunset Beach Resort & Spa, Taling Ngam, Ko Samui
- ($) Koh Samui Resort Villa Giacomelli
9. Lipa Noi, where to stay in Koh Samui for a quiet retreat
If the place you like to stay in Koh Samui should not give you a difficult time with transportation, Lipa Noi is one of the first recommendations. It is close to the car ferry pier, making it convenient for you to drive to Samui if you come from the mainland.
When you arrive here, you will instantly realize that the beach boasts fine sands with waters that do not have corals or rocks. Therefore, it is highly suggested for people looking for a place where their kids can swim safely on the island. The water is also quite shallow.
If you plan to stay here during your trip to Koh Samui, you will find bungalows in the area. Unlike a few places on the island, the options in Lipa Noi are well-spaced. This way, you can still have the privacy you want and the other people’s noise will not bother you.
You can stay in a hotel, villa, or a cheap inn while in Lipa Noi. Perhaps the only negative thing about this area is that its remoteness will not offer you plenty of activities. Still, some people simply want to rest and enjoy the beauty of the beach.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KOH SAMUI IN LIPA NOI
It is not enough that you stay in Koh Samui for a day or two. Explore the island and take in different adventures on your visit. Make sure you know the best areas in Samui where you can stay based on your preferences, whether you like a quiet place, a lively spot or anything in between.