May 12 2012
Lamai is Ko Samui’s second largest beach after Chaweng, and lies on the southeast coast, with Chaweng Noi to its north, and Hua Thanon to its south. Driving from Chaweng to Lamai offers an eagle’s view along the 4169 ring road of the coves below, as the route winds over steep hills and around giant boulders high above the bay.
Lamai hosts its walking street market on Sunday evenings, along the road between the fresh market and the bridge. As with Samui’s other walking street markets, this one offers authentic budget-friendly street food, cocktails, clothing stalls and music. A hangout for locals, expats and tourists alike, it’s worth a visit. Coco Splash, Samui’s only water park, is located in Lamai and is guaranteed to keep the kids busy for a while, though be warned it’s not overly exciting for adult thrill-seekers as the slides are designed for the younger market.
Best budget place to stay
ibed Samui offers stylish and air-con backpacker accommodation in central Lamai, with mixed or female-only dorm rooms, plus private studio rooms with two bunk beds. The dorm rooms are modern and equipped with such backpacker rarities as individual TVs with head phones built in to each bed and individual overhead lights and plug points. Communal bathrooms are clean. Towels and blankets are provided and you can do your own laundry using the hotel’s washing machines. WiFi and a roof-top sundeck sweeten the deal further. A self-serve breakfast is included. Guests have access to the pool at Pavilion Resort across the road. Dorm rooms cost around 500 baht per person, while the studios go for around 1,000 baht for two.
Best midrange place to stay
Charming Samui Jasmine Resort is a quirky offering on Lamai and your best midrange bet on the beach. Keep an eye out for the oversized chess set at the restaurant overlooking the beach, while the decent breakfast buffet and swimming pool are what help push this hotel into the noted bracket. Rooms are spacious, with comfy beds, indoor and outdoor seating areas, Jacuzzis and WiFi among the amenities. The deluxe garden view rooms are good value, starting at around 3,300 baht. Don’t pay extra for the sea view as rooms overlooks rooftops, not making it a particularly spectacular sea view.
Best high-end place to stay
The Pavilion Samui is located along the central Lamai beach and if it fits within your budget, by all means go for it. Rooms and villas are designed for relaxation in style, boasting oversized beds, reading corners, luxurious body products, dressing gowns and slippers in spa-style baths, and stack away doors that open up to private Jacuzzis or pools. The resort offers a fitness centre and a restaurant and bar taking advantage of the seaside views. Indulge in high tea over a good book in the library, or pamper yourself at the five-star Spavilion. If you tire of your private pool, you can slum it at the communal seaside one. Rooms from 4,000 baht, villas from 7,000 baht during low season.
Best detox option
The Spa Resort is ideal for the budget traveller wanting to detox after too many of Thailand’s infamous buckets. Quaint A-frame bungalows surround the pool and overlook the beach, and rooms are also available in the main building. Rooms are simple but clean and equipped with air-con and WiFi. A spa offers herbal wraps, herbal steam room, various massages and facials. Classes in yoga and reiki are on offer as well as meditation classes at the local temple. The onsite restaurant serves delicious vegetarian and raw food (with some meat dishes). Menu prices are extremely reasonable – a delicious spicy lentil soup will only set you back 70 baht. Rooms average 900 to 1,200 baht.
Best holiday buy
The Fishermen Pants Shop peddles their own brand of these classic Thai-style garments in a choice of cotton, linen, silk and hemp in a kaleidoscope of colours. Variations include yoga, tai chi, island, meditation and hill tribe cuts, as well as shirts, kaftans, embroidered handmade shoes and bags. Definitely not budget fill-the-gaps-in-the-suitcase kind of souvenirs, but worthy, quality pieces of clothing that will bring back memories of your Samui holiday every time you wear them.
The best stretch of Lamai beach itself is in the middle in front of The Pavilion. Personally, favourite Samui beaches include two small bays just before Lamai when coming from Chaweng: both Coral Bay and Thong Ta Kien Bay Bay are good swimming beaches, with clear calm water, offering some of Samui’s best snorkelling for those who can’t make it to the Marine Park. They are also blissfully Jetski free.
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