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Mae Nam Beach

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Glistening Mae Nam is located on Ko Samui's north shore, with Bang Po and Ban Tai to the west, and Bophut to the east. The town is situated on the main Ring Road, and boasts a long stretch of impressive beach, with mostly calm waters, ideal for swimming.

The beach is set back quite far from the road, meaning that there is less disturbance from traffic noise, and you can truly find your slice of paradise and you really can read your book under a coconut palm. The water is clear and calm and ideal for swimming most of the time, making Mae Nam beach an ideal family beach break, and, when the wind picks up, kite-surfers can be seen catching the breeze.

While resorts and beach cafes line Mae Nam's shore, this is a far quieter area of Ko Samui than bustling Chaweng Beach and is a good option if you don't want to be in the heart of the busy tourist areas without being totally isolated from the activity and nightlife.

Once known for its backpacker accommodation, today Mae Nam offers accommodation ranging from budget beach bungalows through to 5-star boutique hotels and villa rentals, with sweeping vistas across the bay to Ko Pha Ngan, home of the infamous Full Moon Party.

On Thursday evenings, locals, expats and tourists alike gather in the street near the Chinese temple for the weekly 'walking-street market'. Here you can enjoy cocktails for 50B, sample deep-fried crickets, listen to local bands, and enjoy street food. Turn towards the sea at the Mae Nam traffic lights, and follow the loop road around towards a small pier and community stage for events. If you're after yet more eating options, Bophut and Fisherman's Village are only 5 minutes away, and a 15-minute drive will take you to Chaweng by car or scooter, or about 25 minutes by songthaew.

Mae Nam has several well-priced spas, including Mae Nam Home Spa (near the Chinese Temple and walking street market), and Mae Nam Sauna and Bamboo Forest (turn at their sign from the Ring Road, at the bridge). These spas offer massages at beach sala prices, but if you are after a 5-star experience, resorts such as Santiburi and Napasai offer luxurious (and pricy) options.

Mae Nam Hills is home to the Santiburi Golf Course and Country Club, which claims to be one of Asia's finest golf courses. Well maintained fairways and greens are set in 23 acres of typical tropical surroundings, with views over the bay and to the neighbouring islands, making it hard to keep your focus on the game! Follow the directional signboard from the Ring Road to Mae Nam Hills, on the western side of Mae Nam, close to Ban Tai.

Towards the western end of Mae Nam, before you reach Ban Tai, you'll see a set of temple gates visible from the Ring Road. Go through these gates, and follow the signage to reach Wat Na Phra Lan, and beyond it, the Lomprayah ferry terminal. The pier serves the high-speed catamaran Lomprayah ferry with daily departures to Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao, and on to the mainland town of Chumphon (from where you can continue on by bus to Bangkok). Mae Nam's proximity to the fast ferry makes it an ideal stop over for those in transit to the Full Moon Party.

Nearby, there is a small bridge which crosses a river. Meet Mae Nam Soi 1, and the start of a newly constructed road that joins Mae Nam to Lamai beach on Ko Samui's east coast, cutting through the interior of the island and avoiding much of the ring road. Taking this alternative route will allow you to experience another side of Samui, as you'll see farmlands, tiny traditional houses, buffalo and typical rural life. The road climbs in altitude, and as you round bends, you'll get to enjoy Samui from a new perspective (video).

Related reading

Bangkok to Ko Samui, Pha Ngan & Tao
Dive Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan & Ko Tao
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Text and/or map last updated on 30th October, 2013.

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