Ko Samui

Where to stay: Ko Samui

Ko Samui is a big island, with more than 1,000 places to stay spread around the island's coast and interior. We commence at the capital and main west coast port town of Nathon, then travel around in a clockwise direction, covering first primarily residential Bang Po, then Mae Nam and Bophut, which run across Samui's north coast and are popular with families. Next comes slightly more affordable Bang Rak, then onto a spur on the island's northeast corner, Thongson Bay and Choeng Mon. After this we head south, along Samui's most popular beaches of Chaweng, Chaweng Noi, Thong Ta Kien and Lamai. These attract the bulk of the island's visitors, especially those looking for the party. For those wanting a quieter experience, the west coast beaches of Taling Ngam and Lipa Noi beckon. From the latter it's possible to walk to Nathon, bringing us back to where we started. One additional entry is the glistening island of Ko Taen, just off the south coast of Samui and attractive to wannabe time travellers.

On this page: Ko Samui accommodation
More on Ko Samui

We have 68 places to stay in and around Ko Samui.

Introduction

Please see the areas guides such as Chaweng, Lamai and Mae Nam for individual accommodation reviews, while below you’ll find more island-wide pieces.

The best budget accommodation on Ko Samui
The best budget accommodation on Ko Samui

Our pick of the budget crop

Great family accommodation on Ko Samui
Great family accommodation on Ko Samui

Great options kids will love

Nathon

Few choose to stay in Ko Samui’s capital of Nathon, but it’s home to decent stretches of beach -- though very shallow -- both to the north and south. West facing, the sunsets are comparable only to Lipa Noi and Taling Ngam to the south of here.

Bang Po

Covering much of the western half of Samui’s north coast, Haad Bang Po and its neighbour, Baan Tai, are favourites of long-termers, expats and retirees who often rent or buy the many condos and villas found in the area. Short-term travellers who like the quiet life can also choose from a handful of quality rooms sold by the night. This stretch hosts a bunch of good seafood restaurants and laid-back beach bars.

Mae Nam

The vast Mae Nam Beach stretches as a pleasant middle ground between the other north-coast beaches: busy Bophut and Bang Rak to the east and quieter Bang Po to the west. Buildings are tightly packed behind the centre of the beach in the heart of Mae Nam village, but the western and eastern stretches remain sleepy with a rural feel in places. With a sprinkling of good-value accommodation, it’s one of our favourites of Samui’s major beaches.

Mae Nam Resort
Mae Nam Resort

Classic Samui hospitality

From 1,600 baht Walk-in

Moonhut Bungalows
Moonhut Bungalows

Backpackers look no further

From US$16 with Agoda

Saree Samui Resort
Saree Samui Resort

Luxurious private villas

From US$182 with Agoda

Treehouse Silent Beach
Treehouse Silent Beach

Earthy crunchy, good value

From 400 baht Walk-in

Mae Nam Village Bungalows
Mae Nam Village Bungalows

Lovely owner, central location

From 800 baht Walk-in

Bophut

Anchored by the artistic Fisherman’s Village, Bophut is a long khaki-sand beach stretching just east of Mae Nam and west of Bang Rak. The nightlife is laid-back compared to Chaweng but you still get a clutch of lively bars and cafes in the village, which is worth a visit even if you don’t stay there. Accommodation comes in small village hotels and hostels along with several beach resorts, and the quality is quite good overall.

Bang Rak

Mostly north-facing Bang Rak Beach, also commonly known as Big Buddha Beach, is the closest to Ko Samui’s international airport and has a number of piers at its centre and out to the east. At the eastern extreme sits Wat Phra Yai, or the Big Buddha temple, and after that, low-key Plai Laem. Over the rise to the west lies Bophut. Lodgings are mostly flashpacker to midrange with the highest concentration of places set near the piers. Accommodation towards the eastern part of the beach will catch aircraft noise.

Thongson Bay

Thongson Bay sits towards the northern top of the peninsula between Bang Rak and Plai Laem and Chaweng, and is one of the few bays in the area that has relatively easy public access. Just two places to stay face directly onto the sand here, though there are plenty of private residences and rentals on the western headland. If you’re after a slightly busier spot, consider Bang Rak or Choeng Mon.

Thongson Bay Bungalows
Thongson Bay Bungalows

Great views from some bungalows

From 800 baht Walk-in

Choeng Mon

By Samui’s standards, Choeng Mon is a small beach, mostly north facing on the eastern flank of the peninsula that juts north, separating Bang Rak from Chaweng. This is just one of a number of bays and beaches that dot the peninsula, but many of the others are given over to fancypants resorts, which block access to what should be public beaches. The accommodation here is mostly midrange to top end, with many of the most affordable rooms clustered to the eastern end of the beach in a series of three properties owned by different members of the one extended family.

Sala Samui
Sala Samui

Relaxed beachfront luxury

From US$95 with Agoda

Sirin Samui
Sirin Samui

Best dorms in Choeng Mon

From 450 baht Walk-in

White House Beach Resort
White House Beach Resort

Comfortable rooms set in lush grounds

From US$47 with Agoda

Chaweng

Chaweng is a brash and tightly packed nightlife centre built along a blinding white sand beach that’s the busiest on Samui. Trashy nightclubs, fast food joints, tailor shops and quite a few seedy bars line the heavily developed main drag, which goes for more than four kilometres and is not our idea of paradise -- look to the south and north ends for more relaxing vibes. Expect to hear jets rumble overhead a few times per day, as along with Bang Rak to the north, the north central stretch of Chaweng is right under the flight path.

Chaweng Noi

Stretching to the south of Chaweng proper, Chaweng Noi is a gorgeous strip of soft white sand that’s dominated by huge and expensive resorts including Fair House, New Star, Impiana and Sheraton Samui. While none of these are likely to be a major disappointment if you’re into the large, enclosed resort experience, we prefer some of the smaller options found off the beach.

The Kala Samui
The Kala Samui

Nicely done cliff-side resort

From US$67 with Agoda

Chaweng Noi Resort
Chaweng Noi Resort

Affordable spot near the beach

From US$32 with Agoda

Thong Ta Kien

A beautiful but small bay, Thong Ta Kien sits just to the north of Lamai on the road to Chaweng and has a handful of midrange places to choose from. It offers a good, relatively quiet beach, still within easy scooter distance of Lamai for eating out.

Crystal Bay Beach Resort
Crystal Bay Beach Resort

Wide variety of great value rooms

From US$35 with Agoda

Promtsuk Buri
Promtsuk Buri

Solid value bungalows on a good beach

From US$57 with Agoda

Lamai

Long viewed as Chaweng’s little sister, Lamai offers a beautiful beach backing onto a very mixed bag of accommodation. The centre of Lamai village is quite sleazy with plenty of sketchy bars, but you won’t notice that while basking on the sands. Much of the accommodation towards the southern reaches of the beach is, with a couple of exceptions, particularly poor.

Taling Ngam

Commencing just to the south of the bay that holds the Raja Ferry pier, Taling Ngam goes on and on and on, stretching down the southwest coast of Ko Samui. Dominated by the Intercontinental, there are some more reasonably priced places to stay and the sunsets, out over Samui’s Five Islands, are just magnificent. As with Lipa Noi just to the north, this is a very sleepy, laidback part of Samui and the beach is lovely.

The Sunset Beach Resort
The Sunset Beach Resort

Luxury without costing an arm & a leg

From US$150 with Agoda

Lipa Noi

Save a retaining wall at high tide, you can walk all the way from north of Nathon to the small naval base at the southern tip of Lipa Noi – a lovely beach, with good swimming and a relaxed laidback vibe that harks back to Samui a couple of decades ago. It also has some solid midrange spots to stay.

Lipa Lodge
Lipa Lodge

Classic Samui hospitality

From US$51 with Agoda

Lipa Bay Resort
Lipa Bay Resort

Compact but friendly.

From US$22 with Agoda

Ko Taen

Set off the south coast of Ko Samui, just a 30-minute longtail ride from the fishing village of Thong Krut, Ko Taen makes a good attempt to answer the question, "What was Ko Samui like 30 years ago?"