Photo: Low key resorts line much of the beachside.

Ko Samui is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Ko Samui as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Ko Samui’s different areas.

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Leaving Ko Samui's capital Nathon and heading around the island in a clockwise direction, will first bring you to the sedate and little-visited Bang Po and Ban Tai strip of beach and bay in the northwestern corner of the island. Bang Po is the name for the entire bay, while Ban Tai is the area towards the eastern end (before Mae Nam).

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This strip stretches for some four to five kilometres, facing north with some views of Ko Pha Ngan and backing onto route 4169. The waters are generally calm, but at low tide the water retreats considerably, exposing mud and rocks, but the beach improves considerably towards the Mae Nam (eastern) end. There are limited shallow coral reefs nearby which provide some snorkelling opportunities, and locals can be seen harvesting shellfish at low tide.

Accommodation in the Bang Po and Ban Tai areas are limited and while there are a few high-end hotels such as the Four Seasons and Mai Samui out on Laem Yai to the far west, many of the smaller resorts have been converted into affordable long-term rentals.

As the price of land in this area is relatively cheaper than in other parts of Samui, a proliferation of housing developments have also spread along the beach, especially in the Bang Po area. Similarly there is very little tourist shopping or nightlife, however you will find a few excellent beachfront seafood restaurants and local Thai-style barbecue eateries.

Food and beds aside, several furniture, decor and art shops line route 4169 through the Bang Po stretch. Exploring these as well as making a stop in at the shell museum down towards Nathon, could make for an interesting excursion.

As the road turns to the south and to Nathon, it climbs (and descends) steep hills offering fantastic views out to sea and towards Nathon from where you can see ferries as well as occasional naval vessels and cruise liners.

If one is looking for a quieter side of island life, then, with its quieter pace of life perhaps Bang Po is an option. There are few good quality midrange resorts to be found, but if you're after a wider selection, along with more creature comforts, then Mae Nam may be a better option.

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