Photo: Bophut, where even the deckchairs are fancy.

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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Set at the centre of Bophut, Fisherman's Village is located in the north of Ko Samui, with Mae Nam to the west, and Big Buddha Beach to the east. Turn off the main Ring road (4169) at the traffic lights, and this takes you on to route 4171. About 100m after the traffic lights, an ornate arch welcomes you to Fisherman's Village, where old Chinese shophouses are well preserved and interspersed with tasteful modern buildings.

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The village has a distinct French feel to it, with many boutiques, restaurants and guesthouses owned by French expats. Restaurants and accommodation are of the more midrange to upmarket variety in Bophut; you are less likely to find cheap street cafes or backpacker-type spots.

If you want to experience Fisherman's Village on the cheap, explore the walking-street market on a Friday night. As the name suggests, the road is closed to traffic, and stalls line the street selling typical Thai 'food-on-a-stick' snacks, deep-fried insects, Thai desserts, pad Thai, and grilled squid to name just a few of the dishes. If you fancy a break from Thai food, the upmarket Western restaurants also put out stalls on Friday nights, and you can get anything from Caesar salad to paella.

Fisherman's Village is a great place for shopaholics, as the boutiques offer local designer brands, vintage wear and unique pieces and accessories. There are also the stands selling the standard copy boardshorts, and fake branded T-shirts. Unique decor shops along this shopping stretch offer interior enthusiasts interesting Asian trinkets and homewares instead of the usual tacky souvenirs.

Bophut Beach, which runs from Mae Nam in the west all the way to Fisherman's Village, is a good option for relaxation as you can watch yachts and charter boats as you recline on your sun bed and order Chang or cocktails from the nearest resort or bar. At night, the beach softens from the daytime glare as restaurants and resorts adorn the trees and beach with fairy lights and lanterns, display freshly caught seafood, and turn the seafront into a fine-dining affair.

The nightlife is an eclectic mix, with laidback Rasta bars next to fancy French eateries, traditional Thai cuisine next to Spanish tapas bars and a wide assortment of patrons.

Bophut Pier, towards the centre of the village, is the pickup point for several of the dive operators, speedboat charters and larger sailing vessels. On Friday nights a stage is set up as part of the market and local performers get the crowd going. Come Friday night you will hear Reggae bands and watch bartenders juggle bottles, young Thais flame-throw, and children dance or participate in hula hoop competitions -- all part of the Friday night walking-street extravaganza.

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