Photo: A sleepy corner of the island.

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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Travelling from Chaweng Noi southwards, you'll pass by a couple of smaller bays before arriving in Lamai proper. In order from north to south, you'll hit Coral Cove first, followed by Thong Ta Kien (also known as Crystal Bay). We like Thong Ta Kien Bay -- we like it a lot. Clear waters, beautiful sand and enough shade -- even on busy days.

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But it is more than just the sand sea mix. Thong Ta Kien's location is excellent. It is far enough away from the "scene" to be quiet, but not too far that a night out requires a level of planning akin to ascending Everest.

The sand is dust-like, white, and squeaks up between your toes and quite reasonable snorkelling can be found offshore amid huge boulders that protrude from the clear water.

Accommodation wise, there is a range of options -- certainly enough to satisfy most budgets, even if the cheapest of the cheap leans towards dire. While it is true that if you're on a tight budget, perhaps a day trip is a better idea, those in the mid-range to more expensive budgets should be well-satisfied.

Most of the restaurants are attached to the various resorts, though you're just a short ride away from Lamai or Chaweng Beach. A few high end restaurants take advantage of the views from the Ring Road above Chaweng Noi and Coral Cove, especially near the lookout point and at Elephant Rock, a huge boulder on a bend next to the road, midway between Chaweng and Lamai, that offers sweeping views across the bay.

This area does gets a fair flow of daytrippers, and not without cause. If you're not planning on staying here, at least try to visit on a day-trip -- that's something very easy to do as it's a 30-second stroll to the main road.

These three small bays are mostly void of vendors so make for a more relaxed day, although you may want to bring some snacks and water if you don't want to buy from resorts. An added plus is that one can snorkel in peace without being ridden over by a jet ski.

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