Arguably Ko Samui’s quintessential beach, Haad Bophut has good swimming, great views and an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and bars (not the seedy kind) in the Fisherman’s Village – even if you don’t stay here, factor in a trip here at some point.
Located on the north coast, between Mae Nam to the west and Bang Rak in the east, the beach itself curves in a perfect three-kilometre-long crescent. The light-tan sand is coarse and much of the beach gets quite narrow at high tide, though even at low tide the water is deep enough for a swim just offshore. The view of anchored sailboats with mountainous Ko Pha Ngan in the background looks almost more Mediterranean than Thai.
The focal point is Fisherman’s Village, once an actual base for fishers that gradually transformed into a cluster of tourist-oriented shops, art galleries and eateries. These often blur the line between tasteful and kitsch but are always fun to poke around. While the village is worth a look at any time, it really wakes up for the Friday evening “walking street” that’s widely considered the best night market on Samui.
Several concrete buildings went up along the narrow village lane in the 1980s and ‘90s; wander to the quieter east end and you’ll find old wood houses now occupied by health-food cafes or low-key pubs, including several French-run establishments. Large boats have stopped docking at the old village pier, which now stands as more of a photo prop reaching towards Ko Pha Ngan.
Unlike parts of Chaweng and Lamai, with their sleazy bars, all of Bophut is suitable for kids. Families tend to have good experiences staying at resorts like Smile House or Eden Beach Bungalows and strolling into the village at dusk for dinner at one of the many restaurants. Young backpackers and older couples also have some good options in the village.
Fisherman’s Village is clustered along the east to central portion of Bophut Beach, with the village lane ending around the centre of the beach at a large resort and shopping plaza with a bland, corporate feel. From here you can hit the sand to continue west to a wider part of the beach hosting a string of resorts, large and small. Echoing a bygone era, a few fishing boats still bob near a canal in the far western corner of Haad Bophut, around Chalee Villa.
The ring road runs west out of the Bophut area towards Mae Nam and Bang Po, while scenic Route 4171 cuts east near the village to loop through Bang Rak and Choeng Mon on the way down to Chaweng, which can also be reached from Bophut via a 15-minute cruise to the southeast along the ring road.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 24th September, 2016.