Your time spent on Samui is all about leisure and enjoyment and the island supports a well developed tourist infrastructure that ranges from first class Samui restaurants in luxury hotels to rustic beachside bars. You can choose from a crowded street lined with bars in Lamai, or al fresco dining right on the sands of Chaweng beach itself.
There is plenty of friendly company in some Samui bars, while in other places you might be the only guest being pampered in an exclusive boutique restaurant with the waters lapping meters away. From fresh seafood to spicy Thai cuisine, Swensen’s ice cream or a burger and chips, the selection is mouth-watering. And since no one has to go to work the next day, everyone parties until late with some lively Samui bars featuring bands and discos.
Wining and dining on Samui
Samui also has an excellent range of eateries. Whether you want to eat cheap Thai food from street vendors, fresh seafood, modern Asian-fusion, or international cuisine, there is something to suit in Samui restaurants. There is a refreshing mix of air-conditioned restaurants catering expressly to moneyed tourists, huts overlooking the beach and everything in between.
Chaweng is the busiest resort and also has the biggest range of eating choices, and if you’re looking for international restaurants then this is the best place to head with Japanese, Italian, Indian, French, German and even Swedish food all available. Although not to everyone’s liking, there are even McDonalds, KFC and Burger King represented on the island.
Lamai also has a large selection, but once you head to the quieter beaches of the north you are limited to the restaurants of the resorts lined along the beach, depending on how far you care to walk.
Even the smaller restaurants on the quieter parts of the island offer a number of international choices as well as traditional Thai food, and some of these are surprisingly good. For a splurge, the island’s top hotels and resorts also have some excellent yet expensive restaurants, but for many people some of the most satisfying food to be enjoyed in Thailand are simple noodles or rice dishes from some of the many street vendors. For as little as 30 baht, it’s possible to have a filling and delicious meal. And sitting by a roadside eating dinner, even if you do it only once, is a must for any visit to Thailand.
Samui bars and nightlife
Samui’s nightlife has a good reputation, and there really is something for everyone here. Whether you want beach bars, lively dance venues, cabaret clubs, relaxed pubs, cocktails bars, a more upmarket venue, or the naughtier side of Thai nightlife, Samui has it all. The law here means that all pubs and clubs have to close at 02:00, but for many that just means heading to the beach to continue the partying. If you’re into serious revelry, then Chaweng or Lamai are the places to go. Lamai has a reputation for its ‘naughty nightlife’, while some of the other beaches offer a more laid back evening.
The Green Mango Disco in Chaweng is one of the most famous nightspots and often attracts DJs from clubs around the world. Opposite Green Mango is another popular nightspot, Sweet Soul Café and the crowds tend to spill out onto the road here making something of a street party atmosphere.
Sports fans will be at home here, as there are many Koh Samui bars showing live sport and you will certainly have no trouble watching any English Premier League soccer match.
Partying and enjoying yourself is the order of the day (or night) on Samui, but remember to leave your motorbike behind when you go out drinking. Sadly, a number of tourists are seriously injured or killed each year by getting carried away with the party spirit and doing things they wouldn’t even consider at home.
As with all tourist spots in Thailand, Samui has its clusters of girlie bars, considered an attraction by some. These are usually confined to certain areas, most notably in central Lamai and just outside Chaweng across the inland lake. The patrons are friendly, lively and harmless. Whether you approve or not, it can be fun for people watching and you’re always welcome to sit and drink and ignore the girls’ advances. It is, however, a popular attraction on the island for many and fairly safe.
More specifics on Samui bars and nightlife.
Gay life on Samui revolves around Chaweng, particularly the gay-specific beach north of main Chaweng beach. As with the rest of Thailand, Samui is a very relaxed place to be homosexual with few people batting an eye-lid. The locals are not only very accepting of gay people, quite a few are gay themselves, and Thai boys are noted for their friendly and soft demeanor. Many are very cute too.
There are quite a few gay venues on the island, and a few ‘rent boy’ bars as well, as you tend to find anywhere you go in Thailand. It’s not as popular as Pattaya or Bangkok, but the crowd tends to hang out at places such as the classy Le Consul or the more down-to-earth K Bar, both in Chaweng. Other places like Sweet Soul Bar and Green Mango are lively mixed-venues that gay people feel comfortable in and are found in numbers.
Perhaps the most exciting offering is the large Three Gems Project with its Sapphire restaurant, and Ruby Red Bar upstairs, in Chaweng. Those looking for something a little more narcissist can seek out the gay section of the go go bars in Lamai, with the familiar rainbow flag outside. The atmosphere here is more fun than seedy, and there are also several gay friendly guesthouses in Samui.