Chaweng & Lamai
Covering a large portion of the island’s northeast coast, and is easily the most crowded and tourist saturated region on the island. The beach itself, while beautiful and clean often suffers from seasonal overcrowding as ever increasing numbers of visitors discover the island.
Set back about 100 meters from the sand the one way beach road in Chaweng has developed into a bustling international tourist town packed with every kind of resort, restaurant, and bar (ranging from busy traditional family-run open air sea food and noodle Thai at Ninja, through exclusive Thai-Californian fusion food at Jeff Lord’s Betelnut to Irish Pubs and American Fast Food places McDonald’s and Starbucks), Fine art, tailors, and souvenir shops, markets and wild, rambunctious, or chilled out nightclubs.
It gets ultra busy on the beach road at night with a crazy and colorful mix of pedestrians, motorcycles, and ‘Song Taos’, or small truck-taxis carrying people up and down the village. Chaweng is a jumping place with people exploring the shops (which also stay open late) and dancing the night away. There is plenty of nightlife, and Soi Green Mango is ground zero for a raging club and bar scene that only begins to simmer down after two AM. Chaweng has some exceptional boutique hotels, like Poppies, and the Muang Kulay Pan. Just ask Khun Don!
In the summer months the waters in Chaweng can occasionally have some wind swell & surf, so be prepared for strong rip tides or side shore currents. The waters are shallow, but inexperienced swimmers should either stay close to shore or swim with other people.
Also on the East coast is Lamai, just south of Chaweng and smaller, but Lamai’s beaches are clean and occasionally less crowded than Chaweng. Lamai was the original destination for travelers to Samui, and compared to Chaweng the town is a bit more tawdry and low budget, but it has its own distinct charms.
Greater Lamai is actually a large and beautiful valley, and as one travels inland away from the beach village the landscape is striking. Lamai has some pretty outrageous ‘social’ bars in the middle of town, and the once a week all girl Muay Thai boxing matches always seem to draw an eclectic crowd. Lamai has a lovely old Wat(temple), and is also the location of two of the most endearing original spas on the island, one on the beach, a hipster paradise called ‘The Spa’, and the other called ‘Tamarind Spa’, which has long been the class act on the island.
Ao Tong Takian
Ao Tong Takian is a small cove north of Lamai beach. It’s long been popular among stoners and hip tourists for its inviting white sand, and is also known as Silver Beach. Here you will find five resorts: La Mer Samui Resort, the Samui Yacht Club (with no yachts or sailors at all), Tong Ta Kian Villa, Silver beach, and Crystal Bay. This used to be a relatively unknown spot. There is great swimming here if the local fishing boats are not around. Be a careful if you are walking in the water, as Tong Takian has a lot of sharp rocks.