Activities on Koh Samui

About Ko Samui | Koh Samui Attractions | Places to visit near Samui

Shopping

On holiday on Koh Samui but need to go shopping? Or do you have a hankering for western-style malls? Only a while back, you'd have needed to head for the mainland, but now you can find enough shops and malls on the island to satisfy any desire for retail therapy.

Tesco-Lotus is a large shopping complex right in the heart of Lamai. This superstore also stocks clothes, electronics and sporting goods. Food wise, you'll find just about everything that you would in the west, but with far fewer packaged and tinned meals. The majority of the ingredients are for Thai-style cooking; the fresh fruit and veg section is a joy for anyone into exotic products.

It's been a long while since westerners complained they couldn't find decent wines in Thailand, and now the country boasts imports from all round the world. The mall stocks an excellent selection and at a variety of prices. Heavy taxation means a bottle you buy here will cost more than it would in, say, Spain. You'll also have to respect the licensing hours.

There's a further Tesco-Lotus on the ring road between Chaweng and Bophut, a virtual copy of the one in Lamai. Close by Big C also offers food, clothing and electronic goods aplenty. All the malls have plenty of restaurants, allowing you to partake in anything from a snack to an ice-cream or a full-scale meal. Caffeine aficionados won't go without either, as there are plenty of coffee shops, too. The malls are incredibly popular and some families have been known to spend whole days in them.

For a more open-air experience and a truly glamorous setting head for the Iyara Shopping Plaza. Located in north Chaweng, it's part of the Iyara Beach Hotel, and consists of two shopping streets that sell genuine brand articles, especially clothing, sportswear and swimwear. You'll also find antiques here, too. Best of all, the sea is right at the end of the street, making this an excellent place to have a dip after your shopping.

If you're looking for books, then the island has branches of Bookazine in Lamai and Chaweng. They also stock magazines and newspapers in English, as well as Art & Design books, guide books and literature to do with Thailand in general. Sadly, the store charges way more for the same books as they do in their Bangkok branches. For second-hand books try, Nathon Books, Island Books, in Lamai or Ink Bookstore and Café in Maenam. Rocky's has a selection of books in major European languages that you're free to borrow.

Restaurants and Nightlife

Virtually all the high-octane night life is concentrated in just two locales: Chaweng and Lamai. But no matter where you are on Samui, it's possible to have great times after sundown. The island is packed with places to eat and drink, from simple shacks to 5-star dining havens. Remember though that nightclubbing tends to start late here, even if the sun sets very early. This being the tropics, you can miss the sunset within the space of a few minutes, so be prepared. When night comes then Koh Samui comes alive, in many different forms. From luxurious to lurid and from relaxing to raucous, you can experience it all, in the space of a few kilometers.

Chaweng is definitely the hard-hitting pleasure capital of Samui, and with over 3 kms of beach road, it can be a bit bewildering knowing where to go. For cocktails or evening drinks, try the sophisticated Solo Bar, while if it's pub grub you're looking for, The Islander and Tropical Murphy's both serve huge portions and provide a friendly atmosphere. Great Indian food for a reasonable price can be found at Noori India. Everything stays open until very late.

For clubbing head for soi Green Mango, where the club of the same name is to be found. The entire street here is at times packed out, making it hard to believe you're on a small tropical island. Popular Sweet Soul and Sound Club are also within a stone's throw. Over on Chaweng Lake, Reggae Bar has a large dance floor and attracts plenty of late night revelry. Both soi Green Mango and the street containing the Reggae Bar also have their seedy side.

Thailand is known for some seedier aspects of nightlife in certain areas. It can be a depressing sight and you may well wish not to see it - in this case, you're certainly better off avoiding the red light areas of Chaweng, Lamai and Bangrak. Incidentally, many bars are frequented by prostitutes who may not even appear to be such...

Lamai has a way to go before it catches up with Chaweng, but boasts plenty of liveliness of its own, though in a smaller area. It's well-known for its roiling nightlife, too, but you'll also find the recently opened Bondi Aussie Bar & Grille featuring Aussie food and live bands. For a huge variety of excellent food and more great live music, try the Shamrock, on the beach road, popular ever since it first opened its doors. In a small soi on the way to the beach there is the Lava Lounge, a great place for a quiet drink and also features some hard to find drink choices.

For a taste of Mexican food and Spanish Tapas, try the Barrio Latino restaurant in the heart of Lamai.

Fisherman's Village, Bophut, and the surrounding area, is brimful of great restaurants. Try the upmarket Orgasmic for fine dining, Tapas Barcelona for tasty tidbits and more, and for great ice-creams, -18° C Below. 3 kilometers up the beach road at Bangrak enjoy Italian food at Antica Locanda and Indian at Haveli.

Maenam is more a day-time kind of place, and when the sun goes down, the town's only real night life consists of its restaurants and bars. Check out The Lazy Coconut, on the ring road for great drinks and food. Right at the traffic lights you can try the delicious Pad Thai in the no-name eatery as you turn towards the sea. If you're looking for cheap but great Thai food, then opt for Ma-yom, half way down the same street. And right by the sea itself chill out at the Seaview with drinks, cocktails and Thai and international dishes.

If you're traveling from place to place, it's highly recommended you don't do so by motorbike. There are plenty of drunk drivers on the roads, hidden potholes and sand. Koh Samui has Thailand's highest rate of traffic accidents. Rocky's has reliable vehicles for hire - just ask at the reception or book in advance.

Coffee Shops

Koh Samui and Thailand are fast catching up with the west's coffee shops. You'll find Starbucks at Big C and dotted around other cafés and restaurants where you're sure to find a great cup of coffee. Pumpui's Café in the north of Chaweng is an Italian-style coffee shop that also serves cakes and snacks. In Nathon at Tesco-Lotus you'll find Black Canyon as well as June's Art Café - both of which have great coffee. Head down the beach road in Chaweng and you'll come across several coffee shops. Try The Coffee Club near Burger King for a large variety of coffees.

Another local favoriate is Bakubung, a charming coffee shop located just past the fisherman's village in Bophut. Situated right on the beach, it's a perfect place for a relaxing afternoon spent sipping fresh lemon iced tea, having a banoffi pie and enjoying the sea breeze.

Tea lovers should head for Namcha in Fisherman's Village, Bophut. Dotted around the island you'll also find Thai-style coffee stands, which sell a variety of coffees and sometimes include Kaffe Boran, or traditionally-brewed Thai coffee made with condensed milk - Thailand, by the way, is also a coffee producer in its own right.


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