Where to Stay in Koh Samui First Time: 9 Best Areas

In this blog post, I will help you to find Where to stay in Koh Samui first time, best areas to stay in Koh Samui (with a video and map) and best hotels in Koh Samui for all budgets (including the hotel where I stayed).

Koh Samui is the largest of the three main Gulf of Thailand islands and is one of Thailand’s and Southeast Asia’s tourist mainstays and is the perfect vacation spot for backpackers and package tourists alike.

Samui is part of three islands on the coast of Surat Thani, with the smallest Koh Tao to the Full Moon Party island of Koh Phangan and then Koh Samui, which is the largest and most populated.

Where to stay in Koh Samui first time?

The best areas to stay in Koh Samui for first-time visitors are Chaweng Beach, Lamai, Bophut Beach, Mae Nam, Choeng Mon, Bang Rak, Bang Po, and Lipa Noi. These are popular and safe areas for tourists that offers a wide variety of attractions and amenities. 

Chaweng and Lamai are the most popular areas for first-timers. Chaweng is the best base for those seeking nightlife with lots of bars and restaurants. Lamai in another popular area, located just south of Chaweng, offering a more laid back, and romantic getaway for couples.

They are both the tourist hubs of the island with a wide varitety range of tourist attractions and amenities. Lamai has cheaper accommodations, and food compared to Chaweng.

I recommend spend at least three days in Koh Samui, but 4 to 7 days is good amount of time. With three days, you can stick to one town such as Chaweng and explore around. If you have more days, you can do things in a slower pace, relaxing, and take some island-hopping.

Where did I stay in Koh Samui?

When I visited Koh Samui, I stayed for 4 nights in Chaweng at the Chaweng Garden Beach Resort. It is a great 3-star family-run hotel located next to a nice sandy beach and has easy access to the  nightlife and lively shops. I had great meals at its onsite restaurant and comfortable bed.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Chaweng Beach
💎 Best luxury hotel:The Library
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Lub d Koh Samui Chaweng Beach
💰 Best budget hotel:Montien House

Map of areas and towns in Koh Samui:

Map of Best Areas to Stay in Koh Samui
Map of Best Areas to Stay in Koh Samui

Best areas to stay Koh Samui for first-time tourists are:

1. Chaweng

Chaweng Beach, where to stay in Koh Samui for nightlife
Chaweng Beach

Chaweng is the best place to stay in Koh Samui for first-timers who want to be right at the heart of the action. Chaweng is is the most popular place in Koh Samui located on the east side of the island. If you come to Koh Samui for nightlife and party, I recommend to book hotel at Chaweng.

In Koh Samui’s nightlife capital, you will find all the beach bars, night clubs, and nightlife along the beach and on the main street. Quiet, it isn’t, but Chaweng Beach is one of the most developed and touristy beaches in Samui, and if you’re happy with crowds, then this will be the perfect base.

Located on the North East tip of Koh Samui island, Chaweng Beach is a 7 km long beach, making it the longest beach on the east coast. Chaweng Beach offers lots of watersports activities, there are many places to rent jet-skis, canoes, SUP Boards, and the like.

There are shops, restaurants, markets, massage shops and spa facilities all over Chaweng. Soi Green Mango in Chaweng town is packed with pubs, bars, cabaret shows, and girlie bars.

There are ladyboy cabaret show at Cabaret Paris Follies, Samui Football Golf, Mini Golf International, and Muay Thai boxing stadium in Soi Reggae. Families and kids can visit Aquapark Chaweng with giant inflatables in the sea.

If you like shopping, head to Central Festival, which is Koh Samui’s largest shopping center. The Walking Street and its market are also attracts lots of tourists and locals come to shop and eat. You can find almost everything here from Thai food to handicrafts and clothing.

Chaweng has Koh Samui’s largest number of accommodations that suit almost any budget. In particular, there are some good hostels here. These are a fairly rare find on tourist-oriented Koh Samui, so Chaweng is a great destination for backpackers who love the bright lights. 

Advantages: lively nightlife; diverse range of accommodation options; picturesque beach; an array of restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls; central location on the east coast of the island;

Disadvantages: can get crowded, especially peak seasons; the music and activities can extend late into the night;

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Chaweng:

luxury ($$$): Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort -SHA Extra Plus Located within a short distance from the Beach and Samui Airport, this 5-star luxury provides Thai-style suites, spacious villas, a spa and an outdoor infinity pool. You can enjoy buffets and seafood at Ocean Kiss Restaurant, Tree Tops Restaurant, and Crab Shack Restaurant.

mid-range ($$): Chura Samui Located 10-minute drive from Samui Airport, this 4-star resort boasts relaxing massage treatments and an infinity pool overlooking Chaweng Beach.

budget ($): Montien House – SHA Plus this beautiful beachfront resort offers a large outdoor pool and memorable dinners on the beach. It provides massage services and luxurious accommodation with private terraces. Enjoy Thai and Western dishes at its on-site restaurant.


See more: Where to stay in Koh Samui for nightlife

2. Lamai

Lamai, where to stay in Koh Samui for budget tourists

Lamai Beach is the second most popular on the island after Chaweng Beach. Lamai is on East Coast only 25 minutes drive by car to the South of Chaweng. Lamai also has good nightlife but is more laid back, cheaper accommodations, and food.

It is another destination with every tourist facility you can imagine and many hotels, resorts and bungalows, with some great hostels and budget places. It is home to most of the backpacker accommodations on the island.

The nightlife in Lamai is not quite as high octane as Chaweng, but there are still many bars and restaurants but a little less crowded than Chaweng Beach.

The East Coast of Koh Samui is, of course, on the wrong side for sunsets over the sea. Instead, why not set your alarm and head down to watch the sunrise? Watching the crimson sun emerging from the turquoise ocean is a beautiful sight and well worth an early start.

If you are couples who are looking for romantic getaway or honeymoon, Lamai is best place to book your accommodation to explore Koh Samui island.

Lamai beach is the fine white sandy and long beach with calm and clear waters. It is surrounded with restaurants and bars. There are water sport activities such as kayaking, surf boarding, and banana boat.

You can can hike or take a ride on the cable car to visit the Lamai Viewpoint on the top of Laem Mai mountain. Lamai viewpoint is a great place to watch sunset.

From the viewpoint, you can find Valentine stone, Siva Tara waterfall with a pond. The exciting 80 meter high zipline ride through the tropical rain forest is also worth a try for thrill seekers.

The unusual sight, Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram, is a special place to visit. The monk, Luong Pordaeng, died in 1973 in a seated meditative position, and ever since his body has been on display at the temple.

Another must-see place is the Lamai Sunday Night Market. This street market is where you can find delicious Thai street fod, street entertainers, live music, and bargain shoppings.

Lamai offers lots of activities for families with young children. The Coco Splash water park has slides. rides and a huge arcade, while Buffy Game Park is a smaller amusement park with six rides.

There is a Muay Thai Boxing stadium near the Lamai night market on Had Lamai road. You can watch lady fights here beside teenagers and adult male fighters.

Advantages: Beautiful Beaches; vibrant nightlife scene; affordable accommodations; various local attractions.

Disadvantages: Crowded during High Season; may experience higher noise levels; Limited Shopping Options; Limited Public Transportation;

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Lamai:

luxury ($$$): Silavadee Pool Spa Resort a beautiful resort has a private beach and an outdoor infinity pool, a Wellness Spa. You can enjoy seafood, Thai dishes at The Height Restaurant, and The Moon Restaurant. There is free shuttle services to Lamai and Chaweng.

mid-range ($$): Beluga Boutique Hotel This 4-star hotel is located at Lamai Beach, within easy walk from Hin Ta Hin Yai, nightlife of Lamai. The hotel can help with car rentals, water sports, and laundry services. Great location and facilities for couples.

budget ($): Three Trees Samui Resort – Sarocha Villa This 3-star hotel is located in Lamai Beach, 10-minute walk from Grandmother and Grandfather Rock, a short drive by car from Airport and the Seatran Ferry Pier.


See more: Where to Stay in Koh Samui for Couples

3. Bophut Beach

Bophut Beach, where to stay in Koh Samui for families

Located on Koh Samui’s northern coast, the quiet Bophut Beach is best known for its night market Fisherman’s Village Walking Street, and the iconic Big Buddha nearby.

Until fairly recently, Bophut was an out-of-the-way place to stay, but these days there is plenty of hotels, resorts, and tourist development. You will find some excellent resorts, especially in the mid-range to high-end price brackets.

The historic fisherman’s village offers a more traditional Thai experience. it consists of a collection of old wooden Chinese buildings that have been renovated and filled with boutique hotels, seafront bars, restaurants, cafes, and traditional shops.

There is a shopping plaza, The Wharf, at the end of Fisherman’s village. A watersports centre neaby offers parasailing, jet ski, wakeboarding, and stand up paddle board.

You can find luxury villa on the hills above the village with the amazing ocean views.There is also a 9 hole golf course on the hill. This area is also one of the best in Koh Samui for shopping. Bophut is great for families with children who want a laid-back and local vibe.

Advantages: Charming Fisherman’s Village; Beautiful Beach; vibrant night markets; convenient for exploring the Big Buddha, Wat Plai Laem, and Chaweng Beach.

Disadvantages: Limited nightlife; Less crowded but still popular; Limited shopping options;

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Bophut:

luxury ($$$): Mantra Samui Resort Located within a short drive by car from Phut Beach, Fisherman’s Village, this resort offers outdoor infinity pool and a pampering spa. All rooms come with dark wood furnishings, a flat-screen cable TVs, free tea/coffee making amenities and a safe.

mid-range ($$): Peace Resort Samui this hotel is located Bo Phut Beach, within easy walk from Walking Street at Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village. Guest can enjoy International and Thai dishes at Wrap Restaurant and pool bar. All bungalows has a private bathrooms with a hairdryer.

budget ($): Smile House – SHA Extra Plus this 3-star hotel is set on white beaches of Bo Phut, and is surrounded by tropical gardens and coconut palm trees. It has Traditional Thai bungalows with a private terrace and a minibar. It’s only 20-minute ferry ride from Phangan Island.


See more: Where to Stay in Koh Samui with Family

4. Maenam Beach

Maenam is a long and quiet beach on the North Coast of Koh Samui, that is home to many cheap accommodations. It’s a popular destination for backpackers and budget travelers. It is a short drive from the airport but is far enough away that you won’t be disturbed by aircraft noise.

Maenam Beach has golden sands that shelve very gently into the sea. Since it is shallow, it is a great place for kids to play in the water in supervised safety. This beach is a nice place for families to stay, and there are some good family resorts in the mid to upper price range.

You can try frisbee golfing at Samui Frisbee Golf, zip-lining at Canopy Adventures, or learn a kitesurfing lesson.

There are supermarkets, 7-eleven, ATM, post office and exchange offices on the main street. You can have a nice dinner at some good restaurants around Chao Eng Sae Shrine, or grab a drink at one of the small beach bars on the beach, to enjoy sunset views. The is a night market on Walking Street every Thursday night.

Koh Samui tourism is beginning to specialize in private villa rentals, some of which are self-catering and some full board. Mae Nam has some great villas, some of them truly spectacular.

If money is no object, then you might consider a villa rental as an interesting alternative to a hotel or resort. And if you prefer a complete service, then Mae Nam has some well-appointed resorts too.

Advantages: Tranquil and peaceful atmosphere; Beautiful beach; Affordable accommodation; Authentic local experience.

Disadvantages: Limited nightlife, Fewer dining options, Distance to other attractions.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Maenam Beach:

luxury ($$$): Explorar Koh Samui – Adults Only Resort and Spa this 5-star hotel set in a beachfront location along Mae Nam Beach. You can choose to stay in rooms, suites and villas with en suite bathroom with a shower, hairdryer and free toiletries.

mid-range ($$): Paradise Beach Resort, Koh Samui Located on Maenam Beach, this is a perfect place for couples and families who want relaxation. There is shuttle service to Fisherman’s Villa and Chaweng’s city center.

budget ($): Ampha Place this 3-star hotel is set a short distance from Mae Nam Beach, Mae Nam Village, and Samui International Airport. The hotel can help with car and motorbike hire.


5. Choeng Mon Beach

Choeng Mon Beach, upscale area to stay in Koh Samui
Choeng Mon

Choeng Mon is a small and exclusive beach that caters to slightly higher-end tourism, although there are some more economical places to stay for budget travelers and backpackers.

The Beach is in the Northeast corner of Koh Samui, conveniently located for airport transfers. Choeng Mon Beach is a one-kilometer-long bay with fine white sand, shallow warm clear water, great for families with kids.

Since Choeng Mon is a quieter and more relaxed spot than much of Samui, it is a perfect choice for couples or anyone who wants a low-key place to spend their holiday relaxing by the sea.

Even though there are fewer facilities than at some of Samui’s beaches, there are still some nice beach restaurants and bars on the beach. On the main road, you can find a 7-Eleven, restaurants, bars and massage parlors.

If you choose a place to stay up on the hill behind the beach, you can enjoy some fabulous views over the beach and the two small islands Koh Fan Yai and Koh Fan Noi that lies just offshore. You can walk there at low tide. There are a five star Cope Fahn Hotel and The Crest Restaurant here.

Advantages: Tranquil and family-friendly; Beautiful beach; close proximity to the airport;

Disadvantages: Limited nightlife; Limited shopping options;

Best places to stay in Choeng Mon Beach:

luxury ($$$): SALA Samui Choengmon Beach Resort Located along Choeng Mon Beach, this 5-star hotel has an 80 m private beach and 2 beachfront pools. You can try a a massage in one of the spa pavilions, or exercise in the fitness centre

mid-range ($$): Melia Koh Samui Located on Choeng Mon Beach, this is ideal place for romantic getaways and family holidays. It has 30 stunning boat suite. the hotel’s Breeza Beach Restaurant and Bar offer excellent food.

budget ($): PS Thana Resort This 3-star hotel is set within a short drive by car from Samui International Airport and Chaweng Beach, and Big Buddha Temple. All rooms are air-conditioned and offer a cable TV, a seating area and a fridge. En suite bathrooms come with a bathtub and shower facilities.


6. Chaweng Noi Beach

Chaweng Noi is the little sister beach to Chaweng. It is separated from the southern end of Chaweng Beach by a rocky headland. Chaweng Noi comprises a pristine one-kilometer stretch of golden sand that is fronted by mainly four-star resorts. 

Since the beach is difficult to access without going through hotels, it is far less busy than its larger neighbor. So Chaweng Noi is a great choice of location for people who want access to a comparatively peaceful beach that is also really close to all the action of Chaweng.

There are some good restaurants and bars in the hotels, but you should note that there isn’t really much in the way of shopping or infrastructure, you’ll need to go to Chaweng for that.

Advantages: stunning white sandy beaches; close to the vibrant Chaweng Beach; a variety of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences; plethora of water sports activities;

Disadvantages: Crowded during peak season; Limited local cultural experience;

Best places to stay in Koh samui in Chaweng Noi Beach:

luxury ($$$): Vana Belle, A Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui this 5-star hotel offers luxurious suites and villas with a private pool. It is a short drive from Airport, Big Buddha Temple, and Hin Ta Hin Yai Rocks.

mid-range ($$): Impiana Resort Chaweng Noi, Koh Samui this 4-star resort offers rooms with private balcony, a minibar and TV with satellite channels. You can relax with body massage or spa treatment. A free shuttle service is also available to and from Chaweng Noi Beach.

budget ($): Baan Sukreep Resort this 3-star hotel only 5-minute walk away from Chaweng Noi Beach. It has outdoor pool and air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi and a daily buffet breakfast.


7. Bang Rak Beach

Bang Rak Beach is also known as Big Buddha Beach, because there is the large statue that sits on a small island just offshore. It is a great location with a long sandy beach. Bang Rak Beach is not the best beach on Koh Samui for swimming.

There is a limited choice of accommodation in Bang Rak and less development than many Koh Samui Beaches. And that’s the point since Bang Rak appeals to people looking for an exclusive and private place to stay.

Much of the accommodation in this area consists of private villas. These are often extremely luxurious and architecturally impressive. Independently-minded travelers who have the budget can find some great places to stay here.

It is worth remembering that busy Bophut is in the next bay to the west, so even though this is a quieter spot, you aren’t far from plenty of things to do.

Bang Rak also has a pier where you can take a boast to the famous Koh Phangan for its Full Moon Parties.

Advantages: close to the airport and the popular Fisherman’s Village; Beautiful Beach; Wide Range of Accommodation; a good selection of restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Best places to stay in Bang Rak Beach:

luxury ($$$): The Privilege Hotel Ezra Beach Club this is a 5-star hotel in Bangrak Beach, close to Big Buddha and Fisherman’s Village. It has a secluded beach area, an outdoor pool, sun terrace, on-site restaurant. Enjoy snorkelling and diving nearby.

mid-range ($$): Prana Resort Samui this 4-star hotel has Tropikana Beach Club & Bistro, a poolside café, rooftop spa, fitness centre, 24-hour reception. It is a short drive away from Samui Airport, Fisherman’s Village, Big Buddha, and Central Festival Samui.

budget ($): Villa Tanamera this hotel has Thai-style furnishings and include a TV, air conditioning and a kitchenette. Some villas have pool views or ocean views. Enjoy relaxing massages at the Tanamera’s massage rooms.


8. Bang Po Beach

Bang Po Beach is a long beach on the western side of Koh Samui’s North Shore. It stretches from a little stony cape Laem Noi in the west to a beach Ban Tai in the east. It is a good choice for a quiet family retreat.

Bang Po Beach is as 20m width, fine and light sandy blanket beach with shallow water, good for small kids. The beach is pretty, but offshore swimming is not the island’s best. There is a small coral reef on a short distance from the beach makes Bang Po a reasonable place to snorkel.

Some of the interesting attractions nearby are Buddhist Temple Wat Sisu Wanna Ram, Zen Painting Exhibition, and Mountain Viewpoint Bang Por.

This beach is a handy choice location if you are traveling to or from Koh Samui by ferry since Nathorn Town and the pier is a short drive to the South.

Koh Samui’s main circuit road runs close to Bang Po Beach beach here. The majority of the places to stay are beach bungalow resorts in the budget to mid-range categories.  

Advantages: Tranquil and peaceful atmosphere; Beautiful beach; Authentic local experience;

Disadvantages: Limited nightlife and entertainment options; located on the northwest coast of Koh Samui, it’s farther away from some of the island’s major attractions.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Bang Po Beach:

luxury ($$$): Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui Located on the island’s northwestern tip, a quiet oasis on Laem Yai Bay, this 5-star hotel has private infinity pool, private bar and iPod dock. It offers cruising boat to Marine National Park.

mid-range ($$): Code this 4-star hotel offers free shuttle service to and from Bang Por Beach and Maenam Beach. It has 24-hour front desk, infinity outdoor pool, a tennis court and pampering spa treatments.

budget ($): Coco Palm Beach Resort this 3-star hotel is set a 1-minute walk from Lomprayah Pier. Enjoy Thai massage, a business centre, tour desk and water sports facilities.


9. Lipa Noi

Lipa Noi Beach is one of the few resorts on Koh Samui’s Western sunset coast. It is situated to the South of Nathon town and North of a Thai naval base. The location doesn’t sound too glamorous, but it is a very attractive beach with some good places to stay. 

Lipa Noi’s accommodation consists of good, largely mid-priced resorts, all with restaurants and bars. What Lipa Noi doesn’t have is a great number of restaurants, bars, and shops outside of the resorts. If you are a keen diner or shopper, then this might not be the beach for you.

But, if you enjoy relative peace and quiet and pretty sunsets, Lipa Noi is a good option.

Advantages: peaceful and quiet atmosphere; stunning beaches with soft white sand and crystal-clear waters; breathtaking sunset views; local Thai culture and traditional way of life.

Disadvantages: relatively quiet in terms of nightlife options; fewer dining options compared to more developed parts of the island; Distance from Tourist Hotspots;

Best places to stay in Lipa Noi:

luxury ($$$): Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Koh Samui this 5-star hotel is just a few steps away from Lipa Noi’s beautiful sunset coast. It has modern bungalows, a beachfront pool, fitness facilities and soothing massages.

mid-range ($$): Lipa Lodge Beach Resort this 4-star, beach-front accommodation is a 10-minute drive from Raja Pier. It has outdoor pool, spa treatments and the award-winning Restaurant Lipa Lodge.

budget ($): Viva Vacation Resort Close toLipa Beach, this property has spacious Thai-style villas set within tropical gardens. It offers an outdoor pool, a restaurant, and free Wi-Fi. Nathon Pier and Samui International Airport are short drive by car away.


Where should I stay in Koh Samui for the first time?

Chaweng is the best area to stay in Koh Samui for first-timers because it is the tourist hub, as well as the busiest and biggest town of the island. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of the action.

What are the best areas to stay in Koh Samui?

Chaweng Beach, Lamai, Bophut Beach, Mae Nam, Choeng Mon Beachs, Chaweng Noi Beach, Bang Rak Beach, Bang Po Beach, Lipa Noi are some of the best areas to stay in Koh Samui because they are the most popular tourist destinations on the island.

How many days should you spend in Koh Samui?

When planning a trip to Koh Samui, it’s important to consider how much time you have available. Ideally, I’d recommend spending at least 3-4 days to truly experience the island’s beauty and culture.

Which is better Lamai or Chaweng?

Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. Lamai is known for its quieter, more relaxed atmosphere, while Chaweng is more bustling and crowded. Both have beautiful beaches and plenty of amenities, so it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

See More:

In conclusion, Chaweng Beach, Lamai, Bophut, Mae Nam, Choeng Mon, and Bang Rak are some of the best places to stay in Koh Samui for tourists. Whether you seek vibrant nightlife, serene beaches, or cultural exploration, Koh Samui has something for every type of traveler.

Overall, Chaweng is the best area to stay in Koh Samui for first-timers because it is the tourist hub of the island. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of actions, within walking distance to many tourist attractions, as well as restaurants, bars, and shops.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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