Where to stay in Koh Samui for first time: 8 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Koh Samui as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find the safe places to stay in Koh Samui for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Koh Samui for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Koh Samui and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Koh Samui is a popular tourist island in the Gulf of Thailand, part of the Surat Thani Province in southern Thailand. It is the second-largest island in Thailand, after Phuket, and is known for its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, lush rainforests, and vibrant nightlife.

The island is famous for its stunning beaches, including Chaweng Beach, Lamai Beach, and Bophut Beach. These beaches offer white sand, crystal-clear waters, and a range of water activities.

Chaweng Beach is well-known for its vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars, nightclubs, and beach parties. Lamai Beach also offers a lively nightlife scene.

One of the most iconic landmarks on the island, the Big Buddha Temple features a 12-meter tall golden Buddha statue. The temple is located on a small island connected to Koh Samui by a causeway.

Koh Samui serves as a hub for exploring nearby islands, such as Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. These islands are known for their own unique attractions and activities.

The island hosts various cultural events and festivals, such as Loy Krathong and Songkran, where you can experience traditional Thai celebrations.

Is Koh Samui safe to visit?

Koh Samui, like many other tourist destinations in Thailand, is generally safe for tourists. However, it’s advisable to stay vigilant and take common-sense precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Be cautious when using local transportation, and choose reputable providers. Renting a scooter is a popular way to explore the island, but be sure to wear a helmet and drive safely.

Thailand, including its islands, can experience natural hazards such as heavy rains and storms during the monsoon season. Stay informed about weather conditions and follow local advice.

It is also recommended to familiarize yourself with local laws and customs to avoid any unintentional violations. Respect the local culture, especially in temples and religious sites.

Where to stay in Koh Samui for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Koh Samui for first-timers and tourists are Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut, Mae Nam, Choeng Mon, Bangrak, Bang Po, and Lipa Noi Beach. It’s always recommded to follow standard safety precautions, regardless of where you stay.

Chaweng is the most popular area in Koh Samui for travelers who enjoy shopping, dining, and being in the midst of the action. It is one of the most developed areas on the island, offering a wide range of accommodations, restaurants, and nightlife options.

Lamai is a popular beach destination that is located just south of Chaweng, slightly quieter than Chaweng but still has a good range of amenities.

In addition to Chaweng and Lamai, you can consider staying in an area on the northern and western coast of the island which offers a quieter atmosphere while still having easy access to amenities. 

During my trip to Koh Samui, I stayed for 5 nights at the Lub d Koh Samui Chaweng Beach. It was a great accommodation centrally located in the center of Chaweng. It had a great sunrise view from its bar. They have both dorm rooms and private rooms. I stayed in a private room, which was clean and comfortable.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Koh Samui for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Koh Samui first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Koh Samui first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Koh Samui, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Koh Samui have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

8 Safe areas to stay in Koh Samui for first-timers and tourists

1. Chaweng Beach

Chaweng is one of the most popular and lively areas in Koh Samui, making it a great choice for first-timers looking for a vibrant and active atmosphere.

Chaweng is famous for its vibrant nightlife. You’ll find numerous bars, clubs, and beach parties that cater to different tastes. The nightlife scene is lively and offers a variety of entertainment options.

There are plenty of shops and markets in Chaweng where you can buy local crafts, souvenirs, and clothing. Central Festival Samui and Chaweng Walking Street are popular spots for shopping.

There is a diverse range of dining options, from street food stalls to upscale restaurants. You can enjoy both local Thai cuisine and international dishes.

Chaweng Beach itself is known for its long stretch of white sand. You can engage in water sports, relax on the beach, or explore nearby islands.

Being a central location, Chaweng offers easy access to other parts of the island. It’s close to the airport, making your arrival and departure convenient.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Chaweng for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort, great 5-star hotel in Chaweng, featuring modern Thai-style suites/villas, and an outdoor infinity pool with sea views. It is adjust a short walk from the beach, and nightlife spots. Also close to the mall and Samui Airport.
  • Mid-range ($$): Banana Fan Sea Resort, popular 4-star accommodation located on Chaweng Beach Road, easy distance from the entertainment and shopping areas. It has Excellent Breakfast, family rooms, Private beach area, and airport shuttle services.
  • Budget ($): Baan Chaweng Beach Resort & Spa, 3-star beachfront hotel located on Chaweng Beach, a short walk from the main road and the Central Festival Samui. It has an outdoor pool, free parking, and good breakfast.

2. Lamai Beach

Lamai Beach is one of the most popular and second-largest beaches on Koh Samui, located on the eastern coast of the island, south of Chaweng Beach. Lamai is slightly less crowded and more laid-back compared to Chaweng.

Lamai Beach offers stunning views with its powdery white sand and crystal-clear blue waters. The palm-fringed shoreline adds to its tropical charm. The water is generally calm, making it suitable for  various water activities, including swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking.

Similar to Chaweng, Lamai has its own walking street with shops, stalls, and street food vendors. It’s a great place to explore local crafts, souvenirs, and enjoy Thai street food.

Wat Lamai and Wat Sila Ngu are two Buddhist temples in the area that showcase traditional Thai architecture and provide a glimpse into the local culture.

Nearby attractions include the Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks (Hin Ta and Hin Yai), which are natural rock formations with interesting shapes. The Lamai Viewpoint and Overlap Stone offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

This area is close to Na Muang Waterfalls, known as Na Muang 1 and Na Muang 2. These waterfalls are surrounded by lush jungle, making them popular for hiking and swimming.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Lamai for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Lamai Samui, great 5-star hotel, located just a few steps from Lamai Beach, featuring an outdoor pool, free private parking, a 24-hour front desk, airport shuttle services. Close to Silver Beach and Coral Cove Beach.
  • Mid-range ($$): Rocky’s Boutique Resort – Veranda Collection Samui, 4-star hotel, offering  a free shuttle service to Lamai Beach, twice a day. It offers Wonderful Breakfast, 2 pools, and a private beach area.
  • Budget ($): Palm Coco Mantra, great 3-star accommodation located within a short taxi ride from central Lamai and Hinta Hinyai. It has a private beach area, Excellent Breakfast, and free parking.

3. Bophut Beach

Bophut Beach is a charming area on the northern coast of Koh Samui. It offers a more relaxed atmosphere compared to Chaweng and Lamai, making it a popular choice for a tranquil getaway. 

One of the main attractions in Bophut is the Fisherman’s Village, a quaint and atmospheric area with narrow streets lined with old wooden Chinese shop-houses. It’s a great place for shopping, dining, and exploring local culture. The village has a mix of boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Bophut Beach is known for its calm and clear waters, making it suitable for swimming. The beachfront has a variety of beachside restaurants and bars where you can enjoy meals with a view of the sea.

Bophut hosts regular night markets, where you can find a range of goods. The Fisherman’s Village Walking Street, held on Fridays, is particularly popular and offers a lively atmosphere.

For panoramic views of the island and the neighboring islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, you can visit the Bophut Hills Viewpoint. It’s a relatively easy drive or hike to reach the viewpoint.

Wat Plai Laem is a nearby Buddhist temple known for its striking architecture and the statues of the 18-armed Guanyin and a large white laughing Buddha.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Bophut:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hansar Samui Resort & Spa, 5-star hotel, located on Bophut Beach, close to Fisherman’s Village night market and  Coco Tams. It has an infinity pool and a private beach area.
  • Mid-range ($$): Peace Resort Samui, 4-star accommodation, located on Bo Phut Beach, offering bungalows with a terrace with views of the sea or garden views. It is within walking distance from Walking Street at Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village.
  • Budget ($): Smile House, popular 3-star beachfront accommodation, surrounded by tropical coconut palm trees. It has air-conditioned Thai bungalows, and family rooms. You can find the night market nearby from  6 to 11 pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

4. Mae Nam Beach

Mae Nam Beach is a great area for those seeking a more peaceful and authentic Thai experience. It’s suitable for couples, families, and travelers looking to unwind in a tranquil setting. It is a picturesque destination on the northern coast of Koh Samui. 

Mae Nam is renowned for its stunning sunsets. The western location of the beach allows visitors to enjoy beautiful views as the sun sets over the Gulf of Thailand. It’s a great spot for romantic evenings and peaceful contemplation.

Mae Nam village is nearby, offering a glimpse into local life. You can explore the village, visit traditional markets, and experience authentic Thai culture.

Wat Na Phra Lan, a Buddhist temple located near Mae Nam, is known for its ornate architecture and peaceful surroundings. It provides an opportunity to experience the spiritual side of the island.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Mae Nam:


5. Choeng Mon Beach 

Choeng Mon Beach is a relatively quiet area located on the northeastern tip of Koh Samui. It  is a popular destination for travelers seeking a more tranquil and family-friendly atmosphere. 

Choeng Mon Beach is known for its picturesque and relatively uncrowded beach. The shallow waters make it a suitable spot for swimming, and the fine white sand adds to the overall appeal.

The calm and gentle nature of the sea at Choeng Mon makes it a family-friendly destination. The shallow waters are ideal for children to play and swim safely.

While the beach is generally peaceful, you can still enjoy various water activities, including kayaking and paddleboarding. Equipment rental is often available along the beach.

Choeng Mon offers beautiful views of nearby islands, and some areas along the beach provide excellent vantage points for enjoying the scenery.

Wat Plai Laem, with its intricate architecture and large statues, is located nearby and is worth a visit. It adds a cultural dimension to the beach experience.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Choeng Mon:

  • Luxury ($$$): Melia Koh Samui, great 5-star seafront accommodation on Choeng Mon Beach, great base for family and couples. It has 3 swimming pools, family rooms, paid airport transfer, and Very Good Breakfast. You can easily take a trip to Fishermans village for shopping and dining.
  • Mid-range ($$): Moon Cottage, good value for money 4-star accommodation, in Choeng Mon, featuring modern bungalows, an Outdoor swimming pool, and free parking.
  • Budget ($): Chor Chang Villa Resort, 3-star resort, located within a short walk/taxi/ scooter ride from Choeng Mon Beach, Big Buddha Temple and Fisherman Village. 

6. Bangrak Beach 

Bangrak Beach, also known as Big Buddha Beach, is situated on the northern coast of Koh Samui. The beach is named after the iconic Big Buddha statue, an island major landmark located nearby. 

Bangrak Beach offers panoramic views of the neighboring island of Koh Phangan. The sight is particularly enchanting, especially during sunrise and sunset.

The area around Bangrak has a traditional fishing village, providing visitors with a glimpse into the local way of life. You can observe fishermen at work, and there are often seafood restaurants where you can enjoy fresh catches.

Bangrak is one of the departure points for boats and ferries heading to Koh Phangan. This makes it convenient for travelers planning to visit the neighboring island or other nearby destinations.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Bangrak for tourists:

  • Luxury ($$$): U Samui, 5-star accommodation, On Bangrak Beach, offering wonderful breakfast, Outdoor swimming pool, and a private beach area.
  • Mid-range ($$): So KohKoon Beach Resort, great 4-star lodge located along Bangrak Beach, within 15 mins walk from  the famous Big Buddha.
  • Budget ($): Bangrak Pier Bungalow, 3-star beachfront hotel with a private beach, set in Bangrak Beach, 5 mins  from Big Buddha Pier.

7. Bang Po Beach 

Bang Po Beach is located on the northwest coast of Koh Samui, and is an ideal destination for travelers seeking a peaceful beach experience. 

The area around Bang Po has a local fisherman’s village, adding a touch of authentic Thai life to the surroundings. You can observe traditional long-tail boats and witness the daily activities of local fishermen.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Bang Po:


8. Lipa Noi Beach

Lipa Noi Beach is a tranquil and less crowded beach situated on the western coast of Koh Samui. It is known for its serene and laid-back atmosphere. 

The west-facing location of Lipa Noi makes it a fantastic spot for enjoying beautiful sunsets over the Gulf of Thailand. The evening skies can be particularly stunning, creating a peaceful and romantic ambiance.

Wat Kiri Wongkaram, a Buddhist temple with a meditation center, is located near Lipa Noi. It adds a cultural and spiritual dimension to the area.

Located a short distance from Lipa Noi, Hin Lad Waterfall is a serene spot for nature lovers. The waterfall is surrounded by lush jungle, and a short hike leads to the cascading waters.

Best places to stay in Koh Samui in Lipa Noi:


In conclusion, Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut, Mae Nam, Choeng Mon, Bangrak, Bang Po, and Lipa Noi Beach are the best places to stay in Koh Samui for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas for travelers, but it is alway good idea to practice common sense wherever you go.

You can continue reading about other tourist destinations in Thailand in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Koh Samui. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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