Located on the northeast of the island, maybe twenty minutes cab ride from Chaweng, Bangrak village and the Big Buddha Beach provide a quiet location away from the tourist crowds. Often overlooked by many who travel to Samui it can provide those who choose to rent a holiday home here a very quiet alternative to the busier resorts, and is just minutes away from the international airport. For short breaks of a few days before a flight, this is an ideal choice.
Literally translated, Bangrak means The Village of Love! With a fabulous view across the water to Koh Phangan, plenty of yachts and speedboats gently bobbing idyllically in the bay, a palm fringed powder white beach with relatively little development along it, and some superb seafront restaurants to choose from, this can be a very romantic spot. Unlike Chaweng and Lamai on the eastern coast of Samui, Bangrak and its northern neighbours often boast spectacular tropical sunsets…
This is a seafaring town, with two piers extending into the sea, one a government run commercial venture that serves the large ferries and hydrofoil to the neighbouring islands, and the other a private concern that caters to local speedboats and smaller yachts. Both offer a selection of bars and restaurants located at their landward ends, and provide the perfect spot to watch the leisurely comings and goings to Phangan and beyond.
If you fancy a trip to the other islands, tour the Angthong Marine Park, or maybe try your hand at snorkelling or diving, then this is the place to come. Yachts and speedboats can be chartered privately, or you can join with others in ticketed groups heading out to the local islands. There are plenty of package tour options to choose from, or you can be really quirky and opt for a traditional longtail boat of your own. Beware: these are powered by car engines – often without any silencing on the exhaust! Either wear earplugs or make sure your friendly boat driver has mufflers on his engine!
Despite Bangrak’s sleepy reputation there are a few days each month when the village becomes busier than Chaweng! Minibuses full of revellers choke the main road every full moon: thousands of travellers, young and old, arrive at Bangrak (and head to Maenam and Bophut, but to a much lesser extent) to make their way across to Phangan’s famous Full Moon Party. One or two days either side of this event sees the local accommodation filling and Bangrak’s bars busy, and there’s an air of expectation immediately before – but a hungover depression the day or so after!
Poorly lit speedboats zip across the dark water throughout the night, jammed with tourists already drunk or high with expectation or drugs: this is not an experience for the faint hearted. The Marine Police have tightened up on safety – after one boat sank a few years back and another two collided just recently during this mad seaborne ‘rush hour’.
If you decide to go, try to keep your wits about you – Phangan’s Haad Rin is a single kilometre of beach that transforms into one big, raucous, drunken morass of sweating, pulsating bodies as ten to fifteen thousand party people get it on! Manic, throbbing house and club music belts out from every bar on the beach, buckets of cheap booze (usually the ubiquitous lethal cocktail of vodka and red bull) is slopped out everywhere, and the beach and shallow waters host couples in the throes of alcohol induced lust while drunken louts use the same as a toilet nearby…
Not at all romantic, but a spectacle and experience many people seem to enjoy!
For visitors with more interest in proper Thai culture, then the Big Buddha is well worth a visit: its 12 metre height dominates the beach from its location at the north-eastern end of Bangrak, and it is thought to bring luck to all the villagers and tourists living under its benevolent gaze.
The nearby temple, Wat Plai Laem, is a visual feast and a popular spot for budding photographers. It represents a fascinating example of Thai, Indian and Chinese influenced religious architecture, and has a well stocked fish pond that benefits from a strict no fishing rule, backed up by the monks’ main source of revenue: fish food! Enjoy the sight of assorted carp and catfish literally scrambling over each others’ backs to gobble up the pellets of fish food liberally scattered on the water by locals and visitors alike, all keen to ensure some good luck in exchange for a mere 10 or 20 baht!
The local Crocodile Farm offers a spectacular show – with an amazingly brave Thai wrangler who provokes these vicious beasts with a stick and by sitting on their backs before tempting fate by shoving his head inside their gaping mouths! – pretty much rounds up the local attractions for anyone staying in Bangrak.
Is Bangrak & Big Buddha Beach right for you?
Located just moments from the airport, with a handful of upmarket restaurants of its own, plus the boutiques and excellent eateries of Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village nearby, Bangrak will suit visitors on a tight schedule, anyone keen to explore the other islands, and tourists who prefer a low key place to stay.
If that sounds like you then please check out our selection of rental properties in the local area – but bear in mind that full moon always brings out the lunatic side of this sleepy little resort!
View our selection of Koh Samui Villas in Bangrak…