Bophut beach is situated on the north of the island between Maenam and Big Buddha beach and, like its neighbours, is much quieter than Chaweng and Lamai, though still only a 20 to 30 minute taxi ride from the action.
Bophut is a magnet for tourists looking for some authentic Thai/Asian style: also known as Fisherman’s village it contains a number of very attractive traditional wooden shophouses, boasting their Chinese heritage. Despite some new development overlooking the water, the locals have preserved the best examples and maintained a sophisticated, upmarket feel. The shops have been converted into trendy boutiques, high quality hand crafted jewellery stores, souvenir stalls and some excellent bars and restaurants – and the strict ‘no ladybar’ policy provides a marked contrast to the racier tourist meccas on the island: there are no semi-clad girls twirling round poles here.
The main strip runs parallel to the beach for a few hundred metres and will provide enough variety for several evenings of wining and dining. Candlelit dinners are a favourite here – Bophut is considered one of the most romantic spots on the island. Some restaurants have a distinct Mediterranean feel – a legacy of the influx of French expats who settled here after recognising the magical quality of the unique surroundings. The mix of Asian and western influences is enchanting.
Probably Bophut’s most romantic spots is the rather weirdly named Starfish and Coffee restaurant and bar! Don’t be put off by the name – reclining divans and chaise longues are situated alongside lamplit beachside tables, with freshly barbecued seafood served in plush surroundings decorated in a rich earth-red hue.
Though Bophut’s swish restaurants offer a range of Thai, Fusion and western cuisine, anyone wanting genuine Thai food at excellent Thai prices should head out to the main road junction, about 400 metres from the beach – a short stroll heading towards Maenam from the traffic lights will lead you to Pee Chet’s restaurant on the right (opposite the furniture store, adjacent to a car audio shop). This place is hugely popular with Thais and discerning expats alike – the seafood dishes are exceptional value at a fraction of the price of the waterfront eateries, offering superb examples of real Thai grub. However, be advised, the utilitarian decor does not compare favourably with the Starfish and Coffee or Bophut’s other romantic restaurant offerings!
Another traditional experience located here is to take in some classical Thai dancing while dining! ‘The Siam Classic Dance Troupe’ and restaurant is located on the road leading from the pier to the traffic lights. The Thai mastermind behind the concept, ‘Jack’, is a professional dancer and choreographer who worked in the Thai National Theatre as well as with many celebrity artists. Well worth a visit if you want to see some beautifully colourful costumes and dramatic Thai dancing while enjoying good Thai food.
Bophut beach itself extends a few kilometres west from Fisherman’s Village and the pier there, and is yet another slice of Samui paradise – beautiful white sand, fringed with coconut palms commanding fabulous views across to neighbouring Koh Phangan.
The eastern end, a few hundred metres either side of Bophut Pier, is busy with boats, so swimming is best to the west. The water is clean and safe for bathing all year round, whereas Chaweng and Lamai beaches can experience some large waves and develop dangerous currents during the monsoon season. Unfortunately the ubiquitous jetskis have started to pollute Bophut and other quieter beaches, though not to the same degree as the two busiest resorts.
This is a popular stretch for chilling out with a book and idling away the day, though many people choose to stroll the length of the beach to take in a visit Fisherman’s Village, dipping into the wide variety of hotels, restaurants and bars along the way for much needed refreshment!
Beachside massage, manicure and pedicure, along with the usual hairbraiding option, are all available at a number of spots, usually under shady casuarinas trees, or you could pamper yourself with one of the spa packages offered by the rather exclusive spa resorts like Zazen (inspired by the Japanese term meaning ‘to find inner peace’), which can be found towards the western end of the beach, or head to Punnpreeda located a few hundred metres east of Fisherman’s Village, where the headland divides Bophut beach from Big Buddha beach.
As with the other north coast resorts, speedboats and longtails can be chartered for trips to the other islands, and there are a number of ticketed join in tours, including snorkelling or diving around the local coral beds, trekking the Marine Park islands, or just sailing into the sunset for a meal and some leisurely cocktails.
Lots of land based excursions are available – the island is pretty compact so none of them involve major distances, though if you are joining other tourists, be warned that the organised transport will pick up at several locations, adding considerably to the journey times. For some local action you might like to head to the Go Kart track located on the main road between the traffic lights and Maenam.
Is Bophut right for you?
Within fifteen minutes or so of the airport, yet with none of the (admittedly fairly infrequent) overflights experienced by the Big Buddha and Chaweng beaches, this resort is ideal for those preferring a quiet, relaxed, picturesque location with a Mediterranean feel and an authentically Asian flavour – with plenty of first class eateries to choose from. Not for budget travellers, but great for families and couples who want steer clear of the fleshpots of Chaweng and Lamai!
There are plenty of villa rental options in Koh Samui, along with some nearby townhouses, and many travellers opt to find something equidistant from Bangrak and Bophut, set in the hills behind. Please check out our listings – whether it is a sea view villa or a luxury option with an infinity pool: the choice is yours.