Long considered the ‘family’ beach, with lower cost accommodation offering standards to match, Lamai has come of age, and now has much more to offer – while maintaining its friendly, low key approach. Although this is the second busiest resort on the island, visitors are absorbed without fuss or crowds.
As Samui has moved up market, Lamai beach has been closing the gap on its bigger, brasher sister – Chaweng. Something of a Cinderella in the past, with a shorter stretch of off-white sand and a budget feel to it, Lamai is blossoming into a genuine alternative for anyone looking for some action, but with a laid back atmosphere. The natural beauty this palm fringed beach is less spoilt, and the quality and range of restaurants and bars will cater to most tastes.
The last few years have seen the arrival of truly world class accommodation, often replacing the original beachside bungalow shacks, and Lamai now boasts magnificent boutique villa resorts such as Beach Republic Residences, Renaissance Resort and Spa, and Langham Place. All offer non-resident guests fine dining and a superb range of drinks in elegant surroundings right on the beach. Buddy Beach Hotel has poolside/beachside dining and is renowned for its authentic Thai cuisine, and The Club is a trendy bar with an exotic feel, amazing cocktails and fantastic views.
A short stroll from the beach is Lamai Village – a sprawling hotch potch of the usual Samui mix of bars, restaurants, clubs and shopping, all designed to lever open your wallet! The Chill In, Fusion and Samui Shamrock Pub exemplify the mix of entertainment on offer in Lamai – from cocktails to clubbing to the Irish pub’s Craic, with regular bouts of Muay Thai boxing nearby and busy bars aplenty, there’s enough choice for many nights of fun.
Local attractions include the Butterfly Museum, Snake Farm, Pearl Farm, Monkey shows (Samui farmers still train them to collect coconuts from the treetops – though now their source of income stems from tourists amazed by the spectacle!), Elephant rides, the Aquarium & Tiger Show, the Mummified Blind Monk (wearing very cool looking RayBans!) at Wat Khunaram – all of which are just a short taxi ride from Lamai beach.
Red Bicycle in Lamai offers guided tours around the island and bike rentals for anyone wishing to explore the island on their own and under their own steam. They provide decent bikes and safety equipment including helmets and kneepads at a reasonable price, and their organized biking trips explore the mountains and jungles nearby, and are led by experienced guides who’ve been trained in first aid. Insurance is compulsory, and be warned – Samui’s roads are dangerous and pot-holed, with many local drivers oblivious to other road users. Unless you are a well experienced cyclist it is best to join the organised group trips or focus on off-roading. Or hire a car instead!
For something completely different check out Siam Kitchen’s Cookery Courses. Khun Sont hosts small classes (from two to six students) and takes his groups to the local market to help them unravel the mysteries of Asian ingredients before sharing the secrets of Thai cooking and his years of experience in catering. His approach, knowledge and friendly nature make this a very popular option. Learn to cook four traditional meals of your choice under Khun Sont’s watchful gaze – a very worthwhile experience and great way to spend a few hours.
One fascinating local tourist venue close to the southern end of the beach is the site of the Grandfather and Grandmother rocks. Any mention of these to any of the locals will immediately bring a smile to their face! Hin Ta and Hin Yai (‘hin’ is the Thai word for rock, ‘Ta’ is grandfather, ‘Yai’ is grandmother’) are phallic-type granite formations which are a constant source of amusement to the fun loving Thais!
A few kilometres from these fascinating rocks is the delightfully old world Muslim fishing village of Hua Thanon. It has a similar style to Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village with many rickety teak houses and a traditional feel – but in stark contrast to its northern cousin this is one of the poorest villages on the island and has very few upmarket options. However, check out the authentic seafront restaurants – nothing fancy but the locally caught seafood is about as fresh as it comes in Samui, and you can enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a genuine slice of Thai life here.
A stroll away from Hua Thanon’s main road will find racks of small fish drying in the sun, delicious aromas wafting from barbeques laden with exotic foods, ethnic jewellery and clothing on display adjacent to market stalls stuffed full of fresh local produce.
Hua Thanon’s fishing families lavish care on their longtail boats – the source of their livelihoods – and some of these are beautifully painted, adding to the numerous photogenic opportunities found in this enchanting village. An entertaining Monkey Show can be found nearby too and, if you’re brave enough to risk a playful nip and sharp claws, you can get a photo of one of these playful creatures clambering over your shoulders and head!
Is Lamai Beach right for you?
Lamai is a fine choice for families, with plenty of nearby attractions, and is also ideal for anyone wanting to recharge their batteries in a relaxed resort. Spend your days reclining on the beach with a book in hand, idly shopping at dusk, and enjoying relatively low-key nights – that’s the laid back Lamai lifestyle.
If you prefer a wider range of up-market eateries and boutiques then Bophut is similarly laid back, or head to Chaweng with its vast range of restaurants and hugely varied entertainment.
Bear in mind that both Chaweng and Bophut are only 30 minutes or so by cab from Lamai, so unless you want their facilities literally on your doorstep, you can have the best of both worlds by choosing your holiday home near Lamai.
Check out our extensive selection of Lamai villa rental properties located in and around Lamai – you’ll find beachfront villas, pool villas, mountain side properties with amazing sea views, as well as a few town houses, apartments and more.