Lamai Beach is the second most popular beach on Samui, after Chaweng, yet it doesn’t have that crowded feel, even if it’s only half the size. Lamai sits in a sweeping bay with the sands stretching almost as far as the distant Hinta-Hinyai (Grandmother and Grandfather rock formations), which are located behind a small headland. Just to the north of Lamai there’s Tong Takian Bay, with a high, rocky headland and plenty of lush jungle sweeping up into the mountains.
Lamai town, set back 100m from the beach itself, stretches along the beach road and by day can resemble a sleepy village. However, it does have a good variety of shops and services, so just about everything can be found here – supermarkets, banks, travel agencies. It’s a far more pleasant area of development than Chaweng, which is about 15 minutes away by bike to the north via a hilly road.
It’s at night that Lamai comes truly alive, though, and it has an entirely justified reputation for luridness, with plenty of bars and bar girls. This is mostly in the middle of the main street, although it can be ignored easily as there’s plenty more bars and eateries to choose from.
Nightlife in Lamai is an experience in itself; there are several nightclubs like Fusion or Supersub that play hard house music into the small hours, with some of the island’s top DJs spinning their tunes.
Head north along the beach and a little out of town you will come to hedonistic Buddy’s, which is a chilled out bar and restaurant with a giant pool close by. They hold monthly parties and have recently opened up a huge resort on the opposite side of the road.
Restaurants can be found in abundance in Lamai, too, and there is something to suit most pockets. On the beach road, Sala offers a fine selection of international and Thai dishes and The Shamrock (nearby) does very good pub grub and more.
Accommodation in Lamai’s north end is a good deal quieter and often more moderately priced than elsewhere on the beach. Places like Crytal Lamai Hotel and Rose Garden Bungalows offer a good range of styles and prices, but as you approach the town proper, options get more expensive. One example of this trend is the upmarket Pavilion Resort, with its justifiably chic restaurant; a great place for romantic dining. The beach itself is also well served by eateries that produce some tasty food by day or night and there are many street stalls, too.
Lamai is closest to the quieter, southern part of the island, which retains an authentic feel of Muslim Samui, where coconut farmers and fishermen predominate. Several attractions, including temples, a small zoo and interesting local villages, are within easy reach of Lamai. The routes to the waterfalls and viewpoints on the hills are more accessible from here, but it is the farthest beach from the airport and ferry terminals.