Being a leisure island, Samui has plenty of places to imbibe yourself, depending whether you prefer a sundowner on the beach, lots of girls for company, big screens and live music, or something more refined. You’re never far from a watering hole on this island, be it a beachside bar at your hotel, or in some of the busy centres. We’ve selected the best bars in Samui to help you on your merry way.
Chaweng and Lamai are the liveliest places for evening entertainment, with a vast selection in the main street areas and also in designated areas full of ‘girlie bars’, such as the small ‘island’ on the lake behind Chaweng. You’ll find the other beaches much quieter, with bars mainly confined to resorts. North Chaweng also has a charming evening scene right on the beach.
Your best bet for some nightlife is to wander the busy areas and find something that catches your fancy. There are some big sports bars with an excellent selection of tap beers and bar food, as well as great music and atmosphere, other places are typical Thai ‘holes-in-the-wall’ with their own unique character.
Chaweng Beach bars
The Reggae Pub: An institution on Samui, it’s been going almost as long as the island’s tourism. This temple to Caribbean ‘riddims’ is located on a semi-island on Chaweng Lake (behind the town), though you have to run the gauntlet of girlie bars to get to it. All the same, on a busy night this cavernous, open-air venue with live bands and professional service serves up an irie atmosphere mon! (can’t miss it). 3/3 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach, Tel: (077) 422 331-2, Facebook.
Tropical Murphy’s: Murphy’s is comparable in many ways to the Islander, but with just a bit more craic! Irish fare and beers are a big hit, so if you’re missing a Guinness and a bowl of stew this is the place for you. There’s great live music from the Roaring Bhoys, too. Open: 08:00-01:30, 14/40 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach Road, Tel: (077) 413 614.
Bondi Aussie Bar & Grill: Australian-themed sports bar located in the heart of Chaweng, with live music, international Djs and a third storey air-conditioned bar with pool tables and Samui’s only 5m shuffleboard. The menu consists of traditional Aussie food as well as imported steaks and terrific pizzas. Open: 09:00-02:00. 196/1-3 Moo 2, Bophut, Chaweng Beach, Tel: (077) 414 357.
The Ark Bar: Perhaps Chaweng’s best-known beach bar, the Ark is always a good bet for fun. It makes for a stunning location throughout the day, with plenty of seating inside and out (on the sand). At night, the candles and cushions come out, enhancing an atmosphere that already includes starry skies and gentle waves lapping Chaweng Beach. The Ark Bar isn’t alone here, and you’ll find plenty of similar bars up and down the sand. 159/89 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach, Tel: (077) 961 333, Fax: (077) 961 334, Email.
Coyote Bar & Restaurant: This is the one of the latest additions to Chaweng and it oozes Mexican charm. There are 75 different margaritas to choose from off the menu and great choices of food to keep the alcohol at bay. Open: 11:00-01.00, Live music from 21:30. 202/7-8 Moo 2, Bophut, Chaweng Beach Road (close to Tropical Murphy’s), tel: (077) 414 611, fax: (077) 414 612.
Bar Ice Samui: An ice bar in the tropics! You’ve got to see it to believe this ‘cool’ experience on the edge of Chaweng Lake. The ice-sculptured section was imported from Canada and requires a small cover charge (main bar is free) but you get warm capes. Open: 17:30-02:00, 147/6 Moo 2, Chaweng Lake Road, Tel: (077) 484 933.
Bar Solo: A street-side bar great for starting the night off with a few cocktails and people-watching, although with the pumping sounds you may just want to get up and dance. Open: 21:00-02:00. 166/5 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach, Tel: (077) 414 012-5.
Note! Behind Chaweng is a street of girlie bars on a piece of land jutting out into the lake. This is Chaweng’s ‘sexier’ side and is a five-minute walk from the beach road.
Lamai beach bars
Beach Republic Ocean Club: This is the one of the latest offerings on the beach in Lamai and is trendy in its décor and surroundings. The bar is not the cheapest but the ambience is without doubt one of the coolest in this part of Samui. The self-contained club and restaurant, fusion spa, and residences. 176/34 Moo 4, Lamai Beach, Maret, Tel: (077) 458 100, Fax: (077) 458 101, Email.
Outback Bar: Located right in the centre of the action on Beach Road, the Outback has live bands most nights and a decent selection of well-priced drinks. Perfect for watching the world go by. Open: 08:00-02:00; 124/149 Moo 3, Lamai Beach, Maret, Tel: (084) 440 5318.
Safari Pub: A good place for live TV sports, located close to the action but with pool tables and no one pestering you. Open: 17:00–01:00, Lamai Beach.
Kangaroo Bar: Noted for its boxing ring with girl fights on weekends, Kangaroo Bar is right in among the girlie action and is lots of fun, if a little tasteless. Ladies boxing is on a Saturday night. Lamai Beach.
Dublin Castle: A pub for the discerning crowd, with live music, pub food, pool tables, a smart interior, and pretty (and respectable) waitresses. Lamai Main Street.
Lamai also has many small bars full of girlies in areas designated especially for this type of activity, within the midsection of Village Street.
Big Buddha Beach bars
Tamarina Bistro & Bar : (Formerly Big Buddha Cafe) The bar is based just along the road from the famous Big Buddha statue in the northeast of the island. They have a large menu and selection of drinks, plus it is perfectly place to view the sunset. Open: 11:00-22:00, 14/22 Moo 5, Ban Plai Laem, Big Buddha Beach, Tel: (077) 423 635.
Bo Phut Beach bars
Billabong Bar: The Billabong is in the charming Fisherman’s Village area of Bophut and is one of the favoured nightspots for expats and tourists alike. Surf enthusiasts will love it and it makes a great meeting place for anyone. Open: 10:00 to late; Fishermans’ Village, Bo Phut, 79/2 Moo 1, Bophut, Tel: (077) 430 144, Fax: (077) 430 145.
Frog and Gecko: A fun pub offering food and drinks, along with regular events such as their weekly pub quiz. They also boast the largest screen in the Bophut area, so if you want to catch the football or see one of their many movie screenings, pop along for a beer. Open: 08:00-02:00; 79/3 Moo 1, Fisherman’s Village, Tel: (098) 023 8310.
Karma Sutra: A cool, cosy bar set in a converted wooden Chinese shop house, with a nice, friendly atmosphere and tasty cocktails. Open: 07:30-01:00, 25 Moo 1, Bophut, Koh Samui. Mobile: (088) 751 8674, Email, Facebook.
Take a taxi!
If you do find that you’re having trouble standing after a night out, please give careful thought to the route back home. Driving on Koh Samui’s roads can be a hair-raising experience even in the cold light of day. Enjoy yourself, but be sensible and get a taxi home. That way, at least you’ll be healthy enough for another session the day after.