Samui Beaches - Tranquil

Despite large portions of the islands beaches being full or resorts, there are still some much quieter options. Some of the nicest beaches only have mid to high-end resorts on, but no resort in Thailand can claim beach space, so you're always free to use it! Thong Ta Kien /Crystal Bay/ Silver Beach * A largely unknown gem of a beach tucked in between its two boisterous neighbours. * Many places in Thailand often have two names, but this relatively unknown little beach on the eastern coast of Samui has no less than three. Tucked in the foothills, right next to the cliffs that separate Lamai beach from Chaweng, it's a superb place for sunbathing, and for swimming out to large rocks that rise out of the crystal clear water. The sand is almost white dust, and there are no beach vendors to bother you while you sunbathe; and more importantly, there are no ubiquitous jetskis. Snorkelling near rocks at either end of the beach is also popular. Silver Beach hosts four long-established resorts and restaurants which spread right along the length of the bay. But because it is little known, there is plenty of room on the beaches for casual visitors. And don't forget - all beaches in Thailand have free access for everyone. Nobody can mark them off as private beaches. The very cheap accommodation here is not of a good standard, but there is a decent choice of mid-range accommodation as well as the high-end resorts that dominate the scene. Most of the restaurants are attached to the resorts, but you're only a short distance away from Chaweng or Lamai beaches where you can find cheaper eats. Kayaks are available for rent from the four resorts, and there are two open-air massage parlours under the shade of the trees. Located on the eastern side of the island, just past the northern end of Lamai Beach, Thong Ta Kien beach is easily accessible from the main ring road. Just park up and take a short walk to the beach. Ko Samui South Coast * The island's south coast boasts a number of villages to explore, along with five mainly deserted beaches, offering adventure-seekers with much to explore. * The south coast consists of the five small beaches of Ban Hua Thanon, Na Khai, Laem Set, Bang Kao and Thong Krut. There are a number of villages here, and the largest is Ban Hua Thanon, in the south-west corner. This is a Muslim village and is a good place to buy fresh fish and have a great seafood meal at one of its many restaurants. If you follow the main Route 4170 in a westerly direction, you will first come to Lame Set, then Bang Ko and finally Laem Sor. The bays here are mostly undeveloped, and there are many places where you can scramble down the rocks or walk through undergrowth and discover deserted beaches. It will give you an idea what Samui used to be like before the tourist boom took off. Accommodation is available at the southern end of the island, and there are a number of inland attractions in the area, including the Butterfly Garden and the Magic Alambic Rum Distillery, where you can spend a few hours if you are just visiting for the day. Songtaews and taxis can be found here, but they are a rarity and you are better off with your own transport. To get here, from Nathon Bay, drive in a southerly direction on the 4169 ring road, and take a right turn onto Route 4170, which borders most of the south coast, from west to east. Coming from Chaweng / Lamai, the first village - Ban Hua Thanon - is in the south-eastern corner of the island, just down the coast from the grandfather and grandmother stones on the southern tip of Lamai. Lipa Noi Beach * This lovely white sand beach in a remote location is suitable for families and is also convenient for day-trippers and weekenders from the mainland. * The beach is located just south of the island's main car ferry port, and is not well patronised, as most tourists prefer to go to the north or the east coast of the island where the main action is. It's a convenient location for those who have brought their cars over from the mainland for the day, or maybe for a long weekend. This means the beach is pretty empty on weekdays. The beach has fine white sand, there are no rocks or coral in the water, and it is an ideal place for families, as the water is very shallow for up to 100m offshore. There are a few bungalows dotted along the beach, the most well-known of which is Big John Seafood. As the name suggests, it also has an excellent restaurant. There are also a couple of upmarket luxury beachside villas to rent, and the beach is home to the Samui Dharma Healing Centre. This relatively remote beach is not for those seeking nightlife, but if you are looking for peace and tranquillity, it is a great place to stay. If you have transport, you can enjoy idyllic day trips through the nearby tropical coconut plantations. Driving in a southerly direction down the west coast of the island, just south of Nathon Bay, take the 4169 ring road, and turn right towards the coast on Route 4174. Taling Ngam Beach * Tranquil beaches, spectacular sunsets and high-end resorts. * Midway up the western coast, but still south of Nathan Bay is Taling Ngam Bay. The bay here is less developed than other areas of the island and makes for a lovely tranquil setting for those who want to get away from all the noise and nightlife. The sunsets are often spectacular here, with views of the islands in the marine park in the far distance and closer to shore, views of the five limestone islands. On this beach is the famous Five Islands Restaurant. As well as offering fine dining, the restaurant also organises long tail boat trips out to the five islands, where you will be rewarded with splendid views of Koh Samui. There are a number of upmarket resorts here, and visitors staying in other areas on the island often come to enjoy the tranquil beaches, swim in the resorts' pools and dine in their restaurants. Inland from Taling Ngam, there are several scenic viewpoints as well as attractions, such as Paradise Park Farm and Heavens Garden. Further afield is Nathan, with its seaport, shopping and administrative centre and only 20 minutes' drive away. Chawang nightlife on the east coast is about 30 minutes away. To get here, head south on the 4169 ring road from Nathan, and take a right onto Route 4170 that leads to Taling Ngam Beach. Bang Po Beach (including Ban Tai) * A quiet northern coast beach, with good views and bungalows for longer-term stays. * Stretching along the western corner of the northern coast, Bang Po is a lengthy 5km expanse of beach which includes Ban Tai beach at its eastern end. For those of you looking for a quieter area to stay in which is not completely isolated, then Bang Po, with its lovely sunsets and views of Koh Pha Ngan may be the place for you. While it has relatively small numbers of tourists, there are a few luxury hotels and a number of mid-range and budget resorts, although many of these have now been converted into reasonably priced, long stay accommodation. A few housing developments run along the western part of the beach and though there is not much in the way of shopping or nightlife, there are plenty of Thai seafood restaurants and other eateries along the beachfront. The sea is usually calm, but there are wide expanses of mudflats at low tide, and there are also a few coral reefs which attract snorkelers. The beach is much better in the Ban Tai area at the eastern end. To get here, drive in a clockwise direction, south to north on ring road 4169, pass the Laem Yai headland on your left, and as you start along the northern coast, Bang Po Beach is on your left.

Map of Lower Gulf of Thailand

Lower Gulf of Thailand-Map