For those willing to give Thai street food a go (and you really should!) the walking street market from Bophut to Maenam offers a huge selection of vendors. Most will have menus in both Thai and English, but if worst comes to worst you can just point and it will do the job!
Here we choose our favourite places to eat whether you’re dining on a budget or are willing to splash the cash for an unforgettable meal.
Eating in Chaweng
On a shoestring: For an affordable meal in Chaweng, Green Bird is well worth a visit. Although its setting leaves a lot to be desired (nestled in among the shops), it offers simple yet delicious dishes for under THB100. Authentic Thai food, plastic chairs and cheap beer – what more could you want?
Splashing the cash: If you’re willing to pay a bit (a lot!) more for a gastronomic feast, you can’t beat Tree Tops north of Chaweng Beach. Although it offers international cuisine rather than Thai food, the combination of a spectacular menu, wine pairings, tranquil setting (literally in the tree tops) and fantastic views make for a wonderful meal.
Eating in Lamai
On a shoestring: If you’re travelling on a budget in Koh Samui, there is no better place to eat in Lamai than the Lamai Central Plaza. This unpretentious food court offers plenty of options from tasty Thai snacks and starters to fresh fish and noodle soups. It is busy all night long with families frequenting the stalls until around 8pm followed by revellers who sit there to drink cheap beer and people watch until the early hours. You can visit over and over again and choose food from a different stall each time.
Splashing the cash: Beach Republic in Lamai is one for those looking for a chic place to spend the day. If you’re not staying at Beach Republic there is a minimum spend of THB1000 but with so many delicious choices it’s not hard to want to spend that much! With beach and poolside dining on relaxed sunbeds or comfy sofas you can chill out while you peruse the menu. Choose from their great selection of cocktails and mocktails before being tempted by their upmarket food menu including dishes such as soft shell crab, duck lab and an amazing seafood platter.
Eating in Bophut
On a shoestring: Ko Pan restaurant boasts cheap, fresh Thai dishes while not compromising on the view. Set right on the seafront, this simple ‘restaurant’ (basically a metal roof with a few tables) is popular with locals and tourists alike. Most of the menu is in Thai but you can take a guess by looking at the pictures and for THB60 whatever you get will be a bargain! Green curry is always a good bet as it a Pad Thai or noodle soup.
Splashing the cash: As Bophut is a fishing village, seafood is obviously foremost on the menu at many establishments. Barracuda takes this to the next level by serving quality seafood in a fine-dining manner. The chef blends European and Asian flavours beautifully and because the produce is local it doesn’t cost the Earth. The dishes are delicately plated and come with a unique selection of ingredients. Barracuda’s wine and cocktail list complement the food wonderfully too.
Eating in Maenam
On a shoestring: For simple day-time dining in Maenam you can’t beat About Café. This little hippie venue offers homemade yoghurt and granola, refreshing juices and shakes, and over 10 different types of coffee! Stop in for a drink and a snack or enjoy a light lunch while watching the world go by. About Café also has little souvenirs and postcards you can purchase so why not write home while you dine?
Splashing the cash: Maenam generally offers a much more understated vibe than the rest of Koh Samui, so prices here on average are more reasonable than the tourist centres of Lamai and Bophut. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a slap-up meal. Most Thai restaurants are fairly simple here but if you don’t mind having western cuisine, La Bonne Franquette serves up delicious French fare. With a small menu and great wine list you will feel like you’re in France as you dine on a succulent lamb shank and sip on a glass of Merlot.
Snacking in Samui
Wherever you are in Koh Samui, you’re never far from a good snack joint so you certainly won’t go hungry.
One of our favourite snacks on the go is the curiously-named No Names. This is a street-side snack which comprises shredded local vegetables deep-fried in a light batter will hit the spot at any time of day.
If you fancy a pancake, there is only one place to go. Well, officially speaking there are loads, but we suggest visiting the famous Pancake Man in Maenam. Although this is just one guy and a pancake stall, he is something of an establishment on the island. Rather than sticking to Nutella or banana, why not branch out and try one of his savoury pancakes?
Finally, if you’re starving and looking for a snack to keep you going, you will be able to find satay being cooked up anywhere on the island. For just THB10-20 you can pick-up a delicious skewer, flavoured with turmeric freshly cooked in front of you. Yum!