Bophut Beach on Koh Samui is a bit of a rarity for us – it’s the only beach in Thailand we’ve been to twice.
When we moved to Thailand we were a bit sceptical about Koh Samui, mainly because the flights were comparatively expensive vs other destinations around the country.
Fast forward two years and one global pandemic, and Samui has become a rather more affordable place to be.
Bophut Beach – otherwise known as Koh Samui’s fisherman’s village, is the beach that keeps drawing us back. Bophut – and Koh Samui in general – is such a nice place to be that even in ‘normal’ times we would choose to come here.
Beautiful resorts, good food, idyllic scenery and laughably easy to get to from Bangkok – Bophut has everything for a slice of paradise.
Here are our tips and highlights for Bophut Beach.
Getting to Koh Samui and Bophut Beach from Bangkok
There are two options to get to Koh Samui – the fast and expensive way or the slow and cheap way. We have tried both.
Fly direct from Bangkok to Samui with Bangkok Airways
The fast way from Bangkok to Koh Samui is infinitely preferable if you can stomach the cost. There are multiple flights a day from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to Samui airport.
Bangkok Airways owns the airport and as such runs all of the flights to and from Samui. Prices do vary. At the moment (March 2021), you can snag a return for around 4,000 baht per person (£100).
Once international tourism resumes, however, prices may creep back to previous levels which were typically 6-10,000 baht each (£150-250)
Flights take an hour from Bangkok to Samui, and on arrival you’ll be treated to the prettiest little airport in the whole wide world in my opinion. How many lily ponds does Heathrow’s departure lounge have?
Your hotel will be able to arrange a transfer from the airport to Bophut Beach, it’s around a 15 minute drive.
Fly to Surat Thani and take the ferry to Koh Samui
If money is an object, you could consider the cheap and cheerful Option 2 combination of flight, van, ferry, van.
Flying into Surat Thani airport can be much cheaper. Nok Air and AirAsia fly to Surat Thani and both typically run flight and ferry combos. I’ve seen these run from as little as 2,500 baht (£60) each return.
This route takes a fair bit longer – the flight is about 1hr10, then an hour’s van to the ferry pier. A bit of a wait will ensue, plus another hour and a bit on the rather hot and noisy catamaran.
You can also book flights and transfer/ferry separately via a site like 12go.
Personally we prefer the direct flights, but the ferry is a fun experience too and certainly more wallet-friendly!
A top tip with the ferry is to pay the extra 100 baht (£2.50) on boarding to go in the VIP cabin. The main benefit of said cabin is functional Aircon. You can also brave the sun and sit outside but it does get hot! It’s around 30mins drive from the ferry back to Bophut Beach.
Where to stay at Bophut
Bophut Beach is a long, north-facing stretch of gently curving sand with vividly blue water lapping lazily against the shore. Bophut forms a wide bay that seems to shelter it from the wind, lending a naturally slow pace of life by the sea shore.
Most hotels and the bulk of facilities are clustered at the eastern end of the beach – a high street of sorts runs close to the seafront.
For ease of access to the heart of Bophut Beach, staying in this area would be a good bet. Hotels are typically 4 and 5 star and don’t always come cheap, but you can often get a good discounts on the list prices.
5 star luxury in the heart of Bophut Beach
Our favourite on the beachfront is Hansar Samui – you can read a little more about it in this post about our first trip to Koh Samui. Although the list prices are quite steep, sites like Agoda often have very good deals on their rooms and you can snag a spot at Hansar Samui for two people from a shade over 2,000 baht (£50) per night bed and breakfast on a good day.
If you are looking for a bit more luxury, their beachfront rooms are exceptional with large balconies right over the beach to relax on for your own private slice of luxury.
Hansar has all the facilities you’d expect of a 5 star hotel, and the location tucked just off the main strip means it’s quite quiet but still very close to the action. For those that simply can’t endure the 10 steps from the hotel to the sea, Hansar Samui’s beachfront swimming pool is a delightful spot to enjoy a sunset cocktail.
If it tickles your fancy, you can book Hansar Samui on Agoda via this link – as with the other hotel links on this page, if you do we’ll get a small commission which goes towards the site costs, and you won’t pay more. Win win! Agoda also typically have the best prices in our experience, they are our go to for hotel bookings.
The equally plush Anantara Koh Samui Bophut is right next door to Hansar, it would typically be more expensive but also looks nice.
Secluded beach villas in the Fisherman’s Village
For a very different vibe, you can look to the other end of Bophut Beach to the relaxed but still luxurious beach villas of Zazen Resort. We recently stayed at Zazen Hotel Koh Samui and absolutely loved it. This western end of Bophut Beach is the actual fisherman’s village these days. There’s a cluster of small fishing boats that bob around in the surf by day and then putter out to sea by night, and in the afternoon the fisherman come down to work on their vessels, usually with a friendly family of dogs who will come and play with you at the slightest encouragement. It’s a nice slice of ‘normal’ Thai life to observe.
Zazen has a number of advantages – the private beach front villas step right out onto the beach, while the garden villas are very secluded and peaceful. Zazen resort is well laid-out – quite large but without feeling impersonal; it retains a homely vibe. They are very low on customers at the moment unfortunately as the pandemic continues to bite – this means that things like the spa aren’t open and the restaurant has a slightly more limited menu, but these aren’t major inconveniences and the free upgrade to a beachfront villa was a nice surprise.
You can stroll out of your villa right onto a sun lounger for a tough day of basking in the sun. Zazen resort also has paddle boards and kayaks you can take out for free whenever you like.
The included breakfast is fantastic with a choice of western and Thai options – the Thai khao tom (rice porridge) is a highlight, as is the accompanying platter of fruit and your own cafetiere of fresh, strong coffee or a range of teas for your morning caffeine fix. Zazen restaurant has outstanding food at the usual beachfront prices – the massaman curry and chicken satay were particularly memorable.
During the pandemic, Zazen are offering ridiculously low rates – we paid 900 baht (£25) per night bed and breakfast for 2 which is unbeatable value. Again we booked via Agoda – and you can book Zazen on Agoda with this link. I mean, honestly, 25 quid a night for this!
The seclusion of Zazen has a trade off in that you have to walk about 15mins down the beach to get to the other bars and restaurants of Bophut for lunch or in the evening, but it’s no great inconvenience.
One other lovely thing about Zazen – we left a phone charger in the room and they posted it back to Bangkok to us and then refused to take any money for the postage, which was extremely generous of them. Especially in tough times for the hotel industry and Thai tourism in general, we thought this was a very kind touch and all the more reason to stay at Zazen in our view.
Where to eat and drink at Bophut Beach
Bophut Beach is a great place for food and drink with a number of excellent options. Bophut – and Koh Samui in general to be honest – is not the cheapest spot in Thailand but at Bophut you can find good quality for your money. A few highlights:
The hot spot of Bophut to which people flock from all over the island. A large, partially open space that stretches onto the beach – Coco Tam’s is almost always busy and with good reason. Wood fired pizzas are great while the cocktails and drinks are generous. Coco Tam’s is a pricier option but we always seem to be drawn back!
Coco Tam’s is a huge hub for the seemingly endless stream of Insta-crazed Thai kids. Enjoy the myriad photo shoots going on around you where the subject studiously looks away from the camera, laughs uproariously, jumps in the air, releases a dove etc before deciding they hate that shot and repeating it 100 times. The entertainment is also a highlight. The nightly fire show at 8.30pm is worth watching, and at around 7pm a guy turns up in a water-based jetpack and does about 15 mins of tricks while covered in red lights. It’s a lot cooler than that sentence sounds and this picture looks.
Lovers of seafood will love 2 fishes – our favourite restaurant in Bophut and Koh Samui. Perfectly prepared, gigantic fresh seafood dishes pop out of the small, open kitchen. The menu varies based on whatever is in that day. It’s probably worth booking ahead at weekends.
The closest thing to an everyday Thai restaurant we found in Bophut Beach. Tucked down an alley, a husband and wife team crack out really nice Thai staples at very reasonable prices for the area. They told us that business had slumped – unsurprisingly – since Covid as the many Thai visitors didn’t often want to eat Thai food. This is a shame as it’s a lovely little place that does very nice, well-priced food. The owner will also take good care of you and brings out fresh watermelon as a snack, perfect on a hot day.
Ideal for a cheaper lunch or easy meal.
Down at the eastern end of Bophut Beach is Nirvana, which is a nice spot for dinner on the beach. They are currently only open Friday-Sunday and have very much a skeleton staff, but the Burmese lady who comprises the entire waiting staff is always welcoming and friendly. She’ll set you up on the beach and serve up good fried prawns, fish and also big, hearty portions of ribs and fries. Generous servings of wine wash everything down and Nirvana is generally just a nice place to be. Nothing overly fancy but a very serviceable dinner!
Also a hotel, Karma Beach was a good find for us – almost a little slice of France dropped into the middle of Koh Samui. Karma Beach does a good line in grilled seafood and plates – we loved the grilled squid with garlic, and an especially good line in desserts. The cafe gourmand was an unexpected treat – a trio of treats and an espresso are a sophisticated beachside treat. The crepes also went down a storm.
There are any number of decent places to eat and drink around Bophut – the above are just some of the ones we particularly enjoyed! If you need breakfast, also check out the bakery opposite Coco Tam’s.
What to do at Bophut Beach
Bophut isn’t exactly a hive of activity and the best thing to do in our opinion is to simply relax and enjoy the sublime scenery. Books on a sun lounger by day – a stroll into the main street for lunch, sundown cocktails at Coco Tam’s and dinner sound like a great way to spend every day at Bophut Beach to us!
For kayaking and paddle boarding, which your hotel will likely provide for free, the best times are in the late afternoon before sunset when the already light breeze dies away and you can glide around on clear and glass-like water.
There are a few water sports and massage places along the beach front, just do your research on the companies first or better still ask your hotel before you rent a jetski or whatever. We didn’t end up using any of the services on our trips, but when we asked the Hansar concierge they were pretty clear on which companies to use and which to avoid.
Otherwise – enjoy being at one of the prettiest spots in the world! You can have views like this by day:
You also get to enjoy Bophut’s magical evening colours as the sun sets over Samui:
If you decide to venture away from the sand at Bophut, Koh Samui is full of great spots and activities. One that is within walking distance is the Infusions Cooking School which boasts just about the most extensive cookery school menu we’ve ever seen for you to choose from. Fried soft shell crab, banana flower salad, thick northern hanglay curry – it’s all there.
Further afield, we enjoy the boat trips run by Oceana Samui. A half day trip of nearby islands was a great experience, especially on Koh Madsum – the island famous for its roaming colony of pigs! You too can chase friendly pigs around a beach. Good luck convincing them to stop for a photo though.
When to visit Koh Samui
Koh Samui and the Ang Thong islands of Samui, Phangan and Tao have quite a unique climate pattern which makes visiting Koh Samui and Bophut Beach easy at unusual times of the year. We have visited in both August and February and enjoyed near wall to wall sun both times. Samui is always hot, but during its monsoon season will be prone to meaty tropical storms.
Whilst it’s normally most rainy from October to late December, any other time of year is likely to leave you with plenty of sunshine, with the height of the dry season from February to April. This is probably the best travelling time for ferry crossings as well. May to September apparently brings a bit of both – we barely saw a drop of rain on our August trip last year. There are few bad times to visit Samui!
We hope you have enjoyed this short guide to all things Bophut Beach, and that you get to come visit the fantastic island of Koh Samui soon! We’ve focused in on one area but from what we can see, all of Samui is a rather fantastic place to be. Here’s hoping we see visitors from all over the world enjoying it in the not too distant future.