For most travellers, Ko Samui is a tropical paradise, lined with beautiful beaches all over the coastline, complete with bars and clubs to compete with the likes of Pattaya and Phuket's party scene, and luxurious top of the line hotels and resorts dotting said coastline. But Ko Samui offers a lot more than what meets the surface too, and it's food scene in particular is more than thriving.
In this guide, I'll be listing the places we visited, which were mostly Thai, and naturally heavy on seafood given it's island destination status. Most of these listed here run on a communal eating and sharing style.
We were in a group of 6, so the prices listed for these places refer to the total bill for 6 adults.
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1. Chaweng Night Market Food Centre
As a tourist to Ko Samui, you're going to find yourself at Chaweng at some point, as it's the hub for tourism on the whole island, and where you'll find the biggest mall, as well as tons of shops selling all kinds of trinkets and souvenirs.
There are plenty of upmarket restaurants and bars lining this seemingly never ending street, but that's not what I went to Ko Samui for, and lucked out with taking a chance on what seemed like a popular place on Google Maps— the Chaweng Night Market Food Centre.
It ended up being one of the best places I saw the Thai street food scene.
Entering by the main boardwalk, the complex is split into two halves, with representatives from stalls on both sides trying to get you to dine with them. I chose the seemingly busier other part, though I felt like it wouldn't have made a difference either way.
We ended up ordering dishes from Chaokoh Seafood, and it was one of the best meals I had on the trip.
We ordered dishes like Pork Ribs Marinated in BBQ Sauce, Stir Fried Kale with Garlic, BBQ Tiger Prawns, Deep Fried Tofu Cubes topped with Fried Garlic, Mango Sticky Rice, and Grilled Lobster and a bowl of rice each. This all added up to ฿2930 (approximately US$88 / €76 / S$121) for 6 adults in total.
The fantastic thing about being in a place with many other food stalls is that you can order a bunch of stuff from them, and while we had loads of food from Chaokoh, we decided to get fruit milkshakes from another stall opposite to wash all that food down.
This place is always bustling and is perfect for those travelling in big groups.
If you're driving over, you'll mostly be parking along the street, and parking lots are limited but we eventually did manage to find one somewhere. Some stretches of the street prohibit parking, but you'll have no trouble finding that out as it's signposted in English too. For an easier time, another option is to park at Central Ko Samui, which is a massive shopping mall located right smack in the middle of the street.
2. Chaweng Walking Street Seafood Market
Another popular place in Chaweng located on the other end of the street is the open-air Chaweng Walking Street Seafood Market, which is of a similar concept, except the tables stretch out into the street. There are many, many stalls here offering similar food, but there's a massive one with a sheltered compound located at the end of the street, which I think might've been better than the stall we ended up with on the street. We had a big fish and a lobster here as well, but this ended up being one of the more expensive meals, coming up to ฿3400 / US$103 / €88 / S$140.
The food we had was fine enough, but we arrived early, and as the evening let on, other stalls started filling up and getting busier and I realised they might've been more popular.
Here, we had all the usuals, the seafood options and mango sticky rice.
Parking here is a slightly easier deal, as there's a big parking lot right across the street.
3. Krua Baan Khaow (Bophut Fisherman Village)
Bophut Fisherman Village is a reflection of Thai-Chinese history on Ko Samui, and is similar to Chaweng's walking street but isn't as packed or noisy, but also hosts many posh beachfront restaurants, small but cosy cafes and the like.
We walked into a beautiful restaurant by the name of Krua Baan Khaow, also known as White House Kitchen.
We had our usual seafood suspects, as well as Pineapple Fried Rice which was delicious. I'd say this was our second best meal and staff were friendly, not to mention this had really nice decor as well. Our full meal here included several dishes of the vegetable spring rolls (perfectly crispy and hot), fried noodles, stir-fried morning glory and omelette with shrimp, which totalled up to ฿2030 / US$61 / €52 / S$83.
4. Wok Lamai
Located on Lamai Street, Wok Lamai is a popular casual restaurant for Thai food as well as "international food" but we stuck to all the popular Thai options.
We had steamed white rice with Chicken with Cashew Nuts, Pork Ribs with Fried Garlic, Stir Fried Morning Glory, Tom Yum Soup, Beef with Broccoli and a pot of Glass Noodles, washing it down with refreshing fruit smoothies.
This was one of the best meals we had, and paid ฿1620 (US$50 / €42 / S$67). It's one that's popular with other travellers, and the fans provide the respite from the tropical heat.
Similarly to Chaweng Street, we parked along the road side, though these streets are just as narrow, but some run two ways so you'll be squeezing with other vehicles coming from the opposing direction. Some streets suddenly turn into one way streets at some point, so you might have to circle round just to get to somewhere near Wok Lamai.
5. Bang Por Seafood (Takho)
Bang Po is located on the North shore of the island, and is a place that isn't really visited by tourists yet, in fact, where we went only goes by it's Thai name on Google Maps, not in the Latin alphabet.
There are actually two places that are good here, Haad Bang Po and Bang Po Seafood, where I parked right in front of the restaurant.
We went with the latter restaurant, and it was the only restaurant we went to that we were surrounded by Thai people.
In fact, the food served here was humbly served with absolutely no frills, which though doesn't make for the best pictures, definitely fill the tummy.
The bill only came up to ฿1530 (US$46 / €40 / S$63) and is handwritten in Thai, so absolutely no pandering to tourists here.
6. Think & Retro Cafe Lipa Noi
Located along Lipa Noi Beach, Think & Retro Cafe is a popular cafe decorated like a colourful junkyard.
This isn't the place to go for Thai food (referring to the '& More' in the title of this post), but rather pizzas, pastas, meat fillets, and cocktails on the beach.
There's a private carpark in front of the cafe, so parking's easy.
The food here was good, but the vibes were better, and is an incredibly relaxing place to just chill out by the beach. This place isn't cheap (our bill added up to ฿2050 / US$62 / €53 / S$85), and certainly not by Thai standards, but consider the fact that you'd be paying a fraction of the price of what you'd pay for a similar meal in a similar place in other countries and it's a pretty sweet deal and view along the beach.
And if you'd like to just chill on the big stretch of white, powdery sand after lunch you can, and even on a sunny afternoon in June, there was barely anyone on the beach.