More of a Good Thing on Thailand’s Southern Gulf Coast

The perfect vantage point

I’ve honestly never thought of myself as much of a beach person, but after the quantity and quality of beaches I’ve been seeing in Thailand so far, I’m finally warming up to the joys of plopping down on the sand and seeing how many hours I can go without moving.  After spending the better part of a week along the Andaman Coast, I was off to check out the islands on the other side of the peninsula.  Though there are many to choose from, by far the most popular — the “Big 3” if you will — are that of the divers’ paradise of Koh Tao, the all-night-raver scene that is Koh Pha-Ngan (which hosts the famous “Full-Moon Parties”), and the lazy and luxurious sands of Koh Samui.  Being that my diving experience is non-existent and the thought of 20,000 drunk tourists having an all-night, day-glo-paint-tinged dance party sounds like a perfected version of hell to me, I made straight for Koh Samui.

The island itself is blessed with gorgeous beaches on virtually its entire perimeter, but the two most popular spots are that of Chaweng and Lamai – both to the Northeast side of the island.  And although the primary industry on the island is obviously still tourism, after seeing the neon-clad, Vegas-like beaches on Phuket, the popular spots along Koh Samui seemed more like the lazy, beach-bum towns that I was hoping to find.  There are hundreds of resorts on the island, too, but these are largely spread out over the entire island — and many tend to stay close to their resort –meaning no one place feels too crowded.

The Chaweng Beach – arguably the prettiest on the island

The main commercial drag along Chaweng Beach – the busiest spot on the island

Liters of Petrol (Gasoline) for sale in old liquor bottles

In the interest of variety, I booked a few nights along the Chaweng stretch (see above photos), but then moved south to take in the slightly more laid-back vibe of the Lamai beach area (see below):

The View over Lamai Beach

Lamai’s grand boulevard

I’m tempted to say that I was a motivated individual who spent most of my day exploring the various wats and waterfalls that the island also has to offer instead of laying on the beach like a bum, but if I did, I’d be lying.  I did manage to drag myself off of my beach chair for a day, however, for some kayaking and snorkeling around the nearby Ang Thong Marine National Park — a collection of 40+ largely undeveloped islands that still boast pristine beaches and untamed jungles.

A shot of the Emerald Sea, a massive lake on the interior of the Koh Mea Koh, one of the many small islands on the Park

My tour of the Ang Thong Park also included a stop off at Koh Paluay, an island with a small fishing village (and one of the few areas where development is allowed in the Park).  After being funneled around on the nightlife-heavy stretches of Chaweng and Lamai, it was particularly nice to see another facet of the area’s culture:

Additionally, you may have noticed that in both of my Thailand posts so far, I’ve largely avoided my favorite topic: food.  Given that there is quite a culinary tradition in this country, I’ve decided to hold off until I have enough compiled to dedicate an entire post to the delights inherent in Thai cuisine.  But until then, I’ll give you a quick peak at some of the common beach snacks found on the islands:

Street vendors out in force

The ever-present staple food of budget travelers: The Banana Pancake

A Phad Thai vendor dishing up the goods

For about $1.50, you can have an entire pineapple disassembled wihle you watch and delivered to your chair on the beach

My college buddies will get a kick out of this one, as Chang used to be my nickname (and for convenience sake, I’ll just go ahead and assume they named the beer after me)

After my time on the beach finally comes to an end, I’m headed for the hot and humid, crowded, and chaotic streets of Bangkok.  Before then, however, I’ll leave you with a picture from my favorite beach to date.  In the Ang Thong Marine Park, on the island of Koh Paluay (the same one with the fishing village seen above), there is a completely untouched beach without so much as a rustic shack in sight.  Enjoy:

About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

12 Responses to “More of a Good Thing on Thailand’s Southern Gulf Coast”

  1. Excellent post, Chang.

  2. Unbelievable pictures dude. That looks so relaxing. Enjoy!

  3. How unbelievable that not only did Thailand know you were coming, they named a beer after you!

  4. Andrew, any remnants of tsunami damage from the boxing day disaster?

    • I had heard that most of what was destroyed along the coast had already been rebuilt, but not until I got there did I realise just how much so. If you didn’t know a tsunami hit, you’d be hard pressed to see any physical scars left over.

  5. So was the street vendor pad thai better than what you get in fancy schmancy Thai restaurants here in the States?

  6. Lost but not lost, great post this time keep them coming

    Dave Taylor

  7. very nice blog and all the pics are too nice.

  8. I would love to do what you are doing! Pictures are great. Every thing is so interesting and I travel along with you.

    Continue on!


  9. Beautiful beach photos, Chang. Hope you drank one for me.

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