Samui is a leisure island where most of the services cater to hospitality and entertainment, with plenty of options for nightlife. Since almost everyone on the island is on holiday, or working within the tourism sector, there is something to do every night in the main tourist areas.
With taxis waiting close by, it’s easy to stumble back to your villa or hotel room, or if you really overdo it, you can sleep off a hangover on the beach. The atmosphere in the main tourist beaches at night is mostly festive and options for diversion range from refined cocktail lounges and quiet beachside dining to raucous bars and discos. Then there are a number of tamer activities to while away an evening and we’ve covered these too.
While bars can be found at all of the island’s main beach areas, it is Chaweng and, to a lesser extent, Lamai, where the parties linger on long into the wee hours. The evening entertainment on other beaches is largely limited to a few quiet local bars, but in the height of the busy season you’ll always find good company and it won’t hurt your wallet to sit drinking all evening.
Always loud, sometimes lewd… if the hedonistic life is for you, then we can suggest a few venues to really let your hair down in Samui.
Here is our pick of the best bars and nightlife venues in Samui, to suit a variety of evening tastes:
Lamai is Samui’s second beach resort and has a strong following among visitors and expatriates alike. Quieter than Chaweng (though not that you’d notice at the top end), Lamai has a huge selection of bars and clubs, including some of the best known on the island.
Super Sub Club: One of Lamai’s finest, featuring house tunes spun by well-known local DJs. It’s a good sized, air-conditioned club with a large outdoor terrace featuring a big screen for watching sporting events if you need a break from dancing. Open: 21:00-02:00; Main Road in the Lamai Beach area of the city.
Fusion Club: This club is forever changing its appearance, so whenever you go you will always see something new. It offers some of the best DJs on the island, both foreign and local guys, spinning tunes to all those dancing until the wee hours. Open: 20:30 to late; 124/211 Moo 3, Maret, Lamai Beach, tel: 081 3707 308, 081 894 5001, 081 370 7386.
In addition to these, there is a busy drag of venues along Lamai Road back from the beach, which is the centre of the action by night. There are dozens of places to choose from and you can easily wander from one to the next, sampling cheap cocktails or seeking out a selection of local and imported beers.
One particular area has been set for the girlie bars, which is a feature of any popular Thailand resort area. Set back slightly from the street, the area has dozens of open bars full of friendly ladies looking to turn a trick for the night. It’s all pretty harmless and friendly; you can sit down and drink alone or let a pretty girl talk you into a slightly more expensive ‘lady drink’. Even non-punters find it fun to people-watch or linger without obligation. Read about the prostitute scene in Samui.
Regardless of where your evening started, if you’re looking for a fun night out, then it’s likely you’ll end up in Chaweng, and with good reason. The scope of Chaweng’s entertainment options can be somewhat baffling to first-time visitors and it may take you a while to get your bearings.
The two most popular nightlife spots can be found on either Green Mango Road, which is just to the left of Burger King on Chaweng Beach Road, or along the Reggae Pub road, which is on a small peninsular within Chaweng Lake. The latter is a little harder to find if you don’t know the way, but songthaews and motorbike taxis are plentiful.
The Reggae Pub road is of course home to the Reggae Pub, while the Green Mango road is a horseshoe-shaped collection of bars, pubs and clubs, which has something for everyone (unless you’re a teetotal priest). Here are just a few of the local favourites:
The Green Mango: Large and loud, the Green Mango has been around so long it’s even got a road named after it. It has one of the biggest dance areas in Chaweng and a list of drinks that anyone should be happy with. You might remember going in, but you’ll almost certainly not recall leaving! Open: 18:00-02:00; Soi Green Mango, tel: (077) 422 661.
Sweet Soul Café: Almost opposite the Green Mango, Sweet Soul Café is popular with locals and tourists. It’s not the largest of places, but the party revellers spilling out onto the pathway only add to the heady atmosphere around these parts. Open: 18:00-02:00; Soi Green Mango.
The Mint Bar: Just across from Sweet Soul Café is the Mint Bar, a venue that has been catching cooler eyes since it opened during 2008. The bar’s continuing ability to draw some of the finest international DJs in the world enhances the appeal of this stylish, eclectic venue. Open: 21:00-03:00; Soi Green Mango, tel: 087 089 8726, 081 082 4030.
Sound club: This is a popular late night bar on two storeys. DJs pump out house tunes late at night, while the bar features live bands in the early evening to get you warmed up. Open 23:00-06:00. Soi Green Mango.
Reggae Pub: A long-serving Samui institution that plays all kinds of tunes, with only a minimal amount of Reggae. It’s dance music mostly that echoes around this huge complex and the spacious dance floor is always packed late at night. Don’t bother coming too early though as it’s practically empty until 22:00. Open: 18:00-02:00; 3/3 Moo2, Lam Din, Chaweng Lake, tel: (077) 422 331-2, fax: (077) 230 17.
Soi Solo: About 200m north of Soi Green Mango is a street which starts off with a massive open bar called Solo Bar. They offer reasonably-priced drinks in great surroundings and it is ideal for people-watching. Further down the soi is an eclectic mix of bars from Hendrix belting out classic tracks to 06:00 in the morning to the massive Solo Club at the end of the street that is open long after the sun comes up. Open: 21:00-02:00; Soi Solo, Chaweng Beach Rd., tel: (077 ) 414 012-5, mobile: 089 724 6334, fax: (077) 414 014.
Other night-time activities
The world famous brand, associated with Florida white parties, has finally hit the shores of this island. Nikki Beach, famous to all the stars, has had a welcome start to island life and if you want some truly sophisticated fun, head over to Lipa Noi on the west coast of the island. It does not come cheap, but if there is a party it is the place to be seen. Open: 11:00-21:30 (Sunday-Wednesday), 11:00-22:30 (Thursday-Saturday); 96/3, Lipa Noi, tel: (077) 914 50.
Samui Bungy jump
Either hurl yourself off the top, or just have some drinks and watch everyone else scare themselves senseless. Features backwards, running and reverse bungy jumps as well as a 50m crane over a deep dive pool. Jumps run to early evening, after which you can chill out in the bar for a few early ones before the nearby Reggae Bar really kicks off. Jumps from US$50, first Jump: 10:30, last jump: 18:00; Soi Reggae, Lakeside, Chaweng, tel: (077) 414 252, mobile: +66 085 791 1921.
The Muay Thai boxing stadium
Chaweng Stadium and Petbancha are also based on the Reggae Pub road in Chaweng and the shows are well worth watching. If you’re keen to soak up Thai culture, but without straying too far from a cold beer, then this place is ideal. Lamdin Road, Bophut, Chaweng.
It might not be for everyone but all are most welcome. Ladyboys are very much an accepted part of Thai culture and you’ll find the shows to be (generally) well put together, incredibly camp, and, on the whole, in decent taste. Good recommendations are Christy’s cabaret and Star Cabaret on Chaweng Road, not far from Burger King. Chaweng Beach Road.
What to drink?
Beer anyone? Local or international, you’ll find plenty of choice in all the bars and clubs you encounter. Most places will also feature a cocktail list as well as all your favourite spirits. For the truly adventurous, try a bit of the local Thai Whisky, which is served in an iced bucket with Red Bull. If this lethal concoction doesn’t get you going, then nothing will! Just don’t expect to be moving too much the next day…
Beer is generally cheap in Thailand and is favoured by locals and foreigners who drink both locally brewed and imported brands. Wine is far less popular, and although widely available in hotels and good restaurants, it is hardly good value, being taxed to the hilt. Most bars do cocktails, some far cheaper than others.