As one of the prime holiday destinations in southern Thailand, Koh Samui hosts a great choice of nightlife entertainment options. The undisputed Ground Zero of nightlife on Samui is of course Chaweng, which is the Samui version of Patong Beach in Phuket; featuring a myriad of lounge clubs, naughty bars, beach bars, and discos, it is definitely the place to have fun at night.
But where is it really kicking apart from there? Each of the main resort towns in Koh Samui – Lamai, Bophut, and Maenam – also has interesting night spots to be discovered. Have a browse through our Top 5 nightlife recommendations to find out where the best places are to plan a really great night out.
Out on the street leading to the Reggae Pub from Chaweng Centre you’ll find bar after small bar lining the passage with the usual cast of friendly girls, not very original music, a pool table here and there and a general air of seediness. This is Soi Reggae and it used to be a very busy area with bars staying open all night and many punters wandering through but since a few years it has been losing its snappiness.
The main attraction of the area is the huge, two-storey Reggae Pub with a live music stage and pool tables but then again this place has not moved with the times and only seems to attract the type of people who actually like to hear Bob Marley imitations and even Hotel California played night after night. Things only get hopping here after midnight when the reggae finally stops and techno takes its place.
Things get pretty desperate in the surrounding bars the later it gets and the girls get more ‘aggressive’ in their tactics. You have been warned… Still, it can be a lot of fun if it’s all approached with a sense of humor and fun.
Ark Bar Beach Resort is almost an institution in Samui. Located right on the beach, in the central area of Chaweng, this beachside resort, restaurant, bar and nightclub describes itself as the one-stop party destination in the prime holiday destination in Samui Island – and this description could not be more accurate.
Featuring 300 rooms right by the sand, Ark Bar Beach Resort is not really recommended for those in search of peace and relaxation as most of the people coming and/or staying there have only one goal: party ‘til they drop. With two beachfront restaurants, and three swimming pools with two swim-up bars, the place has been designed for party animals. DJs, live music, fire shows, and pool parties are part of the daily program at Ark Bar Beach Resort.
Green Mango Pub
Soi Green Mango is the equivalent of Phuket’s Soi Bangla or Bangkok’s Patpong. It’s loud, it’s brash, and surprisingly it’s pretty compact, so much so that before you know it you’ve walked through it to the other side. Bar after bar features scantily clad (almost always in black) bar girls sing-a-songing ‘welcome, come inside’ as you drift by. But things are gradually changing here: The Russians are coming, and with them Galaxy, featuring Russian show girls doing erotic pole dancers.
There are several dance joints here, too (the massive Green Mango Club after which the soi was named and Mint are a couple), where you can get your moves in without bar girls lunging for you. Many of the beer bars are so similar that you’d be forgiven for mixing them up if you head back for a second night of fun here.
Ladyboy Cabaret Shows
Ladyboy Cabarets might not be everyone’s cup of tea but on Chaweng Beach you can enjoy a sparkling evening out with this fun form of entertainment. Thai society is generally more open to ladyboys than many other cultures, and its katoey, or the ‘third sex’, have played a prominent role in the nation’s entertainment industry for generations. Thailand’s katoey are world famous, partly because there are so many of them and also because they are so feminine. In fact it can be difficult to tell if the beautiful young lady paying you attention was a lady at birth… as many an unwitting tourist has discovered!
A typical show involves lip-synched interpretations of popular songs, complete with elaborate costumes and make-up. Some of the performances are skilfully choreographed and the tone is light-hearted, sprinkled with glitter and glitz.
Most of the cabarets in Chaweng are located near the Centara Grand beach Resort, which makes for interesting competition before the show. The ‘girls’ hand out flyers and sometimes drag you in to their bar forcibly! Keep an open mind and enjoy the show!
Lamai Central Plaza
Lamai Central Plaza is, as its name implies, located right in the centre of Lamai resort town, opposite McDonalds. It is a 2,000sqm plaza hosting a dozen beer bars (‘bar beers’, as they are called in Thailand) with a Thai boxing ring in the centre, an extremely popular street food court, and half a dozen venues – mostly bars and restaurants – on its sides.
Lamai Central Plaza starts to get lively after sunset when things cool down a bit, and keep partygoers and night owls awaken until late in a bustling ambience rocked by the loud music played in the bars producing a lively atmosphere. The clientele is quite hard to define as the type of people frequenting the plaza changes all evening long, from families with children between 18:00-20:00 to hard-core revelers after 23:00.