Guide to wining and dining on Koh Samui Thailand

by Andy Burrows
Some of the world's finest cuisines can be found in Southern Thailand, this has been made apparent by the amount of Thai restaurants that have sprung up throughout the globe over the last number of years. Koh Samui is no different; the people here are highly imaginative when it comes to selection and presentation of food. Whether it is a local street vendor or a top end restaurant you can be sure that you'll find something to suit any palate and budget. The food is always prepared with fresh ingredients. To continually improve the quality and standard of food and service, the Samui Culinary Circle (SCC) was set up, thus ensuring that over the last couple of years Samui has become a centre for culinary excellence, in addition to its beautiful beaches and friendly people. There are three main areas on Samui for restaurants and bars; with a further four more secluded areas to explore. The first and most popular area is Chaweng beach. Here you can find a huge range of options to choose from, including French, Japanese, Royal Thai and Italian cuisine, just to name a few.

All of these can be enjoyed on the beach under the stars, beneath a thatched roof or in cool air-conditioned comfort. In the south of the island you'll find Samui's second largest beach - Lamai beach. In general dining here is cheaper than Chaweng beach and is where you will find a plethora of small, family run Thai eateries. Although, there is still an eclectic mix of restaurants from European to Asian fusion, ensuring all tastes are catered for. Situated near the famous Big Budda, in the north of the island, is Bophut beach. This once predominately fishing area has given way to a range of restaurants and is now the culinary heart of Koh Samui. The quiet and picturesque setting makes it an ideal place for a romantic night out. The fisherman's village, which is considered by most to be one of the oldest areas on the island, is littered with wooden houses reminiscent of a by gone era that have been lovingly restored and now serve as shops and restaurants. Here you'll find French, Indian, Thai, Italian and seafood restaurants all of which are a stone's throw from the waterfront. One of Samui's quietest and most picturesque beaches is Maenam. The restaurants here will cater to every budget and offer food from around the world. The area is packed with street stalls where you can purchase a portion of Pad Thai and eat it on the beach for an inexpensive but memorable dining experience. Big Buddha beach has plenty of excellent Thai restaurants to choose from alongside international cuisine. Exceptional and inventive pub grub is available from funky caf├ęs which are scattered throughout the area. For the more adventurous and those who enjoy heading off the well trodden tourist trail should make for the south-east and west coasts. As most of the island's fresh fish is caught just of these coastlines, seafood lovers will be in culinary paradise. Some of the restaurants here are so small they don't even have names but you are nearly always guaranteed a delicious meal and a warm Thai welcome. However, it's not only the welcome that is warm; the dishes are spicy enough to blow your socks off! Whatever your culinary taste you are sure to find it on Koh Samui and not only will you leave feeling satisfied and relaxed, you won't be lighter than when you arrived! Your eating experience here will probably be both culinary and culturally satisfying.

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