Aerial video of Lamai Beach and resorts, Koh Samui shot in November 2016 by John Everingham.

Lamai is sometimes seen as Samui's 'second' beach

How to get the best possible hotel rates on Koh Samui?
Book directly with the hotel. This cuts out all agents & commissions, and the hotel can pass the savings on to guests. But only some hotels do. We thus identify hotels that guarantee, in writing, to discount below the rates advertised online. We display all Samui beachfront hotels that guarantee such discounts.
If this beach does not have a GUARANTEE list, see the Samui map page. We put you in direct contact with the hotel, and take no commission.

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Lamai Beach is second in fame only to Chaweng - for good reason

Is this Samui's second beach? Lamai Beach has long been Samui's 'second' beach, always in the shadow of its more famous sister, Chaweng. During the backpacker days of the 1980s it was even considered the poor sister of the two, for the beachfront accommodations here were always a step more basic and cheaper than those further north. The beach in Lamai is not as classically beautiful also, with very coarse sand compared to the fine, white powdery stuff on Chaweng.
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But Lamai has atmosphere – and it always has had, mainly the result of its interesting geography. Here Samui's huge central mountain presses close to the ocean, leaving only a small area of flat land at Lamai. The local community is thus close to the beach, and close to the tourists they hosts. While Buddhists dominate and they have a large monastery, there are also Muslims here, living in harmony. Visitors to Lamai have always had the sense of being close to the locals, while at Chaweng the local community is far back and aloof from the visitors its beach attracts.
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That big mountain, where every facade is peppered with huge granite boulders, gives Lamai a dramatic backdrop no matter which way you turn. The coconut groves fringe every bit of beach and run up the mountainsides, adding the final touches to an exceptionally pretty scene. For many, Lamai Beach really is the true image of a tropical paradise.
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Tourism has changed Lamai – quite dramatically, too, just has it has transformed all of Samui. The small bungalows hidden in the coconut groves have been replaced by modern resorts. The quaint wooden row houses that served as Lamai's commercial centre are a memory hard to envision as we enter the modern hyper-mart. And the traffic is, well, just like the rest of the world, a constant hassle.
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Thanks to beach, ocean and mountain Lamai is, despite all of the changes, still a beautiful tropical beach. Most backpacking youth now seek lesser-known islands in Thailand like Koh Tao ,the islands famous for diving, Koh Phangan just a little north of here, and Koh Phayam on the Andaman coast. They have been replaced by the vast market of mid-range tourists who are entirely happy to find more modern conveniences close to their resort, along with shopping, more restaurants and bars plus some entertainment. So long as the beach and ocean look as natural as they still do, and that big mountain stands guard behind, Lamai continues attracting visitors.
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See other travel pages about Lamai & Samui beaches in this site:

two distinct, very different beach zones in Lamai: north & south

Lamai Beach is divided into two distinct zones by geography, north and south, while the northern headland that we call Lamai Headland is quite distinct from the main beach, and has its own small patches of sand.
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We display the whole area in four beach maps in order to show the resorts in greater detail. Our three southern maps, Lamai Central , Lamai South and Lamai Far South display the beach and its many beachfront hotels, the other the headland and its very few resorts.
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Here we give a brief overview of each of the beach zones and the headland. Each also has its own detailed map page with separate photo gallery and info on the accommodations in each area.
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Lamai south – classic sand & water, great swimming

This is the longest stretch of Lamai, some two kilometres of straight sand from where the beach is cut by the small Lamai River (usually it flows only after rain) to the rocky south end.
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The sand is quite wide and high for the entire length, though it is the coarsest sand on the island, made up of granite particles. In some spots it is so rough you can lie on it and use it for back scratching. The water is quite deep, with no offshore reef obstructing it. There are very few beaches on Samui like this, with no reef. The central and south sectors of Lamai are thus excellent for swimming. There are also many huge granite boulders on the far south of the beach, with some creating beautiful pools ideal for romantic bathing.
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Virtually all of this beach is lined with side-by-side resorts, as our beach maps show, . Only in the far south does any beachfront land remain open – and one can be sure that those spots will soon sprout hotels. See more photos and info about this part of the beach in our guide page about Lamai Beach South.
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Lamai North – rocky, atmospheric, backpacker-style

The northern stretch of Lamai Beach must sell itself on being much quieter than the south, and having a seriously relaxed atmosphere for those seeking a chill-out holiday. The beach here is much narrower and has shallow water. It's not a beach for swimmers. There is also little entertainment here, only a few independent restaurants and no tourist village to the back as found at the south end.
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As well as being the quieter end of Lamai, the north has more foliage along the beach, making it shadier and excellent for relaxation through the day. And it's quite pretty. There is a surprising number of resorts at this end, showing that the quality of sand and water is not so critical a factor in people's consideration when choosing a beach resort.
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Lamai North is the last significant hold-out of backpacker-style bungalows on Samui, with nearly ten old-style establishments still looking much like they did in the 1990s.
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Lamai Headland – the upper, elite end

Geographically, this headland is quite removed from Lamai Beach. The lower shore looks directly down Lamai, but this is a rocky coast with little real beach, and just a couple of beachfront hotels. The two largest and most interesting resorts on the headland might also be a world away, for each has a small private beach, unseen from the outside and facing different directions.
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These two hidden coves are among the special gems on this island. One is occupied by the Banyan Tree Samui , which faces north and is completely removed from Lamai proper, the other by Silavadee Pool Spa Resort , which enjoys an unseen beach of such beauty I have named it in our list of Samui’s Top 7 Beautiful, Unseen Secret Beaches. Both of these are 5-star, luxurious villa resorts, and among Samui’s best.
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See these two hidden beaches at Lamai Headland – private beaches, elite resorts . Banyan Tree has also been listed among Koh Samui’s Top 5 Super-Luxury Resorts..
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Restaurants, nightlife & shopping on Lamai’s back road

Lamai’s main night scene is found along the road running behind the beach at the southern end, a part of Lamai’s main commercial centre. It runs from Samui Laguna Resort to Aloha Resort, about one kilometre.
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This stretch is highlighted by services typical of a Thai tourist village; colourful souvenir and clothing shops, massage services, convenience stores, markets, restaurants, travel services, bike rentals, pharmacies and so forth. It’s interesting to note that this nightlife zone has moved upmarket over the years, reflecting the change in Samui’s tourist visitors. Today there are fewer hostess bars and dancing clubs than there were in the 1990s, and more gentile restaurants and services for couples and families. There is still an open-air square in the centre of Lamai with girlie bars, but even these see more couples coming for evening drinks than single men looking to pick up a partner for the night.
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While it can get a bit hot and dusty by day, it comes alive by night when many people switch from beach to road, in search of food, drink and a little entertainment. A small but active open-air food market opens each evening in the open square alongside the bars, with individual vendors serving up a mix of ‘tourist’ food and local Thai dishes.
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Lamai’s famous landmarks; Grandfather and Grandfather Rocks

Grandfather and Grandmother rocks, or Grandpa and Grandma Rocks; this pair of phallic and vaginal imitations are among Koh Samui’s most famous landmarks. They are solidly embedded in Thailand’s list of famous ‘must-see-before-you-die’ places to visit. Tour buses cram in here daily as virtually every Thai who comes to the island pays homage and has his/her photo taken with the rocks as proof of having been here. Foreign visitors come to visit too, but are generally less enthusiastic, for the rocks do not hold the same mystique for them as they do for Thais. Visiting as many as possible of the country’s most famous landmarks is a national passion for millions of Thais, many of whom go to great trouble and expense, and ride buses all across the country, to collect those all-important snapshots of themselves standing in front of the national icons.
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Do any Thais ever get the long, diverse list completed before they die, and leave their walls covered in photos to prove it? Who knows. The list of such famous landmarks runs to about a hundred, and many, many Thais spend weeks or months of their lives bussing and boating around the country trying.
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by John Everingham
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