If there’s one thing you won’t find a shortage of in Thailand, it’s good grub. There’s something super satisfying about tucking into a tasty Thai meal with an epic view, too. Despite its relatively small size, sunny Koh Samui is packed with places which combine tantalisingly good food with awesome, photo-worthy locations.
As you’ll soon start to realise though, having lots of choice can be both a blessing and curse. That’s why we’ve done the hard part for you and come up with some delicious suggestions for where to eat in Koh Samui below.
Good to know: if you only follow a plant-based diet, say “mang sa wirat” to let them know you don’t eat meat or “jae” which loosely translates to vegan. Most places will take ingredients out to make a dish veggie or vegan, however, watch out for fish sauce and eggs – they’re both mainstays in Thai cooking.
Breakfast and brunch
Breakfast in Koh Samui is somewhat of an institution, with banana pancakes definitely ruling the roost. There’s always loads of fresh fruit on the menu if you like to begin your days in the healthiest way possible, in addition to old favourites like eggs, waffles and pastries. Hotels are always a good bet for slap-up breakfast spreads; however, the following are also worth putting on your radar:
If you like to eat breakfast like the Parisians – we’re talking freshly baked pastries and strong coffee – La Fabrique is a great shout. This French-style bakery a little off the beaten track in Lamai is a local favourite that’s been around for at least 15 years. It’s not all buttery, flaky treats, either (although the croissants are some of the best outside Bangkok). La Fabrique additionally has a bountiful breakfast menu of eggs, pancakes and omelettes. The portions are huge, too.
The Tent Beachfront
Beachfront breakfasts don’t get much better than those served at The Tent that’s attached to the swish SALA Samui Chaweng Bay resort. Diners get to sit right next to the sand beneath a huge tent (hence the name) and indulge in fancy fare such as eggs paired with lobster, waffles topped with passionfruit and chia puddings served in jars. If you’re a sucker for Sunday brunch, The Tent’s is a goodun and gives you a choice of 15 or so delectable small plates inspired by both Thai and global cuisine.
If you’re veggie or vegan…
Greenlight Café & Bar
Plant eaters are in luck as breakfast in Koh Samui is often geared towards healthier, fruitier options. Gorgeous Greenlight Café & Bar opposite Bophut Beach is one such place where you can tuck into the most important meal of the day without worrying about eating animal products. Must-tries include the make-your-own smoothie bowls and the peanut butter, banana and mango jam on toast. Greenlight also hosts Koh Samui yoga retreats and classes if you want to nourish your mind as well as your stomach.
Ahh, that midday meal that’ll keep you sustained for another afternoon of lazing on the beach… Whether you like to gorge on delicious grub (and then slump into a food coma on your sunbed) or keep it light at lunchtime with a chilled papaya salad or rainbow Buddha bowl, Koh Samui serves up the goods at places like:
The Jungle Club
Run for the hills – but for all the right reasons – to this hotel eatery which has an insanely picturesque terrace overlooking Chaweng Bay. The Jungle Club is widely considered one of the best places to eat in Koh Samui if you’re a fan of epic panoramic views, plus the menu is filled with familiar Thai dishes as well as well-made Western options like pizza and tapas. While the Jungle Club is also a prime pick for dinner or sunset cocktails, you’ll get the clearest views in the middle of the day.
Haad Bang Po
There’s a reason why this laidback, family-run eatery is lauded as one of the best restaurants in Koh Samui. We can’t fault its fabulous location right on the sand between Mae Nam and Bang Po, nor its enticing seafood dishes such as mango-stuffed crab and squid fried rice. Haad Bang Po is also great value for money, although don’t go expecting quick service. Everything is cooked to order, so sit back with an ice-cold beer and enjoy the view as you wait…
Hemingway’s on the Beach
If you’re doing a little road trip around the island, this barefoot restaurant on the shores of sleepy Thong Krut Beach is a real gem. Bit of a Pad Thai aficionado? You won’t regret ordering the sweet yet tangy Jaa’s Pad Thai. Hemingway’s on the Beach also hosts cookery classes if you fancy learning how to whip up your own aromatic curries and stir fries. What’s more, the owners run regular fishing trips if you like the idea of catching your own food, too.
If you’re veggie or vegan…
The Art Club
This is hands-down one of the best restaurants in Koh Samui for vegans thanks to the fact its menu is 100% plant based. Super easy to find next to Koh Samui Hospital in Nathon, The Art Club first opened its doors in 2018 and makes good use of the island’s local produce in all of its delicious dishes. As well as lunching on tempeh curries, fried pineapple rice and veggie satay, it’s also a great place to pick up creamy plant milk coffees and homemade cakes. The Art Club’s interiors are bang-on trend, too – think patterned tiles, cosy bench seats and loads of potted plants.
Whether you’re after something cheap and filling to fuel your late-night escapes or you’re searching for a restaurant with real wow-factor for the final night of your getaway, Koh Samui definitely delivers with dinner spots like:
If you’re tired of eating Thai food every night of your trip (although is that really possible?), pop into Happy Elephant at Fisherman’s Village. Its eclectic menu features everything from coconut shrimp and glass noodle salads to cheeseburgers and steak. The tables are strewn right across the sand and you’ll be able to watch some truly stunning sunsets as you dine. Have a sweet tooth? Don’t skip out on the mango sticky rice for dessert.
Tree Top Sky Dining
One of the best places to eat in Koh Samui (especially if you’re all about aesthetics), Tree Tops Sky Dining will blow your mind with its lush location and exquisite menu. Nestled in the jungle near Chaweng Bay and part of the Anantara Lawana hotel, visitors get to dine on gourmet fusion grub in their own private pagodas suspended on stilts. Word of warning: Tree Top’s outlook makes it one of the most romantic spots on the island, so expect to see plenty of loved-up couples.
For those visiting this idyllic isle on a lower budget, Spices Café is as good a place as any to get your Thai green curry fix. It’s nestled down a side street in Mae Nam and while it may be a little rustic, you can’t beat the friendly service, generous portions and photo-worthy presentation. The chefs are also more than happy to adjust the spice levels of any dish if you’re not one for too much heat…
For veggies and vegans…
If you want to grab an early dinner before sampling some Koh Samui nightlife , Khunnay in Bophut has the best – okay, the only – vegan all-you-can-eat buffet on the island. For just 120 baht (£3!), you can stuff your face with simple yet supremely tasty vegan curries, soups and stir fries made with plenty of veg and chunks of tofu. Bargain. There’s also an à la carte menu if you’d rather not pig out. Note that Khunnay is very much a local haunt, so expect the dishes to be authentically spicy.
Street food saviours
It’s not possible to visit Thailand without being bombarded with the mouth-watering aromas of sizzling street food. Koh Samui may be small, but it packs a punch with foodie markets like:
Mae Nam Walking Street
You’ll find all your favourite Thai treats here, including succulent chicken satay skewers for as little as 10 baht (that’s just 25p!). Set up every Thursday evening one street back from the beach, it’s where you’ll spot dozens of stalls laden with all sorts of delectable morsels. Mae Nam also has a daily morning market if you’re self-catering and want to pick up some cheap, locally-grown ingredients for breakfast.
Fisherman’s Village Night Market
Quaint Fisherman’s Village along Bophut Beach is a must-see on Koh Samui, even if it is a bit touristy. As well as rustic wooden buildings housing everything from boutique shops to cool beach bars, it comes alive every Friday evening with a bustling night market. It’s brimming with brilliant street food stalls where you can sample everything from crispy insects on skewers to hot roti – Indian style pancakes slathered in condensed milk, sliced banana and chocolate sauce. Yum.
Nathon Night Food Market
Another foodie hotspot only open in the evenings, you’ll find this night market sets up shop along Nathon’s pier just before sunset. It’s usually popular with locals grabbing an affordable dinner, whether that’s a bowl of steaming Thai noodle soup or a plate of BBQ grilled fish. Nathon Night Market is particularly well-placed if you’re about to experience the pinnacle of Koh Samui nightlife at the legendary Full Moon Party on nearby Koh Phangan.
Salivating yet? Fill your belly with everything Koh Samui’s best restaurants have to offer when you plan and book a getaway through the Orbzii app.