Where to eat on Koh Samui?
Here's everything you need to know about where to eat on Koh Samui – whether you want Thai food, seafood, burgers, or a romantic sunset dinner on the beach.
Where to eat on Koh Samui?
Good news! You won’t starve on Koh Samui... but you might get fat. Better news: Koh Samui’s food options have something for everyone – vegans, picky children, and total food snobs will all eat happily on Samui. Here's everything you need to know about where to eat on Koh Samui – whether you want Thai food, seafood, burgers or Indian, a romantic sunset dinner on the beach or healthy food for your kids. Still hungry? Try some Thai street food. Enjoy!
Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner on Koh Samui
When your food and drink requirements get specific, The Koh Samui Guide is ready to help. Use it to enjoy breakfasts, brunches, lunches and indulgent vacation snacking at:
- Favourite hole-in-the-wall Thai places
- Cafés, coffee shops and Samui's best bakeries
- Healthy spots for fresh juice, salads and smoothies
- And, ideal places for special occasions – noon or night
It also teaches you how and where to buy groceries, fresh produce and alcohol (and includes price lists).
Does Koh Samui have good food?
Oh yes, yes, yes. Forget the bathing suit – bring Joey Tribbiani's Thanksgiving Pants. Koh Samui holidays are about eating – morning, noon, night and every hour between. While high-end restaurants offer a fantastic choice for splurging and special occasions, you can't beat a casual Koh Samui beach place. My favourite Koh Samui restaurants aren't fancy, but they universally delight. Believe me when I say "I’ve done the research".
Where is best to eat on Koh Samui?
Do you want five-star food glory, or an Anthony Bourdain experience – eating something unrecognisable while sitting on an upturned bucket? Let's make sure you do both on Koh Samui. You won't see any high-gloss marketing literature for the latter, so it's much easier to miss – but Samui has an incredible range of food and drink on offer, at all prices.
Your choice of food on Koh Samui
You'll find a huge variety in Koh Samui's Thai food. In addition to the staples, there's a large Isaan population on Koh Samui, which has its own regional cuisine. Ditto for Burmese food. Even more, it's easy to find a total A to Z of 'Rest of the World' cuisine. Eat the proud creation of an ace chef with a stacked resumé and stories of Kate Moss, or try the random cart of you're-not-sure-what at a night-time walking street. They'll be totally different – and yet just as good. Welcome to Samui: a tiny island with an unbelievable food scene.
Some favourite places to eat
SALA Restaurant at SALA Samui Choeng Mon
While The Koh Samui Guide is your most comprehensive resource for where to eat on Koh Samui, find a quick list of my island favourites below.
Special occasion Thai food
SALA Restaurant at SALA Samui Choeng Mon and Sala Thai at Bo Phut Resort. Both are superb for that "pinch me, I'm finally here" vacation kick-off and absolute guarantees for a birthday or anniversary dinner.
Sunset snacks and happy hour
The View Restaurant at Melati Beach Resort. I'd struggle to name a better venue to end a lazy day. Watch the sky turn pink orange over Koh Phangan, with mojitos and every fried snack Thai cuisine can offer.
Choeng Mon Beach cocktails and canapes
The Level Lounge at Melia Koh Samui. Book any Level room or suite at Melia Koh Samui for access to its Level Lounge, a second storey beach-view lounge and open-air terrace (Room types: The Level Boat Suite and The Level Pool Access). Enjoy an afternoon tea and an adults-only cocktail and canape happy hour daily. You also have the option to eat breakfast here – a rare chance to get some height on Choeng Mon's views.
The boat building at the right: The Level at Melia Koh Samui
The Tent at SALA Samui Chaweng Beach. Or, be really, really lazy and order room service. The Chaweng SALA Samui (different from its sister property in Choeng Mon) is split into two wings, meaning you get two choices of breakfast venue. A third option? Floating Breakfast. If you've been waiting for the chance to eat banana bread in a pool, here it is. (With the option to add a sneaky bottle of Taittinger).
Tree Tops Sky Dining at Anantara Lawana. Wine and cocktail pairings available.
Candlelit dinner for two
Oasis on the Rocks at Hyatt Regency Koh Samui. Option to add a real live saxophonist.
Dine right at the water's edge at Hyatt Regency Koh Samui
Guilty Samui at Anantara Bophut. Tacos, guacamole and potent cocktails on Bophut Beach.
Garrya Tongsai Bay is famous for its “juice lady” at breakfast. While hotel and resort buffet breakfasts (at all price points) will include cereal and cooked options (eggs, bacon, toast, etc), the star attraction is a fresh Thai fruit display. Load up on everything, especially the fruits you don’t recognise – you’ll have a new favourite before your second coffee.
KohCo Beach at Cielo Boutique Hotel. Try the calamari piri piri or the beef tartare and investigate a big drinks/cocktail list.
Home-grown and home-made
Sea Salt Restaurant at Sea Dance Resort makes superb use of its hydroponic garden.
Sea Salt Restaurant at Sea Dance Resort
Vegan and gluten-free
Salt Society at Centara Reserve. This beachfront restaurant offers a range of menus including vegan, gluten-free and children’s options (plus seafood and burrata options for hungry non-vegans). Dress code skews towards nice beach brunch / beach club.
Best-ever pineapple fried rice
Smile House Restaurant at Smile House. This beach-front restaurant is extremely family-friendly and pineapple fried rice is a great dish to get children hooked on Thai food.
Cafe Amazon at Banana Fan Sea Resort. What's a vacation if you haven't consumed an Oreo in liquid form? Even better plan: order takeout and caffeinate while watching the early morning sun come across Chaweng Beach. Big night last night? Try the air-conditioned inside for people-watching from behind dark sunglasses.
Just add coffee: Early morning at Banana Fan Sea Resort
Stacked at OZO Chaweng. The only place on Samui, as far as I know, you’ll find clam chowder. ‘Burger connoisseurs’ are welcome – like me you might only have eyes for the ‘Samui Bad Boy’ (slow-cooked pulled pork, bourbon BBQ sauce and other orgasms). More? They’ve turned PB&J into dessert. Live music and daily happy hours. Choose to eat inside (sports on TV) or outside (people-watching).
The Jungle Club. You know the view will be good when the establishment offers to pick you up in their own 4X4s. Yes, this meal is a ‘head to the hills’ experience - and you’ll want to bring both gaping jaw and panoramic camera. Enjoy your meal in a sala suspended from a rock face, overlooking the length of Chaweng Beach.
Tip: Stay on site at The Jungle Club and get your own full kitchen.
A villa of your choice at Peace Resort. Many villa resorts offer variations on the bbq theme. Peace Resort's menu includes meat and seafood options or choose both for Samui surf and turf.
Villa dining: Request a private chef and a BBQ in your villa at Peace Resort
Tip: More of a morning person? Floating breakfasts also widely available – see some more private pool villa options.
The Mud's restaurant and bar often hosts live music – from sunset onwards.
Dining on the Rocks at Six Senses Samui. No discussion of Koh Samui food and dining would be complete without mentioning this showstopper.
Dining on the Rocks at Six Senses Samui
Karma Beach Restaurant at Karma Resort. Want healthy or hearty? Bacon and sausage are just the start. Six breakfast options include Thai-style, French, superfoods and more.
Beachfront pizza at SAii Koh Samui's restaurant, Miss Olive Oyl
Worried your kids won't touch vegetables for your entire trip? For healthy choices, try the kids' menus at any of InterContinental Samui's restaurants – they were created in collaboration with a kids' nutrition expert and promise to delight.
Eat the entire island
Find fantastic spots for food, drink & general gluttony: Are you a picky eater or a greedy monkey? Crave variety or just love food? The Koh Samui Guide will help you eat the very best of Samui.
Your 'where to eat' questions
Is there good Thai food on Koh Samui?
You'll easily find your favourite Thai dishes – whether or not they're authentically 'of Samui'. All the tourist staples are on every island menu: green, red, yellow, Massaman and Panang curries, pad Thai, papaya salad and mango sticky rice can feature three times daily if you like. These Thai dishes, and more, can be found at five-star restaurants or hole-in-the-wall roadside stands and they’re almost universally guaranteed to delight.
If you'd like to explore further, culinarily speaking, ask the restaurant to bring a random selection of dishes (specifying 'not too spicy’). Depending on where the chef is from – whether they're local to Samui, or from Isaan or northern Thailand – you might discover new favourites at every meal.
Is it easy to find non-Thai options?
I prepare you for one inevitable truth in The Koh Samui Guide: everyone has a Pad Thai threshold. It might be 4 consecutive dinners, it might take 3 weeks – but the day will come when you need a break from Thai food. Whether you wake up wanting fresh vegetables or suddenly need a full roast dinner (a common craving likely to do with salt deficiency in hot weather), Koh Samui has dozens of options for great 'global cuisine'.
What about street food on Koh Samui?
For a gluttonous street food free-for-all, The Koh Samui Guide introduces you to Samui's best walking streets – popular nights out for all sorts of food and merriment.Day to day on Koh Samui, you'll easily find:
- Things that crunch*
- Fresh fruit
- Corn on the cob
- Fried chicken
*Particularly in Northern Thailand, insects are very much on the menu. You’ll find them for sale at Koh Samui food markets and festival parties. Cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers or locusts - take your pick.
Tip: If you're spending any time in Bangkok and/or Chiang Mai , I recommend Thailand's Best Street Food. Its Bangkok/Chiang Mai street food coverage is fantastic but it will also be of great help teaching you how to eat street food (safely) no matter where in Thailand or Southeast Asia you travel.
Where to eat on Koh Samui with kids?
You'll be delighted with the inclusivity at Samui restaurants (and throughout Thailand in general). Most restaurants with a tourist clientele (roughly 95% of Samui’s dining establishments) offer children's menus.
Tip: Many resorts offer food and drink discounts for children of guests: common offers include 'kids under 4 eat free', 'half-price for kids under 12', etc. For more recommendations, don’t miss where to stay on Koh Samui with kids.
What's Koh Samui's specialty food?
Samui is known to produce the best coconuts in Thailand so you'll want to add a fresh coconut to your daily routine – they're incredible. Coconut jam should earn a worthy place in your souvenir stash, too.
Where are some of the best breakfast buffets?
Healthy breakfast at Karma Resort
Particularly special hotel breakfasts include:
- Honey straight from a honeycomb at SALA Samui Choeng Mon
- Waffles and smoothies at The Tongsai Bay
- Home-made yoghurt and granola at Four Seasons Resort
- ... or perhaps caramel banana brioche French toast at SALA Samui Chaweng?
Eggs and bacon breakfast - check. Yoghurt and muesli - check. Fruit smoothies - check. Coconut rice pudding pancakes - pure genius. Want healthy or not? Thai breakfast or just some fresh juice? Take your pick. Full English breakfasts and lighter fare are available all across the island – find out which you'll like best. You can’t go wrong with a coconut shake on a hot day. Afterwards, lazily digest on a nearby beach bed.
What are No Names?
As for one particular island dish, that would have to be... No Names. This Samui speciality includes a vague mixture of grated vegetables coated in batter and deep-fried. The exact recipe differs from place to place but they’re universally moreish. A perfect afternoon snack with a cold Thai beer. Find them at any street corner restaurant and dig in. Once you've had one No Name, you can't go back... You’ve been warned.
Shark and shark fin?
One thing I'll flag – because you're a conscientious citizen – is the likelihood you'll encounter shark and shark fin in island restaurants (thought unlikely at most of the above). Why care? Far from being 'just an ingredient', ending shark-finning is a pretty big deal for healthy oceans, not getting mercury poisoning and, y'know, saving the planet. If you see shark on display outside a Samui restaurant (and you will), move on to the next spot.
Ready to hunt and gather?
Answer all your food and drink questions (plus the rest of your research) in The Koh Samui Guide. Get beach-by-beach restaurant recommendations at all price levels, plus ideas for self-catering and special occasions.
Best way to eat the entire island? Use The Koh Samui Guide to find out where to lunch, snack, wine, dine and generally inhale the very best of Samui’s food. Get my very best recommendations, so you’re certain to know where to go for every taste, budget and special occasion.
P.S. You can subscribe by email and get all the details straight to your inbox. Enjoy!"