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.
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 Indian, a romantic sunset dinner on the beach or healthy food for your kids. Still hungry? Try some Thai street food. Enjoy!
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.
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 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”.
Your choice of food on Koh Samui
You’ll find 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.
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).
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.
What’s Koh Samui’s speciality 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.
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.
Seafood on Koh Samui
Seafood is an island staple – some of it’s imported for Western menus, but much of it is caught fresh daily and you’ll soon notice busy fishermen at work.
If you see this – go elsewhere
One thing I’ll flag – because you’re a conscientious citizen – is the Fin Free Thailand campaign. It promotes restaurants that keep their kitchens and menus shark-fin free and continues to educate the rest. 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 or dine at any of these 100% fin-free Samui hotels, restaurants and supermarkets:
- Amari Koh Samui
- Anantara Lawana
- Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui
- Chaweng Regent
- Kanda Residences
- New Star Beach Resort
- OZO Chaweng Samui
- Poppies Samui
- Banyan Tree Samui
- Centara Villas Samui
- Kamalaya Koh Samui
- Le Meridien
- Manathai Koh Samui
Taling Ngam/Thong Krut
- The Beach Samui
- Centra Coconut Beach Resort Samui
- Conrad Koh Samui
- The Sunset Beach Resort & Spa
- Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa
- Bo Phut Resort & Spa
- Samui Palm Beach Resort
- Paradise Beach Resort
- Pinnacle Samui Resort
- Saree Samui
- W Retreat Koh Samui
- Six Senses Samui
- Tongsai Bay / Tongsai Grand Villas
- Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
- Tops Market
Is your hotel on this list? Send them a quick social media thumbs-up: #finfree. More details: Shark fins and your tourist dollars
Best breakfasts on Koh Samui
Angela’s Diner and Bakery, Maenam – There are definitely cheaper options, but Angela’s offers top-quality ingredients (and air-conditioning). Bacon and sausage are just the start – from there, move to a brunchy course of banana pancakes. Angela’s isn’t beach-front but has a charm all its own.
Best breakfast buffets
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. Particularly special hotel breakfasts include:
- Waffles and smoothies at The Tongsai Bay
- Home-made yoghurt and granola at Four Seasons Resort
- Honey straight from a honeycomb at SALA Samui
Or, be really, really lazy and order room service
Breakfasts on the beach
Want healthy or not? Thai breakfast or just some fresh juice? Take your pick from a number of beachfront restaurant/cafés. Full English breakfasts and lighter fare are available all across the island’s main beaches – 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.
Your local hole-in-the-wall
This will likely get your vote for best breakfast on Samui. Why? Because you could actually turn up in pyjamas and the service would be just as sweet. Eggs and bacon breakfast – check. Yoghurt and muesli – check. Fruit smoothies – check. Coconut rice pudding pancakes – pure genius.
Big night last night? Try Fisherman’s Village for people-watching from behind dark sunglasses. You’ll find all manner of beachside coffee places in Fisherman’s Village – choose your view accordingly.
Get the entire list
Find 70+ 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 – I’ve tried them all personally. Get eating!
Lunch on Koh Samui
Had Bang Po seafood restaurant, Bang Po – A perfect seafood beach lunch; the world’s best, in fact! It’s been an island treasure for ages, but Travel+Leisure magazine recently included in their list of World’s Best Beach Restaurants. Travel along the northern ring road through Maenam to the beach-front Had Bang Po restaurant.
Finding Had bang Po requires a car and a sharp eye, as you need to know this restaurant is there. This gorgeous spot sits along the ring road outside of Maenam, perched so close to the beach that you might dine ankle-deep at hide tide.
Food is sensational, presentation is gorgeous and the ambiance? Imagine paradise swallowing you whole.
Lunch with a view
The Jungle Club – While this would be a category with dozens of prize-winners, I’m giving it to the Jungle Club simply for the experience of getting there. 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.
Koh Samui dinner 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’.
This list should get you started towards the total ruin of your beach bod.
In alphabetical order of cuisine:
Zico’s, Chaweng, at Centara Grand Beach Resort – Ideal if you’d rather watch scantily clad samba dancers than talk to your wife – this is “Dinner + Entertainment” territory. See how you do with all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ (17 varieties of meat and seafood), then befriend some lively Samba stars. Though perhaps an anomaly in Thailand, Zico’s has been around forever so they must be doing something right. Set-price menu, with half-priced children’s and vegetarian options. Phone: +66 (0) 77 231 560-3
The Larder, Chaweng – Try the liver pâté, Scotch eggs, or spare ribs with a ‘bacon bourbon’ cocktail. Opposite Anantara Lawana. This indoors restaurant suits a rainy day – how very British. Closed Sunday. Phone: +66 (0) 77 601 259
Stacked, Chaweng –The only place on Samui, as far as I know, you’ll find clam chowder. ‘Burger connoisseurs’ are welcome – like us 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 Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Daily happy hours. Next to OZO Chaweng Samui. Choose to eat inside (sports on TV) or outside (people-watching). Phone: +66 (0) 77 915 210
La Route de Rum, Taling Ngam, at Koh Samui Rum Distillery (formerly/also Magic Alambic Rum Distillery) – Add some French snacking to your rum-tasting, or perhaps a full meal? Try the boeuf bourguignon or house-made smoked salmon, then rum baba, bien sûr. Sunday family-style barbeques require reservations. Outside dining in the middle of nowhere – bring mozzie spray! Closed Monday. Phone: +66 (0) 918 167 416
Picasso, Maenam – A tiny spot for a little town (Maenam has just one traffic light, beside which you’ll find Picasso). French food cooked with local ingredients. Closed Monday. Phone: +66 (0) 986 710 675
The Dining Room, Lamai, at Rocky’s Resort (Asian, French and Mediterranean menu) – Try the foie gras-stuffed quail and investigate a big wine list, or book for buffet-style dinners (Tuesday Thai night, Sunday barbeque). Choose to dine inside or out, reserve in advance for a great table. Phone: +66 (0) 77 233 020
Noori India, Chaweng – Try the Masala Chai, tandoor barbeque and rice pudding. 3 locations in Chaweng include Chaweng Cove Resort and Central Festival Mall. Vegetarian options + kids’ menu Phone: +66 (0) 77 413 108
Tropical Murphy’s, Chaweng – More pub than restaurant, you can still find typical pub grub for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Live sports on TV for lonely diners. Across from McDonald’s. Phone: +66 (0) 77 413 614
Nadimos, Bang Rak, at Bang Rak Pier – Find you’ve come to paradise but are in hummus withdrawal? Solve it here. Try the tabbouleh, hot or cold mezze or a quick falafel sandwich at lunch. Phone: +66 (0) 77 484 622
Barracuda @ The Wharf (formerly/also Barracuda Restaurant) – Newly relocated to The Wharf in Bophut, reservations are recommended for this fine but unfussy restaurant. Try the jasmine tea-crusted tuna salad or bloody mary linguine. Dinner only. Closed Sunday. Phone: +66 (0) 77 430 003
Where to eat on Koh Samui with kids?
You’ll be delighted with the inclusivity at Samui restaurants (and throughout Thailand in general). For nice meals out, the restaurants of the following resorts all offer children’s menus. Many will require reservations if you’re not a guest, but. However, if you are a guest, many of these resorts extend food and drink discounts for children: ‘kids under 4 eat free’, ‘half-price for kids under 12’, etc.
Consider a memorable family celebration at:
- Tree Tops, Chaweng, at Anantara Lawana (+66 (0) 77 960 333)
- Full Moon, Bophut, at Anantara Bophut (+66 (0) 77 428 300)
- KOH Thai Kitchen, Bang Po, at Four Seasons Resort (+66 (0) 77 243 000)
- Dining on the Rocks, Choeng Mon, at Six Senses Samui (+66 (0) 77 245 678)
Pizza: For pizza, try Sands at Banyan Tree Samui – your children can build sand castles while their pizza cooks.
Healthy choices: 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.
Pineapple fried rice: Smile House in Fisherman’s Village has unequalled pineapple fried rice. This small and its beach-front restaurant is extremely family-friendly and pineapple fried rice is a great dish to get children hooked on Thai food.
Street food on Koh Samui
The very best guide for eating out Bangkok and Chiang Mai: Thailand’s Best Street Food
If you’re spending a vacation in Bangkok and/or Chiang Mai and Koh Samui, I really recommend this book. 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.
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!
Where to eat on Koh Samui: FAQs
Dress codes for Koh Samui restaurants?
- Find out what to wear for dinner on Koh Samui
- What not to do? Learn how to be a very rude tourist (or not!)
Koh Samui sunset dinners/drinks?
- The best sunset drinks and dinners on Koh Samui
- Crucial: How to come prepared for mosquitoes at sunset
Christmas and New Year dinner on Koh Samui?
- Christmas: What to know (+ 2016’s best Christmas dinners)
- New Year: What to know (+ 2016’s best New Year events)
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. With over 70 recommendations (all of which I’ve tried personally), you’re certain to know where to go for every taste, budget and special occasion. Enjoy!