When the sun goes down, the villages of
Chaweng and Lamai have exceptionally vibrant nightlife. Beginning
at dusk you can stroll the main strips and choose from hundreds
of venues for drinks, dining, and live music. Bophut is more subdued,
with a café and bistro scene that is decidedly low key, and
preferred for this reason by some. The villages of Maenam and Nathon
become very quiet after the shops have closed for the day.
In addition to the hundreds of local landowners
and business people who have jumped on the bandwagon, many foreigners
who have become smitten with life on Samui, have gone into the night
time entertainment business. Whether you appreciate the proliferation
of establishments or not, it must be said that a great deal of international
creativity and energy (not to mention money!) has gone into some
that have opened in recent years. The result is that for such a
small and remote island, Samui has an amazingly wide variety of
night time entertainment venues. The themes, decors, and standards
range from the truly sublime to the truly ridiculous.
If you're staying in Samui's nightlife
center, you probably came to party, since after 8:30 pm you can't
escape the scene. In-your-face girlie bars are scattered around, with
a heavy concentration in Soi Green Mango ("Soi" means
"lane" in Thai.) But you can escape them if that's not your
scene. If you don't want to be accosted with cries of "Hello
welcoooome, come inside please!!" everywhere you go, it helps
not to make eye contact with the "greeters." Admittedly
however, this can be pretty hard. Some of them are awfully persuasive,
not to mention charming.
it's not that you won't have fun! We don't have any specific recommendations,
since "hostess" bars are all pretty much of a muchness.
Like at Phuket's Patong Beach, Bangkok's Patpong and Nana Plaza and
Pattaya, girls are employed to play counter top games with the customers,
pour drinks, and for those who would like to "rent-a-date"
for the evening, go out on the town and more. Of course you must pay
the "bar fine" that wins them their night off from hostessing
duties. This is usually about 200 baht.
Samui Bar Girls
Many of these bars are owned by foreign men and their
Thai wives or girlfriends who act as "mamasan" (madam).
If you find a bar that has an ambience you like, nice staff and
maybe a proprieter that you hit it off with, it may well become
your evening hangout of choice and this goes for couples as well
as singles! They can be great fun, whether you choose to avail yourselves
of the extracurricular options or not.
Thirsty sports lovers are not deprived on Samui. Satelllite
television has become ubiquitous in recent years, and the first
acquisition any barkeep makes after the stereo, is the dish and
decoder. International events, movies on DVD, and pretty much all
the shows visitors are accustomed to seeing at home, are available
everywhere. English football (soccer) is hugely popular in Thailand
and bars showing it are easy to find, or hard to escape from, depending
on your point of view.
If you're planning a big night out, those familiar
with Thailand's long world-famous night time entertainment scene
who haven't been here in a couple of years, will be in for an adjustment.
The government decided in 2002, that 2:00 am was a reasonable bedtime
hour for anyone and everyone. With few exceptions, lights must now
go on at 2:00 am sharp and that includes the world class discos
that have helped put Samui on the party map of the world.
however, the earlier closing times haven't changed habits much.
The Reggae Pub and The Green Mango still don't start heating up
until after midnight, leaving just 2 hours to get your groove on
before closing. If you want to keep drinking after that, you can
always join the crowd sitting on the steps of the nearest 7-11 convenience
store, where you can buy alcohol 24 hours a day.
Reggae Pub - Chaweng
There are a few places in Chaweng worth noting for
warming up. Packed in high season, newly opened Tropical Murphy's
on the main road has quickly become popular with people watchers
and those with a yen for a draught beer and a meal that reminds
them of home.
With more than a little help from many Internet downloads,
the proprietor of the Barefoot Bar near the Central Samui Beach
Resort has collected and plays a mix of music that is possibly unrivaled
in Chaweng. Better still, he serves generously mixed cocktails that
make casual passers by into regulars in no time.
Or just walk up and down the strip. You could spend
each night of your holiday bar hopping all evening long, and you
still wouldn't scratch the surface.
Here's a tip: If you don't want to get ripped off
by the drivers of the red public taxis, prepare exact change ahead
of time. The price should be 20 baht per person to go anywhere in
Chaweng. On the other hand if you wait until closing time you might
not have much negotiating power. Price gouging at that hour seems
to have been agreed upon by drivers as a group, and you're pretty
much at their mercy.
If your interested in watching Thai boxers try to
punch and kick the living daylights out of each other in what has
been billed as one of the world's most violent sports, there's a
proper stadium near the Reggae Pub that has been built for twice
weekly events. If you miss the publicity in their print ads, their
roving sound truck will soon put you in the loop.
For those who want to be seen, the Full Circle Bar
is just a stone's throw from the soi Green Mango. Popular with Thais
as well as foreigners, a live rock band does covers nightly and
loudly. There's a disco in the back that seems to cater mostly to
of the best sound in Chaweng can be heard at Sweet Soul Café
which is just across the street from the Green Mango at the end
of the soi. The DJ plays a mix of hip hop and dance remixes of old
classics, and the equipment is first class. In high season after
midnight the dancing crowd spills out into the street and the ambience
is second to none.
Sweet Soul Café
Green Mango - Chaweng Beach
If you're planning to end the night at the Reggae
Pub and you feel like a stroll, the walk from the beach road takes
you past dozens of little bars with beckoning hostesses. This world
famous disco did a complete renovation last year. While still cavernous
with its trademark wood structure, the new décor and the
fittings are very sharp indeed.. A live band
plays nightly, and when they don't, long-time DJ Sergio pumps up
In high season, Lamai rivals Chaweng for ambience
and choice. Some very stylish bars and bistros have opened, and in
addition to long-established "Bauhaus" discotechque, there
are now at least one or two others. Of course the obligatory girlie
bars are also there in large numbers.
bar on the main strip near McDonald's
has a good sound system, friendly staff and posts the day's televised
sporting events on a blackboard.
Foam Party Night
at the Bauhaus
The Siam Bar and Grill is trying hard to establish
themselves as the place to go for live entertainment. An Elvis show,
live band, and ladies mud wrestling are among the treats in store
for you in their air-conditioned premises. While just down the street
at Banana Boat bar you can take in a ladyboy (transsexual) cabaret
style stage show.
Keeping the Party Going After Hours
We won't speculate here on how a few establishments
manage to stay open after the 2:00 am closing time, nor do we know
their names. We hear they are mostly on the beach, and an investigation
amongst the locals when you arrive will almost certainly yield the
Keeping Out Of Trouble
You got all the good news, now for some
words of caution, meant not to put a damper on your holiday plans,
but rather in the hope they will go off as beautifully as you hope.
The ambience in Samui's nighttime entertainment areas
is as relaxed and freewheeling as you will experience anywhere.
The ease with which one gets intoxicated by the excitement is partly
due to the island being an exceptionally safe place to let loose
and have fun. However be aware that like any tourist destination,
we do have our petty criminals and yes - we do have laws. Try not
to let your sense of being completely cut-off from the world you
know, make you lose your common sense. If you are involved in a
serious incident such a drug arrest, robbery, or motor vehicle accident,
the downside to being in a land where you are an anonymous stranger,
will quickly come crashing down on your head - and hard. Exercise
the same caution you would at home, and you are most likely to have
a perfect holiday.
Firstly and most important, if you going out drinking
for the evening, leave the rented scooter home, and take taxis.
While the statistics on the number of tourists seriously injured
or killed every year on Samui are not commonly made public, they
are shocking. There are a great many people driving bikes and cars
while under the influence at night on Samui, and driving them too
fast. Again - leave the bike at the hotel.
If you decide to pay a new friend for her (or his)
company for the night, needless to say, wear a condom. The vast
majority of those on Samui who are these days called "commercial
sex workers," do not have criminal intentions of any kind.
In fact as a group, they are about as honest as people in other
walks of life in Thailand. However there are occasional incidents.
In particular be extremely cautious with men masquerading
as women. Walking the streets of Chaweng after 1:00 am can be like
a science fiction movie. Transvestites and transsexuals ("real"
women sex workers do not do this) maraud the streets on scooters
late at night, inviting men unattended by women, to accompany them.
If you go, you may be placing yourself in a dangerous situation.
If you choose to take a new friend (sex worker, casual
acquaintance or fellow tourist!) back to your hotel, always safeguard
your valuables. Finally, women especially, are strongly advised
not to accept invitations from a stranger to walk on the beach at
Are they available? Yes. If you consider arrest,
detainment in jail for several days, a fine of US $2000 or more and
then deportment and possible blacklisting ensuring you will never
again step foot in Thailand, to be a risk worth taking for the high,
then we have just two words for you. Good luck! Many, MANY people
have had their vacations ruined and their bank accounts emptied due
to drug arrests on Samui. Police here don't need a warrant and they
don't need cause to search you - at least in practice. It only takes
a routine check in front of the local convenience store to find the
joint in your cigarette pack.
number of children selling flowers in the bars late at night has grown
in recent years, as parents have realized how much money can be made
by putting their young children to work in this way. Many of these
children are very sweet and charming. It's all part of the pitch,
and they learn fast. Some will throw their arms around your legs or
waist (if they can reach that high.) If your sense of sympathy inclines
you to buy from them, please consider before doing so, that the fact
they are up way past the hour children their age should be, has more
do to with their parents' greed than poverty. In spite of what the
children and some barstaff may tell you, in almost all cases, it is
NOT necessary for them to be doing this kind of "work" to
feed their families, on an island as wealthy as Samui. And you can
be pretty sure that a child who is up selling flowers until 1:00 am
will probably not be getting up for school the following day in any
kind of state conducive to learning. Shockingly, some children are
given substances to keep them awake, while others tranquilizers to
keep them "under control." The authorities are aware of
the problem and occasionally crack down.