Koh Samui is the quintessential Thai island. Washed by the waters of the gulf just off the Surat Thani coast, it’s a sparkling jewel of jungles and sun-bleached beaches. Backpackers and sun seekers and yogis have been flocking here ever since the 1970s. In the decades that followed, the sands of Chaweng and Lamai, the fisherman’s village of Bophut, and the pine-backed stretches of Mae Nam have all become favourites on the traveler’s circuit around the Land of Smiles. Adding to the beaches are coconut-infused Thai curries, world-class dive sites, backcountry waterfalls – the list goes on.
As you might expect, hotels are in abundance on Koh Samui. However, Airbnb options also abound on this glorious island. Whether you’re after a cosy and remote bungalow surrounded by banana trees and swaying beach palms, or a modern condo overlooking the more developed resort towns, there will surely be something on the menu to suit.
Airbnb in Koh Samui is booming. There are hundreds and hundreds of rentals that you can browse and book at just the click of a mouse. They’re all over the island and come in all shapes and sizes, from private rooms in established resorts to standalone residences and bungalows. The first of those is considered perfectly fine in Thailand. There’s nothing wrong with registered hotels offering their suites via the platform. However, there is something of a legal grey area when it comes to lettings made directly with the owner…
The Hotels Act of Thailand specifically states that non-registered rentals for periods of under 30 days at a time are illegal. That said, the vast majority of travelers won’t notice any difference in the Airbnb service on Samui. For the most part, it still operates freely, and flat owners are still willing to offer their places for less than a month at a time. There have been some reports of fines being issued in recent years, but they’ve fallen to landlords, not tenants. Generally speaking, we’d say check ahead that all is okay with your host and only rent if you’re totally happy with the slight risks that come with Airbnb on Koh Samui.
Where should I stay in Koh Samui Airbnb?
Koh Samui might be the second-largest island in Thailand, but it’s still relatively easy to navigate. Good roads and taxi connections link up all the major spots on the north and north-east coast, from the main resort of Chaweng (1) to the quieter enclaves of Bophut (2) village and Choeng Mon (3). Further west is the lesser-known getaway of Mae Nam (4), where lazy days on the beach are backed up by beautiful sunsets and romantic accommodations. Alternatively, you can venture down the eastern shores to the rock-dotted coves of Lamai (5), or go to the port of Lipa Noi (6), with its ferry piers and long stretches of golden sand.
One of Thailand’s liveliest beaches
Loads of places to eat and drink
One of the best selections of Airbnb on the island
Easily accessible from the airport
Gets really busy in the high season
The beach isn’t the cleanest in the country
Chaweng could easily be considered the main hub of Koh Samui. It’s a bustling, vibrant beach town where you’ll find all the sand-top restaurants and lantern-lit cocktail bars you could want. By day, sun lovers soak up the rays and swimmers splash in the wavy seas. By night, there are DJ parties aplenty and cocktail bars with awesome sunset views. North Chaweng tends to have more affordable and backpacker-orientated Airbnbs, while South Chaweng boasts the stylish apartments with infinity pools that gaze over the Thai Gulf.
The salty seafood stalls and soy-scented night markets of Bophut are a real joy for anyone interested in seeing the more authentic side of Koh Samui. Once a ramshackle fishing village, the place is slowly entering the 21st century with sleek condos and condominium complexes, many of which can be seen on Airbnb. The beach isn’t the best on the island, but there are loads of places to enjoy traditional Thai food and settle in for a drink at night.
Choeng Mon spreads across a series of beautiful bays on the far north-eastern edge of Koh Samui. It’s noticeably quieter than its neighbour of Chaweng and is known for its midrange resort hotels that spill out onto the white sands beneath the coconut palms and putat trees. If you’re looking to chill out and crank up the R&R with days filled with seaside massages, this could be the perfect place to go a-searching for an Airbnb on Koh Samui.
Escape from the crowds by heading westwards down the northern coast of Koh Samui to the region of Mae Nam. One of the least-discovered corners of the isle, it enjoys wonderful views across the strait to the party mecca of Koh Phangan. But the vibe could not be more relaxed here, between the water-side resorts with their bungalows and pools. The beach is narrow but lovely, with a fringing of ironwood trees and the occasional bamboo reggae bar.
Lamai is often hailed as the single prettiest beach on the island. Turquoise waters dashed with small pockets of reef lap against sands speckled with big granite boulders. Behind the rows of slinky palms right by the shore, you’ll delve into a mix of welcoming wellness spas and open-air restaurants. The nightlife, meanwhile, centres on Had Lamai Road one block back from the coast. Lamai has an excellent array of accommodation choices, especially when it comes to villas and condos with their own private pools.
Lipa Noi is one of the main gateways to Koh Samui by the sea, with regular passenger and car ferries connecting it to the mainland and Surat Thani. But it’s more than just a transit town. Those who choose to base their stay here get to enjoy a string of beaches with pink-tinged sand and fantastically clear water. Behind those are hills dressed in coconut plantations, interspersed with only a few resorts and lots of charming bungalows that shouldn’t break the bank.
This two-bedroomed flat is ringed off by bamboo fences and shaded by high palm trees in the area behind Chaweng Beach. It’s far enough away from the action to be quiet in the evenings but still within reach of the top bars and eateries. The rental comes with speedy WiFi and a flat-screen TV, along with a lovely garden and sitting area where there’s a mid-sized swimming pool.
Panoramas of the rolling hills and forests around Maret come part and parcel to this gorgeous house, set high in the hills above lovely Lamai beach. It can sleep a total of seven guests across three bedrooms, which all focus on a minimalist outdoor area where there’s a gleaming turquoise infinity pool and a set of al fresco coffee tables that let you dip your toes in the water while you drink.
Treat the family to something truly special by plumping for this hilltop villa with sweeping views across the azure waters and jungle-covered hills of Choeng Mon. It’s chic, modern, spacious, and cool, with an infinity pool that might even stop you from heading to the beach. Circular sunbeds and outdoor speakers add to the thrill, while inside there are four bedrooms with air conditioning and beautiful balconies.
Luxury 6 bedrooms Villa with amazing 180 degree views
A whopping six individual bedrooms are on offer in this sprawling and uber-elegnt villa. Nestled on the ridges of the scenic Bophut Hills on the happening north side of Samui, it comes with a touch of Bauhaus style. Behind the whitewashed walls, you’ll find a games room with a billiard table, a private gym, and some seriously sumptuous lounge spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows that milk the stunning view. There’s also a gorgeous pool where you can swim to a backdrop of the Thai Gulf.
Set in a lush coconut grove over the hills from Bangrak Beach, this charming Balinese-style villa has everything you could want from a honeymoon on Samui. The interior is small but snug, with a Netflix-ready TV and a plush Queen bed for good measure. An on-site kitchen means you can cook up Thai curries together to enjoy after hammock-swinging sessions in the garden outside. The whole place has an ecological feel, balanced by a hint of rustic luxury.
Koh Samui probably has some of the more expensive hotel options in Thailand – it’s one of the most popular beach and sun getaways in the whole of the Land of Smiles, after all! You’ll probably find that an Airbnb on the island is just a tad cheaper than your usual four- or five-star resort, especially if you’re looking to book for over 28 days, when there can be attractive discounts to the tune of 50% up for grabs.
It’s still worth checking what sort of deals are on offer on the hotel front. Take the award-winning Casa De Mar Hotel as an example. It’s got a prime location literally metres off the water in vibrant Chaweng, along with a sprawling outdoor swimming pool, loads of sunning cabanas, and contemporary suites with breezy balconies overlooking the gulf. That’s all backed up by the extra features offered by a hotel stay, like room service and buffet breakfasts.
If you’re on the hunt for sun, sea and sand in Thailand, Koh Samui is doozy to have on the radar. Beaches like Lamai and Chaweng are some of the most happening and handsome in the country, while Thai seafood joints, luxurious resort hotels, and inviting Airbnb rentals all beckon across the island.