From its location on the north shore of Koh Samui, the community of Mae Nam is one of the last backpacker strongholds on an island that’s increasingly known for its top-end accommodation. Development is slowly setting in, but rustic and affordable beach bungalows at Mae Nam Beach are still the standard.
The seven-kilometer beach follows a crescent-shaped bay, and hotels at Mae Nam are comfortably spaced to allow afford plenty of privacy. These calm waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, and there are two small piers that offer charter sailboats and speedboats. Boats can also be chartered to Koh Phangan, which hovers on the northern horizon.
Accommodation in Mae Nam doesn’t all fall into the budget category. Its reputation as a backpacker haven is rooted in the early days of Samui tourism, when some of the island’s first long-stay bungalows were built here. Today, the scene is more diverse and several up-market hotels have added their services to the beach. A prominent resort and spa now stands at the beach’s halfway point, with a few more luxury options to the west.
As far as shopping is concerned, Mae Nam is the place to pick up teakwood furniture, and local merchants will arrange the necessary permits and have their products delivered to customers’ home. Mae Nam is a quiet place after hours, and it’s the perfect place for a romantic sunset dinners. There aren’t any nightclubs in the area, but Mae Nam does have its share of beach bars and pubs. Live music plays in a few local venues.