If you’re considering a vacation in Thailand, Koh Samui is a great tropical island here that offers something for absolutely everyone. Pristine blue waters, fine white sand, exotic tasty food – the lot.
There’s been a lot of development on this island and most of the beaches on Samui are now quite full of people, especially in the high season. Luckily there are still some lesser known beaches left that can offer the more peacefully minded holidaymakers exactly what they need.
Plai Laem is one of the lesser known beaches on Samui. Yet it’s located in the heart of all the action. Let’s get to know Plai Laem a bit more.
Plai Laem beach is silent! While the northern bays harbour luxurious high-end resorts and neighbouring Choeng Mon the flashpackers and bungalows, there are no big hotels or construction going on in Plai Laem. That’s quite hard to come by in Samui these days, but is what one would expect from a tropical island beach, right?
It won’t remain peaceful here for long as precious shore line is sought by expanding hotels and businesses. The bay has white and soft sand and stretches for two. The water is warm and calm. You will perhaps spot an occasional Thai fisherman, but it’s the closest you can get to a private beach on Samui.
While not the most beautiful beach on Samui (no one has developed the beach yet), you can relax with a book and not be disturbed by anyone on Plai Laem. If peace and quiet on a deserted tropical beach sounds appealing to you, consider Plai Laem.
Plai Laem is very close to the airport, making it a good place for those that value time and comfort. It’s also close to Chaweng beach, the most popular and action packed beach on Samui, and Bophut, another popular beach. So, if it gets too quiet and peaceful, all the nightlife, restaurants and bars are well within reach.
The local Thai community has small shops and a few restaurants within walking distance of the beach. The few resorts that are here also have restaurants, where you can watch the sunset (this part of the island is famous for that). There are also some bars and restaurants at the southern end of the beach, where you will also find Wat Phra Yai and Wat Plai Laem – two temples to discover if you’d like to learn more about local culture.
Wat Phra Yai is perched on a small rocky island that’s connected by a causeway. You can easily walk to the temple. It houses a majestic 12 metre golden statue of the Buddha. To this day, Wat Phra Yai remains an important religious site on the island and is also a top destination for all the tourists that come to the island. The temple is visited daily by Buddhist devotees who bring flowers and fruit offerings to the base of the statue. It’s especially fun to come here during Thai festivals, such as Loy Krathong and Songkran, and take part in the celebrations with the locals.
The big statue can be seen in all its shining glory at a distance of several kilometres. You will get an especially beautiful view of it flying into Samui airport. You can also enjoy a view of the Buddha sitting by restaurants at Plai Laem resorts, particularly beautiful bathed in the evening sun and at night.
Not far from the Big Buddha is Wat Plai Laem, a relatively new temple that also lends its name to the beach. It houses two statues, one of the giant and very fat laughing Buddha and one of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy and compassion, who has a whopping 18 arms.
Like Wat Phra Yai, Wat Plai Laem is also an active temple with devotees coming daily to pay respects to the statues. Despite being new, the temple was created using art techniques that are centuries old.
Walking around the Wat, you can see many smaller statues and murals of the Buddha. This is an especially good temple to take children, because the temple is surrounded by a lake teeming with catfish. If you make a donation to the temple, you get a bag of food to feed the fish. Afterwards, you can hire a swan-shaped boat and paddle across the lake.
There’s not a lot of development on this beach, as mentioned. But Thailand is notoriously famous for beautiful beach properties and luxurious villas. You can secure a great place for quite a reasonable price. That’s what I really love about Thailand – you can make your dollar (euro, pound) really work for you here.
Consider this 3 bedroom luxury villa in Plai Laem that’s up for just $330 a night. It houses 6 people, making it just a bit more expensive than a few regular mid range hotel rooms pooled together. Yet you don’t just get concierge service – the villa comes with luxuries like your own private infinity pool looking over the island, fully equipped kitchen and the possibility to arrange your own private chef, daily massages and even Yoga, pilates & Tai Chi qualified instructors. You would enjoy all of this in the comfort of your own privacy, putting you in complete charge of your holiday.