The best local Thai restaurants in Lamai Beach are mostly found away from the main tourist areas around Haad Lamai Road, which runs parallel to the shore. While there are some excellent eateries to be found in the heart of the town, the prices tend to be slightly higher, which often puts off local diners. However, the quality of the food can also be exception.
Fortunately, Lamai is quite a small place, so finding a real Thai food restaurant does not mean that you have to travel too far. There are several excellent ones along Koh Samui’s main ring road, which dodges around most of Lamai. What all of the places on our list have in common is that they serve up a real taste of Thailand, including local dishes done exactly how to locals like it. Most are also at least very affordable, if not exceptionally cheap, making them a great choice for travellers on a budget.
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- Around the Island Tour
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There are several restaurants around Koh Samui which carry the name Sabienglae, but this is the first and remains the finest on the island. Located right by the side of the road heading south out of Lamai, it serves up fantastic high-quality fresh seafood surprisingly quickly and at remarkably affordable prices. Being also right on the beach, its simple open layout allows you to enjoy the cooling sea breeze. We highly recommend the deep-fried king prawns with tamarind sauce. Each prawn is a hefty 100g, costing 120 baht each, and the sauce is tangy and very tasty. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Location: 438/82 Route 4169, Lamai
- Tel: +66 (0)77 233 082
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/sabienglae.samui
Sala Thai is an affordable and approachable Thai restaurant on the main road through the town. Friendly and helpful servers create a great atmosphere in the traditionally-styled venue while the first-rate food means that the place is packed most evenings – mostly with tourists, but also quite a few locals. The menu includes a few international dishes, but it is the Thai food which really excels, including the particularly fine red curry with duck for 200 baht. The selection of fresh seafood is also quite extensive and well worth sampling. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 14:00 – 24:00
- Location: Haad Lamai Road, near Lamai Night Plaza, Lamai
- Tel: +66 (0)7 723 3180
DARA Kitchen is a small and simple restaurant in a rustic wooden building right by the entrance to Wat Lamai Folklore Museum. Despite being about as far from the beach as you can get in Lamai, it still attracts tourists (and, of course, plenty of locals) for its friendly atmosphere and its great food. The menu is very short but is packed with local favourites including pineapple fried rice and mixed seafood and pork noodle soup. Dishes are priced according to the meat, so all pork and chicken dishes cost 70 baht, shrimp is 90 baht and seafood is 100 baht. The mixed noodle soup is a great deal at just 80 baht.
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 19:00
- Location: Near Wat Lamai Folklore Museum, Route 4169, Lamai
- Tel: +66 (0)94 626 2694
Despite looking like one of the fanciest restaurants on the main street through Lamai, with its vaulting ceiling and elegant furniture, Golden Elephant is actually very reasonably priced. The big attraction is the set menu, which features chicken satay, spring rolls, tom yam goong, crab curry, massaman curry, king prawns and sticky rice with mango. Intended for two people to share, this feast costs just 1,150 baht and is very highly reputed for its excellent quality and flavours.
- Opening Hours: 14:30 – 23:00
- Location: 124/201 Haad Lamai Road, Lamai
- Tel: +66 (0)90 402 9760
Kob Thai Restaurant may be under French management, but the first-rate Thai chef and his team are well known for creating excellent local cuisine. The large open-air venue with its thatch-roofed rustic seating is quite far from the beach and not the easiest place to find – you will have to go looking down some of Lamai’s darker, bumpier roads. However, your exploration is rewarded with an outstanding crab curry and great spicy salads, among many other dishes available at affordable prices. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 23:00
- Location: Soi Haad Lamai 3, Lamai
- Tel: +66 (0)82 534 9325
Nana Tam Restaurant is found at the quieter end of the main road which passes through the centre of Lamai and, being away from the tourist hotspots, is naturally cheaper and attracts more locals. The setting is very simple, being housed under a corrugated metal roof, but the food is highly thought of. Most of the top pics are the typical Thai favourites such as som tam (60 baht), pad Thai (70 baht) and chicken massaman curry (100 baht), but the preparation is good and the service is friendly.
- Opening Hours: 11:00 – 23:00
- Location: 130/3 Thanon Had Lamai, Tambon Maret, Amphoe Ko Samui, Chang Wat Surat Thani 84310
- Tel: +66 (0)85 644 5252, +66 (0)86 275 7064
Located by the side of Lamai Night Plaza and presided over by the jolly, moustachioed Mr. Phu himself (which is pronounced as “Poo”), this restaurant features some great-value set menu offers, such as chicken gyoza, tuna curry, fried vegetables and rice, all for just 290 baht. The open-air and very laid-back venue also has some unusual wares, including crocodile curry for 160 baht and fried frog for 150 baht. Naturally, you can also find plenty of the more common and popular Thai dishes in the compendious menu.
- Opening Hours: Dinner
- Location: Lamai Night Plaza, 137/2 Moo 3, Lamai
- Tel: +66 (0)81 891 8316
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/Mrphu-seafood-มิสเตอร์ภู-ซีฟู้ด-334447276760664
Khao Tom Pla Tarua is a very local restaurant – to the extent that all of the shop’s signs are written exclusively in Thai. It is easy to find, being right next to Tesco Lotus and having a cartoon-like picture of a fish in a bowl on the sign, which makes sense as the name translates as ‘boiled rice fish pier’. The large chiller cabinet by the entrance with a couple of large fish hanging inside is also quite distinctive. The simple shop-house eatery is popular with the locals for its fresh seafood, which includes such oddities as fish head tom yam soup from 200 baht, as well as old favourites like prawn pad Thai for 100 baht.
- Location: Next to Tesco Lotus, Route 4169, Lamai
Located alongside the main ring road which circles the whole island (and skirts around the centre of Lamai), Phen Restaurant is one of the smarter places around the town, with traditional Thai touches under a colonial-style wooden roof. The menu reflects the patronage, with a small selection of international options while the signature Thai dishes are written only in Thai. There are plenty of traditional local favourites with impressively low prices, including curried seafood in a sweet peanut sauce for 150 baht or noodle soup from just 50 baht.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Location: Route 4169, Lamai
- Tel: +66 (0)81 892 1787
Koh Kaew is a cheap-and-cheerful little restaurant at the top of the road leading to the famous Hin Ta and Hin Yin rocks. It is not much to look at – a few tables and plastic chairs in what amounts to a tin shack – but the food reliably attracts local diners for its authentic preparation and extremely low prices. There is a small selection of western dishes available, but the favourite dishes include shrimp in tamarind sauce for 140 baht or pad Thai for 70 baht. You can even try a real Thai-style breakfast, such as rice soup with pork for 70 baht.
- Location: Hin Ta and Hin Yai Road, where it meets Route 4169, Lamai