The best local restaurants in Lamai Beach are mostly found away from the main tourist neighborhoods 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 an 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 beltway, 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 that are done exactly how locals like it. Most are also at least very affordable, if not exceptionally cheap, making them a great choice for travelers on a budget.


    Sabienglae Restaurant

    Fresh and affordable seafood

    Sabienglae Restaurant in Lamai serves up fantastic fresh seafood surprisingly quickly and at remarkably affordable prices. There are several restaurants around Koh Samui that carry the name "Sabienglae", but this is the first and remains the finest on the island. You can find the restaurant right by the side of the road heading south out of Lamai.

    Being right on the beach, Sabienglae’s 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 100 grams and the sauce is tangy and very tasty.

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    Location: 438/82 Moo 1, Tawirat Phakdi Road, Maret, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84140, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)77 332 651


    Sala Thai Restaurant

    Thai cuisine in traditional settings

    Sala Thai is an affordable and approachable Thai restaurant on the main road through Lamai. 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 that really excels, including the particularly fine red curry with duck. The selection of fresh seafood is also quite extensive and well worth sampling.

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    Location: 124/115 Moo 3, Maret, Lamai, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84130, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)81 968 1445


    DARA Kitchen

    Rustic Thai dining in Lamai

    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 favorites 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 a bit less than shrimp and other seafood. The mixed noodle soup is a great deal.

    Location: Road 4169, Moo 6, Maret, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)95 460 4545


    Kob Thai Restaurant

    A rewarding find with excellent local cuisine

    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.

    Looking on the brighter side, your exploration leads you to Kob Thai and the effort is rewarded with an outstanding crab curry and great spicy salads. These are among many other dishes available at affordable prices.

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    Location: Haad Lamai 3, Lamai Beach, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand

    Open: Daily from noon to 10.30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)82 534 9325


    Nana Tam Restaurant

    Delicious Thai, away from the crowds

    Nana Tam Restaurant is a cool spot for local Thai cuisine, found at the quieter end of the main road that passes through the center of Lamai. Being away from the tourist hot spots, it's 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 picks are the typical Thai favorites such as som tam, pad thai and chicken massaman curry. The preparation is good and the service is friendly.

    Location: 83/25 Haad Lamai Rd, Maret, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand

    Open: Daily from noon to 11 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)77 952 603


    Mr Phu’s Sea Food

    Set Thai menus at great value

    Mr Phu’s Sea Food is a restaurant that features some great-value set menu offerings beside Lamai Night Plaza. It's presided over by the jolly, moustachioed Mr. Phu himself (his name is pronounced, “Poo”).

    Among the top offerings are chicken gyoza, tuna curry, fried vegetables and rice. The open-air and very laid-back venue also has some unusual wares, including crocodile curry and fried frog. Naturally, you can also find plenty of the more common and popular Thai dishes on the compendious menu.

    Location: 137/2 Moo 3, Maret, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 2 pm to 11.30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)81 891 4958


    Koh Kaew Restaurant

    Authentic Thai dishes at low prices

    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 favorite dishes include shrimp in tamarind sauce or pad thai. You can even try a real Thai-style breakfast, such as rice soup with pork.

    Location: Hin Ta and Hin Yai Road, Maret, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 10 pm

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveler

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