The places that locals love to eat in Koh Samui are generally those places that allow you to satiate yourself with the most popular Thai dishes at very affordable rates. Food prices are generally reasonable in Thailand, though the development of tourism has led to an increase of the prices in the prime resort towns of Samui and other major tourist destinations around southern Thailand. Fortunately, it’s still possible to find places where locals like to eat, even in places like Chaweng, Lamai and Bophut. At such restaurants, you can get a real taste of Thailand without paying inflated prices.

    We’ve listed the best restaurants serving delicious, genuine Thai food at fair rates in Samui. Check them out so you could feast without breaking the bank during your holiday in the Gulf of Thailand.

    Specialising in Thai seafood at affordable prices, Green Bird is an unpretentious little restaurant located just off the main road in the centre of Chaweng. In spite of its very simple appearance, it’s extremely clean and always gets excellent reviews posted on the walls of the restaurant. The very friendly service is expressly mentioned in much of the feedback. It’s especially popular with tourists on a budget, and favourite dishes include fried basil and chilli with seafood or fried rice with seafood.

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    Location: 157/17 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach Road, Chaweng, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 12 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)86 906 4638


    Noodle Soup & Food

    The name, while a little lacking in imagination, says it all – Noodle Soup & Food. The tagline on their sign by the side of Route 4169 boasts that they serve “The Best Noodle Soup in Town”. It must be good, though, because the place is popular with the local residents and there are a number of trophies on display in this unpretentious little restaurant. Most of the menu is written up on chalkboards entirely in Thai because this is a really ‘local’ sort of place, but the few scraps of English text reveal that the pork and beef noodle soups cost very little.

    Location: Route 4169, Bophut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand


    DARA Kitchen & Café

    DARA Kitchen & Café, located right by the entrance to Wat Lamai Folklore Museum, is a spotless, simple restaurant that brings a modern touch to the rustic wooden building it’s settled in. Situated on the Samui Ring Road, pretty far from the beach, it nevertheless attracts tourists as well as plenty of locals – always a good sign in a Thai restaurant.

    The menu is rather short but is packed with local favourites including pineapple fried rice, mixed seafood and pork noodle soup. Dishes are priced according to the meat, so all pork and chicken dishes cost one price, shrimp is a bit more expensive and mixed seafood is more expensive still, though still cheap overall. 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


    Surat Restaurant

    Surat Restaurant is a tiny little Thai eatery on Chaweng’s famous Soi Green Mango. Not much more than a little shophouse establishment, it’s located around the corner past the majority of the bars and clubs, at the more dimly-lit extremes of the street. Despite being right next to such a tourist-oriented location, the prices are what you would expect of a local Thai restaurant, which means it inevitably attracts local customers.

    Location: 166/32 Moo 2, Bophut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand


    Nana Tam Restaurant

    Nana Tam Restaurant is found at the quieter end of the main road that passes through the centre of Lamai. As it’s 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 picks are the typical Thai favourites such as som tam, pad Thai and chicken massaman curry, but the preparation is good and the service is friendly.

    Location: 130/3 Haad Lamai Road, Maret, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)85 644 5252, +66 (0)86 275 7064

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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