Bang Rak attracts travellers of all ages, and once you arrived, you will immediately notice Koh Samui’s largest landmark – the Big Buddha resting atop a hill on the nearby islet. Occupying the north-eastern coast of the island, Bang Rak also hosts a pier from where boats depart to the infamous Koh Phangan, home to the renowned Full Moon Parties.
BANG RAK STYLE
Even though Bang Rak is the first village you are passing through on your way to Chaweng and Lamai, it is less touristy beach retreats on Samui, yet, it deserves a closer look. Upscale villas and resorts, bars, restaurants, shops and spas are abundant is the village making the area well-developed and attractive for long-staying tourists.
The wooden jetty jutting out from the soft beach anchors hundreds of luxury vessels along with local fishermen’s long-tail boats. Being a popular drop-off point for those visiting the renowned Full Moon Party, Bang Rok is fast gaining the reputation of the hangout for the younger travellers.
There is, nevertheless, abundant sightseeing and entertainment for the holiday-makers of all ages. The beautiful beach is excellent for swimming and even snorkelling offering a closer look to the exotic marine life. The imposing 12 metres statue of Buddha does not cease to amaze visitors with its luscious and shining appearance. Bang Rak is an all-sufficient area offering everything you might want on your tropical holiday.
WHAT WE LOVE
Fabulous villa accommodations
Breathtaking views of the islands
Abundant restaurants, bars and shops
Excellent silvery stretch of the beach
Samui’s major landmark – Big Buddha
BANG RAK LOCATION
Situated towards the north of Samui Airport on the north-eastern coast of Koh Samui, Bang Rak is the ideal base to take in all sights of Samui and catch the boat to the nearby islands.
FERRY AND BUS
There are plenty of companies that carry out transfers from Phuket to Samui. The trip consists of terrestrial and marine transfers and ranges from six to seven hours. Buses depart from the central bus station in Phuket and bring travellers to Koh Phangan pier where passengers make a transfer for the modern and fast catamaran, which brings visitors to Nathon Pier located on the north-western coast of Koh Samui. Usually, there are two daily transfers for Koh Samui, but the timing can range due to the travel operator.
Although it is possible to get to Bang Rak, Koh Samui over land or water, the best way is to fly:
AIRPORT AND PIER TRANSFERS
It can take between 5 minutes to 15 minutes to reach Bang Rak from Samui Airport depending on traffic. If you are travelling by ferry from Phuket, the trip from Nathon Pier will take around 40 minutes. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa.
Alternatively, there is a taxi desk at the arrival level which arranges one-way fares at a fixed-price. If you opt not to use the taxi desk, there are numerous taxi drivers waiting outside the arrival terminal so you can negotiate the price with them. Even though there is a big sign “Meter-Taxi” on the roof of taxis, local drivers rarely use them, so it is recommended to discuss the price beforehand. You can opt one of the transfer options – a shared mini van with other travellers or a private taxi. A shared taxi is essentially cheaper but usually requires at least five passengers to depart.
There are plenty of options, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers:
Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. Depending on which villa you are staying in, the cost for the private car and chauffeur can vary, so it’s recommended to contact our Ministry of Villas team to get the complete information about the private transfers.
Samui’s taxi is an easy, yet, rather expensive way to move around. Even though all cars are equipped with meters, local drivers rarely use them, so be very specific when negotiating the price and the destination point before getting into the vehicle.
SONGTHAEWS OR PICK-UP TAXIS
Songthaews or “two-benches” are simple pick-up tracks that follow their set routes and pick up or drop off passengers at any site along the route. The route is never set in stone, so before getting into the truck, always double check, where the vehicle is heading. The trip usually costs THB20 and anyone can simply jump into the truck or require the stop ringing a bell. Though the route is described in English, it can be tricky to puzzle out how to get to the destination point for the first-time traveller.
Motorbike rental shops are plentiful in Bang Rak. Moving around on two wheels is a fast way to get from A to Z, however, a certain level of experience is required as the traffic can be somewhat congested and chaotic in the region. Take into account that you must always have an international drivers license on your person, otherwise, the local police can issue you a ticket with a summons to appear in court. Always opt bikes with insurance, and, of course, make sure you wear a helmet.
Car rental shops are widespread in Bang Rak making it easy to hire a car. Travelling by car around Bang Rak is a comfortable way to get to the destination point and explore other areas, however, due to the hilly landscape of the island, it is recommended, to select a 4×4 wheel drive car, otherwise, it can be challenging to get to your hilltop villa. Also, take into account, that the lower rental price implies the absence of insurance and a poor condition of the vehicle so opt the international brands, if possible, when renting a car, such as Hertz, Avis and Budget Car Rentals, which are more trustworthy than the local rental shops.
Entrepreneurial locals may offer to transport you on the back of their motorcycle, though this option is not advisable due to the reasons of safety and comfort.
BANG RAK VILLAS
There are more than 5 Ministry Approved villas in Bang Rak. As Bang Rak is less touristy and popular than other Samui locations, villa prices tend to be lower than in other parts of the island. Bang Rak villas range from USD $420 per night for three-bedroom villa resorts to over USD $2,000 per night for a seven-bedroom luxury villa.
Most of our villas have dedicated staff including butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel and many other services you won’t find in a hotel. This is why we say “Spend just one night in a villa and you’ll never stay in a hotel again.”
BANG RAK DINING
There are numerous fabulous restaurant scattered along both the beach and the main road, so you can be sure to find something to satisfy your taste buds with the ample selection of delicious local and western dishes.
Beachfront restaurants set tables and chairs right on the sand offering exotic dining experience with your feet on the sand. A sheer variety of the seafood along with the authentic Thai dishes and western favourites feature Bang Rak dining scene offering an abundant choice of the venues.
The central stretch of the road offers more sophisticated establishments with a greater range of the international cuisines and suitable wine to complete your dinner in-style. More fine-dining can be found in the nearby Bophut village, which gained its reputation as one of the most exquisite gastronomic destination of Koh Samui.
BANG RAK NIGHTLIFE
Bang Rak is as appealing in the evening as during the day. Most visitors opt one of the beachside venues, to grab a cocktail or beer and people watch or chat with friends. Even though Bang Rak is located on the north-eastern coast, you can still watch the sunset casting brilliant reflections over the sand and the water.
The area is also known for its sports bars, where friendly locals along with Samui’s expats and tourists gather to watch matches and cheer on the favourite team over the local beer.
The area houses a couple of beer bars, although, they are not as prominent as in Chaweng and Lamai locations, where whole districts are occupied by hostess bars.
BANG RAK SHOPPING
Clustering under the Big Buddha, there are plentiful souvenir shops selling the Buddha-shaped statuettes, magnets depicting magnificent views of the area, and traditional sarongs.
The main road behind the beach is busy with various fashion shops, accessories, shoes and jewellery stores making it easy to hunt out an outstanding gift to bring back home.
Though there are no massive shopping centres in Bang Rak, you can still find here everything you may need for your tropical holiday.
BANG RAK RELAXATION
Bang Rak exudes relaxation and serenity. From the magnificent stretch of the icing sugar beach offering endless water sports to the amazing sightseeing to the holistic spas to the quiet strolls along the beach, Bang Rak is the perfect place to keep you either active and excited or relaxed and pampered.
The area boasts cultural and historical heritage, so if you are interested in Thai traditions, there is no better place than Bang Rak to start discovering it.
Island hopping is another way to relax your mind and immerse into the fascinating world of the marine life. Take a one day trip to the nearby uninhabited islands to admire the teeming with exotic species waters of the Gulf of Thailand or wander around the lush untouched nature on the Ang Thong Natural Marine Park, and you will understand why people return to this place over and over again.