When the sun goes down, the villages of Chaweng and Lamai have exceptionally vibrant nightlife. Beginning at dusk you can stroll the main strips and choose from hundreds of venues for drinks, dining, and live music. Bophut is more subdued, with a café and bistro scene that is decidedly low key, and preferred for this reason by some. The villages of Maenam and Nathon become very quiet after the shops have closed for the day.
In addition to the hundreds of local landowners and business people who have jumped on the bandwagon, many foreigners who have become smitten with life on Samui, have gone into the night time entertainment business. Whether you appreciate the proliferation of establishments or not, it must be said that a great deal of international creativity and energy (not to mention money!) has gone into some that have opened in recent years. The result is that for such a small and remote island, Samui has an amazingly wide variety of nighttime entertainment venues. The themes, decors, and standards range from the truly sublime to the truly ridiculous.
If youre staying in Samuis nightlife center, you probably came to party, since after 8:30 pm you cant escape the scene. In-your-face girlie bars are scattered around, with a heavy concentration in the soi Green Mango ("Soi" means "lane" in Thai.) But you can escape them if thats not your scene. If you dont want to be accosted with cries of "Hello welcoooome, come inside please!!" everywhere you go, it helps not to make eye contact with the "greeters." Admittedly however, this can be pretty hard. Some of them are awfully persuasive, not to mention charming.
In high season, Lamai rivals Chaweng for ambience and choice. Some very stylish bars and bistros have opened, and in addition to long-established "Bauhaus" discotechque, there are now at least one or two others. Of course the obligatory girlie bars are also there in large numbers.
We wont speculate here on how a few establishments manage to stay open after the 2:00 am closing time, nor do we know their names. We hear they are mostly on the beach, and an investigation amongst the locals when you arrive will almost certainly yield the information.
You got all the good news, now for some words of caution, meant not to put a damper on your holiday plans, but rather in the hope they will go off as beautifully as you hope.
Are they available? Yes. If you consider arrest, detainment in jail for several days, a fine of US $2000 or more and then deportment and possible blacklisting ensuring you will never again step foot in Thailand, to be a risk worth taking for the high, then we have just two words for you. Good luck! Many, MANY people have had their vacations ruined and their bank accounts emptied due to drug arrests on Samui. Police here dont need a warrant and they dont need cause to search you - at least in practice. It only takes a routine check in front of the local convenience store to find the joint in your cigarette pack.
The number of children selling flowers in the bars late at night has grown in recent years, as parents have realized how much money can be made by putting their young children to work in this way. Many of these children are very sweet and charming. Its all part of the pitch, and they learn fast. Some will throw their arms around your legs or waist (if they can reach that high.) If your sense of sympathy inclines you to buy from them, please consider before doing so, that the fact they are up way past the hour children their age should be, has more do to with their parents greed than poverty. In spite of what the children and some barstaff may tell you, in almost all cases, it is NOT necessary for them to be doing this kind of "work" to feed their families, on an island as wealthy as Samui. And you can be pretty sure that a child who is up selling flowers until 1:00 am will probably not be getting up for school the following day in any kind of state conducive to learning. Shockingly, some children are given substances to keep them awake, while others tranquilizers to keep them "under control." The authorities are aware of the problem and occasionally crack down.