Maenam town is a definite hit amongst foreign residents. With its long, long stretch of bay, its jungly wall of hills to the south, it’s a beautiful place – especially if you approach by sea. You’ll see the sandy bay from afar backed by palm trees and what looks like an unbroken canopy of greenery behind it. Definitely an exciting feel.
Most people, however, arrive and leave on the ring road – not the best introduction. The sheer practicality of the island’s main artery means that it’s flanked on both sides by shops, without so much as a glimpse of the sea. It’s only away from the road that the beauty starts.
Not surprisingly vacationers tend to avoid the ring road, the least glamorous aspect of this mid-sized town. Those who live here take a different stance: it’s a convenient place to go shopping; there are mini supermarkets and both a day and a night market. They see themselves as able to enjoy the best of both worlds.
The bay is extremely large; it takes over an hour to walk from end to end. Small streams enter the sea here. Often you can wade across but at times they can form extremely deep channels. Most people who live in or near Maenam simply love the beach here and have a favorite spot.
The west end is home to Wat Napalarn. The temple is right by the sea and always has a few food carts parked up by the beach and you can find food here most of the time. The Lomprayah ferry is right next door, with ferries departing for Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao. Look out to sea and you’ll see both islands. They’re a beautiful sight.
In the middle of town you’ll find another temple set up a slight incline and reachable via a flight of steps. Access it via the main crossroads (marked by a Chinese ornamental gate), turn up towards the hills and it’s a few hundred meters away.
Beyond the temple lie orchards and gardens that produce bananas, mangoes, cashew nuts and papaya. The lanes here lead you inland to where the hills take over.
Turn towards the sea, however, and follow the road round and you’ll come to another temple, this one Chinese. It’s bright and vividly painted and the focal point for Chinese New Year celebrations.
Maenam is largely a daytime place and at nights it tends to be quiet. It has some excellent restaurants but no nightclubs of any kind. One of the best places for cocktails is to be found on the very edge of town; W Resort’s amazing Woobar. For a stylish lunch or dinner, it would be hard to beat The Beach House, situated at Santiburi and right on the sea. For a slew of good restaurants turn down soi Beachway and follow the road down and around.
Maenam is the preferred spot for many people who have made Thailand their home. They value the quietness of the entire area. Accommodation is plentiful for vacationers and those who stay for a long time have the choice of renting or buying a wide spectrum of villas. The majority of properties are slightly inland, a kilometer or two from the main road. Check out our Maenam listings if you are thinking of buying property here.
From Maenam, it’s just 15 minutes to Chaweng and the airport; a little more to Nathon. Those who want to explore the south coast and have a trustworthy vehicle and good driving skills can take the extremely scenic road across the hills that starts at soi 1 on the ring road. It’s approximately 15 km across to the coast on the other side and will enable you to take in views that few other people usually see.