Bophut Walking Street, Koh Samui

Earlier in the year, CentralFestival opened on Koh Samui, heralding in a new era of retail experiences on the island. While the shopping center does attempt to incorporate a tropical ambiance into its open air design, shoppers looking that quintessential tropical shopping experience should head to island’s handful of walking streets.

Walking streets spring up up weekly around the island’s main tourist hotspots, including one at Lamai on Sundays, Mae Nam on Thursdays, and Nathon on Saturdays. The first, and now the liveliest of its kind however, is Bophut Walking Street, held every Friday from just before sunset to approximately 10 or 11 p.m.

An early evening view of Bophut Walking Street in Fisherman's Village, Koh Samui.

An early evening view of Bophut Walking Street in Fisherman’s Village, Koh Samui.

From mid-afternoon onwards, the alley is closed off to traffic and vendors started setting up shop along the narrow street in front of old shophouses. Visitors can pick up a number of goodies, from homemade souvenirs and electronics to clothes and fashion accessories. Plenty of snack vendors offer on-the-go treats, while more formal beachside dining affairs are available at a number of bars and restaurants that line both sides of the street.

Restaurants put out menus and fresh seafood on ice to entice visitors for a Friday seaside feast.

Restaurants put out menus and fresh seafood on ice to entice visitors for a Friday seaside feast.

Food vendors aplenty cater to a wide range of tastes, including (clockwise from top-left): homemade coconut ice-cream, grilled pork skewers, chicken sliders, pork satay.

Food vendors aplenty cater to a wide range of tastes, including (clockwise from top-left): homemade coconut ice-cream, grilled pork skewers, chicken sliders, pork satay.

One of the more creative food vendors on the strip; rice and cheese omelette balls mixed with a choice of ham, hot dog, or crab for THB40-50.

One of the more creative food vendors on the strip; rice and cheese omelette balls mixed with a choice of ham, hot dog, or crab for THB40-50.

Roti pancakes -- an island staple -- with a delectable choice of topping combinations.

Roti pancakes — an island staple — with a delectable choice of topping combinations.

A pavement vendor serving up cocktail concoctions.

A pavement vendor serving up cocktail concoctions.

Visitors with kids will be pleased to know that children are also catered to, including (clockwise from right): airbrush tattoos ranging from THB100-1,000, 3D puzzles for THB99, and a selection of toys.

Visitors with kids will be pleased to know that children are also catered to, including (clockwise from right): airbrush tattoos ranging from THB100-1,000, 3D puzzles for THB99, and a selection of toys.

Add letters to a keychain (THB100) or magnet (THB150) for a personalized souvenir.

Add letters to a keychain (THB100) or magnet (THB150) for a personalized souvenir.

This menagerie of coconut shell animal lamps (THB380 each) are too cute.

This menagerie of coconut shell animal lamps (THB380 each) are too cute.

Coconut shell bowls inlaid with egg shells (top) and mother-of-pearl (bottom) make for lovely presents and can add a splash of color to the interior decor back home. THB390 per bowl or THB900 for a trio.

Coconut shell bowls inlaid with egg shells (top) and mother-of-pearl (bottom) make for lovely presents and can add a splash of color to the interior decor back home. THB390 per bowl or THB900 for a trio.

Unique necklace and earrings -- orchid flowers, butterflies, and butterfly wings sealed in acrylic resin, a four-day process, then edged in 24 karat gold.

Unique necklace and earrings — orchid flowers, butterflies, and butterfly wings sealed in acrylic resin, a four-day process, then edged in 24 karat gold.

Hand-crafted elephants and cats fashioned out of tin sheets.

Hand-crafted elephants and cats fashioned out of tin sheets.

On the day of visit, there was a roadside troupe of street performers, including this man doing a balancing act with swords.

On the day of visit, there was a roadside troupe of street performers, including this man doing a balancing act with swords.

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