The pristine beaches lined with coconut palms entice tourists from all over the world to visit the beautiful island of Koh Samui, but lazing on the beach all day is not the only thing you can do here. Scuba dive or snorkel in the most stunning lagoons, traipse through its virgin rainforests, visit temples and markets, and take in the nightlife. You’ll find details of all these and more on our list of top 10 things to do in Koh Samui.
1.Angthong National Marine Park
Angthong National Marine Park is a pristine archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand with towering limestone mountains, thick jungle, white-sand beaches, fertile mangroves, waterfalls and hidden coves and lakes to explore. Within sight of Koh Samui, Ang Thong park is a protected area of more than 100sqkm of land and sea, and home to a rich variety of exotic wildlife and sea creatures.
On the northern coast of Koh Samui is the famous Big Buddha shrine. Probably Samui’s most well known landmark, the 12-metre high golden Buddha can be seen from several kilometers away. Inside the surrounding temple are many different shrines and other smaller ornate Buddhas. There is also a small market selling a wide range of lucky charms and other souvenirs, alongside numerous food stalls.
3.Bophut's Fisherman’s Village
Fisherman’s Village Samui is a historical part of Bophut, with rustic-style buildings housing boutique stores, trendy restaurants and a small selection of hotels lining the narrow Beach Road. Every Friday, the whole area becomes the site of the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street market, attracting huge numbers of shoppers from across the island for the amazing variety of wares and the lively atmosphere.
4.Hin Ta and Hin Yai
Art often imitates Nature, but less common is Nature imitating Art, especially the art of the ribald. But in Thailand anything is possible including, on Koh Samui, the natural geological formations known as Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks (the Grandpa and Grandma rocks), which look, respectively, like male and female genitalia.
Koh Tao – meaning ‘Turtle Island’ – lives up to its name, being the scuba diving destination of choice in Thailand. The perfect white-sand beaches which ring the hilly 21 km² island are surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand. The vibrant coral reefs there are home to a wide range of exciting and colorful sea creatures, including turtles, naturally.
6.Wat Plai Laem
Located near the Big Buddha in the north of the island, Wat Plai Laem is a colourful and interesting Buddhist Temple. The temple features very ornate decor and art, an 18-arm image of Guanyin – the Goddess of Mercy – and a large white Chinese Buddha set on the lake. If you donate money for the upkeep of the temple you’ll be given a bag of food to throw to the teeming fish in the lake.
Although Samui has several waterfalls, the two Na Muang waterfalls are probably the most picturesque. The name Na Muang refers to the massive purple rocks at the waterfalls. Rocks and tree roots form a natural staircase that leads to the base of Na Muang 1. A large natural pool sits under the waterfall. A 10-minute walk further up the mountain leads to Samui’s most beautiful waterfall, Na Muang 2
8.Secret Buddha Garden
Secret Buddha Garden is hidden away high in the hills in Koh Samui’s interior, offering majestic views and an unusual collection of statues amid lush jungle surrounds. The gardens are a creation of an old Samui fruit farmer, Nim Thongsuk, who in 1976 began erecting several statues and temples around his family’s verdant land.
9.Mummy Monk at Wat Khunaram
The body of Samui’s most famous mummified monk – there really are several – Luang Pordaeng is on display here. Luang Pordaeng died over 20 years ago and as per his instructions, his body was placed in a specially designed glass case for posterity. It has remained there ever since and has showed few signs of decay.
Ladyboy Cabaret might not be everyone’s cup of tea but for fans, Chaweng Beach has plenty to choose from! Thailand’s katoeys or the ‘third sex’ are world famous, partly because there are so many of them and also because they are so feminine. In fact, it can be difficult to tell if the beautiful young lady paying you attention was a lady at birth… as many a surprised tourist has discovered.