Koh Samui is famous throughout the world for being one of Thailand’s most popular and diverse islands. Unlike many of Thailand’s islands, Koh Samui isn’t known for having a specialist tourist scene – it’s a real melting pot, so whether you’re looking for culture, food, relaxation or an exciting party atmosphere, Koh Samui has a great mix of everything for you to choose from.
The great transport facilities and the abundance of Koh Samui vacation rentals make Koh Samui a popular hub for tourists hoping to visit other nearby islands on day trips and short stopovers, but there’s more than enough to keep anyone occupied on Koh Samui itself. From tranquil beaches, incredible natural wonders and fascinating temples to wild nightlife and adrenaline sports, there’s plenty to do for people of all persuasions. Below are ten absolute must-do things on the island.
Technically located on Koh Fan, a small island off of the northeast coast of Koh Samui, this 12-meter high shrine to the Buddha is visible from several miles away. Koh Fan is connected to Koh Samui by a short causeway, and the Big Buddha – since being built in 1972 – has become perhaps Koh Samui’s most famous landmark and tourist attraction.
2. Wat Plai Laem
For those tourists who enjoyed the Big Buddha but are looking for a more extensive cultural experience, not far from it on the north of Koh Samui is another modern Buddhist temple. Wat Plai Laem contains a statue of Guanyin (known in English as the ‘Goddess of Mercy’) as well as other statues dedicated to Gods from other Chinese and Thai traditions, such as Budai (a god in Chinese folklore), and several smaller shrines to various Hindu gods.
3. Snorkelling on the Coral Reefs
If you’re more interested in natural beauty than cultural attractions, Koh Samui won’t disappoint. No trip to Kho Samui is complete without a snorkelling adventure on one of the colourful and awe-inspiring coral reefs that surround the island. There are plenty of boat trips available that take you straight to the best spots, where you can see stunning coral and abundant sea life.
4. Namuang Waterfall
Staying with the theme of enjoying Thailand’s incredible natural wonders, the island is home to several beautiful waterfalls, but the two Namuang waterfalls are probably the most stunning. The name Namuang refers in Thai to the purple colour of the waterfalls, which they gain from the coloured rocks that sit beneath the water.
5. Angthong National Marine Park
For those looking to truly experience the best of Thailand’s natural scenery, a boat tour of the Angthong National Marine Park – available from Koh Samui – is not to be missed. With over 100 square miles of protected land and sea, the world-famous archipelago is home to incredible wildlife and stunning beaches, mountains, jungles, mangroves and lakes.
6. Fisherman’s Village
Fisherman’s Village is the traditional core of Bophut in northern Koh Samui. Whereas the rest of the island has lost much of its original Thai atmosphere, a conscious effort has been made in Bophut to preserve the traditional feel of the place. Fisherman’s Village is increasingly well-known to tourists, and has indeed become one of the more popular places to visit in Koh Samui, but for now it remains quieter and more traditional than many other parts of the island. It is the perfect place to experience the authentic charm of rustic buildings and the relaxed Thai pace of life.
7.Scuba Diving at Koh Tao
From Koh Samui, it’s easy to catch a ferry to the picturesque island of Koh Tao – one of Thailand’s most prestigious spots for scuba diving. The clear waters surrounding the island are teeming with sea life, from colourful small fishes and corals to majestic sea turtles. Once you’ve finished diving, you can relax on the white sand beach beneath a coconut palm and wait for the boat to take you back to Koh Samui.
8. Chaweng Beach
As the island’s main hub, Chaweng Beach is a haven of activity and excitement. Even if you’re not planning on staying in this busy resort, it’s worth visiting just to experience the lively vibe. The main strip is nearly three kilometres long and it is full of bars with cheap drinks and loud music. If you’re really not keen on experiencing the Thai nightlife scene, Chaweng Beach is still a great place to visit during the day thanks to its popular beach – probably the most beautiful on the whole island.
9. Secret Buddha Garden
On top of Khun Nim Peak, one of Koh Samui’s highest mountains, and tucked away amidst the lush forests in the centre of the island, is the popular Secret Buddha Garden. The remote sculpture park is not a temple, but was rather created by a retired farmer in the 1970s and 1980s. The visually impressive garden contains many Buddhist and animal sculptures, as well as statues of the founder’s family and beautiful waterfalls.
10. Canopy Adventure
For the thrill seekers, Koh Samui offers a truly unique experience. Rather than discovering the tropical rainforest on foot, soar from tree to tree at speeds nearing 50 miles per hour on Asia’s longest running rainforest cable ride. The exhilarating zip-lines allow you to experience the rainforest in a way usually reserved for birds and monkeys, and you’re guaranteed to be telling stories about the experience for the rest of your life.