THE PERFECT ISLAND THAT HAS IT ALL
Welcome to the Thailand travel guide! I’m sure you already heard stories or seen breathtaking pictures of this beautiful destination! I am a true fan of Thailand, I had a chance to travel around a few times and always dream about going back there.
Thailand is a country that is lucky to have warm weather, gorgeous landscape with mountains and beaches, friendly and kind people and thousands of things to do.
I couldn’t choose my favourite place in Thailand, sometimes I need a few days relaxing and sunbathing, other times I love hiking the narrow jungle paths, and then I enjoy window-shopping in huge malls. I call this balance of life (haha).
But what I can say is that Koh Samui is one of those places that surprisingly have it all, I really enjoyed my time here and I think you will not be disappointed too.
There are so many great things to do on Koh Samui besides chilling on the beach, although that’s the point of the holiday, isn’t it?
This Koh Samui guide will share some activities and the best things to do while visiting this beautiful island.
Jump into / Table of contents
- Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai)
- Wat Plai Laem Buddhist Temple
- Wat Khunaram
- Elephant Gate and Wat Kiri Wongkaram
- Laem Sor Pagoda and Wat Khao Chedi
- Pagoda Khao Hua Jook
- Hin-Ta Hin-Yai rocks
- Secret Buddha Garden
- Overlap Stone
- Fisherman’s Village
- Walking streets and night markets
- Sport activities
- Ang Thong Marine National Park
- Koh Madsum and Koh Taen
- Get a massage
Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai)
Visiting Big Buddha Temple should be on everyones list while visiting Koh Samui.
Golden Big Buddha is 12 metres high and stands on a little hill overlooking the beautiful scenery of Koh Samui.
You will find Big Buddha on the northeast of the island (between Bang Rak and Choeng Mon) and it is standing on its own little island (Koh Fan) that is connected by a bridge to Koh Samui.
There are lovely shops and a few cafes where you can buy cute souvenirs and have refreshing coconut water on a hot day.
It’s open daily, free to visit and there are big signs saying to dress respectfully, e.g. to cover the shoulders and knees, or you might not be allowed inside the temple.
Wat Plai Laem Buddhist Temple
Wat Plai Laem is a temple decorated with Chinese Buddhist figures surrounded by a man-made lake.
This place is spectacular as there is a huge eighteen-handed Goddess of Mercy Guan Yin, that protects women and children, sick and poor, and a Laughing Buddha, giving prosperity and careless joy.
In the centre, there is a gorgeous temple standing on a huge lotus, by the entrance you are met by a golden Buddha statue and inside you might follow the whole journey of his life in bright and colourful paintings.
The lake is filled with many different fish and turtles, you can buy fish food and feed them.
It’s free to visit the temple complex, but remember to dress and act respectfully.
A lovely temple that is worth adding to the travel list is called Wat Khunaram.
This temple is famous for its mummified monk, Loung Pordaeng, that is displayed in a glass casket with sunglasses.
Wat Khunaram is an active temple and many Thai people come here to worship the monk’s body (as he represents the strength and power of meditation) and pray for the opportunity to be reborn in the next and better life.
The temple is located about 15 minute drive from famous Lamai beach.
Wat Khunaram is open daily and it is free to visit, but remember to dress and act respectfully.
Elephant Gate and Wat Kiri Wongkaram
Just a short drive from Lipa Noi pier on the southwestern part of the island stands another pretty temple named Wat Kiri Wongkaram.
Less known to tourists but worth visiting due to its mummified monk Luang Por Ruam and many elephants, deities, and humans around the complex.
When driving into the village of Taling Ngam you will be met by giant elephants that formed a gate at the entrance. It is a really nice stop for pictures.
Elephant Gate was built here in 1979 by an earlier-mentioned monk Luang Por Ruam who wanted to create a more inviting atmosphere for his village.
It is free to visit the temple and gate, but remember to be respectful.
Laem Sor Pagoda and Wat Khao Chedi
In the most southwestern corner of Koh Samui stands the lesser-known Laem Sor Pagoda and Wat Rattanakosin.
The golden Laem Sor Pagoda sits at the end of a rocky Bang Kao beach and is guarded by huge sculptures at the entrance.
A bit further from Laem Sor, (a short climb up the hill to be exact) there is another pagoda called Khao Chedi.
It is a white-coloured pagoda with a laying golden Buddha statue and incredible views of Koh Samui and the surrounding islands of Koh Taem and Koh Madsum.
It’s free to visit both pagodas, but donations are appreciated.
Pagoda Khao Hua Jook
Located near Chaweng Lake is a wonderful temple complex and viewpoint named Khao Hua Jook.
Here you can admire the panoramic views of Koh Samui Bay, enjoy the serene(ish) atmosphere when the monks chanting and even spot the arriving and departing planes.
It’s a pretty steep road leading to the Khao Hua Jook, but you can get here by scooter or taxi if you’re not ready to walk.
It’s free to visit this attraction, but remember to be respectful.
Hin-Ta Hin-Yai rocks
One of the most known places on Koh Samui island is the Hin-Ta Hin-Yai rocks (that are also called Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks).
Although there is not much to do here, this place is pretty unique and makes everyone giggle a bit as the few rocks that stand out are similar to male and female sexual organs.
Hin-Tai Hin-Yai is located near Lamai Beach, around 25 minutes drive from Chaweng.
It gets pretty busy here as many people want to see this Mother Natures prank. There is a parking area and a few souvenir shops and cafes here.
Attraction is free to visit, just a 10 baht for parking.
Secret Buddha Garden
A little escape from the crowds and a refreshing atmosphere can be found in Secret Buddha Garden (or Tarnim Magic Garden).
Secret Buddha Garden houses many sculptures of gods, animals and demons that were created by a former durian farmer, Khun Nim, back in 1976.
It is not a big place but gives you Tomb Rider vibes as you walk in the jungle surrounded by mystical creatures that are covered in moss (all in a good way though).
Travelling here might be challenging and better done for experienced drivers due to the steep hills and long drive (talking about scooters here).
Entry fee is 80 baht and mosquito spray is a must.
One of the things not to miss while you’re visiting Koh Samui is Overlap Stone.
Odly-shaped giant stones give you access to admire a beautiful view of Koh Samui and are a great spot for pictures.
Overlap stone is standing literally in someone’s backyard and they take care of the area and a little bridge that allows us to walk up there.
The entrance fee is 50 baht and parking 20 baht.
Located on the northern part of the island next to the Bophut beach is a lovely Fisherman’s village.
This village was founded by the fishermen who migrated and found their way to these shores from southern China. It is said that some of their families still live and work there to this day.
This village is lovely and you can spend here a few hours strolling around or make it your base in Koh Samui. Here you will find everything you need – great restaurants, cafes, hotels, shops and a night market that pops up every Friday.
Besides the views from Pagoda Khao Hua Jook, Wat Khao Chedi and Overlap Stone there are a few other viewpoints that are worth visiting:
Samui Viewpoint – located between Lamai and Chaweng beach Samui Viewpoint is a great place to see the beauty of the bay.
It might be a bit tricky to get there (search for Heart Shape restaurant), and the roads are steep and sometimes hard to follow, so look for a scooter in ideal condition.
Lamai Viewpoint – a well-kept viewpoint with a lovely cafe on the top where you can enjoy some refreshing drinks.
You can choose to walk up the very steep hill (50 baht entrance fee) or get up by cable car (cost 100 baht). There is also a zip line for adventure seekers (costs 800baht).
Lat Ko Viewpoint – a beautiful spot on your way from Lamai to Chaweng beach. Nothing much is going on in here, but it is worth stopping for the amazing views.
There are quite a few (a lot actually) waterfalls on Samui island that are worth attention.
The most popular one is Na Mueang Waterfall 1 & 2.
It is easy to reach Na Mueang 1, it is located just a few minutes from the car park, and it has a pretty big area where you can swim, relax and enjoy the incredible sounds of the waterfall.
Na Mueang 2 is a bit harder to reach as you will have to climb a steep hill on a gravelled path. But.. There will be fewer people than at the first one, and you will be rewarded with incredible views while swimming in a natural pool.
Hin Lad Waterfall is located near the Nathon and Lipa Noi beaches and requires a 30-minute(ish) hike to reach it.
The hike is lovely, there are signs so it’s hard to get lost, and following the river gives many opportunities to refresh and wash the sweat away.
Tan Rua Waterfall is another lovely waterfall that should not be missed. Located in the middle of the jungle it is a wonderful place to hike and swim.
Other smaller ones are Lat Wanon Waterfall, Khun Si Waterfall and Khao Yai Waterfall.
Walking streets and night markets
There are plenty of walking streets and night markets to choose from in any area of Koh Samui.
You can go to Chaweng Night Market and Walking Street near the lake, or Lamai Night market or Fresh Food Market.
Also, you can go to the earlier mentioned Night Market at Fisherman’s village which is open every Friday or choose a Nathon Night Food Market and Lipa Bay Night Market.
You will usually find lots of inexpensive food options, drinks, clothes, souvenirs and much more!
You won’t believe how many activities there are in Koh Samui to choose from.
If you’re staying for a longer time or just keeping your body in shape on a daily basis there are many many many gyms to choose from in Koh Samui. The best-rated are Classic Gym near Chaweng Lake and Ultra Bodies Gym in Lamai.
You can sign up for various weekly or annual fitness packages at Lamai Fitness Retreat or emerge in Muay Thai camp at Jackie Muay Thai.
If yoga is more your thing, then go to Yoga Essential Studio, or you can try air yoga at AirGym.Family, for pilates look at Pilates Reformer – Mindful Kinesics.
For other adventures, you can explore the jungle with quad bikes at Samui Quat Motor, try go-karting at Easy Kart, get yourself down the zipline at Tree Bridge Zipline, or have an adrenaline rush at Samui Paintball.
You can also spend some time playing mini golf at Minigolf International, or challenge your friend’s golf skills at Golf Club Holidays.
There are quiet a few shooting ranges as well as archery Flying Arrow.
Since Koh Samui is an island, this gives great opportunities to rent a kayak or paddle board, to snorkel or sign up for diving courses, and for adrenaline lovers – windsurfing, jet skiing and sailing as well.
Also, there are quite a few places where you can take Thai cooking classes to learn the secrets of Thai cuisine.
Ang Thong Marine National Park
Ang Thong Marine National Park is an archipelago located 20 km northwest of Koh Samui, it consists of 42 different sizes and shapes islands, and is famous for its breathtaking beauty.
There is a main island, Ko Wua Talap, and it acts like a main headquarters, has a little restaurant, a stunning beach, an interesting cave and a Pha Jun Jaras viewpoint where you can see all (or at least the majority) of limestone islands covered in the lush greenery and peaking out from the azure blue water.
The whole scenery here is breathtaking, you will see many beautiful beaches, wild nature, an interesting underwater world and so much more!
To visit Ang Thong Marine National Park you will need to join a day tour by speedboat or ferry from Koh Samui or Koh Pha Ngan, or hire a boat yourself. It might cost something from 1,300 baht to 1,800 baht ( ~35 – 50 Eur / ~ 38 – 53 USD), but definitely check Klook for discounts.
Koh Madsum and Koh Taen
There are two little islands near Koh Samui that can be easily visited on a day trip. Located just a few kilometres from the island it gives a full day for relaxing on sandy beaches under the palm trees and snorkelling in the clear turquoise water.
To reach the islands you can hire a longtail boat yourself (I’m sure a lot of fishermen will be happy to take you there) or join a day tour which you can buy at any travel agency or book it online here.
Get a massage
I’m sure you already heard how good is Thai massage and that it has many relaxing and healing properties.
You will find many good spots on Koh Samui where you can get a wonderful Thai massage with as little as 200-300 baht (~5.50 – 8,00 Eur / ~5.90 – 8,90 USD).
Thank you very much for reading the whole guide of things to do in Koh Samui!
If you’ve already visited Koh Samui, it would be amazing to hear travel tips and recommendations from you in the comments!
If you haven’t been there yet, please don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any questions. We are here to help!
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