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Located in the south of Thailand on the east coast in the gulf, Koh Samui is the largest of the 3 islands here.
Koh Samui has something for everyone from a party strip filled with bars and restaurants to remote beaches and yoga classes.
Filled with exciting adventures to go on in every corner here are 17 of my favourite things to get up to during your time on the island.
Hit the beach for the day
Koh Samui is well known as a tropical paradise and I can confirm this is the case, these are some of the best beaches in Koh Samui for you to check out.
Each one is unique so check them out and once you decide which is best suited for you today grab your towel and goggles and head on down there.
Secret Buddha Garden
Located high up in the hills is the Secret Buddha Garden or Magic Garden, surrounded by durian farms, coconut plantations, valleys and waterfalls.
Local fruit farmer Nim Thongsuk started building the garden in 1976 when he was 77 years old, he continued to create, building and adding to the garden throughout the rest of his life until his death at age 91.
The Secret Buddha Garden features native trees and flowers to Koh Samui, many Buddha statues, animals, deities and a statue of Khan Nim himself.
Wat Phra Yai Temple – Big Buddha Temple
Just off Koh Samui’s north eastern coast is the small island Ko Phan, here you can visit the Big Buddha Temple.
Stand and stare in awe at the giant gold Buddha statue and the beautiful steps leading to it, the statue is 12 meters tall and was built in 1972. After climbing the steps to reach the top of the temple you can get an amazing view across the island and its coastline.
At the grounds of the temple there are a number of souvenir shops selling clothes, jewellery and souvenirs. You can also visit the meditation centre here and for a donation you can gong a number of large gongs with a wooden stick.
Wat Plai Laem Temple
Located just around the corner form the Big Buddha Temple is Way Plai Laem, here you can find the striking white 18 armed statue of Guanine the Goddess of mercy and compassion.
Wat Plai Laem uses art techniques that are centuries old, the temple offers tourists a chance to see some Buddhist art and architecture as well as view Chinese-Thai beliefs.
Adding to the overall tranquil feel the temples are surrounded by a lake which, is filled with fish and terrapins, for a small donation you can purchase some food.
Fisherman’s village gets its name as it was once a thriving fishing village, it is believed that Chinese fishermen settled here centuries ago. Although they have long moved on and the original pier has collapsed it still holds its charming feel.
Fisherman’s village is made up mainly of one road that is filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. The road also runs parallel to Bophut beach, which is a very popular spot on Samui, it isn’t the biggest but it has soft white sand, crystal blue waters and is very clean.
The vibe here is really nice and super chilled, you can visit to do some shopping or just stop off at one of the many restaurants for some food.
If you are here between Monday – Friday you have to visit the night market for the food and shopping experience. Held between 5pm and 11pm the night market is located next to the Holiday Inn and you can enter either from the main road or via Fisherman’s Village.
The first part of the market is filled with stalls selling all kinds of food from tacos to chicken satay, coconut ice cream and juices, then in the middle is a large area with tables and chairs that you can sit and eat your food while listening to live music. Finally the last part has many souvenirs you can purchase.
Khao Hua Jook Pagoda
Perched high on the hill overlooking Chaweng Lake is Khao Hua Hook Pagoda, you can see its golden Chedi from quite a distance.
The Chedi is often also known as a pagoda and is the most important and sacred part to a temple. Originally the Chedi was used to contain relics of the Buddha, after this they were used to enshrine the remains of kings of important monks.
Khao Hua Jook Pagoda is famous for having an imprint of the Buddhas footprint inside which has been painted gold. You can go inside the temple here to visit the footprint, many have left offerings inside it so bring some change or something meaningful with you if you wish to do the same.
Outside at the top by the Chedi you have an incredible view over the mainland of Koh Samui as well as the airport.
Wat Khunaram Temple – Mummified Monk
Yes you read that right, you can visit the mummified monk at Wat Khunaram Temple. Displayed in an upright glass casket monk Loung Pordaeng is surrounded by flowers, candles, incense and fruit offerings.
For the Thai people the body of the monk is there to be worshipped and for them to be reminded that death is an opportunity to be reborn into the next and better life.
Once his children had grown up Loung Pordaeng decided to return to the temple and deviate the rest of his life to Buddhism. He excelled at meditation and was a brilliant teacher and had many followers.
At age 79 in 1973 Loung Pordaeng is said to of predicted his own death and died while meditating. He instructed his followers that if his body was to decay he wanted to be cremated but if it didn’t he wanted to be kept in a glass casket in the temple to serve as an inspiration to future generations.
Ang Thong National Marine Park
Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park is an archipelago of 42 islands covering 102km², this marine park was established in 1980. The islands are covered with tropical forests and surrounded by beautiful blue waters.
Taking a day trip to the marine park is a must when in Koh Samui. There are plenty of options to explore, you can choose from either speedboat tours, these generally have less people and as the transit time is quicker you spend longer in the park. Or alternatively if you would prefer a smoother journey you can opt for one of the larger boats, these have more people on board but are often cheaper.
All tours take similar routes I recommend this one – Ang Thong National Marine Park Day Trip by Speedboat
Visiting Pig Island (Koh Madsam) & Snorkeling at Koh Tan
Visit one of the tour operators in most towns in Koh Samui and they will offer trips to pig island or you can book online.
We booked with a tour operator in Chaweng but if you are looking for one to book online I recommend this one – Coral and Pig Island Long Tail Boat Tour
You are picked up from your accommodation and driven down the south coast where you board a long tail boat, these boats can get a little wet so don’t forget your dry bag.
The boat heads straight to pig island where you have a few hours to enjoy the white sand beaches and admire the pigs lazing in the shade. Originally four pigs were saved from slaughter by a local man and the island was opened as a tourist attraction to help fund their upkeep.
Now there are way over 20 and the whole family is thriving by the sea!
After your visit to pig island its time to head over to Koh Tan for snorkelling, referred to as Samui’s coral island the snorkelling here is supposed to be amazing, however, for us it was quite windy so there wasn’t great visibility.
Na Muang Waterfalls 1 & 2
Na Muang waterfalls are very easy to get to and located just next to each other.
Top tip: Do not follow the maps when getting here, as they take you off up into the hills and that’s the wrong location. Instead head to Nam Tok Cafe Restaurant for Waterfall 1 and Samui Elephant Kingdom for Waterfall 2. Note that I don’t recommend visiting Samui Elephant Kingdom due to unethical practises, if you would like to visit the elephants of Samui check out Samui Elephant Sanctuary.
Na Muang waterfall 1 is easy to get to from the car park, here you will find many stalls selling food and drink as well as lots of local kids having a dip and jumping into the pool after school.
This waterfall is truly magnificent in size, when we visited there had been a lot of rain so it was very fast and powerful.
Na Muang waterfall 2 is a little more challenging to get to, don’t park at the first parking area otherwise you have a very long walk ahead of you. Keep going until you see the river on your left hand side and park there.
From here you have to hike up towards to the top of the falls, it is quite a climb but well worth it, there are many pools to stop off at on the way up. Once at the top you can admire the view over the jungle from the natural infinity pool.
The pools are cold but that is just what you want after the hike and they are blissfully refreshing. The Na Muang waterfalls are the most popular in Koh Samui so bear in mind that they can get very busy during the day, if you would prefer to avoid the crowds I recommend visiting either early morning or late afternoon.
Khun Si Waterfall/Viewpoint
Khun Si waterfall is not the most popular on the island but that means you are likely to have it all to yourself. It can be a little tricky to find but keep going as the falls are just beautiful once you get there.
The mountain road up to the waterfall is a breathtaking road through untouched jungle and durian farms. At points it feels like you are riding on private land but keep going, the viewpoint and wooden sign will confirm once you have arrived.
From the carpark follow the signs down towards the falls, there are a few different levels here where you can take a moment to enjoy the peacefulness of Samui’s nature without the other tourists.
This rock is on the main road between Chaweng and Lamar making it easy to spot. Although it doesn’t actually resemble an elephant locals called it this due to its sheer size, just like the Thai elephant.
You can take the moderately challenging hike to the top of the boulder if you’d like and enjoy panoramic views of Koh Samui’s east coast.
This ancient practise is being embraced by more and more people in todays world, practising in Thailand offers practitioners a unique experience to connect not only to themselves but also to the energy of the country, its people and their traditions.
Imagine starting or ending your day in a tranquil setting surrounded by nature overlooking the ocean.
Sound amazing right? This can easily be reality at Vikasa yoga, with multiple classes every day, there is also accommodation on site and a restaurant.
Vikasa is open daily for yogis of every level and experience. I did 3 classes during my stay in Samui two evening ones and one morning, I highly recommend the morning classes, there is no better way to start your day than flowing towards the ocean.
Grandmother & Grandfather Rock
These two rocks near to Lamai beach in Samui are huge tourist attractions. They are simple granite rock formations, however, they are so famous because they resemble male and female genitalia.
They are easy to access off the main road, just follow your GPS.
Locally known as Hin Ta and Hin Yai. Thai legend suggests that the rocks are believed to be the place where an elderly couple washed ashore after drowning during their pursuit to find a suitable wife for their son. The rocks stand as a testament to the couples proof of their pure intentions.
The Jungle Club is a resort and restaurant with the best viewing platform on Koh Samui and you can relax here for a meal while watching over the island.
Note that the Jungle Club is often booked months in advance so if you would like to have dinner here make sure to call ahead of book online prior to visiting,
I had not done much research prior to our visit however we planned to go for lunch so it wasn’t as busy as it can be in the evening. We were advised a table would be available in about 30 minutes so decided to wait, and it was well worth it!
We took our beanbag seats right at the front of the viewing platform and stared in awe at the blue sparkling waters below and luscious jungles around us.
The food and drinks here are a little on the pricey side but that is to be expected due to the location and its popularity.
Get a boat to Koh Phanghan for the day
If you don’t have enough time to visit Koh Phanghan for a few days I recommend getting a boat over for the day to explore it’s beaches and try to plan this around the world famous full moon party!
You can easily grab a ferry from Koh Samui for the day, these will drop you at either Thong Sala or straight to Haad Rin beach.
How long should you spend in Koh Samui?
I highly recommend spending at least 5 nights on this wonderful island, we were here for 4 weeks during our travels and could of definitely spent longer. There is so much to explore here, to keep you busy and entertained. Use this guide and check out some of my other posts about Koh Samui here to plan your perfect days out.
I’d love to know what you thought and if you got up to any of the adventures from my list, let me know in the comments below!
With love, Izzy ✨💛
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