Koh Samui may be a relatively small island, but there’s certainly no shortage of things to do! Enjoy the best of what one of Thailand’s favourite island paradises has to offer – rest and relaxation, outdoor activities, cultural exploration, and much more! Here are the 10 best tourist attractions on Koh Samui:
1. Chaweng Beach
Chaweng beach is the longest and most popular beach on the island, and it’s a hotspot for sun-worshippers and avid beach-goers. There are many hotels along the beach-front in Chaweng which boast spectacular views out across the white sand and azure sea, and excellent amenities (e.g., loungers and umbrellas to hire) which ensure a comfortable and luxurious day spent in the sun. There are also many water sports to enjoy (for a fee, of course), and the beach is great for swimming and snorkelling. The beach can get crowded, and the vibe is more cosmopolitan than authentic Thai, but it has all that a beach holiday requires – sun, sand, and sea – and more!
2. The Green Mango Strip
There are many cocktail bars, restaurants, and nightclubs clustered around the Green Mango Strip (Soi Green Mango) in Chaweng, where you can party until the wee hours of the morning. Be sure to check out Mint Bar for exceptional international dance music and sets by esteemed DJs, the Green Mango – a dance club so popular it gave its name to the area – and Sweet Soul Café, which promises a rowdy and raucous night out with pumping music and a staggering array of alcoholic drinks. If you’re looking to party hard, make new friends, and dance the night away, then Green Mango Strip is the place to be.
3. Big Buddha Temple / Wat phra yai
Take a break from the beach and get acquainted with Thailand’s Buddhist heritage and local culture at the Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai). The 15 metre high statue is found on a smaller island that is connected to Koh Samui by a causeway, and it dominates the surrounding landscape with its size and shimmery, golden glow. It’s advised to do a bit of research on Buddhism before visiting, and to dress appropriately to show respect, in order to fully appreciate the experience. Take along a towel or sarong to cover your shoulders and legs when entering the temple – it’s always best to be prepared!
4. Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks
This tourist hotspot is slightly unusual, and makes for a novel visit! The “Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks”, or Hin Ta and Hin Yai, are a pair of rock formations that look like the male and female genitalia. Legend has it that rocks were formed when an elderly couple drowned on their sea voyage to find their son a wife – they turned into rocks as a sign of their intention for their son to wed. Whether one finds the rocks tragic or comedic, they are quite fascinating to explore, and the nearby beach is very beautiful.
5. Bophut Fishing village
Koh Samui was once just a tiny fishing village, before the luxury hotels and bikini bars came about. Catch a glimpse of what life used to be like on the island in Bophut Fishing Village, and taste some local street food as you walk amongst the stalls selling all kinds of delicious Thai specialities. Friday evenings are a great time for shopping in Bophut Village, although it can get chaotic with large crowds of people milling about.
6. Nathon Town
On the west coast of Koh Samui you’ll find the island’s capital, Nathon Town – a refreshing change from the Western-style hotels and crowded beaches, this little town goes about its days at a leisurely pace that is a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the tourist resorts. Have lunch at one of the waterfront restaurants before strolling down towards the fishing boats for some sightseeing. On Saturday evenings, the main road becomes a walking street with food stalls and souvenir shops, offering some great purchases that are not found elsewhere on the island.
7. Angthong National Marine Park
Although not exactly part of the island, Angthong National Marine Park is best accessed by boat from Koh Samui, and it makes an excellent day trip. The setting for Alex Garland’s The Beach, Angthong is made up of 42 mountainous, jungle-clad islands and protected coral reefs that you can visit as part of a “sea safari”. Spend your day out snorkelling, scuba diving (if you have the required licence), kayaking, swimming, and observing the stunning sea life, mangroves, and tropical jungle foliage of Angthong.
8. Koh Samui Paradise park farm
This tourist attraction is great for kids, families, and adults alike! Paradise Park Farm is home to an abundance of birds, reptiles, and an assortment of farm animals that you can interact with. Once you’ve had some fun feeding the animals and taking pictures of the exquisite birds, have a bite to eat and then relax at the park’s infinity pool. The view is incredible, and you can spend hours in the sun overlooking the ocean.
9. Wat Khunaram
Inside this Buddhist temple lies a fascinating and macabre sight – the mummified body of a Buddhist monk. The mummified monk, Luong Pordaeng, died in 1973, and according to his last wishes, his body was to be either cremated should it decay, or be put on display as testament to the power of Buddha’s teachings should it stay preserved. So, the mummy monk remains visible to the public in a glass case, wearing sunglasses to hide his decaying eyes. It’s not a sight for everyone, but it is definitely an unusual tourist attraction!
10. Namuang Waterfall
Had enough sun? Lace up your hiking boots and explore the Namuang waterfall towards the island’s interior! You’ll walk through the tropical jungle vegetation of Koh Samui before reaching the waterfall. There is a more impressive waterfall higher up, if you feel up the the challenge of hiking to the top.
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Photo by Star Tour