What to do in Samui
More Samui Information
Overview of Koh Samui
Samui’s beaches are the primary reason why so many visitors choose the second largest island in Thailand as a holiday destination. Before the 1970s, this unspoilt island and its astounding natural wealth were untouched by outside influences.
Since the first tourists found their way here however, the island has been continuously built up and now offers all sorts of exciting activities away from the beach.
Every side of this almost circular shaped island has its own paradisaical strand of white or golden sand accessorised with palm trees and calm waters. The balmy oceanic breezes heighten the sense of perfection, while the mysterious peak covering the centre of the island soars in stark contrast to the gently lapping waters below.
Add to these already glorious features the infrastructure that has gradually been built up to suit the diverse needs of a range of foreign tastes and Koh Samui is an island ready to accept visitors with the most varying idyllic visions of what an island getaway should be.
Each of the island’s beaches is quite different in style, character and what is has to offer tourists. Your senses will be hit with a burst of sounds, smells and sights upon arrival at one of the large, crowded centres of Chaweng or Lamai, where shopping and partying possibilities are endless. Koh Samui beach guide
The quaint charm of Bo Phut or Mae Nam offer peaceful and picturesque respite to wind down and relax. At one moment it may seem like you are in the heart of Torremolinos, Spain, while the next in a secluded sanctuary, not unlike those beaches captured in the box office hit based on the Alex Garland novel The Beach.
Getting Around Koh Samui
If you are serious about getting out and seeing the sights on Koh Samui, you may want to consider hiring a motorbike. Although taxis are widely available, especially on the busier and bigger beaches, using a motorbike is often the most efficient and cost-effective mode of transport and it also gives you the freedom to go where you like for as long as you want.
Some of the roads can be quite dangerous however, with gravel patches and potholes appearing as if by magic as well as sharp curves and steep hills so careful attention needs to be paid when driving.
Once you have figured out how you will travel, next you must decide what there is to see on Koh Samui that may interest you. As with most destinations in Thailand, wat, or temples, on Koh Samui give an interesting insight into the architecture and traditions of Buddhism, the country’s main religion.
Probably the most visited of the island’s temples is Wat Phra Yai, or Big Buddha Temple, with its enormous golden Buddha statue peering majestically out over the headland.
If you read up on Samui history, you will undoubtedly come across the revered monk Lung Padaeng. His shrine and preserved body, still sitting in position for meditation, can be seen at Wat Khunaram on the island’s southern strip.
Wat Ban Plai Leam is another interesting site, a recently constructed temples that was designed by a Thai artist who himself spent 3 years working on the fine details of the intricate ornamentation.
If you are feeling a little adventurous, a trip up the steep, winding roads of Ban Saket mountain is worth the slightly nerve racking journey. Not only will you be afforded spectacular views of the Samui seascape, but you will also find a curious trail of sculpted figures hidden away in a small valley - recreations of the dreams of an old Buddhist monk.
Among Thailand’s most comical natural sites are the rock formations called Hin Ta and Hin Yai. Visitors flock to the area to check out the rocks that over the years have been moulded to represent the male and female genital organs.
Driving around the island you will come across a number of villages that have managed to retain their old world charm throughout Samui’s period of rapid expansion. Most of these are located on the quieter southern strip. The Muslim fishing village of Laem Set is a picturesque little town and a visit here offers insight into the reserved, quiet lives of this community.
There are a number of beautiful waterfalls located in the mass of foliage that makes up Samui’s inner jungle. Na Mung is easily accessible, while Hin Lad falls are reached by a tiresome trek along a jungle path.
During the months of the dry season, March through September, these waterfalls are dry but the trek still offers good nature spotting and physical exercise. The peaks of the mountain jungles offer spectacular views of the surrounding archipelagos and indeed of mainland Thailand.
Muay Thai boxing is the country’s national sport and can be seen in villages, towns and cities all over the country. Koh Samui is no different, and fierce and furious kick boxing matches are held almost daily in the large stadiums located on Chaweng and Lamai beaches. Matches take place in the evenings and are well worth the exorbitant ticket prices for serious entertainment, both inside and outside the boxing rink. Internet resource to Muay Thai
Things To Do in Koh Samui
As is fitting for any seaside tourist destination, Koh Samui has a range of companies that take tourists to the best locations for some of the most exciting water activities. For an enchanting insight into a whole new world underneath the surface of the ocean, snorkelling and diving trips can be easily arranged from a number of travel agents across the island.
Jet-skis can be hired and speed boats chartered off both Chaweng and Lamai beaches for exhilarant, high-speed exploration off the coast.
Kite surfing is another popular sport, with companies offering equipment hire and lessons for beginners. The fishermen on Samui have also learned a quick way to earn some cash. For a fee, these fishermen will provide boat transfers to the best fishing spots, lunch and a fun day out.
If you are the type that gets more of a thrill from on land adventure, then Koh Samui will not disappoint. Mountain biking in the wild interior is a great option for heart-stopping fun. Or take it to a further extreme and hire an off road motorbike for hours of wheel-spinning, dust-raising adventure.
Koh Samui is becoming more of a family orientated destination. Of course, building sand castles, collecting sea shells and playing among the tame waves could easily keep any small child occupied for an eternity.
But for a fun day time outing, Koh Samui has a number of animal attractions including elephant back rides, a crocodile farm, an aquarium, a butterfly farm and a monkey theatre, the latter being a favourite for hilarious entertainment.
Shopping in Koh Samui
Shopping all across the Land of Smiles is a real treat, with prices in general far below those in most developed countries. Chaweng Beach is certainly the shopping hub of Koh Samui, with shops, stalls and boutiques filling every nook and cranny of available space.
Between the vast array of restaurants and bars, there are shops and stalls whose merchants will use their perfectly practiced charm to entice you to buy anything from fake designer handbags to the best in authentic designer goods and traditional handicrafts.
Lamai Beach is a close runner up to Chaweng in the way of shopping, while on some of the quieter beaches you will find some fantastic boutique stores with real character.
Many people not only want to be active on holiday, but they want to be productive too. Courses are available on many of the beaches across Samui, including in yoga, Thai massage, Muay Thai boxing, meditation, reiki and Thai cooking. Scuba diving is a popular sport on the island and PADI courses are on offer from a number of companies. Complete Samui dive info
Koh Samui is part of the archipelago that includes Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, two of the most popular island destinations in Thailand. Both islands can be reached by boat in a matter of hours from Samui.
Koh Tao is renowned for some of the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand, while Koh Pha Ngan is not only the party capital of the south but a stunningly unspoilt island with many secluded beach sanctuaries off the main strip.
The three islands and its surrounding waters are part of the Ang Thong National Marine Park and day trips from Samui are available to some of the park’s most spectacular locations.