Things to do in Koh Samui

Must-see Koh Samui sights

Located some 80km from the mainland town of Surat Thani in the southern Gulf of Thailand, palm-fringed Koh Samui is the biggest of 80 islands that make up the Samui Archipelago, an island chain. Koh Samui’s raw beauty is still mostly intact, and its laid-back vibe attracts many repeat visitors.

  1. Santiburi Beach Resort, Gold & Spa
  2. Tamarind Springs
  3. Ban Bo Phut (Fishermen’s Village)
  4. See the mummified monk at Wat Khunaram
  5. Na Muang Waterfalls
  6. Jungle Safari Tour
  7. Big Buddha Temple

Although Koh Samui is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan, with upscale dining and luxurious resorts, the simple A-frame huts that once sheltered budget travellers can still be spotted. Given the pretty unpredictable weather, the best time to visit Koh Samui is from February to May - although there are plenty of fine days right through to September.

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1. Santiburi Beach Resort, Gold & Spa

The fairly secluded beaches of Hat Laem and Hat Maenam are home to a couple of luxurious resorts, the most deluxe being the Santiburi Beach Resort, Golf & Spa. Hat Maenam is a 4km-long stretch of isolated beach, and the area has a quiet feel to it as there’s not many bars or clubs around; but at the resort, you’re well catered for. There are sports centers, golf, swimming pools, and a range of exclusive dining options - it’s definitely worth the experience here.

Best for: Splashing the cash.

While you’re there: Stay in a villa, suite, or for ultimate glam, the Grand Reserve Villa.

2. Tamarind Springs

Located on Hat Lamai - the home of the island’s original wellness centres - Tamarind Springs Forest Spa is built into a hillside grove on the forest edge. This forest day spa is tranquil in every sense of the word, with tempting-sounding treatments including Steam & Dream (in a herbal steam cave, of course) and Forest Dreaming. If your day treatments aren’t enough then you can book into one of their open and airy suites.

Best for: Getting your zen on.

While you’re there: Check out The Spa Resort, also on Hat Lamai.

3. Ban Bo Phut (Fishermen’s Village)

East of Maenam is Hat Bo Phut. While the beach is nice enough, the 2km-long Bo Phut is better known for its quaint seafront lane of old wooden shophouses known as Ban Bo Phut, or Fisherman’s Village. The old timber shacks have been tastefully converted into restaurants, bars and shops. Taking a wander around this lovely, peaceful area is one of the best things to do in Koh Samui.

Best for: A colourful, bustling walk along the sea.

While you’re there: Don’t just take photographs - support local businesses and buy a souvenir or two.

4. See the mummified monk at Wat Khunaram

Travel inland from Hat Lamai brings you to one of the temples featured on most island tours, Wat Khunaram, The temple is famous for being the home of the mummified monk Luang Phor Daeng. His body is still seated in the same meditating position he held when he died in 1973. He sits in a glass box behind a golden Buddha statue, and the sight of him is pretty haunting or transfixing, depending on how you want to view it. He wears an orange robe and a pair of black sunglasses. If you’re checking out Koh Samui holiday packages, a visit to see the mummified monk is an experience you won’t forget.

Best for: One of the top tourist attractions on the island.

While you’re there: The temple is open daily sunrise to sunset; there’s no entrance charge.

5. Na Muang Waterfalls

Wondering what to do in Koh Samui that reminds you of paradise? Then make sure you check out the Na Muang Waterfalls. In Lamai, a little way past the village of Ban Thurian, is Na Muang Waterfall 1. In the wet season, a cascade of water plunges some 20 metres into a large pool. You can continue onto Na Muang Waterfall 2 but it involves a fairly strenuous 1.5km trek. Who knew paradise could be a walk in the park or… a rather harder walk in the park?

Best for: Splashing around.

While you’re there: Become a sea-lion trainer for the day at Lamai’s Samui Aquarium.

6. Jungle Safari Tour

Take the chance to see some of Koh Samui’s top natural sights by taking a four-wheel-drive jungle safari tour! Tours range from half- to full-day excursions; along the way you’ll get to take in the likes of the Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks, Namuang Waterfall and the Buddha Magic Garden.

Best for: Four-wheel adrenaline junkies.

While you’re there: Your guide will be able to fill you in on all the details about the impressive sights as you pass through.

7. Big Buddha Temple

Northeast of Bo Phut and part of a headland is Hat Bangrak, better known locally as Big Buddha Beach. It takes its name from Wat Phra Yai, or Big Buddha Temple, whose 12-metre high seated golden image can be reached across the bay on a small islet linked by a causeway to the end of the beach. For things to do in Koh Samui that mix the remote with sightseeing, this is your best bet.

Best for: Beautiful Buddhist architecture.

While you’re there: A short hike from the temple entrance is Wat Plai Laem, a little temple with a base shaped like a giant lotus flower.

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