Towns, Villages, and Temples
1. Big Buddha
The Big Buddha is one of Koh Samui’s most well-known sights. It’s at the Wat Phra Yai temple, which is located on a much smaller island just off Samui’s northeast shore.
It’s one of the first things many tourists see while flying to Koh Samui because of its proximity to the airport.
The 12-meter seated golden Buddha is the main attraction at Wat Phra Yai. This pose represents a period in Buddha’s journey for enlightenment when he had to avoid all of the temptations that were thrust upon him.
While the temple is open 24 hours a day, the best time to visit is in the morning when it is the liveliest time of the day. It’s rich with a wonderful cultural experience, with monks singing and locals bringing offerings.
Tips: It’s crucial to practice basic etiquette when visiting this or any other Buddhist temple in Thailand. Although the Thai islands are hot and humid, please cover up and be respectful when visiting sacred places like these.
2. Secret Buddha Garden
A Secret Buddha Garden is tucked away in the center of the island, surrounded by thick jungle. It’s a lovely and relaxing spot to visit, and it should absolutely be on your list of things to do in Koh Samui.
It all began in 1976, when a fruit farmer named Nim Tongsuk began installing Buddhist statues throughout his family’s property. Until his death at the age of 91, he continued to add statues to his Secret Buddha Garden.
The Secret Buddha Garden is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day, however, getting there on your own is a little bit difficult if you don’t bring your own 4WD car. You might want to consider joining a day tour that includes a visit to the garden.
Related: Must-See Temples in Samui
3. Nathon Town
Nathon Town will be your point of entry if you arrive on Koh Samui by ferry from Surat Thani. Located on Koh Samui’s northwest shore, this is the island’s commercial and administrative center, as well as the residence of local Thai people.
The majority of tourists go through Koh Samui’s main town entirely, but it’s well worth the trip to Nathon. On a quick journey here, you may see the colorful Chinese store houses, have some great local food at a low price, and stay for a beautiful sunset.4.
Take a half-day trip to the fishing village of Bophut if you’re tired of the tourist traps of Chaweng and Lamai. It’s a good spot to roam around for a few hours, do some shopping, and have a bite to eat.
Original wooden dwellings built by Chinese immigrants in the 19th century can be found here. While many of the fishermen have relocated to other parts of the island, they continue to deliver their daily catch to the local restaurants. The eateries in Fishermen’s Village serve some of the yummiest seafood menus in all Koh Samui.
While it’s enjoyable to visit on any day of the week, you might want to come on Friday to see the night market.
Food and Culture
Thai Food Cooking Class
Food is without a doubt one of the highlights of any trip to Thailand. Every meal seems like an adventure for your taste buds since Thai food is so full of flavor and fresh ingredients. If you’re a true foodie, you might want to enroll in a few Thai cooking lessons across the country.
Most cooking sessions begin with a trip to a local market to purchase fresh ingredients. It’s time to get back in the kitchen and make Thai favorites like papaya salad, green curry, or tom yam. Of course, the best part of the class is getting to eat the fruits of your labor at the conclusion.
If you’re looking for a place to conduct some sun salutations or show off your finest downward facing dog while on vacation, you’ll be pleased to learn that yoga is very popular here.
If you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day in Koh Samui, or simply want to practice, several resorts on the island offer yoga lessons, and there are also a number of dedicated yoga studios.
From easy drop-in courses to intensive yoga retreats, there’s something for everyone here. In Koh Samui, there’s a yoga class for everyone, whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro.
Get a Thai Massage
If you go through the streets of Koh Samui – or any Thai island for that matter – you’ll almost certainly get an offer for a Thai massage. Take them up on their offer, after all, you’re on vacation!
You have a lot of options when it comes to getting a massage here. On the beach, there are wandering masseuses who will cheerfully massage you from the comfort of your sun lounger. However, if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, spas abound on Koh Samui. These might range from the very basic to the quite elaborate. It all depends on your budget and your preferences.
Thailand’s night markets are one of our favorite places in the country. It never gets old trying cheap and delicious Thai food while browsing the colorful handicrafts available.
If you’re looking for something to do in the nights in Koh Samui, there are numerous different night markets worth visiting. On different days of the week, different towns host a night market. Thursdays are Mae Nam, Fridays are Bophut, and Sundays are Lamai.
The night markets open about 5 pm and continue to open until 11 pm. At least one of these fantastic night markets should be on your list of things to do in Koh Samui.
Seeing a ladyboy cabaret show is one of the must-do activities on Koh Samui. These performances include singing, dancing, humor, and spectacular costumes.
On the island, there are a few ladyboy cabaret shows with different themes. Paris Follies, which covers a wide array of dancing forms as well as several excellent celebrity impersonators, is our recommendation.
Every night at 8 pm, 9.30 pm, and 11 pm, there are three shows. The early performance is more family-friendly, while the later performance becomes a little heated up. It’s free to attend, but they make their money from the bar, which has some quite expensive beverages.
While swimming in the sea is always enjoyable, it isn’t the only method to cool off in Koh Samui on a hot day. Several waterfalls can be found on the island, where you may cool yourself in picturesque surroundings.
The Na Muang Falls, two cascading waterfalls nestled in the lush jungle of central Koh Samui, are the most popular waterfalls to visit. Because Na Muang 1 is easily accessible by car, it can get crowded by other tourists and locals. If you opt for a quieter spot, head to Na Muang 2. However, as it requires 20 – 30 minute of climbing uphill some people might find it challenging to go there.
The waterfalls are free to explore, but there is a small fee to park your motorcycle here.
If you can drag yourself away from your beach lounger, Koh Samui offers some fantastic trekking opportunities. While the island’s coastline has been developed for tourism, a lot of parts of the island is still an underdeveloped jungle.
On Koh Samui, there are plenty of hiking options from quite easy and short trails for beginners to rushing waterfalls to steep and arduous hikes that reward hikers with spectacular views. Check out the Maenam Viewpoint or the Nathon Mountain Ridge Trail.
Because hiking on Koh Samui can be hot and humid, it’s preferable to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Bring lots of water, as well as sunscreen and bug repellent, wherever you travel.
Rocks of Samui
Believe it or not, but visiting and admiring odd looking rocks is one of the most interesting things to do on Koh Samui.
Check out the Grandpa Rock (Hin Ta) and Grandma Rock (Hin Yai) that were naturally sculpted to resemble male and female genitalia over time. And it comes with a local urban legend.
According to stories passed by the locals, an elderly couple was coming by sea to attend their son’s wedding. Unfortunately, their boat fell over during a violent storm, leaving the couple unable to swim. They perished that day, but they changed into these rocks to show their son and his new family that they tried to make it for what should have been a joyous event, and perhaps as a practical joke.
Whether or not you believe it, a trip to the rocks is worthwhile, if only to take some funny shots and a good giggle at the sight, plus the view from the cliffs is also breathtaking.
Islands and Beaches
While Koh Samui has plenty of thrilling and fun things to do, let’s face it: you probably came for a relaxed beach vacation. When visiting this renowned Thai island, you have endless options for sun and beach. Let’s check out the best ones.
Chaweng is Koh Samui’s main beach, located near the airport on the island’s northeast side.
It’s the most developed and popular of the beaches here, yet it’s still breathtakingly gorgeous. Rent a lounge chair and an umbrella, then order a cocktail and relax!
Lamai is Koh Samui’s second largest beach. It’s not as crowded as Chaweng, but there are still plenty of places to relax, dine, and drink. Lamai is an excellent area to go swimming because the water is clear and peaceful.
While these are the most well-known and largest beaches on Koh Samui, there are plenty more that are worth visiting such as Lipa Noi, Bang Por, and Big Buddha Beach.
Take to the waters and take a group or private boat cruise to see the island. Bring a camera, sunscreen, and sit tight ready to be wowed. Whatever your preferences, Samui does not disappoint you as sunset cruises in Samui offer a wide variety of boats that include catamarans, wooden junks, yachts, to high-end speedboats.
Ang Thong Marine Park
Joining a day cruise out to the gorgeous Ang Thong Marine Park is one of the most enjoyable things to do on Koh Samui. The archipelago is made up of 42 beautiful islands with towering limestone mountains and picturesque beaches.
Most Ang Thong tours include a visit to the Emerald Lagoon, some beach time, and some snorkeling, kayaking, or diving experiences. On this journey, you’re likely to see many animals on land and in the water, including dusky langurs and hawksbill turtles.