Koh Samui is without a doubt one of the most special destinations in all of Thailand.
I love the fact that it is a place where you can find budget travelers roaming around South East Asia, families and also some of the wealthiest travelers taking advantage of the amazing Koh Samui vacation rentals and villas that dot the island.
It truly is the place where every kind of traveler can coexist and there is just so much to do in this special place. I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to let you all know a little bit more about some of the amazing thing that you can do in Koh Samui, I hope you enjoy reading more about it.
Koh Tao Island
The name of this island coincidentally translates into “Turtle Island” and is one of the best places in all of Thailand in terms of scuba diving. It is a short boat ride from Koh Samui and is well worth the ride. The beaches for me personally, are some of the best in Thailand too. There is nothing better than crystal clear waters, palm trees moving gently with the wind, white sand beaches that squeak when you walk on them, great marine life (including turtles of course!). Koh Tao follows the theme that I talked about before with more or less every kind of traveler that you can imagine. Strangely this beautiful island only became known to tourists within the last 40 years!
Diving is the main reason to come to Koh Tao and you won’t be disappointed with the amazing coral landscape, which provides shelter to a wide array of marine life, such as turtles, reef sharks, barracudas and much more. I got the opportunity to visit a few of the amazing dive sites that dot the area. Personally my favorite was the HTMS Sattakut, which was a Thai naval ship that was purposely sunk by the Thai navy as an intended dive site in 2011. There really is nothing like seeing a ship 30 meters underneath the sea and exploring it. There are also many other great dive sites in Koh Tao, such as the Japanese Gardens, the Ocean Utopia and many more. Don’t worry if you can’t already dive, Koh Tao is the ideal place to learn!
Na Muang Waterfall
Koh Samui has always been and will always be famous for its magnificent beaches, but there are certainly some stunning waterfalls that complement these beaches extremely well. Na Muang waterfall is perhaps my favorite in all of Koh Samui and is located inland and features a pair of waterfalls that are equally stunning. The first of these cascades down into a beautiful natural pool that is perfect for swimming. The first waterfall is a great place to take a pit stop to ready yourself for the second waterfall, which is about 30 minutes walking distance away. The reward at the end is naturally another swim when you reach the second fall.
The beautiful surrounding jungle also presents a beautiful backdrop for a walk and provides that amazingly remote and intimate feeling when you get the opportunity to view and swim underneath the falls. The waterfalls themselves feature a reddish purple rock faces that look very unique and add to their beauty. This is hands down one of my favorite places in all of Thailand.
When you do visit the waterfalls it is important to note that there is no entry fee to get to the falls and there may be a number of “guides” offering to take you to the falls for a fee. A guide is also not necessary as the paths are clearly marked, you will only need some sturdy footwear to get you through.
Ang Thong National Marine Park
This amazing marine park covers 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand, each with its own unique jungles, beaches, limestone cliffs and mountains, lakes, waterfalls and so much more. The area is the picture we all think of when it comes to paradise and covers around 100 square kilometers of land and sea, and this makes it one of the ideal locations to visit for a pristine and beautiful experience. Here you can snorkel, dive, swim, sail and more or less any kind of water sport possible, which makes the area an extremely popular place to visit and one of my personal favorites. In order to get here the majority of people take a boat from Koh Samui or Ko Pha Ngan.
I already talked a little bit about the amazing scenery that you can experience here and the limestone cliffs are some of my favorites. The weather has eroded and shaped these imposing mountains of soft stone into some fascinating shapes that really add a striking contrast to the dense jungles and aqua blue waters. The islands are also very diverse in wild and marine life with a number of species of lizards, monkeys, fish, turtles and so many more.
With so many places to explore across the 42 islands it can be a little intimidating and could take a long time to visit all of them, which is probably more time than most people have! I highly recommend doing your research and seeing what you want to see. My personal recommendations would have to be Koh Mae and Koh Sam Sao. Koh Mae is home to one of my favorite beaches as well as a very unique salt water lagoon that lies further inland. Koh Sam Sao on the other hand has its own coral reef and offers some great hikes. These are absolutely perfect for the adventure traveler, but can also accommodate those looking to relax and take it all in at their own pace.
Only tours boats that have been approved by the government can enter Ang Thong and it’s important to remember that getting into the park will cost a small fee of 200 Baht for adults from foreign countries and 100 Baht for children. It is important that you do not pay any more than this and if somebody attempts to charge you more you must insist that you know the appropriate entry fee! I was able to visit the park during June and this is one of the best times to visit as the seas are much calmer and pleasant between March and October. The park is closed from November to January due to the weather, so it is a good idea to keep this in mind when planning your trip.
The Secret Buddha Garden
This magical place, the Secret Buddha Garden, lies high in the hills of Koh Samui with a peculiar array of statues in a lush jungle backdrop. Interestingly the statues were created by a fruit farmed named Nim Thongsuk, when he begun to erect the statues and temples on his family's land. The statues are made of a number of animals, humans and gods in varying poses. The jungle is a quiet and peaceful place to visit, especially with a gentle stream running through the jungle and even a beautiful waterfall to top all of this off. The views from the hills are also something to marvel at and this made it a very interesting place for me to visit, as well as the drive up the hills where you can stop off at many points in the hills to take in some absolutely stunning views.
Bophut Fisherman's Village
This is another one of my favorite places to visit in Samui, especially for the amazing rustic architecture that is home to many shops, boutiques, restaurants and hotels. The area was naturally a fishing village in former times, but since this time the fisherman have moved on and this place is now seen as more of a traditional village. What remains is the shell of the fishing village that was located almost directly on the water itself, which gives the village a quaint and intimate feel that is very different to many other parts of Thailand.
Friday is the most interesting day of the week here, especially when the entire Beach Road (which is very narrow) is transformed into a huge street market that naturally attracts a huge number of tourists and Thai shoppers alike. The atmosphere is very lively on Fridays with a lot of chatter, bargaining and of course some nice things to buy too! This is something you need to visit, even if you don’t intend on buying anything.
A number of the buildings back onto the beach and these are typically restaurants, which gives you a great opportunity to eat directly on the water. I would highly recommend trying out the Thai seafood restaurants, because it really doesn't more authentic than sitting next to the beach in Thailand eating some of the freshest seafood that you can imagine! To top this off you can naturally do this at sunset to maximize the experience.
The best ways to get to Koh Samui is by ferry or flying.
Travel tip shared by Jo