Koh Samui attractions extend beyond the beautiful beaches the island is known for, though they are definitely attractive in their own right. If you want a break from all of that lounging in the sand, though, there are a host of unusual things to see, which make the most of the island’s unique culture and charms. The attractions in Koh Samui lean more towards the low-key, natural end of the scale, which best suit’s the island’s general ambiance. Why would you bother to visit a high-tech theme park when the whole island is your playground? Instead, you can enjoy some truly remarkable sites of historic, cultural and religious significance as well as sights of breathtaking natural beauty. For a little more quirkiness, check out the monkey show or the snake farm.
The best known and most famous of all the landmarks on this island is the Big Buddha temple. Sitting just off the corner of Koh Samui on a little tiny island is a 12 meter tall statue of Buddha in a seated position. The local name for the temple is Wat Phra Yai and it is connected to the main island by a causeway. Made of gold and sitting in the Mara position it shows a time when Buddha was rejecting all temptations that were forced upon him. When you fly into Koh Samui the statue is usually the first thing that you will spot due to its prominent location. There are a few food and amulet stalls at the temple which are also worth looking at either when you arrive or depart.
Hin Ta And Hin Yai Rock
All throughout Thailand you will see things that shock and surprise you, but maybe nothing quite like this. The rocks were discovered by locals many years ago and are naturally shaped to look like male and female genitalia. The rocks have been fondly named Ta (Grandpa) and Yai (Grandma.) The rocks have a story that has become part of folklore over the years and you can see the story on a sign as you get closer to the rocks, the story goes that an old couple called Ta Kreng and Yai Riem were traveling to a neighboring province to see a man called Ta Monglai to ask that his daughter marry their son, on the way the boat ran into a storm and they died at sea. The couple then turned into rocks as a symbol of their intentions.
Samui Aquarium With Tiger Show
When you first arrive at the aquarium you will notice it is different to what you might expect, the aquarium itself is designed to look like an old fishing village. As you walk around you can learn a lot of history whilst observing the different marine life. You get to see leopard sharks, catfish, tropical fish, and manta rays, there is even a section where you can feed the sea turtles. After the aquarium it is time for the zoo which has many different species of animal to look at but most people are here for the Bengal tigers which take part in a live show each day. You can also have your photograph taken with some of the tigers if you are brave enough.
Secret Buddha Garden
Back in 1976 Nim Thongsuk started putting up many beautiful statues in the land that he and his family owned, the land is hidden away in the center of the island and surrounded by lush forests. The area is very peaceful and has a stream as well as a waterfall, a journey to the garden is a challenge as the road leading to it is very steep, if you have a four wheel drive you will be fine. From the top most point of the garden you can enjoy panoramic views over the island and take in all its splendor and beauty.
Chaweng Beach is the hub of Koh Samui, it is the biggest and largest town and has the busiest and possibly most beautiful beach. This is also where the main nightlife is located with plenty of bars and restaurants to keep everyone happy. The strip in Chaweng is nearly three kilometers long and the young and young at heart make their way from one bar to another taking advantage of the cheap drinks and the loud music. If you want a drink in quieter surroundings then there are also some nice beach front bars offering a relaxing view and see breeze to help you wind down of an evening.
Fly through the lush jungle on a zipline at fifty miles an hour and you are sure to take in a lot of the Koh Samui Scenery. There are 2000 meters of cable at Canopy Adventures each giving you a bird’s eye view of the world below. The zipline course is made up of 22 platforms with cables in between each one, you feel like you are actually flying as you move around from one place to the next. The highlight of the park may be the secret waterfall as you can stop for a while and take in its beauty whilst you go for a refreshing swim.
Ang Thong National Park
A yacht tour is the best opportunity to discover and explore the secret of the archipelago of 42 islands Ang Thong National Marine Park. Cruise off the tropical island in a luxury yacht, relaxing, sightseeing, snorkeling and kayaking in a full day trip. Ang Thong National Marine Park is one of our most popular tours because of its outstanding natural beauty. The islands of Ang Thong, or Golden Bowl, cover almost 250km2 and are each named by the unique size and shape of their geography made so by the limestone karst topography they consist of, which has resulted in spectacular cliffs and rock formations. Most of the islands are covered either with evergreen, beach or limestone tropical rainforest and the waters surrounding Ang Thong are protected making the marine park a refuge for a variety of wildlife, such as otters, monkeys, boar, bats, lizards, iguanas, pythons, cobras, frogs, Green turtles, Hawksbill turtles, reef sharks, dolphins, whales and 54 species of birds. You will most likely see some of this wildlife on your tour of Ang Thong Marine Park, so make sure you take your camera along with you! Among the things to explore in Ang Thong on our snorkeling, sightseeing and kayaking tour are caves, hidden lagoons, white sandy beaches and beautiful underwater landscapes.
Koh Wao island is in the northern most part of Ang Thong, due to their distance away from the mainland and Koh Samui, offer the best water visibility for snorkeling in the marine park. These islands also offer a beautiful array of soft corals not typical of the region where hard corals are dominant.
Being a protected area, the water is teeming with tropical fish species, vibrant and colorful, undisturbed going about their business, which makes it perfect for the observing snorkeling above. Some of the marine life you may see snorkeling are butterfly fish, bannerfish, angelfish, stingrays, fusiliers, barracuda, moray eels, puffer fish, and snapper.
Koh Mae Koh, translated as Mother Island, is perhaps one of the more visited islands in Ang Thong Marine Park due to its breathtaking view across the whole marine park and being home to the emerald lake, a saltwater lagoon in the middle of the island that is surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs. A series of staircases are artfully embedded into the natural landscape to take you to the top, which takes around 20 minutes at a leisurely pace. Once you reach the top, after a few photos, you can also choose to climb down the other side to the water’s edge of the emerald lake to take in the scope of the towering cliffs from below.
Koh Phangan is located in the Gulf of Siam, half way between the island Koh Samui and Koh Tao. It is known as coconut island and is world famous for the Full Moon Party on Haad Rin Beach.
The Koh Phangan tour is available every day from Koh Samui by speed boat.
Koh Tao , Koh Nangyuan
Our snorkeling tour by ferry boat to Koh Tao (Turtle island) and Koh Nang Yuan (Seagull island) takes around 2 hours. It is because of Koh Tao’s distance away from the mainland and it being surrounded by deeper water that gives Koh Tao the best water visibility in the Gulf of Thailand, making it the most popular place in Thailand for snorkeling and scuba diving tours.
Even though Koh Tao is only a small island, it has plenty of sites ideal for both snorkeling and diving, with a diversity of tropical marine life, beautiful coral and decent water visibility for most of the year.
The snorkeling sites visited by the ferry from Koh Samui are often limited to a few due to the depth of the water the large ferry can navigate but they are among the most popular around Koh Tao. The popularity of these snorkeling sites are well deserved, which typically have some of the best coral formations found in Koh Tao and there is always beautiful marine life to be found.
Of course it can some times be a little crowded as a ferry will take more people than a speed boat. The advantage of the ferry boat over speed boat is it usually a more comfortable transfer. The boats are air conditioned and due to their size are less affected by poor water conditions, making them ideal for those who are prone to sea sickness. As the ferry can afford the space, there are usually more staff available to ensure your experience is as good as it can be, such as professional photographers, multilingual tour guides and life guards.
Koh Nang Yuan is located just half a kilometer north west of Koh Tao. This is the paradise island of 3 rocky outcrops connected by beach featured in much of the media on Koh Samui. It is indeed a beautiful place to visit, and even though receives thousands of visitors every year has managed to retain the charm of a paradise island by not over developing.
On Koh Nang Yuan you can find 2 sites for snorkeling and diving, Japanese Garden and Twin Peaks, both of which feature a stunning coral landscape and a rich abundance of tropical marine life. Snorkeling here is a great opportunity for taking some underwater photos. You can also recreate the famous photo seen in all the brochures and posters by hiking to Koh Nang Yuan’s view point.
It takes approximately 45 minutes to walk up, take some photos and walk back down again. If you’re looking to explore a little, there is a rather charming wooden walkway constructed around the same outcrop as Koh Nang Yuan’s view point, which takes around 15-20 mins to walk around at a leisurely pace.
In Koh Samui, scuba diving tours to Sail Rock are immensely popular. Sail Rock is a world class dive site frequently visited by the gentle giant of the ocean, the whale shark.
A diving tour to Sail Rock is like no other – if you’re a qualified diver then a days diving at this site isn’t to be missed on your holiday in Koh Samui.
Located approximately half way between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, its presence in the middle of the sea and the depth of the water that surrounds it makes it a perfect feeding ground for larger pelagics such as trevally, tuna, sailfish and barracuda. It’s location away from the mainland and larger island means it also gets the best visibility available in the Gulf of Thailand. Up to 40m visibility from surface to bottom can be experienced on a good day but it typically lies between 5 to 35m depending on the weather.
As a rock that protrudes out of the water, with several levels down to the bottom, the site is suitable for all levels of diver and can be compared to wall diving. There’s a fantastic vertical swim-through known as The Chimney, leading up from 18m to 3m and a not-so-secret pinnacle to the south that’s worth exploring.
At Sail Rock you can find all sorts of hard coral, sprawling gardens of anemones and sea urchins, with Goliath groupers patrolling the depths, schools of chevron and yellow tail barracuda and a massive ball of fusiliers that can block out the sun as you pass through them. A flock of batfish circle the perimeter and a giant moray also has a home at Sail Rock as well as a few smaller white-eyed morays. All your smaller tropics can be found here as well including different species of angelfish, butterfly fish, parrot fish and wrasse. The odd blue-spotted stingray lurks as well as Jenkins rays at the bottom.
Of course everybody goes to Sail Rock in the hope of seeing the awesome whale shark. These massive toothless creatures are mesmerising if you’re lucky enough to see one – be sure to rent an underwater camera, you definitely don’t want to miss capturing the moment.
Both speed boat and slow boat operators go to Sail Rock form Koh Samui. Speed boats take just 50 minutes to get there, where as the slow boat is a lot longer. The upside to the slow boat is the diver atmosphere, facilities and space on the boat, up to 3 dives are usually conducted and a full breakfast is usually supplied. The down side is the tour leaves at 8am and returns and 8pm, the speed boat returns at 2pm.
For night fishing, Koh Samui offers you the chance to cast your hook underneath a canopy of stars. Trade nightlife for tropical sealife with an evening of fishing, food and Thai hospitality aboard this well equipped specialist vessel.
Full Moon Party
Koh Phangan is a very special place, there are few places in this world where you can live out your desert island dreams of palm trees and white sand beaches, and still have a blinding night out at a rocking party every month. With the global notoriety that the Full Moon Party has gained as being one of the biggest and best beach bashes in the world, we get more than our fair share of hedonists gracing our shores. Each year the scene here grows with the ever-increasing number of party faithful that return, bringing their mates and spreading the vibe. Haad Rin is home to the Full Moon Party and also houses about 3-5000 rather mad people; it is the island’s nightlife capital and has Koh Phangan’s biggest concentration of beach clubs that collectively put on the ultimate travellers get together. There are over 12 major sound systems running the length of Had Rin beach, catering for 8000 to 12,000 punters in low season, 15,000 to 20,000 in high season and up to 30,000 at New Year. Within this transient crowd of party animals some highly talented DJ’s pass through, banging out their wares to the raging lunar explorers that have landed on planet party.