Samui began to be explored by tourists not so long ago. In the early 1970s, the island, like the rest of Thailand, was a godforsaken corner of the earth. There were no foreigners coming here, and the local population was engaged in fishing, growing coconuts and geweaves, worshipping Buddha.
The tourist boom began in the 1990s. The main target of tourists was a dozen sandy beaches, which gave the opportunity to contemplate the skyline of the Gulf of Thailand at more than moderate prices. But it's not just the beaches that make the island famous. The attractions of Samui are the unique nature of the island, the traditional life of the indigenous people, as well as numerous temple complexes.
The two Na Muang waterfalls, when visited just after the rainy season, are a unique spectacle (Na Muang 1 photo). The water rushing from a height of 18 meters, thanks to the rapids, is divided into thin streams, threads. During the dry season, the waterfalls dry up.
Na Muang Waterfalls are located on both sides of the Safari Park. To get to the second one you have to walk up 1.5 km or use the services of local jeeps. Hin Lat waterfall is similar to the first Na Muang. The road to it is an adventure in the jungle. It is located in the western part of the island (near Naton) on the Lipa Yai River. The road to it begins at the temple of the same name, passes through rugged terrain and takes about half an hour one way. Along the way, you can explore the local flora, swim, and wander along secret paths at the waterfall itself.
- Detailed article about waterfalls on Koh Samui and map
There are many rivers on the island. Each of them has a waterfall, and some have several. From the temple Wat Khunaram, located on highway 4169, there is a road that leads to Tar Nim waterfall. This is a long excursion and you can't do without a map. The path goes through the Garden of the Buddha, there is an opportunity to appreciate several small waterfalls, visit observation points and elephant trekking. Entrance to the waterfalls is free.
The Secret Garden of the Buddha
Another name is the Magic Garden of Tar Nim. The highest point of the island. The main exhibits in the garden are stone statues of Buddha, which are very numerous here. The stone house, sculptures depicting people and animals - all were made by the hands of local resident Nim Thongsuk. A peculiar and interesting open-air museum. It is rare to see such a thing. The garden is also beautiful with its lush vegetation and waterfalls.
There is a visit fee of 80 baht (2.3$). How to get there: If driving from Moo 1, take the 4169 road at Wat Khunaram temple to the right and follow the signs.
In the central part of the island are equipped with observation decks, which offer stunning views of the sea and beaches.
They are encountered on the way of travelers to the waterfalls in the central part of the island.
The National Safari Park is a place for family entertainment. Children will enjoy elephant rides, snake and crocodile shows. Adults can take part in jeep rallies, a trip through the jungle on quad bikes, visit the plantations of hebei and coconut, latex factory.
Entrance fee: from 150 baht (4.5$). Location: In the Na Muang Falls area, take Highway 4169 from Moo 1: after the 7-Eleven supermarket, take the second right.
Ang-Tong National Marine Park
It will impress everyone not only by its size, but also by its unspoiled nature. The park includes more than 40 small uninhabited islands with caves, rocks, unique vegetation and birds. Shallow clear water allows you to practice diving. If you're lucky, you can take pictures of tropical fish.
The park is located 20 km northwest of the island toward mainland Thailand. There are excursion boats from Natong, Maenam and Big Buddha. The trip will cost about 2,000 baht (58$) .
It is worth spending a whole day looking at the flowers and trees, taking pictures of birds and animals that are kept in conditions close to natural. There is also a swimming pool overlooking the sea, entertainment for the little ones and numerous restaurants.
The cost of a visit is 400 baht (12$). Located in the center of the island.
Aquarium, Zoo and Butterfly Garden
Recommended for a joint visit, because - you can see on the map - are not far from each other. The aquarium showcases outlandish fish, various inhabitants of the sea abyss, and sharks. Just behind the aquarium room is a small zoo with Bengal tigers, leopards, monkeys and exotic birds. Like the mainland Thailand, the zoo on Koh Samui is not quite usual for the Westerner. It's not just about observing animal life.
Visitors are shown a show with their participation, you can be photographed hugging monkeys, feed the animals. After walking 10 minutes on the paved street to the south you can visit the Butterfly Garden on Koh Samui.
Admission to each park is from 150 baht (4.5$). The parks are located on Laem-Set Road in the southeastern outskirts of Samui. It can be accessed from highway 4170
In the eastern part of the island, near Huatanon Beach, many people forget about the luxury hotels on the coast, falling under the light charm of the traditional Samui village. Here you can get acquainted with the culture and everyday life of the locals and see how unhurriedly life in the real Thailand flows. This is a great attraction for those who are interested in ecotourism with an anthropological component.
Thailand is a Buddhist country. Just glance at a tourist map and see that there are many temples on Samui. Admission to them is free, but donations are welcome. It is required to observe the dress code: cover the exposed parts of the body, avoid obscene inscriptions and images on clothing, take off your shoes when entering the temples.
Wat Khunaram Temple
It is a famous landmark in Thailand and the central temple complex of Samui, photo images of which have long become the hallmark of the island. Not only do many tourists come here for an experience, but also locals come here for prayer and solace.
The main attraction of the temple is the real mummy of a monk who allegedly died in 1976 and is on public display in a glass sarcophagus.
The temple itself attracts attention with its golden glow and well-maintained grounds. Location: On Route 4169, on the left hand side if traveling west.
Laem Sor Sanctuary
This shrine of the Buddha is also called the Golden Temple (there are plans to build a white temple nearby). The pagoda is made in traditional Thai technique and is interesting in terms of architecture and sculpture. Here you can take the best photos, which will impress the contrast of the bright blue sky and the golden temple on its background.
The interior decoration is simple and laconic: it is a functioning temple to which monks from other parts of Thailand come. Next to the pagoda, a meditation park is maintained in good condition. Tourists have the opportunity to visit it, sit down and meditate on something.
Location: South end of the island, follow highway 4170, turn onto Lam-Sho Road and continue to the coast.
Wat Samret Temple
The temple, located in the south of the island, is not marked in guidebooks and tourist maps, so there are almost never too many people here. It has a modest interior, small rooms, no gilding and similar decorations. But behind the external unsightliness hides an important religious shrine - the oldest Buddha statue on the island, and possibly in the whole of Thailand.
It is in a separate room, surrounded by images of other deities. Here you can learn about the lives of monks, see religious rites and rituals.
Location: Proo-Na-Muang Road, off Route 4169, turn left if going west.
Wat Plai Laem Temple
The temple complex was originally designed to be a new tourist attraction. The buildings are decorated in bright colors - they impress tourists and look good in pictures. The temple is located in the northeast of the island and is surrounded on all sides by a lake. Fish from the lake are caught and cooked and exchanged for donations from visitors.
How much this corresponds to Buddhist canons is a big question, but the temple has to be maintained somehow. The main attraction is the huge, seven-story-high, 18-armed statue of Guanyin. In the Chinese version of Buddhism, Guanyin is the god of mercy and compassion. Many people unknowingly believe that this is the image of Buddha. The temple is active and not only tourists come here, but also believers on the island. Location: Between Highway 4171 and Tongsai Road
The list of attractions on Koh Samui is not exhausted by the reviewed attractions. There are water parks, a snake farm, golf club, a very interesting stone masterpiece, called the grandfather and grandmother stones on Samui and much more. The number of temples and statues of Buddhas is counted in dozens, including the Big Buddha, which is known to everyone in Thailand.