Top 10 Things To Do In Koh Samui
The pristine beaches lined with coconut palms entice tourists from all over the world to visit the beautiful island of Koh Samui, but lazing on the beach all day is not the only thing you can do here. Scuba dive or snorkel in the most stunning lagoons, traipse through its virgin rainforests, visit temples and markets, and take in the nightlife. You’ll find details of all these and more on our list of top 10 things to do in Koh Samui.
10. Chaweng Boxing Stadium
No visit to Thailand would be complete without taking in the traditional sport of Thai kickboxing, known around here as Muay Thai. It is the “art of eight limbs” as contestants use many different parts of their body in this popular national sport. If you’re wondering what to do in Koh Samui and you want to experience something a little different to the norm, head to the Chaweng Boxing Stadium for an interesting and unique experience. There’s always a fun and friendly atmosphere at these contests even though the sport itself is taken very seriously. On any evening you’ll usually see a variety of different levels including children and women and different weights for men.
Seat prices vary and bear in mind that if it’s a quieter night you’re more likely to get a good deal on the tickets. There are general admission tickets as well as more expensive tickets that get you the best seats in the house, and once you sit down you don’t even have to get up to order drinks as they’re brought right to you.
9. Chaweng Beach
Koh Samui is largely known for two things: beaches and nightlife, and when you visit Chaweng Beach you’ll be able to enjoy both these things in one place! The first of two beaches to appear on our list of things to do in Koh Samui, Chaweng Beach is lively but it’s also amazingly beautiful. Its powdery soft sand stretches far into the distance and it features lovely clear water, but being such a popular beach remember that you will be sharing the sand with hundreds of other sun worshippers! Sections of the beach and water are also busy with jet skiers and people trying out other water sports and you’ll always find locals selling you little souvenirs and trinkets as well as drinks and food along the beach.
When you want a meal or to sit down at a bar overlooking the beach, there are close to a hundred places to choose from and there are options for all different tastes, whatever you’re looking for, both in terms of the cuisine and the atmosphere. By night, the area around Chaweng Beach really comes to life – there are plenty of bars, clubs and cabarets to be entertained in, and again, there’s something for everyone.
8. Wat Khunaram
Better known as the shrine of the Mummified Monk, Wat Khunaram is one of the top temples to visit on Koh Samui. The temple itself is beautiful with its traditional Thai architecture but what most visitors come to this Koh Samui attraction to see is the mummified monk. The monk in question is Luang Pho Daeng who died in 1973. Before his death he requested that his body be left in its natural state to decompose and dry out (or mummify) for all to see. One version of the story you can read at the temple is that he wanted to be kept in a glass case to remind the faithful of the importance of following the teachings of Buddha. It’s remarkable to see just how well the human body can be preserved after several decades, though this slightly eerie and macabre sight might not be for everyone.
As you wander around the temple there are friendly monks to chat to and you can buy handmade bracelets and necklaces from them and have them blessed. There is also a small shop onsite where you can buy refreshments. Wat Khunaram is definitely an unusual though interesting thing to do in Koh Samui!
7. Na Muang Waterfall
Most of the attractions on our list of things to do in Koh Samui are mad-made so it’s nice to feature a natural attraction other than the beaches. Na Muang Waterfall is definitely worthy of inclusion on our list as it’s a beautiful place and it’s the tallest waterfall on the island at 30 meters high. The only drawback is that during the dry season the waterfall is not much of a spectacle; it really comes to life during the rainy season when plenty of water cascades over the top into the pool below. At this time of year taking a swim in the pool is quite an experience.
It’s about a 20 minute walk to the lower section of the falls where you’ll get a great view, or hike another 20 minutes to get to the top but bear in mind that this path can be slippery and dangerous. Considering this is such a scenic place you may be surprised to learn that there are little shops lining the trail to the waterfall and there’s also a small local restaurant. Na Muang waterfall is among the most scenic on the island and tends to be a quieter Koh Samui attraction than some others. When you visit there are two other waterfalls close by to see too.
6. Lamai Sunday Nightmarket
Shopping in Thailand is always fun, and here on Koh Samui is no exception. There are plenty of shopping options but often the best rated is Lamai Sunday Nightmarket in the Lamai Beach area. After the sun goes down and the temperature cools a little, it’s a great time to wander around a market. This particular market is so popular for several reasons – it has a great selection of things to buy, fabulous foods, a friendly atmosphere, entertainment, and the vendors are not overly aggressive when it comes to buying from them; a problem definitely experienced in other places in Thailand.
Head to Lamai Beach on a Sunday night and plan to be here for most of the evening as a visit to the Nightmarket can certainly fill a good few hours. The food is always raved over and you’ll have the opportunity to try out lots of different dishes for a very affordable price, so don’t eat dinner before coming here! Clothes, souvenirs and all sorts of other items are also available, so this Koh Samui attraction could be your go-to destination for picking up gifts for friends and family back home, and maybe a little something for yourself.
5. Big Buddha Temple
Officially named Wat Phra Yai this major Koh Samui attraction is more popularly known as the Big Buddha Temple and when you visit this temple you’ll soon see why! The 15 meter high gold painted Buddha statue is easily the island’s most famous landmark so when you’re considering what to do in Koh Samui this is an attraction not to be missed. Of course with fame, comes crowds so be prepared for the many hundreds of tourists and locals who visit the temple every day, and if possible, come as early in the day as you can to avoid the worst of those crowds. Spend a few hours here before walking over to the quieter Wat Plai Laem, just a short distance away.
Big Buddha Temple is actually located on a little island just off the northern coast of Koh Samui and is reached via a causeway. The Buddha was constructed in 1972 and sits in the Mara posture and it’s the main feature of this fairly large temple complex which also includes a few shops and places to grab some food. Be sure to take time to enjoy the sea views and views out to Koh Phangan from the temple.
4. Mae Nam Beach
On the northern coast of Koh Samui you’ll find the wonderfully long and beautiful Mae Nam Beach. This is the quiet beach on our list of Koh Samui attractions – it’s the place to come if you want to get away from the crowds and the many other distractions and just simply enjoy a day on the sand, sunbathing, swimming and relaxing. Mae Nam Beach does not offer water sports and there’s no entertainment as such, it’s just a quiet place with a few hotels, restaurants and beachside bars where you can sit back and chill out.
The sand is a lovely soft white and the waters here are a beautiful blue. Go out just a little way from shore and the ground drops off. This makes it a little less desirable for families with younger children, but if you want to try some snorkeling in a peaceful setting, Mae Nam Beach is a great place for it. If you’re still here at sunset enjoy a romantic stroll along the beach and then sit and admire the pleasant distant views of the island of Koh Phangan. If a quiet beach is on your list of things to do in Koh Samui, this could be the one!
3. Fisherman’s Village
What was once a traditional corner of Koh Samui has been developed into an upscale place to shop and dine, giving a best of both worlds attraction. The traditional atmosphere is still here in the architecture but now the charming collection of old Chinese shophouses has been redeveloped into one of the island’s trendiest places. If you’re looking for affordable things to do in Koh Samui, don’t let this put you off. Prices are still reasonable if you want to shop or eat out, and you’ll have the opportunity to try several different cuisine experiences, from fresh fish cooked right in front of you on a street stall to a posh restaurant with sea views.
Any day is a great day to visit Fisherman’s Village but if you come Friday night there’s a night market that brings an even more vibrant atmosphere to this Koh Samui attraction. To be clear, Fisherman’s Village and Bophut (the town it’s in) are much quieter alternatives to places like Chaweng. There’s a laid-back atmosphere here and a lovely beach to go with it. There are places to enjoy an evening out, but this isn’t a partying destination and, as a place to stay, will suit families and couples who want a relaxing vacation.
2. Wat Plai Laem
No visit to Thailand would be complete without visiting at least one temple. This is the second temple to feature on our list of things to do in Koh Samui and although it’s not as well known as the other this one arguably provides visitors with the better “temple” experience. Less crowded than the tourist-oriented Big Buddha Temple, Wat Plai Laem is a little larger and does not have as many places to shop within it, giving it a far more authentic feel.
The Chinese architecture is modern but stunning with its multiple rooflines and vibrant colors. The main statue of this temple is very beautiful – it is Guanyin, the goddess of compassion and mercy, who stands proud with no less than eighteen arms. Inside the temple be sure to see the mural paintings while outside walk over the bridge to visit the laughing Buddha statue and see hundreds of catfish swimming in the lake. There are vending machines where you can buy food for the fish. Wat Plai Laem is located within walking distance of the Big Buddha Temple, which is the other temple featured on our list of what to do in Koh Samui. This means you can easily see both in one day.
1. Ang Thong National Marine Park
Ang Thong National Marine Park was made famous by the movie “The Beach” but this was an amazing place to visit long before that and remains amazing to this day, despite the increasing visitor numbers. Protected as a national marine park, there should never be major developments taking place around the 42 islands that the marine park encompasses so this stunning part of Thailand will remain stunning for future generations. It’s a good idea to join a guided tour to get the most out of this Koh Samui attraction in the shortest time, and there are numerous different tours available so you should do some research to find the one that suits you best.
One way is to travel by speed boat and you’ll still have plenty of time to snorkel, swim, kayak and sightsee. Be sure to include a hike up Mae Koh to the viewpoint. The hike can be a little strenuous if you’re not used to lots of activity, but the view from above is definitely worth all the effort. See a large area of Ang Thong from up there, including the stunning green-colored lagoon. Ang Thong National Marine Park does have some services including a shop and restaurant, and a limited number of bungalows to stay in.