Koh Samui is the third-largest island in Thailand and there are quite some things to see and do here!
25 km – that’s the widest point of the island and in total it is 228.7 km2 big. It’s certainly not the biggest island you may find, but there are some things you are only able to find here.
I am going to give some basic facts about Koh Samui itself, then I will turn to my personal recommendations – from temples to secret places, things you can only see here on this island!
Koh Samui is surrounded by about sixty other islands, which together form the Ang Thong Marine National Park (Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park) and include a lot of popular tourist destinations,such as Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao, and Ko Nang Yuan. The central part of the island is a tropical jungle mountain called Khao Pom, but the most interesting spots are around the coastline.
Well, Koh Samui isn’t really the largest place on earth you will ever spot, but as we stayed there for about two weeks and I am not one to only stay in the hotel (or our bay) , we decided to do a tour around the island. We did not chose one of those led tours as there were some spots that interested us and other which did not at all. We also wanted the option to stay in one place as long as we wanted to see everything that interested us, so we walked in one of the local stores and asked around if something like that was possible. Fortunately for us, the owner knew someone with a taxi who agreed to drive us around.
However, if you ask someone to drive you somewhere, always arrange a price before the trip.
The first stop on our list was a Chinese Temple, not really found on any tourist maps. We also only met one of the locals who even knew about it. It’s rather remote and there are almost no tourists.
It’s also rather small. but it makes an interesting sight, there’s a good bar next to it and as it lies at the beach, it gives you a lovely sight.
Wat Phra Yai – the Big Buddha.
It’s easy to spot this statue from almost every spot on the island. As its name indicates, it is home to a giant, gold-painted Buddha statue. There are small booths near the Buddha, where it’s lovely to shop and there is overall a lot to see. This temple is a must-see when you’re on Koh Samui.
Wat Plai Laem gives you two for the price of one, so to speak. It’s a temple area with a school nearby, a pond full of big fish you can feed (if you do, be prepared for a mass of slimy grey jumping up, fighting each other to get the food you’re giving them), and two big statues. One of them is Guanyin, the goddess of compassion and mercy.
The Chaweng Viewpoint makes a good stop while driving around the island. It’s a spot where you can walk down a newly made path or stay up there and enjoy the view over the bay and Chaweng.
Hin Yai and Hin Ta – Grandfather and Grandmother rocks. The way to these rocks is a small road and you need a knowledgeable driver or you might miss the small sign indicating where they are.
In front is a market with really interesting goods and the rocks are a sight you should not miss. They resemble male and female genitala, hence the name, who are sacred to the people there. The water around these rocks is really clear and it’s perfect for cooling your feet or watching little fish.
The Na Muang waterfall might seem small for europeans, especially those used to the alps. But as it’s located in the jungle, it offers a sight europe cannot give you. You can even ride an elephant if you want to, but otherwise you can enjoy the fresh water and the jungle right in front of you. There’s also a small market, but it offers the same goods you can find almost everywhere. And if you decide to drive there yourself – there is a small parking fee which is collected once you step out of your car.
The Laem Sor Pagoda isn’t something we found on a tourist map, but through reading some blogs. It’s a small Pagoda near the beach, but there’s even more – a bigger pagoda on top of a hill with a simply awesome sight over the island!
The best spot on Koh Samui surely is the Secret Buddha Garden. It’s up a hill and you will have to pass a military post, but if they stop you, simply tell that you are headed to the Buddha Garden and usually you’re good to go.
Nim Thongsuk, a fruit farmer, began creating these statues and placing them there. His heirs now take care of the place and they charge a small entrance fee, but the garden is very well worth it. It’s located in the forest where it is cooler than directly in the sun and around every corner is a statue greater than the one you spotted before. There’s also a river, jumping over the stones, home to some of these nibbling fish who will take off the dead skin off your feet. A nice treatment after a day of walking around!