Koh Samui's Attractions

About Ko Samui | Koh Samui Activities | Places to visit near Samui

Great Alternatives to the Beach

There's plenty to do on Koh Samui, if you don't want to spend the day on the beach or by the swimming pool.

One of the most popular things to do is go on an elephant trek. Basically, you sit on the back of an elephant as it heads off into the jungle. The treks usually take about an hour and are sedate fun. Children enjoy the rides as much as adults do.

Canopy Adventures offers a unique way to get about the jungle: enjoy an adrenalin-pumping ride down a steel rope suspended between platforms in a rainforest . You're strapped on for safety and rush through the air at speed before coming to a safe stop.

ATV tours allow you to drive a four wheel motorbike along dirt tracks and zip through the jungle at speed. Located in the south of the island, the least developed part, this is a great way to experience places you wouldn't normally get to see.

Golf is also popular on Koh Samui; there are now two golf courses allowing you to enjoy playing in extraordinarily beautiful scenery. The Santiburi Samui Country Club is a championship 18 hole golf course ranging along a hillside on the island's north coast. It's known to be an exciting challenge and attracts top-notch golfers in the region. The Royal Samui Golf & Country Club is to be found on the mountains between Chaweng and Lamai and has views of both beaches, and again provides highly enjoyable golfing.

The Magic Garden, which seems to have stepped straight out of a fairy tale, would receive ten times more visitors than it does if it were on the coast. However, it's really easy to get to. First go to Ban Saket on the ring road in the west of Samui, where a sealed road leads off toward the heart of the island. Venture up here and you'll come to a military checkpoint - you'll be automatically waved through - then before long you'll come to the Magic Garden itself.

It's basically a rocky valley with a stream, which was transformed into a tableau of stone gods, mythical beings and animals by just one person, the enigmatic Ta Nim, who spent his retirement populating the valley with sculptures.


Samui is home to a variety of beautiful temples worthy of a visit. When visiting Thai temples, please make sure to dress appropriately. It's recommended for men to wear long pants and for women to cover their shoulders and wear a dress or skirt which hangs below the knees. However the temples on Samui are used tourists visiting without the knowledge, but a bit of courtsey can go a long way.

Plai Leam temple

This modern temple is a glittering jewel set close to a small lake. The wat is both amazingly ornate and colorful. Relatively few holidaymakers know about its existence. Inside, the walls are covered with depictions of the life of the Lord Buddha and show him against scenery that owes much to mainland Surrathani. Meanwhile, from the temple eaves many tiny bells are suspended producing a beautiful natural melody. Although it's new, the temple is based on architecture that dates back many centuries, with origins that are literally lost in time.

Big Buddha

Close to Plai Leam, the Big Buddha complex is reached by a dirt track causeway. The complex is located on a tiny island and comes with its own souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. It remains abidingly popular, poised somewhere between commercial tackiness and the bizarre. Despite all this, it's still considered a serious place of worship.

The Jade Buddha at Wat Samret

Hardly mentioned in any guide books, Wat Samret, close to Ban Hua Thanon contains a highly-prized artifact, rare in Thailand, a Buddha, carved out of pure white jade.

The slightly melancholic wat is full of atmosphere and is definitely worth a visit. It's one of those places where time seems to run more slowly, and it's hard to think this is the 21st Century. The wat is home to a small community of monks, and you'll see them going about their daily business if you spend any length of time here. You may need to actually ask to see the Jade Buddha, housed in a special building. The Jade Buddha sits in a glass case at the far end of the room. Slightly larger than life, it wears a tranquil smile and looks very lifelike.

The Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram

Surely Koh Samui's most bizarre sight, visitors to the temple are attracted by the sight of a monk, who died in meditation, sitting inside a glass cage. Wearing orange robes and a pair of sunglasses, the monk is literally ageless. Nobody knows exactly why he's managed to outsmart the ravages of time. He seemed to know when he would die and asked for his body not to be cremated if it failed to show signs of decomposition. Skeptics are defied by the sight of the monk, who still sits in meditation to this day. The temple also has a special gong which makes an amazing reverberating sound if you rub your hand on it in exactly the right way. Not many people are able to produce the loud booming sound, and those who do so are unable to explain how they succeeded...

The Chinese Temple in Nathon

A building that's missed off most itineraries, the Chinese temple in Nathon is well worth a visit. It was built by Chinese immigrants from the island of Hainan who came at the start of the 20th Century, following unrest in their own country. Settling in Nathon first of all, their shophouses are still to be seen to this day along the town's middle street. The temple is filled with color and is instantly recognizable by the pair of dragons on its roof.

If you can't make it to Nathon, you'll find similar Chinese temples in both Lamai, about 7 kms from Rocky's and also in Maenam, by the sea. If you're lucky enough to visit Koh Samui during Chinese New Year, you'll find some amazing treats in store for you with firecrackers, dragon dances and, at Nathon temple, the sight of people walking across red hot coals - everyone does it from the youngest to the eldest.


Samui is worth a visit not just for its beaches but also for its bewitching interior. Trek a short distance through emerald green jungle and find Samui's amazing waterfalls where cascades of water plummet down mountainsides into rock basins where you can go swimming to your heart's content. The amazingly cool water is a great reward after the heat of the jungle.

One of the best-loved waterfalls is to be found at Hin Lad, close to Nathon. Relatively few tourists come here, but it's a haven for Thai families, and if you're here at the weekend, you'll see locals relaxing and taking it easy. There's also a temple here which is worth exploring, while the highest falls themselves are 2 km up a sign-posted track. There's a steep ravine to your left and afterwards you come to the first of the pools. Keep on going and the view opens up and you'll find a rock pool where you can sit or lie, take in the sun, and then go for a dip. The water is far cooler than in the sea, which can be almost lukewarm at times. Few people come this far but for more privacy still head up further up to the top waterfall, still more impressive. A few kilometers further south of Nathon is Lad Wanorn waterfall, which is accessible by a dirt track, which at times may be quite difficult to negotiate. Unlike Hin Lad, once you're at the car park little further walking is required.

A few kilometers further south of Nathon is Lad Wanorn waterfall, which is accessible by a dirt track, which at times may be quite difficult to negotiate. Unlike Hin Lad, once you're at the car park little further walking is required.

Continuing south from Nathon once more, signposts tell you when you're approaching the two Namuang waterfalls. Namuang 1 is easily accessible by car and you can swim right under the waterfall itself. Namuang 2 is a little further away and you'll need to follow the footpath to get there, but its well worth it. There's also a special platform where you can take in the impressive view.

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