Top Tours & Activities in Koh Samui, Thailand
Top things to do in Koh Samui
Koh Samui has consistently brought those in search of a spot to relax and recharge, with many new era centers created years before Resorts became mainstream.
The alternate sites with meditation and liver fasting are still about, complemented by an increasing amount of innovative new Resort resorts, many found in hotels.
Real-Life Room Escape Game
Reallife room escape games’ popularity is gaining ground all over the world at most important tourist destinations, and Samui Island sponsor two sites at which visitors can appreciate this challenging puzzle game. The aim of these games would be to escape from a locked room through the use of hints and various items in the surroundings.
Situated in Lamai in the compound of Beach Republic resort, Escapology features Shanghaied – and two themed rooms – Cuban Disaster from which to escape. Above Tropical Murphy’s pub on the shore road, The Escape Hunt Experience can be found in Chaweng; three rooms that can host from two to five players can be found.
Samui Shooting Sport
Firing several clips is a great way and Samui Shooting Sport is the appropriate location to do that. Situated on Samui Ring’s Road, a few hundred metres from Tesco Lotus, this modern shooting range sponsor an impressive arsenal – from little .22 calibre to war weapons like the Kalashnikov rifle – with which they are able to hit the targets. Supervised, Samui Shooting Sport places security on top of its priorities and gives an excellent spot to present their shooting abilities to wannabe sharpshooters.
Shop, Eat and Play at Central Festival Samui
Central Festival Samui describes itself as ‘the most complete and biggest lifestyle shopping complex in Samui’; with three storeys and around 90,000sqm of retail space, there couldn’t be a better description for this enormous shopping and dining mall, which is situated between Chaweng’s Beach Road and the nearby lake.
Centrally place in this prime east shore resort town of Samui Island, Central Festival Samui has totally changed the face of Chaweng. With four sections – Chaweng Port, Bird Cage, Fisherman Village, and Beach Town Market – this modern and fashionable complex boasts some original architectural features with its central open air atrium including a beautifully landscaped garden area complete with seats, a child’s resort area and innumerable stores and eateries.
Top Attractions in Koh Samui
Ang Thong National Marine Park is a pristine archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand with towering limestone mountains, thick jungle, white-sand beaches, fertile mangroves, waterfalls and hidden coves and lakes to explore. Within sight of Koh Samui, Ang Thong park is a protected area of more than 100 square kilometres of land and sea, and home to a rich variety of exotic wildlife and sea creatures. Snorkelling, hiking, sea kayaking, diving, sailing and simply relaxing on one of its idyllic beaches are the main activities to enjoy on Ang Thong.
Most Ang Thong visitors arrive on a join-in day trip or by boat charter from Koh Samui or Koh Pha Ngan. For those who wish to stay overnight, there are simple bungalows and camping tents available for rent at the Park Headquarters on Koh Wua Talab, where a simple restaurant is found as well. Though the park has started to get busy with day-trippers in the peak season, the Ang Thong islands remain the postcard-perfect image of a tropical paradise.
Big Buddha temple sits majestically on a small rocky island off Koh Samui’s north-eastern corner. Known locally as Wat Phra Yai, its golden, 12-metre seated Buddha statue was built in 1972 and remains one of the island’s most popular attractions. Set on Koh Faan, Big Buddha temple is reached by a causeway that connects it to the main island. The Big Buddha can be seen at a distance of several kilometres and is often the first landmark people see when arriving to Samui by air.
The Big Buddha sits in the Mara posture, with the left hand’s palm up resting on the lap and the right hand facing down, the fingers hanging over the knee and grazing the ground. It depicts a time during Buddha’s journey to enlightenment where he successfully subdued the temptations and dangers thrust at him by the devil-figure Mara by meditating and remaining calm. The pose is a symbol of steadfastness, purity and enlightenment.
The Hin Ta/Hin Yai legend is a tale of tragedy tinged with hope, as described on a signboard near the rocks: “A folklore of Samui Island tells the story of an old couple by the name of Ta Kreng (Grandpa Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandma Riem) who lived with their son in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Since their son had come of age, they felt that it was time he got married.
“One day they decided to sail to the neighbouring province of Prachuap Khiri Khan to ask for the hand of the daughter of a man named Ta Monglai. During their sea journey, their boat was seized by a storm. The old man and his wife were unable to swim ashore. They died at sea, turning into rocks as proof to the would-be bride’s parents of their true intentions. The rocks stand there to this day
Na Muang Waterfalls, a majestic set of two cascades on Koh Samui, show that the island’s beauty is not limited to its beaches. Found inland about 12 kilometres south-east of Nathon Bay, the Na Muang falls are reached by taking a walking path from the entrance to the park.
The first waterfall, Na Muang 1, flows down into a pretty natural pool that provides a cool escape from the heat. About 30 minutes by foot further uphill is the smaller yet equally inviting Na Muang 2.
Koh Samui’s Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram is an unusual sight yet it offers a unique insight into Buddhist and Thai culture. The monk Luong Pordaeng died in 1973 in a seated meditative position, and ever since his body has been on display in an upright glass case at the temple. Remarkably, even more than 30 years on the monk’s body shows little sign of decay. For some visitors, having a dead man in full view might be a shocking sight, but for Thais it is something to reflect upon and revere.
Far from being frightened by death, most Buddhist Thais are highly accepting of the end of life as the natural order of things and they view death as an opportunity to be reborn into a better place, one step closer to nirvana. There are other mummy monks on Samui and throughout Thailand, but Loung Pordang is among the most highly revered.
Loung Pordang is said to have told his followers shortly before his death that if his body were to decompose he should be cremated, but if not then he wanted to be put on display as a visual reminder of the Buddha’s teachings. For Thais, both the life and death of Loung Pordang serves as an inspiration to follow the Buddhist precepts and walk the middle path.
At the Samui Aquarium & Tiger Show, get up close to an array of marine life, colourful birds and exotic wildlife all in one stop. This family-oriented attraction certainly has enough to keep the kids entertained on an afternoon outing.
The aquarium features mostly marine life native to the Gulf of Thailand. Its series of large tanks are filled with a range of marine life including nurse sharks, leopard sharks, manta rays, catfish and many kinds of tropical fish, and there is an area where visitors can feed the sea turtles.
At the zoo, the main attraction is the Bengal tigers and leopards, which provide some thrilling displays of strength and agility in the daily live shows. There’s also an opportunity to take your photograph with some of them for an extra charge.
Ladyboy Cabarets might not be everyone’s cup of tea but on Chaweng Beach you can enjoy a sparkling evening out with this fun form of entertainment. Thai society is generally more open to ladyboys than many other cultures, and its katoey, or the ‘third sex’, have played a prominent role in the nation’s entertainment industry for generations. Thailand’s katoey are world famous, partly because there are so many of them and also because they are so feminine. In fact it can be difficult to tell if the beautiful young lady paying you attention was a lady at birth… as many an unwitting tourist has discovered!
A typical show involves lip-synched interpretations of popular songs, complete with elaborate costumes and make-up. Some of the performances are skilfully choreographed and the tone is light-hearted, sprinkled with glitter and glitz.
Most of the cabarets in Chaweng are located near the Centara Grand Beach Resort, which makes for interesting competition before the show. The ‘girls’ hand out flyers and sometimes drag you in to their bar forcibly! Keep an open mind and enjoy the show!
Wat Plai Laem is a Buddhist temple compound on Samui’s north-east coast of Samui, featuring a striking white 18-arm image of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. Close to the Big Buddha temple, Wat Plai Laem offers visitors a view into Chinese-Thai beliefs as well as some elaborate Buddhist-themed art and architecture.
Wat Plai Laem is a living and active temple, where devotees come daily to pay homage to Guanyin and the Buddha, who is also depicted in a number of statues and murals around the temple. This is a relatively new temple but the art techniques used in its creation are centuries-old and based on ancient beliefs. Adding to its feel of tranquillity, the temple is surrounded by a lake, which is teeming with fish. Visitors who make a donation to the temple are given a bag of food to feed the fish.
Koh Samui Travel Tips
It is strongly advised to gather as much information about Koh Samui as you can before you visit. The same could be said of anywhere in the world, but the best way to get the most out of your time on the island is to do your research. Fortunately, our team of locals and long-term expatriates have complied this comprehensive guide to give you all of the local knowledge you’ll need.
Although Koh Samui was little more than an extended coconut plantation and a backpackers’ destination only a short time ago, it now has a solid infrastructure and all the amenities you can desire to facilitate day-to-day life. It is very easy to get to and around, enabling you to take advantage of the wide range of attractions and activities on offer