Once famous as a cheap island getaway in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui has transformed itself into a major destination with luxury villas, glittering resorts and cosy beachfront bungalows. The spectacular beaches take centre stage at Koh Samui, where coconut trees sway in island breezes with a backdrop of virgin rainforest, limestone mountains and thundering waterfalls.
Things to do in Koh Samui
The coastline defines Koh Samui in a big way, with the most popular beaches bustling with constant activity. Chaweng Beach is by far the most lively, while Lamai Beach is laid-back and family-friendly. Bophut Beach in the north serves as a launching point for diving and snorkelling excursions to Ang Thong National Marine Park, an archipelago of 42 islands.
Quirky tourist attractions include must-see curiosities such as the golden Big Buddha statue at Wat Phra Yai Temple and the mummified monk at Wat Khunaram. If you want to see the risqué side of Mother Nature, head to the rock formations of Hin Ta and Hin Yai, commonly known the Grandpa and Grandma rocks.
Not far from Big Buddha, the Buddhist temple of Wat Plai Laem paints the horizon with a blaze of colour. An 18-arm image of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, claws the sky while a large white Chinese Buddha perched in the lake.
For a glimpse of Koh Samui’s past, visit the Fisherman's Village at Bophut hearkens to see the nostalgic days gone by, with rustic fishing huts now housing cafes and boutiques. The Fisherman’s Village Walking Street market lights up the island with music, entertainment, shopping and sizzling street food.
Getting around Koh Samui
The road system on Samui is developed and reliable, allowing taxis, rental cars and motorbikes to cruise with relative ease. Buses, bicycles and electric bikes are available as well.