20 Unique Things to Do in Koh Samui
Koh Samui is one of the most popular and probably most beautiful islands in Thailand. And not without reason, because on a visit to Koh Samui you can experience a lot. The island offers its visitors breathtaking picture book beaches, many exciting excursions and activities. Above all, there are many exciting things to do in Koh Samui: Among the best attractions are the beautiful temples, the jungle, thundering waterfalls and the many magnificent viewpoints. Whether you are backpacking or on a beach vacation, young people who like to party or families with children, this island is a real travel highlight and offers something unique for everyone.
In this travel guide you will find all the important information about the Koh Samui Island in Thailand. We show you the best things to do on Koh Samui, the most beautiful beaches and resorts. In addition, we give important insider tips about accommodation and travel, which are guaranteed to help you plan your trip.
General information about Koh Samui
Koh Samui is the 3rd largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Koh Chang, and probably one of the most famous in the country. This vacation island of about 233 km² is located in the Gulf of Thailand and is part of the Samui archipelago, an archipelago to which another 60 islands belong. Among them are the popular destinations Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, which are located slightly north of Koh Samui. The famous Ang Thong National Park is also nearby and therefore a popular destination for day tours.
A visit to Koh Samui is absolutely recommendable, because here you can expect a unique offer of exciting attractions, paradisiacal sandy beaches with fantastic hotels, dense forests with rushing waterfalls, and even impressive temples with huge Buddha statues can be seen here! Thanks to the 51-kilometer ring road, which leads once around the island, you can easily explore Koh Samui on your own by scooter or rental car.
Koh Samui Island can be visited all year round. The best weather is in the months of January, February and March. In this travel season it should rain the least. Other recommended travel times for Koh Samui are April, May, June, July and August.
Things to do in Koh Samui
Koh Samui has countless highlights in store for its visitors. With such a huge range of activities, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. Therefore, we have summarized the best things to do on Koh Samui, including insider tips, for your vacation.
Big Buddha Temple
The Big Buddha Temple is the most famous attraction of Koh Samui and the most important sacred place of the island. The approximately 12-meter-high golden Buddha statue is something like the landmark of the island and is a popular destination for locals and tourists. A visit to this attraction is almost a must on every island tour. On a tour through the temple area, there is much to discover, and you should definitely climb the viewing platform of the giant Buddha. From the top there is an incredibly beautiful view over to the neighboring island Koh Phangan.
Tip: The Big Buddha Temple is one of the most popular attractions on the island. If you want to experience this temple almost all to yourself, then you should be there before 8:00 am.
The most famous resort on Koh Samui Island is definitely Chaweng Beach. This gorgeous, 6-kilometer-long sandy beach is located on the east coast and offers a wide range of fantastic hotels, bungalows and other accommodations. Thanks to its length, this beach is never crowded and because of its central location, one of the best starting points for island explorations and excursions. The tourist offer is also unique, because in the village of Chaweng there are countless good restaurants, bars, shopping centers, discos and night markets.
Wat Plai Laem
Wat Plai Laem is a beautiful temple complex in the north and is one of the most popular things to see on Koh Samui. This attraction inspires with its many beautiful temples, which lying on a lake conjure up a really romantic scenery. A real eye-catcher is the 18-armed Guanyin statue, which according to Chinese mythology stands for compassion and mercy. Nearby is a huge Buddha and many smaller shrines, all of which you can visit on a temple-tour.
Another very famous beach and popular resort on Koh Samui is Lamai Beach. Almost as popular as the great Chaweng Beach, but with a little less hustle and bustle, you’ll also find lovely accommodations, good restaurants, cool nightlife and an absolutely phenomenal vacation feeling on this 4-kilometer long sandy beach. The most beautiful beach section is located in the very south of Lamai, where huge round rock formations with gigantic palm trees conjure up a very special ambience.
Tip: At Lamai Beach there are also some really amazing accommodations, which are perfect for a beach vacation! Really nice is the Boutique Hotel Beluga, which is located right next to the round rocks.
Fisherman’s Village in Bophut
The Fisherman’s Village at Bophut Beach is another worth seeing place in the north of the island Koh Samui. Here you can store in hip stores, browse through cool boutiques and find really good restaurants, where you can eat not necessarily cheap, but very tasty. Many of the fantastic bars and restaurants are located directly by the sea, and so you can enjoy a cool drink in a fantastic vacation atmosphere.
The beach in Bophut is also really beautiful and is ideally suited for a rather quiet vacation on Koh Samui. Particularly recommended is the Smile House, which inspires with great bungalows and beautiful pool area.
Tip: Every Friday from 17:00 o’clock a recommendable night market takes place in Fischerman’s Village.
A dream beach and at the same time one of the most beautiful attractions on Koh Samu is the picturesque Silver Beach. The small bay, about 200 meters long, impresses with its round rock formations, fine sand, the countless coconut palms and the crystal-clear turquoise sea. In addition, this shallow-sloping sandy beach with its many cool shady spots is ideal for families with small children. Silver Beach is a popular stop on island exploration tours by scooter, but this dream beach is also a brilliant choice for a vacation on Koh Samui.
Tip: Highly recommended on Silver Beach is the Thongtakian Resort, which, in addition to a top location on the beach, also inspires with a very nice well-kept and clean facility.
Pagoda Khao Hua Jook
One of the best things to do on Koh Samui is a visit to the golden Pagoda Khao Hua Jook. Not only is this golden temple beautiful to look at from the outside, there is also much worth seeing inside this temple complex. If you like, you can also have a monk bless you and give you a bracelet to take with you on your journey. A memory of Koh Samui, which you will not forget so quickly.
This golden pagoda is located on a small mountain from which you have a brilliant view over the island. Thanks to its location near the airport, you can even watch the planes take off and land here.
Grandfather & Grandmother Rocks
The Grandfather & Grandmother Rocks are probably the two most unusual attractions on Koh Samui island. Also known as Hin Ta & Hin Yai or often casually as Penis Rock, this sight is a fixed stop on any island tour. The male rock you recognize immediately, the grandmother you have to search a bit. But the beach right next to the rock formations is also beautiful and ideal for cooling off.
Tip: The rocks are a wonderful place to enjoy the famous sunsets of Koh Samui.
Na Muang Waterfall
A real highlight and probably one of the most beautiful waterfalls on Koh Samui is the Na Muang Waterfall. This 80-meter-high waterfall can be visited via a short hike through the jungle. Several cascades offer beautiful views, and in some places you can even swim. Although the climb is somewhat strenuous, the slippery passages are secured with ropes. However, you don’t necessarily have to hike all the way to the top to see the most amazing sections. A recommended excursion for children and adults.
This waterfall is one of the most beautiful on the island, and a visit to this attraction is an absolute must for nature lovers.
Tip: If you don’t like hiking, you can take a jeep from the parking lot to the beginning of the waterfall.
The Maenam Beach is located in the north of the island and is another amazing thing to see on Koh Samui. Although this idyllic dream beach has long ceased to be an insider tip, it is still very relaxed. Countless green coconut palms line this paradisiacal sandy beach, and the many attractions nearby do not let boredom arise during a vacation. For example, some of the most beautiful temples, such as the Big Buddha and Plai Laem Temple, are located only about 9 kilometers from Maenam Beach. The cool Fishermans Village can also be visited from here.
Tip: The COAST Adults Only Resort and Spa is one of the absolute best hotels on the island. Here an amazing XXL pool, beautiful rooms and villas, extremely good service and delicious food will delight you.
The Overlap Stone is an absolute insider tip on Koh Samui. Hardly anyone strays to this unique natural attraction, which towers over the landscape on a hill near Lamai Beach. Although this huge oval stone can only be reached via an extremely steep road, once you reach the top you will be rewarded with probably the most beautiful view on Koh Samui. An excursion that really inspires!
Tip: As already mentioned, the approach is really steep. For safety reasons, you should leave your scooter a bit further down and hike the rest.
Magic Buddha Garden
The Magic Buddha Garden, also known as the Tarnim Magic Garden, is another amazing attractions and a visit is one of the best things to do on Koh Samui. It is located high up in the cool mountainous regions of the island and is a truly magical place. The garden is nestled in the jungle and is beautifully situated by a small babbling river. A highlight are the many mystical figures and statues made of stone, which can be discovered during a walk through the Magic Buddha Garden.
One, admittedly somewhat bizarre attraction is the Mummified Monk in Wat Khunaram, probably one of the most interesting temples on Koh Samui. When you visit, you experience a unique insight into religion and Thai culture. Locals come to this sacred place to pray and bring their offerings. For since 1973, a deceased monk has been sitting in a display case in this temple complex and seems to show little sign of decay to date.
Coral Cove Beach
Coral Cove Beach is uniquely beautiful and well worth a visit. A true postcard beach awaits you here. Light sand, huge palm trees and the picturesque rocks make this cove an incredibly beautiful place to visit on Koh Samui Island. The water is crystal clear and invites you to snorkel and swim. Even close to the shore you can spot colorful fish! Although the Coral Cove is centrally located directly on the main road between Chaweng and Lamai, only a few tourists stop at this jewel. So the Coral Cove is still a real insider tip!
Tip: A real dream are the Coral Cove Villas, from which you can enjoy an insanely beautiful view over the beach.
On Koh Samui, countless night markets take place throughout the week. A visit to the market is a very special experience in Thailand and should not be missed on any vacation on the popular vacation island. Almost every evening an interesting night market takes place somewhere on Koh Samui. There you can taste through delicious street-foods, buy beautiful souvenirs or just drift through the markets.
During the week there is a daily Walking Street in Chaweng, every evening the night market of Nathon, Wednesday is the Choeng Mon Nightmarket and on Thursday the Walking Street in Maenam takes place.
On the weekend, on the other hand, there is Walking Street at Fisherman’s Village on Friday, the night market at Big C in Bophut on Saturday and Lamai Walking Street on Sunday.
Wat Ratchathammaram (Red Temple)
The Wat Ratchathammaram, or also known as the Red Temple of Koh Samui, is another interesting attraction. This mystical temple exudes a special atmosphere and a pleasant tranquility. In addition, the terracotta-colored temple impresses with amazing decorations and is also really interesting to look at from the inside. Also worth seeing is the golden pagoda next door, which shines beautifully in the sun, and the staircase decorated with snake heads, which leads directly down to the sea.
Nightlife & Party
Some parts of Koh Samui offer a really legendary nightlife. Especially around Chaweng Beach, but also on Lamai Beach is the busiest place in the evening. In these two resorts there are countless restaurants, bars and clubs, which provide a lively atmosphere. Especially along Chaweng Road there is a lot of partying. Even a Hardrock Café and a Hooters have settled here.
If you are in a party mood, you should definitely visit the Ark Bar. It is the ultimate party tip directly on Chaweng Beach. Admission to the club is free of charge and in the high season, fire acrobats perform every evening in addition to DJs.
Tip: If you are planning a party vacation, you should consider staying directly at the Party-Hotel of Ark Bar.
Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National Park
A MUST-SEE and at the same time a popular place for boat-tours from Koh Samui is the Mu Ko Ang Thong Marine National Park. It is one of the most impressive spots in the archipelago and can only be reached by a boat trip. Here you will find plenty of great spots for snorkeling and exploring a colorful underwater world. Kayaking is also a popular activity that people like to do in the national park.
Tip: You can find a fantastic selection of exciting excursions to the national park from Koh Samui online at GetyourGuide.
Getting to Koh Samui
By plane: Koh Samui has its own airport. You can find cheap flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui online. When booking a flight, make sure to allow enough time for the changeover.
By bus & ferry: In many vacation destinations in Thailand, you can book combination tickets with bus & ferry. There are also numerous offers online at 12go.asia.
By train & ferry: If you want to travel by train from Bangkok, it is best to take the night train to Surat Thani. From there, continue by bus or minibus to the ferry port.
You can look for cheap transfer tickets here:
Where to stay on Koh Samui
The choice of accommodation and hotels on Koh Samui is almost endless. Whether you are a package holidaymaker, individual traveler or backpacker – on this island everyone is guaranteed to find his perfect place to stay. Here is our choice for the best places to stay on Koh Samui…It’s worth a look!
- Hostel (Chaweng Beach): The UBOX Hostel is a perfect hostel for backpackers who want to travel to Koh Samui and live cheaply on Chaweng Beach. In addition, this hostel is clean, really cozy and even equipped with a pool.
- Budget resort with pool (Lamai Beach): The Palm Coco Mantra is a cute little hotel, a bit off Lamai Beach. Especially nice here are the bungalows overlooking the sea. The pool is also great and at this price an absolute recommendation!
- Boutique Hotel (Lamai Beach): The Rocky’s Boutique Resort is a really lovely hotel for a vacation on Lamai Beach. The whole complex is a little paradise and the pool area is also really nice.
- Luxury Hotel (Laem Yai Bay): At the Four Seasons Resort on Koh Samui you will find pure luxury. The hotel is located in a breathtakingly beautiful location, in Laem Yai Bay with a private dream beach.
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