Koh Samui Travel Guide: Things to Do on Koh Samui Island, Thailand

Welcome to Koh Samui, a tropical paradise nestled in the Gulf of Thailand. Known for its palm-fringed beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant nightlife, Koh Samui offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and modern comforts. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or cultural exploration, this island has something to offer every traveler.

As you arrive in Koh Samui, you’ll be greeted by the warm hospitality and laid-back atmosphere that define the island. With its stunning beaches such as Chaweng, Lamai, and Bophut, you can unwind on soft sands, take a dip in the turquoise sea, or simply bask in the tropical sun. The island’s palm trees sway gently in the breeze, creating a tranquil backdrop for your getaway.

Koh Samui is not just about beaches; it also boasts a rich cultural heritage. Explore the charming Fisherman’s Village in Bophut, where you can stroll through quaint streets lined with traditional wooden houses, trendy boutiques, and vibrant restaurants. Discover the Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai), a majestic landmark that offers panoramic views of the island and the surrounding waters.

For adventure enthusiasts, Koh Samui offers a range of exciting activities. Explore the island’s waterfalls, such as Na Muang or Hin Lad, where you can take refreshing dips in the pools. Go snorkeling or diving to discover the vibrant underwater world, or embark on a kayaking adventure to explore hidden coves and limestone cliffs. For a unique experience, take a ride on an elephant or go zip-lining through the lush jungle.

Koh Samui is also known for its vibrant nightlife. Enjoy beachside bars, lively nightclubs, and cultural shows that showcase traditional Thai dances and performances. The island comes alive after dark, offering a variety of entertainment options to suit every taste.

When it comes to dining, Koh Samui offers a diverse culinary scene. From fresh seafood and traditional Thai dishes to international cuisines, the island’s restaurants and street food stalls cater to all palates. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample local specialties like Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai, and Mango Sticky Rice.

As you explore Koh Samui, remember to respect the local culture and environment. Take part in responsible tourism practices by preserving the cleanliness of the beaches, supporting local businesses, and being mindful of the island’s natural resources.

With its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and endless opportunities for relaxation and adventure, Koh Samui is a destination that will capture your heart. So pack your bags, embrace the island’s beauty, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this tropical paradise.

Koh Samui Travel Guide: Things to do on Koh Samui Island, Thailand

Koh Samui Travel Guide: A Brief History Of Koh Samui Island, Thailand

Koh Samui has a rich history that adds depth to its natural beauty and cultural charm. Here’s a brief history of Koh Samui for travelers:

  1. Early Settlement: Koh Samui was first settled by fishermen and sea traders around 1,500 years ago. The island’s strategic location in the Gulf of Thailand made it a natural hub for trade and commerce.
  2. Coconut Industry: In the 19th century, the discovery of the island’s fertile soil and abundant coconut trees led to the growth of the coconut industry. Koh Samui became known as the “Coconut Island” due to its vast plantations and coconut exports.
  3. Fishing Village Era: For many years, Koh Samui remained a peaceful fishing community with a small population. Villagers relied on fishing and coconut farming for their livelihood.
  4. Tourism Development: In the 1970s, backpackers started to discover the island’s pristine beaches and untouched beauty, putting Koh Samui on the tourist map. As tourism increased, more accommodations, restaurants, and infrastructure were developed to cater to visitors.
  5. Transformation into a Tourist Destination: Over the years, Koh Samui has transformed from a quiet fishing village to a thriving tourist destination. Luxury resorts, boutique hotels, and international restaurants have emerged, offering a wide range of options for travelers.
  6. Cultural Heritage: Despite the growth of tourism, Koh Samui has managed to preserve its cultural heritage. Local traditions, such as the Loy Krathong Festival and Songkran (Thai New Year), are celebrated with great enthusiasm, allowing visitors to experience the island’s vibrant culture.
  7. Economic Impact: Tourism has played a significant role in the island’s economy, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the local community’s well-being. The coconut industry still thrives, with coconut products remaining an integral part of Koh Samui’s economy.

Today, Koh Samui attracts millions of visitors from around the world who come to enjoy its pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture. The island’s history and natural beauty combine to create a unique travel experience. As you explore Koh Samui, take the time to appreciate its cultural heritage, support local businesses, and embrace the island’s charm and tranquility.

Koh Samui Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Thailand

Generally considered to be the most popular island in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui has been the favored vacation land for many people around the world for many years, and it continues to be discovered by many more people each high season.  While there are concerns by some regarding overdevelopment (especially in the popular beach resort area of Chaweng), if the built up commercial aspects of a paradise island turn you off, there are plenty of alternatives to be found on every coast on this island, so don’t let reports of its “ruination” dissuade you from visiting this pleasant isle.

Despite developing from almost nothing in the 1990’s to the tourism heavyweight that it is today, there are many authentic experiences to be had here for those that are willing to find them.

Many of the attractions listed below can be accessed by motorbike or day tour.  If you lack confidence in your ability to pilot a scooter, err on the side of safety and opt to be chauffeured around by a tour agency instead.  This is much better than having your vacation ruined by spending part of it holed up in a hospital room.

With that necessary disclaimer out of the way, make your way to Wat Khunaram, which is located in the southern portion of the island.  This temple is world famous for one reason only: it has a mummified monk on display in a glass case, for the entire world to see. The body in question is that of a former abbot, who is said to have correctly predicted the day of his own death.  Despite the carnival-like atmosphere surrounding this place, the usual provisos concerning respect still apply here (i.e. clothing that covers your shoulders and your legs, shoes off before entering, etc).

Next, switch sides of the island to the northeast corner, where a giant statue of the Buddha dominates the skyline in the area at Wat Phra Yai. Climb the many steps to the base of this iconic attraction that soars up to 15 metres into the air, or save your breath and get a zoomed in picture of this massive symbol of Buddhism towering over all who reside in his shadow.  Apart from this significant attraction, a multi-armed statue that seems to evoke Hinduism more than Buddhism (both faiths have many similarities due to their close geographical proximity when they were founded) also makes this temple well worth the trip.

Rounding out the trio of major cultural attractions on Koh Samui is Laem Sor Pagoda, found on a beach in the southwest corner of Koh Samui.  It is widely considered to be the most important religious site for Buddhism on the island, perhaps because of its location away from the tourist hordes, but also because of its stunning physical location.  With the ocean on one side, and tropical rainforest on the other, this pagoda is worshipped at by locals looking to get their prayers answered.  If they are granted, the worshipper places a model boat inside a larger boat in a building a short distance away from the main pagoda.  If you are looking for an off the beaten track highlight on Koh Samui, be sure to include this place on your itinerary.

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Koh Samui, Thailand

Despite being home to a number of iconic alcoholic beverages (like Chang, Singha and Sangsom), Thailand lacks a culture of brewery/distillery tours.  However, this appears to be changing lately, with a well-regarded facility in the south of Koh Samui called Magic Alambic Rum Distillery swinging open its doors to the general public.  This operation offers many fine homemade spirits made from fresh cane sugar harvested from fields located on the island, and in flavours ranging from lemon to coconut to the straight up version of the firewater.

If you’re short on time, or you are not confident in your motorbike driving skills, then signing up for an Island Tour via one of the many tour agencies on the island is a good secondary option.  See many of the sights previously mentioned in this article, as well as some of more touristy operations, such as Grandfather/Grandmother Rock, which boast rocks that resemble the … erm … genitalia of both sexes.

Anyway, despite hokiness of some of the stops, it’s well worth the price to see many of the island’s attractions in one fell swoop.

Finally, most guests here come to relax on the beaches of Samui, and to that end, there are many, with characters that range from party hearty to sleepy and sedate.  Chaweng and Lamai Beach is basically party central, with nightspots on the beach and the main drag, charcoal BBQ’s that wait for you to order your choice of meat and/or seafood, and a culture of laziness that rules the day on the sands, until the sun sets and the cycle repeats.

Those looking for a holiday that’s markedly less hectic will want to pick a beach like Mae Nam in the north, where the lack of beer bars and lower tourist traffic makes it perfect for those with families, or Choeng Mon, which is similarly quiet, though you will pay much more for that privilege here.

source: Kyle and Madie on YouTube

Top 44 Things To Do in Koh Samui, Thailand For Visitors

Here’s a detailed list of 44 things to do in Koh Samui:

  1. Relax on Chaweng Beach: Spend a day lounging on the pristine shores of Chaweng Beach, known for its soft white sand and turquoise waters.
  2. Visit the Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai): Marvel at the impressive 12-meter-tall Big Buddha statue that overlooks the island and offers panoramic views.
  3. Explore Fisherman’s Village: Wander through the charming streets of Fisherman’s Village in Bophut, lined with boutique shops, restaurants, and historic wooden houses.
  4. Take a Dip at Na Muang Waterfalls: Visit Na Muang Waterfalls, where you can swim in natural pools and admire the cascading waterfalls set amidst lush greenery.
  5. Discover the Secret Buddha Garden: Trek through the lush jungle to find the Secret Buddha Garden, a hidden sanctuary filled with statues, temples, and lush vegetation.
  6. Enjoy a Sunset at Lamai Beach: Witness a breathtaking sunset on Lamai Beach, a tranquil stretch of sand perfect for romantic strolls and relaxation.
  7. Go Snorkeling or Diving: Explore the underwater wonders of Koh Samui through snorkeling or diving excursions to vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life.
  8. Take a Thai Cooking Class: Learn the art of Thai cuisine by joining a cooking class where you can master the flavors and techniques of traditional dishes.
  9. Relax with a Spa Treatment: Indulge in a rejuvenating spa treatment, such as a traditional Thai massage or a luxurious spa package, to unwind and pamper yourself.
  10. Experience Fish Spa: Immerse your feet in a fish spa, where tiny fish will gently exfoliate your skin, leaving your feet feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
  11. Explore Angthong National Marine Park: Embark on a day trip to Angthong National Marine Park, a pristine archipelago of 42 islands offering stunning views, snorkeling opportunities, and hiking trails.
  12. Witness a Muay Thai Fight: Attend a Muay Thai match to experience the exhilarating combat sport known as “The Art of Eight Limbs.”
  13. Take a Quad Bike Tour: Go on an off-road adventure by renting a quad bike and exploring the island’s rugged terrain, including dirt tracks and jungle trails.
  14. Enjoy Water Sports at Maenam Beach: Engage in various water sports activities at Maenam Beach, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, or jet skiing.
  15. Visit Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks: Admire the unique rock formations of Hin Ta and Hin Yai (Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks), which resemble male and female genitalia.
  16. Explore the Butterfly Garden: Step into a world of vibrant colors at the Butterfly Garden, where you can observe different species of butterflies in a tropical setting.
  17. Go on a Catamaran Sail: Sail around the island on a luxurious catamaran, enjoying the serene waters and stunning coastal scenery.
  18. Discover the Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram: Pay respects to the mummified body of a Buddhist monk at Wat Khunaram, a temple known for its unique display.
  19. Experience Elephant Trekking: Take an elephant ride through the jungle, immersing yourself in the natural beauty while observing these gentle giants up close.
  20. Shop at the Night Market in Nathon: Explore the bustling night market in Nathon, where you can find a wide array of souvenirs, clothing, and local street food.
  21. Visit Wat Plai Laem: Explore Wat Plai Laem, a beautiful temple complex featuring a striking 18-arm statue of Guanyin and a large white Chinese Buddha.
  22. Take a Sunset Cruise: Embark on a romantic sunset cruise around Koh Samui, enjoying breathtaking views of the coastline as the sun dips below the horizon.
  23. Explore the Hin Lad Waterfall Temple: Hike through the jungle to reach the serene Hin Lad Waterfall Temple, where you can marvel at the tranquil waterfall and serene surroundings.
  24. Go on a Safari Tour: Join a safari tour and venture into the heart of Koh Samui’s lush jungles, spotting wildlife, visiting hidden waterfalls, and experiencing the island’s natural beauty.
  25. Visit the Samui Elephant Sanctuary: Interact with rescued elephants in a responsible and ethical environment at the Samui Elephant Sanctuary, where you can feed, bathe, and learn about these gentle creatures.
  26. Experience the Fisherman’s Boat Tour: Join a traditional fisherman’s boat tour and learn about the local fishing techniques, explore hidden bays, and savor a fresh seafood lunch on board.
  27. Enjoy Water Slides at Pink Elephant Water Park: Have a fun-filled day at the Pink Elephant Water Park, sliding down thrilling water slides, relaxing in the pools, and enjoying family-friendly activities.
  28. Discover the Samui Cultural Center and Fine Art of South East Asia Museum: Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Koh Samui at the Samui Cultural Center, which houses a collection of fine art and artifacts from Southeast Asia.
  29. Take a Yoga or Meditation Retreat: Indulge in a rejuvenating yoga or meditation retreat, immersing yourself in a serene and tranquil environment that promotes relaxation and well-being.
  30. Go on a Sunset Kayaking Adventure: Paddle along the coast of Koh Samui as the sun sets, enjoying the tranquil waters, stunning views, and the peacefulness of the evening.
  31. Explore the Magic Garden: Discover the whimsical sculptures and statues of the Magic Garden, a hidden gem nestled in the jungle, offering a unique and enchanting experience.
  32. Experience Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Try stand-up paddleboarding along the calm waters of Koh Samui, enjoying a fun and active way to explore the coastline and admire the scenery.
  33. Visit the Samui Snake Farm: Get up close and personal with various snake species at the Samui Snake Farm, where you can learn about these fascinating creatures through educational shows and demonstrations.
  34. Go on a Fishing Trip: Join a fishing trip and try your luck at catching the big one, whether it’s deep-sea fishing or traditional Thai-style fishing in the island’s waters.
  35. Discover the Namuang Safari Park: Visit the Namuang Safari Park for an exciting and educational experience, where you can ride an elephant, witness a monkey show, and enjoy a thrilling zipline adventure.
  36. Explore the Jungle Club: Escape to the Jungle Club, a hilltop oasis with stunning panoramic views of the island, offering a pool, restaurant, and relaxing atmosphere.
  37. Attend a Thai Cooking Class: Learn the secrets of Thai cuisine by joining a cooking class, where you can master the art of creating authentic Thai dishes using fresh ingredients and aromatic herbs.
  38. Take a Samui Island Tour: Discover the highlights of Koh Samui on a guided island tour, exploring landmarks, viewpoints, temples, and hidden gems that showcase the island’s beauty.
  39. Experience the Secret Beaches: Seek out the island’s hidden beaches, such as Silver Beach and Taling Ngam Beach, where you can escape the crowds and enjoy peaceful moments by the sea.
  40. Enjoy a Traditional Thai Massage on the Beach: Relax and rejuvenate with a traditional Thai massage on the beach, listening to the sound of the waves as skilled therapists work their magic.
  41. Visit the Laem Sor Pagoda: Marvel at the golden Laem Sor Pagoda, a stunning temple located on the southern coast of Koh Samui, known for its serene atmosphere and panoramic ocean views.
  1. Go on a Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga Session: Combine the tranquility of yoga with the balance of stand-up paddleboarding in a unique and invigorating experience on the calm waters of Koh Samui.
  2. Explore the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo: Get up close to fascinating marine life and encounter majestic tigers at the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo, offering educational shows and interactive experiences.
  3. Enjoy a Fire Show on the Beach: Experience the mesmerizing spectacle of a fire show on the beach, where skilled performers twirl flaming batons, creating a captivating display of skill and artistry.

From relaxing on beautiful beaches and immersing in cultural heritage to engaging in thrilling water sports and exploring the island’s natural wonders, Koh Samui offers a wealth of activities and experiences to satisfy every traveler’s desires. Embrace the island’s beauty, warmth, and charm as you create unforgettable memories in this tropical paradise.

Koh Samui Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Welcome to Koh Samui, a tropical paradise that captivates the heart and soul of every traveler. With its sun-kissed beaches, vibrant culture, and endless adventures, Koh Samui offers an unforgettable experience like no other.

Picture yourself lounging on the powdery sands of Chaweng Beach, feeling the gentle caress of the turquoise waves as they lap against the shore. Take a moment to unwind, bask in the warmth of the tropical sun, and let the worries of everyday life melt away.

As you explore this vibrant island, be sure to visit the iconic Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai). Marvel at the grandeur of the towering 12-meter-tall Buddha statue, which stands as a symbol of peace and serenity. From this vantage point, embrace the breathtaking panoramic views that stretch across the island’s lush landscapes and sparkling ocean.

Immerse yourself in the cultural tapestry of Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. Meander through its narrow streets, lined with charming wooden houses, boutique shops, and delectable restaurants. This quaint village comes alive in the evenings, as the aroma of street food fills the air and vibrant performers take to the streets.

For those seeking adventure, Koh Samui has an array of thrilling activities. Discover the hidden oasis of Na Muang Waterfalls, where you can cool off in the natural pools and feel the refreshing mist of cascading water. Explore the mystical Secret Buddha Garden, tucked away amidst the emerald greenery of the island’s interior, and let the serene statues and lush surroundings transport you to another world.

Delve into the island’s underwater wonders by snorkeling or diving in the vibrant coral reefs that teem with a kaleidoscope of marine life. Feel the exhilaration as you zip-line through the verdant jungle or hop on a quad bike to explore the rugged terrain, revealing hidden gems at every turn.

When the sun sets, Koh Samui comes alive with its vibrant nightlife. Indulge in the sensory delights of beachside bars, dance the night away at lively nightclubs, and witness spectacular fire shows that ignite the night sky with their mesmerizing performances.

Satiate your taste buds with a culinary journey through the island’s diverse flavors. From savoring mouthwatering street food at the bustling night markets to dining at beachfront restaurants serving exquisite Thai delicacies, every bite tells a story of culinary mastery.

As you bid farewell to this tropical paradise, take with you cherished memories of its warm hospitality, natural beauty, and captivating culture. Koh Samui will forever hold a special place in your heart, beckoning you to return and uncover more of its hidden treasures. Until we meet again, may your dreams be filled with the whispers of coconut palms and the echoes of the turquoise sea.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Hi Samuel. You’ve put together a fantastic post here! Koh Samui is such a beautiful island, and there’s so much to see and explore. I thoroughly recommend a visit to Big Bhudda. It’s very impressive.

    Best wishes, Alex.