Koh Samui: 5 Great Things to See and Do
September 29, 2018
by Emily Lowenna Coyle
Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is a popular destination for travellers who are looking for beautiful beaches, good food and a hint of culture. Being the second largest island in Thailand, it has rapidly developed and there is plenty to see and do for solo backpackers and families alike. This a place where you can sip fresh coconuts on palm-fringed beaches, have afternoons snorkelling with colourful fish, and hike through the wild mountainous rainforest to discover waterfalls. For the animal lovers among us, you can visit elephants, and you can barter the night away wandering through the bustling night markets. After living on this wonderful island for four months, here are the top 5 experiences I would recommend to anyone visiting Koh Samui.
1. Bophut Fisherman’s Village Night Market
On Friday nights in Bophut Fisherman’s Village, the streets become alive with an array of food stands, trinket stalls, cocktail bars and live performances. As you wander through the busy and bustling streets, allow your senses to be engulfed by the smells of freshly cooked Pad Thai, exotic fruit and delicate incense. Witness the brightly lit stalls selling their intricate goods, try your hand at bartering, and nibble your way through some street food delicacies you may have never tried before. Make sure to stop for a cocktail and check out some of the live music around The Wharf. At various times throughout the evening, there are acoustic singers, beatboxing artists, and rock bands to entertain the crowds.
The night market begins at about 5 pm and lasts long into the evening. The best time to go is between 6 pm and 9 pm when the market is in full swing. There is a smaller food market in Bophut on Monday nights, just behind The Wharf. It’s a great place to explore with delicious cheap food, good drinks, and friendly locals.
2. Samui Elephant Sanctuary
If you want to see elephants during your stay in Thailand but are conscious of how they are treated, Samui Elephant Sanctuary is the place to go. They offer morning and afternoon tours where you can meet their retired elephants. You can feed them some fruits, and learn about their rescue and rehabilitation from the logging and tourism industries. The Mahouts and guides that work here are passionate about their elephants, and it’s a wonderful place to observe these magnificent giants living a peaceful life, finally free from the stresses and hardship they have previously endured. Samui Elephant Sanctuary has also recently opened a sister project called Samui Elephant Haven, which is also based on the island.
You can find more information about Samui Elephant Sanctuary and book your tour in advance on their website. A delicious vegetarian buffet and refreshments are also provided. It’s worth every penny to see these elephants happy and to know that you are supporting an ethical sanctuary that is making a difference to the lives of the elephants they rescue.
If you want to explore beyond the shoreline and discover the under the water world off Koh Samui, there are plenty of snorkelling trips to suit everyone’s tastes. The water straight off the island can be quite murky at times, so it’s best to hop on a boat and head to the nearest snorkelling hot spots. If you don’t want to travel too far, you can arrange a boat trip to Koh Tan and Koh Madsum. These two islands are great destinations for snorkelling with an abundance of colourful fish, and they also tick the boxes if you’re looking for fine white sand and crystal clear water. You can even meet the resident beach pigs that laze about all day, waiting for someone to feed them.
It’s also possible to arrange tours to Ang Thong National Marine Park and Koh Nangyuan from most tour agencies on Koh Samui. Both of these popular options have longer boat journeys but are worth it for the marine life you can discover and the stunning scenery. From group tours to chartered day trips, there are many options to suit every budget.
4. Jungle Club
Fancy an afternoon relaxing with breathtaking views, a cool breeze, great cocktails and scrummy food? Head up to the Jungle Club. Situated high above the streets below, this resort has panoramic views across Chaweng and the surrounding areas. It’s best to get a car to drive you up these steep winding roads or make your way up carefully on a bike. Unless you want to be a sweaty mess by the time you reach the top, don’t attempt to walk it. The prices are reasonable for the service provided, and it’s a great place to enjoy an afternoon cocktail or two. If you fancy spending longer up here and having a swim in their beautiful infinity pool, there are also various accommodation options available. It’s advisable to book in the evenings if you want a front row seat for watching the sunset.
5. Big Buddha and Wat Plai Laem
At the end of Bang Rak, on a small island, sits a majestic 12-meter tall golden statue called the Big Buddha. Also known by locals as Wat Phra Yai, this stunning statue of Buddha and the surrounding temples are well worth a visit during your time on Koh Samui. As you enter the temple complex, you will find a courtyard full of souvenir stalls selling amulets and various artefacts. Climb the intricately designed dragon staircase up to the Big Buddha itself for beautiful views across Bang Rak bay and out to sea. You will only appreciate the size and significance of this beautiful statue once you are up close. Around the edge of the Buddha statue are a collection of bells. Make sure to walk around the perimeter, ringing each of them as you go. The different bells symbolise different good fortunes and are meant to bring good luck to those who ring them.
It can get quite busy at this temple, so it’s best to go earlier in the day when it’s more peaceful. You may spot local Buddhist devotees bringing offerings to the temple and you may also be fortunate enough to hear the monks reciting their morning chants.
Just down the road is another set of temples called Wat Plai Laem, which also has its own intricately designed and elaborate statues. The temples are set over a lake that is home to many breeds of fish and turtles. For a minimal donation, you can get a bowl of fish food to feed these hungry monsters from the deep. Throw some food in and watch the water start to bubble as all the fish, big and small, erupt at the surface fighting for a mouthful. On the other hand, the turtles are a lot more relaxed and would rather swim in the opposite direction.
These are sacred places so make sure you dress appropriately when visiting. Wear clothing that falls below your knees, and make sure to take a scarf or top that covers your shoulders. Always be respectful when in a temple, wherever you may be.
There is so much to see and do on Koh Samui and this is just the beginning of what could be a very long list. There’s a charm about this island that draws you in and keeps you coming back for more. Book your flights today and discover for yourself what this slice of paradise has to offer.
Leave a Comment...
October 2, 2018
Enjoyed reading this article by Emily, she portraits Koh Samui very well, I have visited this island in Thailand and it
Is just as she tells it, well done x
October 2, 2018
Privileged to have experienced all this with Emily......bought all the sights, sounds, and experiences back......a beautiful island, steeped in culture.....fabulous, memorable holiday... ???