The following is a general description of some of the major attractions around Koh Samui. Most of these attactions on Koh Samui are available to visit on organised tours or you can choose to hire a car and drive round the island at your leisure to visit most of them.
Koh Samui Attractions Generally
There are quite a number of temples and other religious sites on Koh Samui. In addition there are tourist attaction sites to keep the children entertained as well as plenty of shops, restaurants and clubs for those who prefer nightlife. The majot attractions are detailed below.
Big Buddha temple
Big Buddha temple, known in Thai as “Wat Phra Yai" is 15 metres tall. It is Koh Samui's most popular tourist attraction. It was built in 1972 by the local society to give visitors a place to pay respect to the Lord Buddha. This monument is a striking landmark and is located on the island's Northern shore, close to the international airport.
Plai Leam temple
Plai Leam temple is a glittering jewel set close to a small lake. The Wat is both amazingly ornate and colorful. Relatively few holidaymakers know about its existence. Inside, the walls are covered with depictions of the life of the Lord Buddha and show him against scenery that owes much to mainland Surrathani. Meanwhile, from the temple eaves many tiny bells are suspended producing a beautiful natural melody. Although it's new, the temple is based on architecture that dates back many centuries, with origins that are literally lost in time.
Samaret temple, known in Thai as “Wat Samret” is close to Ban Hua Thanon and contains a highly-prized artifact, rare in Thailand, a Buddha, carved out of pure white jade. It is hardly mentioned in any guide books. This slightly melancholic Wat is full of atmosphere and is definitely worth a visit. It's one of those places where time seems to run more slowly, and it's hard to think this is the 21st Century. The Wat is home to a small community of monks, and you'll see them going about their daily business if you spend any length of time here. You may need to actually ask to see the Jade Buddha, housed in a special building. The Jade Buddha sits in a glass case at the far end of the room. Slightly larger than life, it wears a tranquil smile and looks very lifelike.
The Chinese Temple in Nathon
There is a building that is missed off most itineraries, the Chinese temple in Nathon, but it is well worth a visit. It was built by Chinese immigrants from the island of Hainan who came at the start of the 20th Century, following unrest in their own country. They initially settled in Nathon and their shop houses are still to be seen to this day along the town's middle street. The temple is filled with color and is instantly recognizable by the pair of dragons on its roof. If you can't make it to Nathon, you'll find similar Chinese temples in both Lamai and also in Maenam by the sea. If you're lucky enough to visit Koh Samui during Chinese New Year, you'll find some amazing treats in store for you with firecrackers.
Hin Ta - Hin Yai
These 2 rock formations, known as the Grandfather and Grandmother rocks, have been personified by a local tale describing that an old couple, whose ship was wrecked in the bay, was washed ashore to create these remarkable rock formations.
The body of Samui's most famous mummified monk, Loung Pordaeng, is on display at Wat Khunaram in the South of Koh Samui. After his death his body was placed in a specially designed glass case for posterity. It has remained there ever since and has showed few signs of decay.
Magic Buddha Garden
The magic Buddha garden is hidden in the hills of Koh Samui. You can see several statues, temples and waterfalls which were built by one man in the last 20 years.
The only access to the temple is on a military road and getting there can be difficult if the access road is closed. Another and perhaps less stressful way of getting to the site, is by joining one of the many jungle tours offered by travel agencies.
The ancient house is made of teak wood without any nails. It is located in Ban Thale and it is the oldest house on the island. It was built approximately 150 years ago out of teak planks and has many beautiful wood carvings.
Namuang water fall
There are two Na Muang Waterfalls. They are located 10 km south from Nathon off the islands main ring road at Ban Thurian. Na Muang 1 is 18 metres high and can be reached by road. Na Muang 2 is about 80 metres high and can only be reached by a 30 minute walk. These waterfalls are the most scenic on the island.
Hin Lad water fall
Hin Lad Waterfall is located 2 km south of Nathon Town. It can be reached by a 3 to 4 kilometre walk down a jungle path to get to the falls (tough shoes and leg protection for the walk are recommended). It is located in a lush tropical rainforest setting, with palms and creeper. The waterfall has several cascading falls that tumble down into a large pool that is an ideal location for a refreshing swim.
Na Tien Butterfly Garden is located on the hillside on the south of the island. There are numerous species of butterflies on display in its large open air garden area. There are also other interesting displays like the Thai style bee house which allows the visitors to observe the activities of bees, and the insect museum displaying rare insects from Thailand and other countries.
This is a one of the most popular attractions with visitors to Koh Samui. It is a show that features snakes, indigenous to Koh Samui, as well as Centipedes and Scorpions. Take your camera because visitors are invited to join in! It is located in Taling Ngam which is just south of Nathon. It is informative and entertaining in typical Thai fashion. Follow the signs seen throughout the island. Show times are 11.00 and 14.00 everyday.
Naga Pearl Farm
Visit the Naga Pearl Farm and discover how pearls are cultured. It is on the south of the island opposite Koh Matsum. All varieties of pearl and other related products are available to buy in the farm shop.
Canopy Adventures offers a unique way to get about the jungle by enjoying an adrenalin-pumping ride down a steel rope suspended between platforms in a rainforest . You're strapped on for safety and rush through the air at speed before coming to a safe stop.
ATV tours allow you to drive a four wheel motorbike along dirt tracks and zip through the jungle at speed. Located in the south of the island, the least developed part, this is a great way to experience places you wouldn't normally get to see.
Bars, cabarets shows and discos are mainly located in Chaweng and Lamai. Green Mango, Reggae Pub, Full Circle and Bauhaus are the main discos playing trendy tunes while some other venues like The Cliff, Pod Bar, Guapa, Zicos offer a different atmosphere, music style and exciting cocktail lists. All bars and clubs close at 2:00am.
Samui is renowned for its fine seafood. Restaurants around the island offer Thai and European menus along with fusion cuisine and other specialties. You should also try the large range of tropical fruits and a fresh coconut. For further details see the Samui Dining Guide.
Other useful information
Please click on any of the links below for more useful information about Koh Samui and its surroundings.