Take a tour, or hire a car around the island and just go exploring!
While the coastline offers unusual rock formations and lovely beaches, there are waterfalls and forest off the beaten track in Samui’s fascinating interior.
A modern cultural event is now famous in this part of Thailand. Every month at full moon, thousands of travellers flock to nearby Koh Pha-Ngan for the full moon party, probably Asia’s biggest party. What, ten years ago, was a small gathering of travellers lying on the beach to admire the beautiful full moon, has now transformed into about 10,000 to 20,000 people descending on Haad Rin Beach to dance the night away to the latest techno and trance tunes. This mass arrival of party-goers brings with it some problems, such as pollution from the garbage left behind and drug use. So if you are planning a trip to a full moon party, plan your lodgings early, and dispose of garbage responsibly.
Big Buddha: On the northern coast of Koh Samui is the famous Big Buddha shrine. Probably Samui’s most well known landmark, the 12 metre high golden Buddha can be seen from several kilometres away. Inside the surrounding temple are many different shrines and other smaller ornate Buddhas. There is also a small market selling a wide range of lucky charms and other souvenirs, alongside numerous food stalls. Localted near the airport.
Buffalo Fighting: If spectator sports are more to your liking how about a bit of buffalo fighting? This local sport was traditionally held as entertainment after the rice harvest but now is a regular gig with sometimes millions of baht changing hands over the winner – and that’s no bull! A good opportunity to see a snapshot of southern Thai life. Lots of excitement. Attracting a neighbourhood crowd who delight in a good old dust up. The more aggressive the buffalo the greater the appreciation from the audience. There are several “stadiums” around the island, most being a basic cleared area under the palms with a wall of bamboo matting or coconut leaves to hinder the view of those who haven’t paid for a seat. Entrance Fee is 200 to 300 baht. The fight ends when one animal runs away, usually well before either animal gets hurt.
Butterfly Garden: Located in the south of the island, Na Tian Butterfly Garden is a kaleidoscope of colour provided by hundreds of spectacular butterflies. For bug enthusiasts there’s also an Insect Museum, featuring rare insects from Thailand and other countries, and a bee house, which allows the visitor to observe the activities of bees. Don’t forget your camera!
Crocodile Farm: A fascinating look at some of Thailand’s jaws and claws! They’re all here. Siam crocodiles, Caimans, Saltwater crocodiles, snakes, lizards, monkeys and many others. Showtime twice a day 14:00 and 16:30. Located behind the airport and easy to find.
Hua Thanon: Just South of Hinta Hinyai, this fishing village is home to a large proportion of Samui’s Muslim population, and still retains a quaint, old-Samui feel, with rickety teakwood houses lining the road, as well as some decent seafood restaraunts and ethnic clothing and jewellery boutiques. Whilst you may not see too many long-tail boats setting off to cast nets these days, its worth checking out the teak houses put to modern usage, with the play station arcades and cars parked in the front rooms.
Hin Ta/Hin Yai: Samui’s phallic rocks are as popular with Thai visitors as foreigners. Meaning Grandfather Rock and Grandmother Rock respectively, in local legend the rocks represent two doomed lovers who drowned themselves in the sea here, because their families disapproved of their relationship. A large board at the site tells their story in full dramatic detail. The street approaching the rocks is lined with stalls selling a nice range of coconut wood products and garamear – Samui’s own glutinous coconut candy, which is rarely available elsewhere on the island. Located South of Lamai Town.
Lamai Overlap Stone: It is a challenge to get up to these impressive balanced boulders, but the spectacular views on arrival make it worthwhile for the adventurous traveller. The steep, rough, dirt-track road leading to the viewpoint should only be attempted on a dirt bike or with a 4×4, and the last stretch may have to be walked, depending on conditions. Alternatively it is a hard 20-minute climb on foot, but there is a refreshment stall at the top and it is an exhilarating experience. Look for the signs on the right hand side of the ring road 1km south of Hinta Hinyai in Lamai Beach.
Na Muang Waterfalls: Although Samui has several waterfalls, the two Na Muang waterfalls are probably the islands most stunning. The name Na Muang (meaning purple in Thai) refers to the massive purple rocks that create the waterfalls. Rocks and tree roots form a natural staircase that leads to the base of Na Muang 1. A large natural swimming pool sits under the waterfall, although beware of the hidden rocks when diving and swimming. The water is always icy cold, so it’s perfect for a hot day. A gentle walk 10 minutes further up the mountain leads you to Samui’s most beautiful waterfall, Na Muang 2. Na Muang waterfalls are easily accessible from the main ring road between Nathon and Lamai and are well signposted. Elephant trekking is also available at the Nu Muang waterfalls.
Monkey Show: Samui is synonymous with coconut trees – there are literally plantations all over the island, and until tourism arrived, coconuts were the main industry here. How do you get at the coconuts? Enter the monkey, considered as man’s best friend, these industrious little animals are greatly prized and give a demonstration of their incredible dexterity (and not just at picking coconuts) in the outdoor theatre. Look for the new location theatre off the main road behind Bandon Hospital
Samui Aquarium & Zoo: Both the aquarium and the zoo have many of Thailand’s tropical favourites above and below the water. Lots of coral fish, huge catfish and several sharks including Leopard and Black Tips Samui’s local zoo adjacent to the aquarium, house some south-eastern Asian tigers, parrots, hornbills, sea hawks, eagles or even otters who will perform for you …. if they are in the mood. You can have your photo taken with the tiger (Mainly to impress your friends) for 100 Baht per person with your camera, or 200 Baht if you borrow the zoo’s Polaroid camera. Money goes to the Tiger’s Foundation, just to make you feel better. On the way out, don’t forget to say “hi” to the birds and monkeys in smaller cages across the parking lot , some of the parrots are quite friendly and their language, as well as their feathers, can be quite colourful. Located in Hua Thanon.
Secret Buddha Garden: The secret Buddha Garden was the inspiration of one man who built several statues, temples and waterfalls, in a hidden location high up in the hills of Samui. It’s possible to drive to the garden by 4WD vehicle, but probably less hassle to take one of the many jungle tours offered by travel agencies and resorts. Contact a few places to compare prices.
Silver Beach / Tongtakien bay: This beautiful little bay is located just off the main road as you come down the hill into north Lamai from Chaweng. There are three resorts on the beach, so it can get crowded in high season, but it is well worth a visit for the stunning scenery. Crystal blue waters and white sand, bordered by craggy limestone rock formations and verdant hills: the archetypal Thai beach. The water is shallow at low tide and there is only one area good for bathing, (to the left of the bay) but once you have waded out, the water is wonderful and there are some fish around the rocks and reef for snorkellers to follow. You can get a reasonable meal and cold drinks from any of the three resorts’ beachfront restaurants, and the Samui Yacht Club hotel has a pool for diners and guests.
Snake Farm: Some of the most famous scary and poisonous snakes in Asia are goaded into action by experienced snake wranglers, who dodge and weave, duck and dive, as the snakes try to grab their attention. A must-see for almost anyone visiting the island. A ringside view! Also includes displays of centipedes and scorpions, as well as demonstrations of Thai Cock Fighting. The programs are both informative and entertaining in typical Thai style. Great fun for the entire family. Just make sure your child doesn’t bring home any live souvenirs. Follow the road signs to get to their location in Talingnam, south of Nathon. Shows start at 11 am and 2 pm daily.