Imagine a vast expanse of coconut and fruit groves spreading out over a lowland area of a gorgeous, tropical island. White sands fringe the edges and a turquoise sea surrounds it all. Rising up from the center is a granite massive with a virgin rainforest framing its base. If you automatically wish to head to such an idyllic setting, you can. The island of Koh Samui in the Chumphon Archipelago is the island described above. It is a stunningly beautiful part of Thailand, and the country’s second largest island.
Part of the Ang Thong National Marine Park
Part of a national marine park (the Ang Thong National Marine Park) it is perfectly sized for exploration and a completely leisurely holiday. It is large enough for you to spend a day or two exploring its beaches, trails, forests and towns. However, it can be easily driven in just a few hours’ time, too.
Its name is somewhat mysterious as it was not originally called Koh Samui. It is believed that it was taken from the Chinese words for safe haven, as it was popular for fishing fleets to take shelter in Koh Samui during long voyages.
Because it remained somewhat isolated until the later days of the 20th century; not even having paved roads until the 1980s, it is a pristine place ideal for those who love outdoor living. It is home to thousands of Buddhists and features some gorgeous Buddhist temples, too. It is also famed for its lovely markets, and it is slowly emerging as a must see for those who wish to experience something utterly unique during a holiday to Thailand.
If this initial introduction to Koh Samui appeals to you, it is important that you enjoy some of the finest experiences Koh Samui has to offer. They include:
With its hills, the island offers you many opportunities to enjoy gentle hiking that rewards you with stunning scenery and views. The nicer choices include Samui Viewpoint (between Lamai and Chaweng), Wat Rattanakosin, the Khao Hua Jook pagoda and more. If you are eager to see something unforgettable, make a point of visiting the Secret Buddha Garden on Khun Nim Peak.
Days at the beach
Ringed almost entirely with beaches, you will have plenty of settings from which to choose. Whether you want a quiet spot for sunrise or sunset, a busier place with families and kids, or an entirely empty place to savor the views, you are going to find options here.
Markets in Koh Samui
The island is a pedestrian paradise and nowhere is this more obvious than in the amazing markets. They are in almost every town. They are perfect for grabbing a delicious bite to eat, a quick cocktail or doing some fun shopping. The best time to head to the markets is Friday night – particularly to Bophut with its walking market from the Wharf Samui to the fisherman’s village. Lamai has a Sunday evening market, too, and the Chaweng Night Market is famed for its foods.
The island is quite famous for its amazing temples and its prevalent Buddhist culture. There are very familiar destinations, including the Big Buddha, but experts point to the smaller temples in the south, such as Wat Rattanakosin or Laem Sor Pagoda, both surrounded by nature. Don’t miss the Elephant Gate and Wat Kiri Wonkaram, too.
Natural pools and amazing waterfalls are a perfect way to experience the island. Namuang falls are fantastic, but so too are Hin Lad and Wanorn.
How else can you experience the island? Visit the Ang Thong Marine National Park by boat, head into town for some of the wonderful nightlife, be sure to get authentic Thai massage, pay a visit to Grandmother and Grandfather Rock at Lamai Beach, and participate in one of the 4×4 or bike tours that let you see the most natural parts of the island. There is much to see and do, so make certain to book a visit to Kah Samui soon.