Koh Samui Attractions

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The setting for the eponymous 'perfect' beach in Alex Garland's book, Anthong really was once home to a group of travellers who'd permanently dropped out of society. They've now moved on to Koh Pha Ngan, but Ang Thong remains as stunning as ever.

Exuding a primordial beauty, the park's 42 jungle-shrouded islands are inhabited by a variety of wildlife, including langurs and macaques. Many have spectacular rock formations, secret caves and hidden lagoons. Read More...

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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. Read More...

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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. Read More...

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Buddha Footprints

Although the Buddha footprints can be a bit hard to find, it's well worth putting in the extra effort to get there. Located on a hilltop shrine near the Butterfly Garden, they are in fact four footprints engraved one on top of each other. After you negotiate the 163 steps to the top you are rewarded with one of the most spectacular views on the island.

  • Location: Route 4170, 2km west of the turnoff for the Butterfly Garden

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. Men pay about 100 Baht, women enter free. The fight ends when one animal runs away, usually well before either animal gets hurt.

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You'll find a three-screen cinema in the Tesco lotus complex. Showing both Western and Thai movies, the cinema is a big hit with the locals. Reasonably priced and with comfortable and spacious seating, the cinema is the same as any in the west.

The only notable difference is that everyone stands up during the Thai national anthem which plays before each feature. As with all Asian cinemas the air conditioning is set at freezing so remember to bring a jumper! 

  • Location: Tesco Lotus Complex, Route 4169, Chaweng beach.
  • Tel: 07 742-729-9
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Chinese Temple to the Goddess Zhao Mei Guan Im

A relatively new temple at just over 30 years old, this is a single building, with a small altar and beautifully decorated with colourful paintings that tell stories of Zhao Mei Guan Im. Pay particular attention to the painting on the stone altar just to the right of the temple building as it is extremely well done.

Its location is at the southwest end of Koh Samui with wonderful views of Koh Tao (Turtle Island), Koh Mud Sum and the mainland. From here you can watch the long-tail fishing boats and observe the sunset from the beach just below the temple grounds.

  • How to get there: To get there take the main road (4169) to the turn off for Ban Taling Ngam (4170) and follow it for six kilometres to the Samui Snake Farm. From there go down Keeree-Mas Road, the same way you get to Wat Khiri Mat, about 800 metres to the first left turn, which starts out as a dirt road and follow this almost to its end before turning left again onto the temple grounds. There are only Thai language signs to follow, but it's still relatively easy to find.

Hainan Temple (Chinese)

This brightly coloured gem of a temple built in 1862 is in the centre of Nathon. As you walk down Thaweerat Phakdee Street (Route 4169) look for Soi Angthong 4.

You can actually see the temple compound from there, but take a closer look and you'll also see the two fierce looking golden lions guarding the main gate. The main building is surrounded by a walled garden and the traffic noise is virtually non existent inside.

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This is wonderfully small, peaceful temple to the left of the Hin Lad Waterfall trail. Cross over the bridge and stop for a moment of reflection while you feed the fish (fish food costs just 20 baht at the small restaurant near the bridge). The Buddha statue sits far back to the right in a small, natural, niche formed from the side of a huge boulder and has lush vegetation surrounding it. This place is well shaded and calm making it perfect for a stop after the hike to the waterfall. Signs, posted at intervals along the temple pathways, contain sayings of wisdom both in Thai and English. Read More...

  • Location: Near Nathon
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Art often imitates Nature, but less common is Nature imitating Art, especially the Art of the Ribald. But in Thailand anything is possible including, on Koh Samui, the natural geological formations known as Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks (the Grandpa and Grandma rocks), which look, respectively, like male and female genitalia.

The beachside rocks, located between Lamai and Hua Thanon, raise indulgent chuckles or embarrassed titters from those who go to see them. Even stranger, they are close to one another, giving rise to a convenient legend explaining how they came into being. Read More...

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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 restaurants 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. Read More...

Although justly famous for its Full Moon Parties, Ko Phangan has a lot more to offer visitors than all night dancing. There are few day trip options from Koh Samui, apart from sailing cruises, so at least an over night stay is recommended.

Ko Phangan is at least ten years behind Samui in terms of development, which lends the island a lot of charm, and some would say it's more picturesque than Samui itself. The main tourist beach Haad Rin is busiest on Full Moon nights, but is well worth a visit the rest of the month too for its chaotic jumble of bars, clubs, restaurants and handicraft shops. The locals - expats and Thais alike - are a friendly bunch and help make the atmosphere a lot more laid back than frenetic Chaweng. Their attitude is that every night is a party night on Haad Rin, which pretty much sums it up. Read More...

Once the haunt of sea-turtles, this small island north of Koh Samui with its quiet undisturbed beaches has become a magnet for those who really want to get away from it all and for divers who come to view the colourful coral beds. Since the main attraction is diving - the beaches remain tranquil and uncrowded while facilities, food and accommodation have greatly improved.

Since its "discovery" in the early 80's word has spread of the island's natural beauty, beaches and marine life with faster, more efficient ferries providing better access. It's a great place to relax. Read More...

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Laem Sor Pagoda

This pagoda is to be found at the southern most tip of Koh Samui, which is also the end of Bang Kao Beach. Its golden hue, glowing in the sunlight, makes for an astonishingly beautiful contrast to the Columbia blue sky and the turquoise sea behind it.

The entrance is guarded by two 'Yak' (meaning giant) warrior statues with immense swords, colourful clothing and scary faces. Buddha stands in the doorway to the rear of the statues. This one is always a great photo opportunity as there is absolutely nothing obstructing your view and it all fits on one photograph. It's located eleven kilometres south of Lamai.

  • How to get there: Take the 4169 to route 4170 and make a left. There's another left at Laem-Sho-Road and then about 1 kilometre to the pagoda.
  • Tour Available: Half Day Samui Adventure
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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 4x4, 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.

  • How to get there: Look for the signs on the right hand side of the ring road 1km south of Hinta Hinyai in Lamai Beach.

Monkey Show

Koh 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. The entertainment also includes performing elephants.

Moulin Rouge

This popular cabaret show and bar, formerly the Christy's Cabaret before changing ownership, features three shows nightly at 8pm, 9.30pm and 11pm. Some 20 performers bring out their inner Lady Marmalade with song, dance and fabulous costumes. The earlier show is a more 'soft and sweet' performance suitable for families, while things heat up for the later shows. Entry is free but drinks, at 220 to 360 baht each, are pricier than the average bar or nightclub.

  • Location: Chaweng Beach Rd, Central Chaweng (down the soi opposite the Khao San Restaurant and close to Burger King)
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Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)

Thailand's beloved national sport Muay Thai, is taken very seriously throughout the country and Koh Samui is no exception! Although Thai boxing is regarded as the worlds most dangerous martial art it is surprisingly graceful to watch. Chaweng stadium near the Reggae Pub is the biggest on Samui and hosts all the major fights on the island.

Fights are usually held twice a week on Monday and Friday nights but during peak season an additional Sunday night fight is often held. Fights start at 9pm and the evening normally lasts around three hours, with as many as ten smaller bouts before the main fight. If you only want to catch the main event then drop in for an hour around 10/10.30pm.

The atmosphere in Chaweng Stadium is excellent with a live commentator and traditional Thai music - although some find the noise a bit overpowering! Both Thai and foreign fighters compete in the ring, most are professionals, all are pretty entertaining. Chaweng Stadium charges an entry fee and you can chose between a ringside table or a seat in the surrounding stands.

Chaweng has two Thai boxing stadiums, which hold regular Muay Thai bouts, some of which feature foreign as well as Thai fighters. To see this dynamic martial art in action you can visit the Chaweng Stadium, or the newer Phatchabuncha Stadium near Laem Din market. The fights are well advertised in the days before, both with flyers and mobile trucks patrolling the island with loudspeaker announcements.

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Although Samui has several waterfalls, the two Na Muang waterfalls are probably the island's 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. Read More...

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Old Buddha Image

The Old Buddha Image is simply a large seated Buddha statue in a pavilion. That's it. The seated pose is called the 'Pang Manrawichai' and is used to ward off bad spirits. It's easy to find and also easy to overlook although it sits right at the edge of the road with nothing obstructing it.

  • How to get there: A little over one kilometre from the 4169, turn at Ban Thurian, on route 4173. It will be on your right side.

Pagoda Khao Chedi

The Pagoda Khao Chedi ('khao' means 'white') is a 'Srivijaya' style chedi situated on a hill above the area Laem Sor. It, also, goes by the name Laem Sor Pagoda, which can be a bit confusing for newcomers to the island seeing as there is another Laem Sor Pagoda below it on Bang Kao Beach, but this one's golden. You get spectacular views to all sides from this vantage point including mainland Suratthani, Bang Kao Bay all the way to Laem Set Point and the islands ('Koh' means island in Thai) Taen (Turtle island) and Mudsum in addition to Wat Laem Sor.

It is, without a doubt, one of the best places on Koh Samui to watch the sun go down. Mix in a little ATV riding adventure, swimming and general relaxation on the beach for a full day of pleasure away from the usual tourist crowds. It's worth it to lie in the hammock at the top and watch the sunset.

  • Location: Located eleven kilometres south of Lamai take the 4169 to route 4170 and make a left.
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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.  Read More...

  • Location: behind the airport and easy to find.
  • Remarks: Showtime: twice a day 14:00 and 16:30.
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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. Read More...

  • Opening Hours: Daily from 08:30 – 17:30
  • Location: On Natien Beach opposite Centara Villas Samui (Formerly Central Samui Village), south of the island.
  • Tel: +66 (0)77 424 020
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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. Read More...

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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.

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. Read More...

  • Location: Follow the road signs to get to their location in Talingnam, south of Nathon.
  • Remarks: Shows: 11 am and 2 pm daily.
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Wat Chaeng

Another superbly designed Wat located in Nathon, Wat Chaeng has an adjoining school which seems to be its main purpose now. The temple building is fronted by a large, seated Buddha in the 'Pang Prathanporn' pose. The Buddha has one hand raised with the index finger and thumb touching and the other hand is resting in his lap with the palm facing up. The Wat and Buddha are guarded by two huge green and gold statues. At the southern end of Thaweerat Phakdee Road (4169 through Nathon) turn left into the temple grounds. 

  • Location: Nathon

Wat Khiri Mat

There is an ornately designed, highly visible, blue-and-yellow arch showing the way to this temple at the end of Keeree-Mas Road in Ban Pang Ka. The temple building sits atop a small hill. Directly in front of the temple, at the bottom of the hill, is a large pagoda with a glass enclosed Buddha statue inside.

  • How to get there: From the 4169 in Ban Saket turn onto the 4170, in the direction of Ban Taling Ngam, and follow it for six Kilometres to the corner where the Samui Snake Farm is. Across from the Snake Farm take Keeree-Mas Road for one kilometre to a right hand turn that appears as if it is going into a dirt parking lot. Drive slowly and pay attention as there are no signs announcing this Wat along the road.
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Wat Khao Hua Juk

Although this 'mountain' is only 90 meters tall you will have an incredible view from the peak. The entire strip from the Samui airport is virtually at your feet. If you like take offs and landings this is the place to sit for a while. After all how many other airports can you watch from above without flying? The islands Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Sum, Koh Lum Noi, Koh Tao Poon and Koh Fan (where Big Buddha sits) plus Big Buddha, Wat Bang Rak, gorgeous sunsets and much more from Koh Samui are all visible from this spot. 

This temple contains, according to the sign, a replica of Buddha's footprint, but it's not on any island tour so you'll have to 'rough it' and drive yourself there. On your way to the top you will also pass the fabulous 'Nathalie's Art Palace' and the Samui branch of Bangkok's famous 'Q Bar'. To get there take the 4169 to Chaweng and turn off the main road towards the beach after one point 5 kilometres, opposite Chaweng Lake you will find the Arch marking Kao Hua Juk Road and directing you up to the Wat. Once you turn here drive about 150 meters until you see the stairs on your right. These stairs lead to a gently curving walkway taking you to the summit.

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The body of Samui's most famous mummified monk - there really are several - Luang Pordaeng is on display here. Luang Pordaeng died in the 1980s and as per his instructions, his body was placed in a specially designed glass case for posterity. It has remained there ever since and has shown little signs of decay.

His remarkable longevity is ascribed to the simple diet he followed in life and his frequent marathon meditation sessions, which considerably slowed down his metabolism. A guide, giving the full details of Luang's remarkable life is on sale at the Wat alongside various Buddhist amulets depicting him. Read More...

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Wat Kiri Wongkaram

This is a beautiful white temple with a contrasting roof made of red, green and yellow tiles. There is a small Buddha statue sitting before the entrance. There's not much else to see in this compound.

  • Location: Three and one half kilometres from the ring road (4169).
  • How to get there: From the ring road (4169) take the turn onto route 4170 in Ban Saket, near the buffalo fighting stadium turnoff, follow it down and go through the Elephant Gate in Ban Taling Ngam after about 500 meters you will be at the Wat.
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Wat Klang

Despite the fact that you will see this Wat listed on some maps, it no longer exists. There is only the Wat Klang School about 150 metres west of the intersection of routes 4170 and 4173.

Wat Laem Sor

Wat Laem Sor is a very large boat with the temple sitting astern and surrounded by a pool of water to make it appear as if it's in the ocean, which is actually about 200 metres away. The view of this temple is especially impressive when seen from the Pagoda Khao Chedi on the hill above Bang Kao Beach. What you'll see is a large, beautiful, bright blue, boat sailing amongst the coconut trees.

When seen together with the beach and Bang Kao Bay it makes a wonderful sight indeed! As you enter the temple complex look to your left and you will see, growing along the ground like a snake, a large palm tree. When you combine your visit to this temple and the two Laem Sor Pagodas with the beach and nearby ATV Adventure Park it will make for an exciting day of sightseeing, four wheel adventure, swimming, relaxation and fun.

  • Location: Located eleven kilometres south of Lamai.
  • How to get there: Take the 4169 to route 4170 and make a left. There's another left at Laem-Sho-Road and then about 1 kilometre to the temple, which is only 100 meters away from Laem Sor Pagoda (the gold one).
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Wat Lamai and Cultural Hall

The Lamai temple is the social epicentre for the local Thai community. Alongside weddings, funerals and religious festivals, it plays host to some lively temple fairs throughout the year with concerts, fairground games, food and even an outdoor cinema.The temple fairs last for over a week and if you are in Lamai when one is being held it is certainly worth checking out.

The musty, dusty Cultural Hall inside the temple complex houses a quaint and unique collection of artefacts from Samui's past, ranging from brass and earthenware vessels and cooking implements to wooden agricultural tools, Armadillo skins; dried pufferfish, swords, muskets, ancient bicycles, and an amazing 2000 year old metal ceremonial drum unearthed in Lamai village. The fact that there are no explanatory notes in English means that you have to use your imagination to compose mental images of Samui's bygone days.

  • Location: Route 4169
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Wat Nara Charoen Suk

This temple building is unique in that it has a very long, thin tower built into its facade. To find it go from Ban Lipa Noi, on route 4169, take the 4174 and follow it as if you were going to the Navy Base. After passing Big John Resort and seafood Restaurant (about three kilometres) the road turns sharply to the left and from there it's just another kilometre on your left to the entrance road.

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Located near the Big Buddha in the north of the island, Wat Plai Leam is a colourful and interesting, newly constructed Buddhist Temple. The temple features very ornate decor and art, an 18-arm image of Guanyin - the Goddess of Mercy - and a large white Chinese Buddha set on the lake. If you donate money for the upkeep of the temple you'll be given a bag of food to throw to the teeming fish in the lake. Read More...

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Wat Pradoem

Built around 250 years ago, this temple is believed to be Koh Samui's oldest. As well as the temple itself, Wat Pradoem also has a wooden hall full of ancient scriptures and ornate carvings. The temple is located near the Butterfly Garden and is signposted. 

  • Location: Route 4173
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