Koh Samui these days comes with a mind-boggling array of choice that starts with your accommodation and extends to how you choose to fill your days and nights. Read on for our take on just some of the diverse treats that are waiting for you on the island where spectacular comes as standard and unforgettable is guaranteed.
Koh Samui itself is a little under 250 sq km and set in the Gulf of Thailand to the sheltered, eastern side of the peninsular. As such it benefits from a much shortened rainy season and far fewer scary storms. It possesses seemingly endless palm fringed beaches behind which is a mountainous heart with deep and thick rainforest. There are impressive waterfalls and stunning views to be had from almost any elevated point. It is a haven for wildlife with everything from elephants and monkeys to snakes and seahorses. OK. We’re fans. But don’t take our word for it, do your research and discover in full just how much this amazing island has to offer. Or do take our word for it and get yourself booked in, what are you waiting for?
Adventure Experiences on Koh Samui
Whether you like to get your thrills in the air, on the ground or on and in the water, Koh Samui has something to put a smile on your face.
In The Air
If you want to get up in the air off Samui you are going to need to get out over the water. The topography of the island itself makes attempting to land there a perilous business. But getting up in the air is well rewarded with some stunning views of the islands that populate the Gulf. Whether you parasail or paraglide is up to you and according to your appetite for thrill. Make it clear to your pilot that screaming is not a request to go higher before setting off. Head round to the north-west end of the island and get an unbeatable view of the 15M Big Buddha on his own little island, separated from the main island by a causeway. If you’re lucky while you are up there you will catch sight of some of Thailand’s larger marine animals, whale sharks and dolphins are easily spotted if about.
On The Water
As you might expect from a tropical island, where a lot of the action takes place on or around the beach, there is an almost endless list of excitement that takes place on the water. Every conceivable kind of water-borne transport is available. Jet-skis and canoes. Surf-boards, paddle-boards and speedboats. It’s all here, well almost. Also available are the more recent arrivals of Jet Packs and Fly Boarding – both see you hovering metres above the water wearing noisy equipment, kept in the air by powerful jets of water shooting out from either your back or your feet. I’ve yet to see a coracle on the island. So whether you want to poodle along to find out what is round the next bend, and there is always something else around the next bend, or shoot across the open water creating a great big wake and make the short trip across to Kao Phang Yan, and be back before your coffee goes cold if you want.
Under The Water
You can, if you like, just swim out from the beach with a snorkel and have a rewarding dive. But people travel a long way to swim in the Angthong National Marine Park. Just an hour on a boat from Samui and you find yourself in this breath-taking reserve. Koh Wao is the northernmost of the 42 islands in the reserve and possesses the deepest clearest water. It is a haven offering abundant coral and incredibly diverse aquatic life that is hard to beat. At the heart of the reserve is the Emerald Lake, as beautiful as it sounds it is a land-locked salt-water lake surrounded by sheer limestone cliffs… well worth a climb to the top for some unbeatable photo opportunities. You should also find your way to the Park’s HQ, Koh Wua-ta-lap. There’s a lovely beach and the chance to hang out with the local monkey population.
If you have never scuba-dived there are excellent PADI courses on offer and Samui offers the perfect environment in which to learn. If you are an experienced diver there is something for everyone. There are wrecks in lagoons so beautiful they will bring a tear to your eye, which they have for countless Hollywood location directors. There is also Sail Rock, an internationally famous dive featuring a chimney that extends to 40 meters below the surface. Dive between March and September for optimum conditions and give yourself the best chance to see the full range of wildlife on offer… Whale sharks, groupers, barracuda, turtles and rays all make for impressive and memorable encounters. The corals and the baffling diversity of the small brightly colored fish are the brilliant backdrop to all your time spent underwater.
On The Island
It is possible to go to Samui and have the time of your life without ever setting foot in the water… maybe that is a small exaggeration but packed into the island’s modest frame are a surprising spectrum full of choices. If food is your thing then you will find world-class restaurants, but don’t miss out on the simple joys of the famously tasty street-food. There are also excellent courses for those who want to add to their culinary skills.
You can spend your entire time touring temples if you like, there are plenty. They speak to the island’s cultural diversity with Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese all represented. The pick of the temples, the ones that should definitely be on your list, Remember that Big Buddha we mentioned… that you might have spotted from the air if you have already done the parasailing thing. Big Buddha is a fully 15M tall seated figure in gold on his own little island at the top of Samui’s best stairs. Also on your list should be the statue of the goddess Guanyin at Wat Plae Laem, she is just stunning with her eighteen arms. A slightly more quirky day trip involves a tough drive up to the very top of the island where, among the durian groves, you will find a unique attraction. A local farmer spent his retirement, and no small amount of money, populating his land with hundreds of statues. Statues of Buddha, characters from Thai folklore, animals… statues everywhere. The surroundings, near the Tar Nim waterfall, offer commanding views of the island so if you just go there for the photo opportunity you won’t be disappointed. But those statues will blow you away.
The beaches around the island offer the full range of experiences. From 5 star luxury to humble huts producing tasty tidbits, you will find the beach that matches your mood.
Shopaholics will appreciate the western style malls with an extensive offering, all your favorite brands and some outstanding boutiques will make sure you don’t miss out on your retail therapy. But don’t miss the night markets. These are bustling noisy affairs with hundreds of stalls offering branded, though almost never original, goods alongside handicraft and funky souvenirs. The locals go to pick up their spices and herbs making it an aromatic treat. There is a strangely calm and relaxed atmosphere given the wall of noise from music played through loudspeakers and contributions from street performers. It is a great evening out and there are several of these markets, our favorite is held on a Friday between 5 and 11 a short walk from Bophut Beach.
The beachfronts themselves are dynamic and lively places with seemingly endless great restaurants and bars. The sort of activities that you might expect to see on any bustling high end holiday resort… enjoy a meal while you take turns on the superb wakeboard machine, before you wander off to take in some music, or head for the walking market, or join in with the always popular public dancing workouts. With everything done in the Thai style – meaning it’s delivered with charm, patience and always with a smile that is completely genuine.
However you fill your time while a guest on Samui, you are guaranteed to return with a hatful of wonderful memories of your time among these warm and welcoming people. Everyone who comes goes away an evangelist and what better recommendation is there than that?