Koh Samui’s repertoire of things to do and see is varied and interesting. The island hosts a great deal of both natural and man-made attractions from mummified monks to the famous grandma and grandpa rocks (Hin Ta & Hin Yai) to waterfalls and more.
If you aren’t planning on getting a rental car (which I would not recommend due to the insane traffic of the island), the safest way to get around is using the app NaviGo Samui, which is essentially the Uber of Samui.
Below are my recommendations:
- Go to the beach! I wrote a piece on my favorite beaches, but the reality is that all the beaches are incredible.
- Walk around the Fisherman’s Village. This is a historical part of Bophut, with rustic-style buildings housing boutique stores, trendy restaurants and a small selection of hotels lining the narrow Beach Road. Every Friday, the whole area becomes the site of the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street market, attracting huge numbers of shoppers from across the island for the amazing variety of wares and the lively atmosphere. I spent hours here eating coconut gelato, walking through shops, chatting with Thai merchants, having multiple dinners. There are lots of options for everyone. To top off the fun, the Fisherman’s market is right on Bophut beach. I would have gone every night if possible. Note: It is customary for you to remove your shoes before entering the shops, as a sign of respect in Thai culture.
- Visit the Big Bhudda Shrine on the northern coast of Koh Samui. 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. If you’re into big boys dipped in gold, this is your cup of tea, if you want to avoid tourist traps, this is not.
- Go on a kayak tour of Ang Thong Marine Park. The kicker here is to make sure that whoever you book with only allows a small number of people on the boat, unless you want to be snorkeling and kayaking along with the masses. There isn’t much to see snorkeling, but the island formations are beautiful.
- Visit Koh Matsum and Koh Tan. South of Koh Samui there are two beautiful small islands, which (unlike Ang Thong National Marine Park) are very remote and quiet. You can see Koh Matsum and Koh Tan already from Samui and they are a great destinations for a day trip. They are underdeveloped and lovely, and the perfect trip for those looking for peace, relaxation, and a natural environment. In the village of Thong Krut in the south of Samui you can rent a taxi boat for about 400 baht (always try to bargain) and get to the island or you could go to a travel agency on Koh Samui and book a tour there. Those would be more expensive, and cost about 2000 baht.
- Visit the waterfalls. Although Samui has several waterfalls, the two Na Muang waterfalls are probably the most picturesque. The name Na Muang refers to the massive purple rocks at the waterfalls. Rocks and tree roots form a natural staircase that leads to the base of Na Muang 1. A large natural pool sits under the waterfall. A 10-minute walk further up the mountain leads to Samui’s most beautiful waterfall, Na Muang 2. Wear tons of bug spray!