GUIDE TO KOH SAMUI
Koh Samui is a tropical paradise located on the east of the thai peninsula. One of the most gorgeous islands I have ever been to filled with charming people and an incredible atmosphere. Having a good 6 days here we wanted to make sure that at least two were spent discovering the island whilst the other four were spent lying on a beach or by our hotel pool. Although the high season is mostly between November and February, I cannot deny that our stay here was not spectacular. Of course, the weather had its up’s and downs but when your in a tropical climate humidity and rainfall is sometimes what you expect. Even when it does rain it only lasts an hour and it can be quite pleasantly refreshing anyway.
Visit the Island:
We spent a day discovering the most important historical attractions of koh samui. Booked a tour called Mountain Adventure through our hotel, you have a day out exploring numerous interesting sites. You get picked up from your hotel at 7.15 and brought back around 4.30. During this tour you will visit:
Wat Plai Laem is probably one of the most recent temples built in Thailand, with its completion in 2004. The most striking monument here is of Guanyin, the Chinese goddess of mercy and compassion. She has eighteen arms that symbolises her abilities to help more than one person at a time across the world. It is said in Chinese Culture that she is the protector of women, children, sick and poor. In addition to the statue of Guanyin, you will also find Budai a symbol of Chinese folkloric deity, known as the "Fat Buddha". In Chinese culture it is said that a fat buddha represents wealth and happiness. So why the Chinese influence? Well, this temple offers an insight into Chinese-Thai beliefs as Koh Samui has a strong Chinese heritage.
This temple emits a sensation of tranquility due to its position on a Lake. Although it is a popular tourist site on the island, do not forget that it is also a sacred place of worship and therefore appropriate clothing is necessary.
Next on the itinerary is the Wat Phra Yai, also known as the Big Buddha Temple. This temple is probably the most famous temple in Koh Samui, with a large, 12 m seated golden Buddha. At the bottom of the steps that lead to the Buddha, you will find numerous stalls where i suggest buying some water as the temperature is always quite warm. You walk up a colourful staircase that will lead you to the feet of the gigantic buddha. Buddha is sat in a particular posture called Mara, with the left hand resting on his lap facing upwards, and the right hand faces downwards. This posture symbolises resistance to temptation, purity and enlightenment.
Next, you will go up the mountain, and the driver of the 4X4 jeep will allow two to sit at the top of the jeep at a time. It is the best experience you will have here – they drive in a crazy way. You will reach a beautiful view point, perfect for a photograph. You will proceed to the Secret Buddha Garden, an enchanting oasis filled with Buddha statues and other important figures in Buddhism. Unfortunately as we got here it started pouring with rain so we couldn't not enjoy it to the full, but just stand there and get immersed in it's tranquility.
From the garden, you will go to the highest view point of the mountain which "apparently" is perfect for taking gorgeous photos [unfortunately I have none as the weather was terrible, stormy and misty].
Next you will stop for lunch in this absolutely breathtaking location surrounded by coconut palm trees. Included in the price is a very tasty buffet and you have about 30 minutes to sit and eat.
One of my favorite things of the whole tour is visiting the Coconut Farm. I found it so mesmerising how coconut oil is actually produced. Monkeys are used to fetch the coconuts from the tree and can harvest around 1000 coconuts a day, and then well trained men peel the coconuts themselves. Every part of the coconut is essential, including the water, the milk which is made from the water and the pulp, the fruit and the wood.
After the coconut farm you will venture towards the Namuang Waterfall I, a beautiful cascade of water surrounded by plants and trees. When the weather is warm you can take a dip in the little lake but when I went it was slightly too cold.
The next part, which I honestly did not appreciate and will not spend too much writing about it is the elephant and monkey show. Unfortunately It was part of the itinerary and we could not alter it. It is like a circus, with the animals that seem to be treated fine but still shouldn't be kept in captivity so instead we just sat by the exit waiting for the others. You can pay extra for an elephant ride, but honestly for this I would suggest going to the elephant temple where the elephants are actually healthy and free.
Probably the most interesting yet disturbing site to see is the Mummified Monk. It is said that the monk died peacefully forty years ago of old age in his meditating position, and that he asked that if his body would not decompose, he wanted to be placed in a glass casket in the temple as an inspiration for future generations for the teachings of Buddhism. The only part of the monk that dried up was his eyes, hence the sunglasses.
The last stop is Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks, also known as Grandfather and Grandmother rocks. Due to some geological formations, there are two rocks that have formed into male and female genitals, but of course there are many other interesting myths about their formation. The views from here are splendid and on your way down do not forget to pick up coconut ice cream - it is absolutely delicious.
The beaches in Koh Samui are an absolute dream. There are various beaches to visit and it is super easy to get from one side of the island to the other. Renting a moped/motorbike is a very popular thing here in Koh Samui as it is cheap and facilitates exploring the island.
The question is though, If you only have one day to visit a beach then which beach do you go to? Each part of the island is different so depending on what sort of holiday you are looking for there will be a beach specifically for you; whether you're looking for a family vacation, a backpackers experience, a romantic holiday or a relaxing, solo getaway hopefully this little résumé of the beaches will help facilitate your decision.
Silver Beach: One of my favorite beaches of the Island is Silver Beach. Known to be quite a romantic, couple beach. It is quiet, it has the possibility to go for walks and explore the surroundings and the water is beautiful all year round. Also perfect for families you will find a couple of delicious restaurants located on the side of the beach.
Coral Beach: Coral cove beach is a low-key, not very well known part of the island. A secluded cove that provides you the ultimate romantic experience. Be sure to visit this beach if you are looking for an idyllic day at the beach.
Chaweng Beach: Located in the north-east side, Chaweng is the most popular part of the island and certainly the most packed. If you're a backpacker and are looking for an adventurous and fun time on the island then Chaweng is the place for you. This place comes alive in the evening and is filled with a variety of hotels and hostels, perfect for avery budget.
Lamai Beach: Lamai is known for being a more "family" orientated beach. Although it is the second largest part of the Island, Lamai beach is considered to be more relaxing than Chaweng. As you can see below however, August is not the best period to visit Koh Samui due to the low tide, but don't let this image fool you as during peak times the water is absolutely gorgeous.
Maenam Beach: Also a backpackers favorite, Maenam beach is filled with both low budget bungalows and 5 star resorts. Perfect place if you're looking to meet other travellers and have more of a "fun" time than a "relaxing" time.
Ang Thong Marine National Park:
An essential excursion if you are vacating in Koh Samui is visiting the Ang Thong Marine National Park. The National Park is an archipelago of 42 paradisiacal islands with white sandy beaches, deep green vegetation, large mountains, jungle and a wildlife of monkeys, iguanas and otters.
I suggest booking Samui Island Tours [details down below]. The boat departs at 8AM from the port, and the first stop will be Koh Mae Ko, home to the salt water emerald lake known as Talay Nai. You can opt for having kayaking and snorkelling in your tour, and if you do then you will be the first off the boat to kayak around the island. Next you will follow a path up to the emerald lake, where you will have a pretty spectacular view of the lake.
After spending some time to cool off on the island the boat will depart and will serve a buffet lunch around 12PM. Following from the lunch, the next stop is Wua Ta Lap, a gorgeous, white sandy beach that contains one of the highest view points of the archipelago. Walking this 500m trail is a must, as the end view is breath taking, however it is not for the faint hearted, and most importantly do not forget to bring water - I was almost at the top without water and almost fainted. Anyway, once you get to the top really take in the view, it was the most beautiful thing i have ever seen and even pictures don't do it justice. If this is too much then you can go and visit the Lotus cave known as Bua Boke, also known to be spectacular.
After this you will have some time to swim in the gorgeous blue waters of Wua Ta Lap, and by 17.30 you will be back in Koh Samui.
* It is actually possible to stay on the island overnight and book a tent and you just return to Koh Samui the following day on the boat.
*Also check that the park is actually open as during the months of November, December and January the park may be closed due to weather conditions.
Speed Boat RS RUANGSRI:
Adult 2.000 THB | Child: 1.600 THB
*Doesn’t include 300 THB entrance fee to Marine National Park
Including pick up from hotel at 7.20 and drop off at 16.00. This trip includes snorkelling at Koh Wao & emerald lake, Lunch at Wao Ta Lap island, kayaking around island and climb up viewpoint of Woa Ta Lap.
Adult: 2.100 THB
*Doesn’t include 300 THB entrance fee to Marine National Park
Including transfer from hotel to the Pier at Bangkok Beach. They serve a complementary breakfast. Also include snorkelling around Koh Wao, climbing to view point of Koh Mae Koh, Buffet lunch on Koh Paluay, Song Pee Nong Beach .
Pick up times:
7.20/7.40 in Lamai, butterfly garden
7.40/8.00 – Chawent, Bean Tai
8.00/8.20: Maenam, Bohput, Choeng Mon, Bangrack
SAMUI ISLAND TOUR:
This is the tour that I took and if you don’t mind taking a big boat then I recommend this one. The quality/price rapport is incredible – The staff is so fun and the activities are very interesting. Also included in the price is the 300 THB admission fee, something not many companies include in their price. I can guarantee this is a complete trip that you definitely never forget.
Adult: 1.850 | Child: 1.000
Adult: 1.3000 | Child: 700
This includes: admission fee, accident insurance, hotel transfer, English and german guides, mask and snorkel, life jacket, long-tail boat transfer, light breakfast, buffet lunch, water and soft drinks, kayak equipment for kayaking and dry bags for kayakers.
** IF YOU WANT YOU CAN STAY OVERNIGHT AT THE ISLAND AND THEY WILL ARRANGE PICK UP THE FOLLOWING DAY
* Charges may apply
Visiting Koh Tao:
Koh Tao is a small island off Koh Samui only a ___ ride away. It is very simple to reach and it makes a perfect day out.
Adult: 2.1000 THB
This includes the transfer from hotel at bang rack beach, complementary breakfast, a visit to Koh Nang Yuan [paradise island off coast of Koh Tao], thai style lunch, Kayak around TaoThong - Beach in Koh Tao and transfer back to hotel
The nightlife in Koh Samui is buzzing every day of the year. There is always a market happening in one of the villages if not all of them. My personal favourite is the Fishermans Village market in Boh Put. It is the centre of life, with numerous food stalls ( my parents will voucher the fact that i regret not trying the street food), clothes stalls and bars.
Friday- Boh Put fishermans village market : 17-23/24
Saturday - Chaweng - 17-24
Sunday - Lamai Market : 17/24