hailand’s second largest island destination – Koh Samui, offers many tourism activities to local and foreign visitors. It is one of the landmark places on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Known for its fun water activities and adventure sports, Koh Samui is home to some magnificent Buddhist temples, walking street markets, radiant beaches and general sights. It attracts every kind of traveller. Even if you are a seasoned traveller, Koh Samui might still surprise you in the most pleasant way possible.
Let’s discover some of the best activities to do in Koh Samui:
Go and watch the refreshing NaMuang Waterfall
Na Muang Waterfall, located in the Samui NaMuang Adventure Park, is a highly sought-after tourist attraction in Koh Samui. The waterfall towers at a height of eighteen metres, creating a stunning gushing water display. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by a tranquil pool, which is a popular spot for both international and local tourists to take a refreshing dip or capture memorable photos. Furthermore, one can explore the lush surrounding jungle to reconnect with nature. Watching this waterfall is definitely one of the most unmissable things to do in Koh Samui.
One can also explore the surrounding lush jungle and reconnect with nature. The best thing about reaching this waterfall is the trail towards it is laden with Thai food stalls and souvenir shops.
Travel Tip: Wear sturdy footwear and comfy clothes. Always carry a pair of extra clothing, a towel and a water bottle.
Best time to visit: April to early December.
How to Reach: Rent a bike and it will take you at least 40 minutes to reach if you are staying at Chaweng (the main tourist hub)
Entry Fee: Entry is free but the parking charges are 20 THB for two-wheeler and 60 THB for four-wheeler.
Suggested Read: Places to visit in Koh Samui
Witness the grandeur of Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai)
Wat Phra Yai (The Big Buddha Temple) is a significant landmark in Koh Samui. Here you can admire the stunning 12-metre-high Buddha statue covered in a golden hue. According to Thai beliefs, the Buddha’s posture indicates a calm and enlightened sense of being after overcoming the temptations sent by the demon god Mara. Once you reach this temple, climb the stairs to reach the summit. Witness the panoramic views of the island once you get near the statue. It is also a great spot for clicking photos. You will hear temple bells ringing. It is a surreal experience. You may donate some money for the temple’s upkeep. One thing to note is that you must cover your shoulders and knees before entering this temple.
Many shops and eateries are on the Big Buddha Beach (Bang Rak) outside the temple. Once you are done sightseeing, you can find something to eat and drink here.
Address: Tambon Bo Put, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand
Best time to visit: It’s best to visit this temple in the early morning or late evening. During the afternoon, the sun is really scorching hot.
Ticket Price of Wat Phra Yi: Entry is free in Wat Phra Yi.
Opening Time: 07:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Suggested Read: Best Time to visit Koh Samui
Walk around Fisherman’s Village
A visit to the quaint Fisherman’s Village has become a ritual for tourists planning to explore Koh Samui. This charming area is a treasure trove of restaurants, bars, and shops, making it an ideal destination for a leisurely stroll or a fun-filled evening.
As its name suggests, Fisherman’s Village was once a thriving community of Chinese fishermen. Although the community no longer exists, the village remains a beloved spot for both locals and tourists. Food lovers will be delighted to find an array of Thai delicacies that are both delicious and affordable. The shops in the village offer a variety of souvenirs, including clothing, accessories, and footwear. It’s the perfect place to pick up a unique gift or keepsake to remember your visit.
Visitors can take a stroll through the village and soak in the history of this place while enjoying the local hospitality. It’s an ideal destination for a relaxing evening or a fun-filled day trip.
Location: Thanon Laan Thong Tambon Bo Put, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand
How to reach Fisherman’s Village: From the main tourist spots like Chaweng you can get a cab ride for 220 THB to 270 THB.
Entry Fee/Ticket: Entry to Fisherman’s village is absolutely free!
Go on a snorkelling or diving trip
One of the adventurous things to do in Koh Samui is to try snorkelling or diving. This thrilling activity offers a unique opportunity to explore the vibrant marine life surrounding the island. With a certified dive instructor to guide you, snorkelling or diving is a safe and exciting way to discover the wonders of the underwater world.
Snorkelling or diving trips typically last around an hour and are suitable for all skill levels. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver, there are plenty of spots around Koh Samui to suit your needs. For those new to snorkelling, Coral Cove is an ideal location as the corals are located in close proximity to the beach, making it easy to explore. Alternatively, Chaweng Beach is a popular destination among both divers and snorkelers, offering a variety of underwater landscapes to discover.
With the right gear and guidance, you can witness a plethora of marine creatures, from colourful fish to majestic sea turtles. Snorkelling or diving in Koh Samui is an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left the island. So, why not take the plunge and explore the stunning underwater world of Koh Samui?
Best time to snorkel in Koh Samui: December to February
Things to carry: Snorkelling gear, swimwear, life jackets and flippers.
When to avoid snorkelling: One must avoid the rainy season (September to November) as its makes the diving/snorkelling challenging and visibility is also affected.
Relax on the white sand beaches of Koh Samui
Koh Samui is home to many beaches with pristine white sand and crystal-clear turquoise water. Some of the beaches are – Chaweng beach, Lamai beach, Silver beach, Maenam beach and Lipa Noi beach. These beaches are quiet and idyllic, with no hustle and bustle of vendors. So you get a lot of private time with yourself. They are a perfect place to come and enjoy life with kids. The sunset, too, is marvellous to look at and gives an Instagrammable moment to capture.
Beaches like Chaweng can get a little crowded during peak tourist season. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s still a beautiful experience to cherish with your loved ones.
How to Reach: The best way to explore these beaches is to hire a rental bike for around 120 THB to 150 THB.
Things to Carry: Sunglasses, SPF, Beach mat, swimwear, flip flops, a backpack to carry your phone and camera.
Enjoy a traditional Thai massage
There is nothing like enjoying a traditional Thai massage when in Koh Samui. So leave behind your worries and relish a rejuvenating Thai massage at one of Koh Samui’s many spas. This island has many reputable and affordable spa and wellness centres. Traditional Thai massage includes stretching and compressing the body in various positions to improve flexibility, balance, and energy flow.
The therapist uses a combination of acupressure, yoga-like stretches, and deep tissue techniques to release tension and stimulate the body’s natural healing processes. Thai massage is a more holistic approach to massage therapy that combines physical and energetic techniques to promote balance and harmony in the body. It is indeed one of the best things to do in Koh Samui.
Shop at the Central Festival Samui
No trip to Koh Samui is complete without indulging in a bit of shopping. And for the ultimate shopping experience, The Central Festival Samui is a must-visit destination. This vast plaza is the largest in Koh Samui, boasting a wide selection of Thai and international brands. With over 20 large shops, visitors are sure to find everything they need and more.
The Central Festival Samui is decorated in an ultra-modern Sino-Portuguese style, adding to its unique and trendy ambiance. And with frequent discounts and sales, shoppers can take advantage of great deals and shop to their heart’s content.
You can also enjoy a range of dining options, with stunning restaurants serving up a variety of cuisines including Chinese, Mexican, Thai, and Indian. So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to shop and dine at The Central Festival Samui during your visit to Koh Samui.
Location: 209/3 Moo 2, Bophut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand
Timings of Central Festival: Daily from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Cheer at the Ladyboy Cabaret Show
Thailand is a country known for its openness and acceptance towards people of all genders, including those who identify as the third gender. As a result, the third gender community plays a significant role in Thai entertainment, and Ladyboy Cabaret shows are a popular attraction in various parts of the country, including Koh Samui.
Among the many cabaret shows available in Koh Samui, Starz Cabaret stands out as one of the most popular. Here, you’ll be treated to an amazing performance by talented and beautiful transgender artists who will sing, dance, and entertain you with their family-friendly comedy.
So, if you’re looking for a unique and entertaining way to spend your evening in Koh Samui, make sure to catch a Ladyboy Cabaret show at Starz Cabaret. You won’t be disappointed!
Location: 166, 92 Chaweng Beach Rd, Tambon Bo Put, Amphoe Ko Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand
Timings: Three shows take place – First Show (Starts at 8:30 PM), Second Show (Starts at 9:30 PM), Third Show (Starts at 10:30 PM)
Entry Fee: 250 THB per person (inclusive of a Welcome Drink)
Take a boat trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park
Ang Thong National Marine Park is a stunning archipelago of 42 islands with breathtaking views and diverse marine life. And the optimal way to reach there is to take a boat ride from Koh Samui Island. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to intake so much beauty on your way to Ang Thong National Park. On the way, you will cross beautiful stretches of pristine water, saltwater lagoons, and rocky beaches. Kayaking and Snorkeling are some of the main activities to do in the marine park. It will truly be an unforgettable experience.
Explore the Samui Elephant Sanctuary
Samui Elephant Sanctuary is the brainchild of Maew Suriya, who had a vision to create a sanctuary for rescued elephants where they could live a life free from abuse and exploitation. These magnificent creatures have been subjected to harsh living conditions in circuses or tourist-trekking activities, but at Samui Elephant Sanctuary, they have found a safe haven to roam freely and interact with each other.
As a visitor to the sanctuary, you can also experience the joy of interacting with these beautiful creatures in their natural and ethical environment. While bathing the elephants is not allowed, you can prepare their food and feed them, creating a special bond that you’ll never forget.
The sanctuary also offers a range of amenities for visitors, such as public washrooms, a vegetarian buffet, and tea and coffee, ensuring that you have a comfortable time here.
Location: 108/52 Taweerat Pakdee Road, Bo Put, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand
Timings: Opens every day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entrance Fees: ADULTS – 3,000 THB per person and CHILDREN 11 years & under – 1,500 THB, Children 4 years and under can take free entry!
Experience the local night markets
It is perhaps one of the most common things to do in Koh Samui but undoubtedly one of the most important things to do – to taste some delicious street food. The street food is prepared fresh using local produce and authentic ingredients. Visitors can sample traditional Thai dishes like pad Thai, grilled seafood, and fresh fruit smoothies while browsing local crafts, clothing, and souvenirs. The atmosphere is lively and bustling, with music and performers adding to the festive vibe. Local night markets are bustling with stalls selling art, food, fashion, and more. So, when in Koh Samui, one must visit these incredible markets to take in the real vibe of the place.
Timings of Night Market: The night markets opens at 5 PM and goes on till 11 PM
Travel Tip: Always negotiate the price before buying anything except for food and always reach early as soon as the market opens. It makes the exploration much easier.
Rent a scooter or car and drive around the island
The best way to discover hidden beaches and local villages of Koh Samui is to rent a scooter or a car. This kind of exploration comes from the idea of – go where the road takes you”. Koh Samui is not a very massive piece of the island. It can be easily covered on a two-wheeler. Your rental vehicle reduces the dependency on public transport, and you can move around more freely as and when you like.
Besides, riding a scooter on the streets of Koh Samui is a thrill of its own. You will get a taste of Thai driving and see how well you can adapt to it. You can rent a scooter for 120-150 THB and check the area around. At the same time, renting a car would be about 1025 THB per day. So choose whichever fits your budget, travel plans, and manoeuvre in Koh Samui.
Watch the sunset at the Secret Buddha Garden (Tarnim Magic Garden)
The Secret Buddha Garden is tranquil and gorgeous, with beautiful statues and sculptures. This garden was the brainchild of Nim Thong Suk – a Thai fruit farmer. Here you will see different figures – reading, singing, dancing, and playing instruments- all depicting some aspects of Buddhist folklore and culture.
The ‘Secret’ part about this garden is that it may appear hidden in the lush greenery on the rolling hills. And it might be slightly tricky and challenging to reach here (you have to walk a lot!), but once you arrive, the ‘Magic’ begins. The magic of Mother Nature and the panoramic vista you soak in is truly an incredible experience. The scene looks like you have entered a fairyland.
Travel Tip: Keep a mosquito repellant spray and a water bottle with you and wear comfortable shoes with a strong grip.
Timings: Opens daily from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Location: Tambon Na Mueang, Koh Samui District, Surat Thani 84140
How to Reach: Take the Air Force road in Baan Saket towards Ta Nim Waterfall. The last 400 metres of the ascent turns into a steep track. It’s recommended to use a 4X4 ATV to reach the garden.
Entrance Fee: 80 THB per person
Visit the Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram
It is one of the unusual things to do in Koh Samui, but still, many tourists visit Wat Khunaram- a famous temple where the mummified body of a monk is on display! It is said that a monk named Loung Pordaeng predicted his death at 79. He asked his followers that if his body didn’t decompose, his followers should keep it in a glass casket for people to see and remember the teachings of Buddha. During his last days, he only meditated and peacefully passed away.
The mummified body is still well preserved – some believe it’s a miracle of god, while others try to look at it with a scientific rationale. Either way, it’s a fascinating place to visit. Many Thai people still offer their sincere prayers and gratitude in the temple.
Would you like to visit this temple?
Location: Na Mueang, Koh Samui District, Surat Thani 84140, Thailand
Entry Fees: The entry in the temple is free; however you can donate some amount towards the upkeep of the temple.
How to Reach Wat Khunaram: Simply take a taxi or a songthaew to reach this temple.
Go on a zip-line adventure
One of the exciting things to do in Koh Samui is to experience the ecstasy of flying through the jungle canopy. If you are an adventure junkie, we know ziplining is right up your alley. However, it can be a challenging activity, especially for those afraid of heights or falling. But be assured that overcoming these fears and completing a ziplining course can be a source of personal satisfaction and accomplishment.
Ziplining provides a rush of adrenaline, which can be exhilarating and enjoyable for many people. The feeling of flying through the air at high speeds can be both scary and exciting at the same time when done in groups, which can make it a fun social activity. Participants can encourage each other and share the experience, making it a memorable and enjoyable adventure.
The price range for doing a Zip line can be anywhere from 500 THB to 2000 THB. Choose whichever fits your budget.