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With its own airport and shopping centre, it’s easy to forget that Koh Samui is an island after all — but don’t for a second think it has lost any of its island charm. Shopping, sandy beaches and sightseeing all feature here on our list of wonderful reasons to visit Samui.
Whether it’s simply that there’s something inherently funny about phallic symbols occurring in nature, or because you want to satiate your natural curiosity for wonderful surroundings, the Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks are a great reason to visit. Also known as the grandfather and grandmother rocks, these penis- and vagina-shaped stones are a must-see on the island and make for a perfect picture with the backdrop of the sea right behind you.
Island gigantism is a phenomenon where animals on islands grow bigger than their counterparts on the mainland. On Koh Samui, it isn’t just applicable to animals, but to statues too. Samui’s Big Buddha statue remains a popular attraction and it’s easy to see why; the 12-meter tall golden statue can be seen from far away, and offers great views of the island from the summit. Well worth the visit.
As if being a paradisiacal island wasn’t enough, nature had to make the island mainland just as attractive as its edges. The Namuang Waterfalls is a natural beauty that’s easily accessible and features dramatic water cascades as well as natural pools to swim in. A worthy alternative should you ever tire of the beach, the cool and beautiful surroundings make it the ideal spot for a picnic or just to relax.
Located on the northern edge of the island is Bophut Village, a rustic fisherman’s village that comprises the historical part of the island. Whilst it may be sleepy through the week, on Fridays it comes alive, hosting a popular night market selling tons of souvenirs and freshly prepared food. Not in Samui on a Friday? Don’t worry, there are still several restaurants, trinket shops and boutiques in Bophut that are well worth checking out at any time.
An archipelago consisting of some 42 islands, the Ang Thong Marine Park is an adventurer’s paradise. Tours through the park can see you swim, kayak and climb to your heart’s content, taking in cerulean seas, dramatic caves and untouched nature in the process. It’s the perfect way to fully appreciate the beauty of Thailand’s Gulf coast.
Not many islands in Thailand can boast their own Central Festival shopping center, but Koh Samui is one that can. Hosting a number of well-known stores and restaurants on its premises, it’s the number one place on the island to indulge in a spot of retail therapy. Western favorites such as Adidas and Uniqlo join Thai heavyweights such as Jim Thompson, giving visitors a range of styles to choose from and providing an air of authenticity to an afternoon of shopping.
Whilst “wonderful” might be stretching it a little too far when it comes to describing Koh Samui’s mummy, it’s still an important cultural site on the island and makes for an engaging attraction. Located in Wat Khunaram, the mummified body belongs to that of Luong Pordaeng, a monk who was born on the island in 1894 and died peacefully whilst meditating. With his body showing remarkably little signs of decay, it’s on display for visitors to pay their respects, and is well-respected by the Buddhist Thais who visit. Aside from the mummy, the temple itself is pretty and picturesque, and worth a visit in its own right.
There’s nothing better than a freshly cooked meal and shopping bargains, and Koh Samui’s various night markets are the perfect places to find them. The night market in Chaweng is a particular highlight, and visitors can expect to find their favourite Thai dishes prepared fresh in front of them for a fraction of the cost you’d pay in a restaurant. There are also several stalls selling clothes and souvenirs should you need a shopping fix. Chaweng’s Walking Street market is open daily from 16:30, and you might find yourself coming back night after night.
Undoubtedly Koh Samui’s most lively district, Chaweng is home to a number of bars and restaurants, as well as a gorgeous strip of beach. Lively at all hours, Chaweng is the party capital of the island, with its bars and clubs frequently seeing patrons spill out onto the streets. It’s also the best place to catch cabaret shows, which feature transgenders performers singing and dancing. The shows make for quite the spectacle and shouldn’t be missed.
The splendour of Koh Samui can’t be doubted and, should anyone try, all that’s needed is a trip to one of its various viewpoints. Featuring panoramic views of the island and the azure-blue sea, the views from the Khao Hua Jook pagoda, Lamai viewpoint and Jungle Club all show the wonders of the island and are ideal spots to relax and take it all in. Heaven on Earth.
It simply wouldn’t be a Thai island without a number of gorgeous beaches, and on Koh Samui you’ll be spoiled for choice. Soft white sand, gorgeous palm trees and crystal-clear seas all feature heavily on this gem of an island. Despite Chaweng’s popularity, it’s still immensely beautiful, with tons of activities to keep you busy. For something a little quieter, the beaches of Lipa Noi, Silver Beach and Bang Por offer a more relaxed experience, but be warned — once you visit, you might not ever want to leave.