Water lovers – snorkelling and diving on Koh Samui
With spectacular beaches dotted the whole way around Koh Samui, water lovers are sure to get their fill of fun. You can simply relax on the warm golden sands, dipping in and out of the sea, or try something more adventurous.
There are fantastic coral reefs around the archipelago, but rather than being within swimming distance from the shore as they are in Koh Tao, many of the best spots around Samui are a boat ride away.
Book onto a snorkelling or scuba diving trip from one of the many travel agents on the island and enjoy a day out witnessing tropical fish, colourful coral and even turtles and sharks!
For a tranquil yet active pastime, try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding in Koh Samui’s turquoise waters. This is a great form of exercise, while allowing you to witness the beauty of the island from out at sea. Some companies offer planned trips to take you to the best locations to watch the sunrise or sunset too.
Visiting Ang Thong National Marine Park
If you want a full day of water-based activities, head to Ang Thong National Marine Park, an archipelago of 42 pristine islands just off the coast of Koh Samui. This unspoiled reserve boasts crystal-clear waters, towering limestone cliffs, mysterious caves, hidden coves and so much more. Spend a day exploring this wonderful landscape by sea kayak, stopping at lagoons and beaches along the way. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight out of The Beach and will be expecting a young Leonardo DiCaprio to walk round the corner at any moment!
For an activity away from the beach, why not head inland to hike to one of Koh Samui’s famous waterfalls.
The Na Muang waterfalls are the most picturesque, with water flowing over the purple rocks and gathering in a cool, natural pool at the bottom. You can drive most of the way to the entrance of the rainforest and then simply walk the few hundred metres to the waterfalls. Although the walk is fairly short, it can be difficult in places so is recommended for those with reasonable fitness levels and with sensible footwear.
For those who’d rather enjoy more cultural activities, Koh Samui has a number of temples and sites to visit. These are suitable for children of all ages so are great for keeping kids entertained.
Perhaps the most famous of cultural sites on the island is the Big Buddha. This golden Buddha statue lies off the north-eastern corner of the island and stands proud at 12m high. This dominates the landscape and can even be seen from air as you arrive on Koh Samui. Many locals visit the site daily to leave offerings of fruit, flowers and incense while tourists visit to get an insight into Thai culture and take photos of the opulent statues. As this is a religious site, please dress respectfully remembering to cover knees and shoulders at all times.
Other cultural sites include Wat Plai Laem, another colourful Buddhist temple with ornate decorations and a huge 18-arm statue of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy and compassion. Worshiping Guanyin is an ancient Chinese ritual and the inclusion of this statue in the Wat Plai Laem complex shows the influence of Chinese heritage on Koh Samui.
The Secret Buddha Garden is another site that is well worth a visit. Located to the north-west of Lamai beach, this peaceful garden found in Koh Samui’s interior is filled with statues of deities and animals in all different poses.
Although you can visit for just THB80, the track leading to the garden can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles so do not attempt to travel here by moped. Alternatively you can book a tour which will take you to the Secret Buddha Garden as well as surrounding waterfalls and streams.
Although Koh Phangan’s Full Moon parties have taken over as the most famous events in the region, Koh Samui’s nightlife is still worth mentioning.
The main resort areas around Chaweng and Lamai are filled with vibrant clubs and bars that offer cheap drinks and loud music that allow you to dance the night away with sand beneath your feet. Samui also boasts chic sunset bars on Taling Ngam and Lipa Noi which offer a more chilled experience.
If you want some entertainment during your evenings on Koh Samui, there are plenty of shows to keep you busy. Ladyboy shows are a popular option with elaborate outfits, camp dances, lip-syncing and lots of sequins! With daily shows and reasonable drinks prices, this can be a fun way to start the night.
For an alternative evening’s entertainment at the other end of the spectrum, head to a Muay Thai boxing fight. Athletes compete to prove their strength, agility, stamina and prowess in an incredibly skilled fight. If you enjoy what you see you can even join a Muay Thai boxing school to learn some of the techniques for yourself.
If you’re a food lover you may want to explore the night markets of Bophut. The Fisherman’s Village Walking Street comes to life every Friday night with hundreds of stalls sprawling through the streets. You can pick up tasty Thai treats like spring rolls, Pad Thai and practically everything imaginable on a skewer cooked fresh in front of you! The market also sells a huge range of local handicrafts, cheap clothing, artwork and souvenirs.
Whatever you’re looking to get out of your holiday, it is probably possible in Koh Samui! With its whole infrastructure centred around tourism the island caters to every type of traveller. You could easily spend weeks or even months here taking in the sights, relaxing on the beach and partying the night away!
Koh Samui station guide
Koh Samui - Bus
Koh Samui bus terminal is located to the north of Nathon, Koh Samui’s main port and administrative centre and the place where most people arrive on the island by boat. Its exact location is in the neighbourhood known as Ang Thong on the ring road (4169) that runs around Nathon. Bus services operate from here to Bangkok and other destinations within Thailand.
From this bus station it is possible to catch a range of bus services including standard and VIP buses. Every day there is one standard and a number of VIP bus services to Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal. Journey time is between 13 and 18 hours. Travellers are advised to reserve their seat ahead of time online since, especially in high season (from November through February), buses frequently fill up.
The easiest way to make the long journey is by purchasing a combination bus-ferry ticket. With a bus-ferry ticket, passengers are taken from the bus terminal to the ferry terminal in Nathon to catch the ferry to Donsak on the mainland (one hour, 45 minutes). On the mainland, passengers board the bus again and continue the journey to Bangkok. There is one (overnight) standard bus service to the capital each day that departs at 14:30. There are four VIP services per day, departing at 07:30, 15:30, 16:30 and 17:30.
An additional option for reaching Bangkok is to take the ferry from Koh Samui to Donsak then the shuttle bus to Surat Thani from where there is an overnight train service to Bangkok’s Hua Lumphong station; the train departs at 20:45 each night and offers 1st and 2nd class sleeper services.
In and around the Samui bus terminal travellers can find a range of places to buy food including street vendors selling snacks, eateries, a supermarket and shops.
From the bus station, songthaews tuk-tuks and taxis depart for destinations within Nathon such as the pier, hotels and so on. Public bus services also operate from here to destinations across the island.