12 Amazing Things To Do In Koh Samui

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Koh Samui, with its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and lush tropical surroundings, has long enchanted travellers searching for both tranquility and adventure.

On this small island there is plenty to keep the whole family occupied from visiting elephants to simply relaxing on one of the many beautiful beaches.

These were our favourite things to do when we visited Koh Samui….

1. Experience Samui’s Ethical Elephant Sanctuary

We did a lot of research before visiting an elephant sanctuary, as we wanted to make sure that it had the elephant’s best interests at heart. Our research led us to Samui Elephant Sanctuary, which has two different sites on Koh Samui, one near Bophut and the other near to Chaweng.

Samui Elephant Sanctuary

Both sanctuaries are set in forests where the elephants can roam freely and enjoy their retirement, after working exhausting hours in the tourist and logging industry.

During your visit your guide will give you lots of fascinating information about the lives of all the elephants and what they have been through. He also gives you an insight into their personalities and the interesting quirks they have developed. You can just tell from how the staff talk about the elephants they are loved and looked after really well.

We started our visit by making elephant food which consisted of elephant sushi and rice balls. Then we were able to walk around the forest feeding the different elephants and getting to know them a little better.

It was a totally unforgettable experience, which my youngest daughter absolutely loved and hasn’t stopped talking about since we got back.

2. Taste And Shop Your Way Round Fisherman’s Village

Fisherman’s Village is a lively and vibrant area of Koh Samui with hundreds of bars and restaurants serving a variety of different cuisine.

It also has a the biggest and most popular night market on the island, where you can buy street food from numerous stalls and then sit at a table in the centre listening to live music and soaking up the atmosphere.

Night Market

When you’ve had enough to eat you can shop til you drop, we literally felt like we might collapse while shopping with our nearly teen daughter but she loved every minute of it. You can buy everything from designer bags to wooden elephants, but be prepared to haggle as the first price you are given is massively inflated.

Luckily, we were staying at Peace Resort, Bophut so didn’t have far to go to experience the craziness and fun of Fisherman’s Village but could easily retreat back to the tranquility of this luxury resort.

3. Climb The Stairs At Big Buddha

Possibly the most iconic landmark on Koh Samui is the Big Buddha statue, located in the grounds of Wat Phra Yai temple. You can see it from your plane as you land at the tiny yet very cute airport in Koh Samui. Climb the steps, as it is definitely worth the effort, to enjoy fantastic panoramic views over the ocean.

Big Buddha at Wat Phra Yai Koh Samui

To show respect, it is important to remember to cover your shoulders and not wear beachwear to visit temples. Entry is free but donations are welcome so take some cash with you.

4. Enjoy The Beauty Of Wat Plai Laem

This buddhist temple compound was my personal favourite and is only a short distance from Big Buddha. The impressive centre piece of the complex is the statue of Guanyin, goddess of mercy and compassion. Her 18 arms are seen as an illustration of her ability to reach out and provide help across the world.

Guanyin Goddess of Mercy and Compassion at Wat Plai Laem Koh Samui

Inside the temple is intricately decorated with colourful murals and frescoes depicting Buddhist myths and stories. The tranquil feel of this temple is added to by being surrounded by a lake which is teeming with fish and the scent of incense floating on the breeze.

Laughing Buddha at Wat Plai Laem Koh Samui

Next to Guanyin is the huge laughing Buddha statue, which my daughters loved, set on an island with beautifully carved teak entrance doors. It is a stark contrast to the serene statue of the beautiful Guanyin and it brought a smile to all our faces.

The temple is open daily during daylight hours and entrance is free, however donations are again welcomed.

Island Tour

If you book an island tour then you can see at least 6 of our top things to do all in one trip. You can have a private driver who will show you all the sights allowing you to spend however much time you want in each location.

5. Have Fun At Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks

These phallic rock formations are also known as grandfather and grandmother rocks. See if you can work out which is which while you enjoy the views and sample the traditional coconut ice cream. A great place to stop for half an hour or so if you are near by.

Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks aka Grandfather and Grandmother Koh Samui

6. Pay Your Respects To The Mummified Monk

When I told people we were coming to Koh Samui lots of them said that visiting the mummified monk was a must, so we were intrigued and decided we couldn’t miss it however macabre it sounded. For Thai people the body of the monk is there to be worshiped and death is seen as an opportunity to be reborn in a next and better life.

Mummified Monk in Koh Samui

My youngest daughter had lots of questions for our guide as she was fascinated by the concept as she had just learnt about the Egyptian mummies at school.

7. Go Snorkelling At Silver Beach

Silver beach is 250 metres of soft golden sand, just north of Lamai. It is set in Crystal Bay which has a few lovely little restaurants and hotels but is a quiet beach compared to others, as it is not as well known.

Silver Beach at Crystal Bay Koh Samui

The crystal clear water and the boulders of granite at either end of the beach make it the ideal place to snorkel, in fact one of the best on the island!

If you want a tranquil tropical paradise then this is the one for you.

8. Have A Massage On The Beach

Nothing sounds more appealing and indulgent to me than having a massage on the beach under the shade of the palms. Most beaches have massage salas right on the beach, where you can enjoy a range of treatments while listening to the sound of the waves lapping gently on the sand. Pure bliss!

Blissful massage on the beach Koh Samui Thailand

9. Relax At A Jungle Waterfall

There are a few different waterfalls you can visit on Koh Samui the best known is Nam Tok Na Muang, which actually has two different waterfalls close to each other. The first one is very easy to reach and after a short stroll through the jungle you can enjoy swimming in the pool or just relax on the nearby rocks.

Na Muang Waterfall Koh Samui Thailand

The other is more of a trek to get to, and can be a little bit dangerous as you have to clamber over rocks to get there. Most people just visit the first one as the second is more of a challenge, especially if you haven’t brought your walking shoes.

10. Watch A Fire Show On The Beach

Many of the beachfront restaurants in Koh Samui have entertainment and fire shows on certain nights. When we were staying in Choeng Mon we went to Kimpton Kitalay for a beach barbecue which included a fantastic fire show.

Fire Show Choeng Mon Beach Koh Samui

In Bophut lots of the restaurants have fire shows at different times and on different days so there is always one that you can catch. Coco Tam’s is a favourite as it offers great food and serves lovely cocktails, all from a unique open air beach bar with a fantastic atmosphere. It also has 2 fire shows daily, which we found you can watch from the street if you are not lucky enough to get a seat.

11. Watch The Sunset At The Jungle Club

The Jungle Club is nestled into the hillside, at a coconut plantation, overlooking the bay of Chaweng. It offers gorgeous panoramic views over the island and out to sea.

Sunset Koh Samui Thailand

Sit on one of the colourful beanbags, and enjoy the relaxed ambience, while sipping on a cocktail as the sunsets.

12. Take The Plunge And Go Ziplining Through The Jungle

Ziplining Koh Samui

Island Tour

If you book an island tour then you can see at least 6 of our top things to do all in one trip. You can have a private driver who will show you all the sights allowing you to spend however much time you want in each location.

Thrill seekers and nature lovers this one is for you. If you think you’re brave enough, it’s a great way to see the island from a different view point. Glide through the jungle and enjoy incredible views. We can guarantee your ziplining adventure will definitely be one to remember and to bore the grandkids with in the future.

Laura Mills bio pic
Written by Laura Mills

Laura loves travelling across the UK and abroad. She has two children and a husband who are often her travel companions. Beach holidays, cosy cottages, treehouse adventures and brunching are just a few of her favourite ways to spend her travel time.