Koh Samui is perhaps the most beautiful of all the islands of Thailand, and here we bring you the best things to do in Koh Samui. Whether you are a couch-surfing backpacker or a wealthy traveler, Koh Samui has something to offer to every kind of tourists. Here you will find the stunning natural beauty of crystal clear waters and sandy beaches on one side, and on the other, there is a rich blend of history and culture that showcase the true spirit of Thailand. Don’t forget to sink your teeth in some of the best Thai foods on earth that are only available in Koh Samui.
30 Things to Do in Koh Samui, Thailand
30. Breakfast at Cafe Koh Samui
Start the day off with a fulfilling yet healthy breakfast at the Cafe Koh Samui. Here you will find all kinds of gourmet and bakery breakfast items in addition to the view of the beach. Their specialties include a variety of pancakes topped with delicious syrups, or if you are looking for a lighter option you could try out their brown bread or baguettes with a side of some freshly picked luscious mangoes. They also have roti with a variety of veg and non-veg options for the customers from the Indian sub-continent including chicken curry, fish, and vegetable stir fry. Finish your breakfast with their amazing coffee before hitting the road for the adventure that awaits.
29. Take a morning safari tour
This jungle safari tour will allow you to explore and discover the wild side of Koh Samui. The 7-hour ride on a 4×4 army jeep that will take you way above sea level on the mountains to see the view of the whole island from up there, and more. The trip comes in options of both with or without lunch, depending on which you choose. But I would highly recommend you to try out their authentic Thai lunch package to get the best taste Thai cuisine.
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Special notes/Safety Precautions: Remember to tie your seatbelts properly as the ride on the off-road tracks throughout the jungle might be a little bumpy. Best to avoid this if you have motion sickness.
28. Get lost inside the Secret Buddha Garden
On top of one of the highest peaks of Koh Samui, there is a sculpture park filled with statues of Buddha in various forms and postures along with some sculptures that reflect some other aspects of Buddhism traditionally practiced by the Thai people. A wealthy durian farmer Khun Nim has established the garden back in 1976. He began installing these statues on a piece of land that was his private property at the age of 77 and continued until his death at the age of 91. Apart from the religious importance, the place is also a tourist attraction for art enthusiasts with its peaceful green atmosphere and breathtaking craftsmanship of the sculptors.
Special notes/Safety Precautions: The visit requires hiking up the hill to reach the garden. If you have any medical condition that you think may be affected by it. Make sure to take necessary medical supplies and a first aid kit with you.
27. Admire the beauty of Namuang Waterfall
Not very far from the Buddha Garden is the Namuang Waterfall. More commonly known as Na Muang 1 and 2 respectively, these waterfalls are certainly among the top things that you wouldn’t want to miss when in Thailand. The first one among them flows straight into a little natural pool that you can take a dive in. The second one is about 30 minutes up the hill and is also as breathtakingly beautiful. The park that features the waterfalls are 100% free of charge, and also has a handful of souvenir stalls and eateries for the tourists.
For lunch, if you want to try something incredibly exotic and Thai, you can head off to Kob Thai Restaurant in Lamai Beach for some authentic Thai delicacies. Their specialties include the famous Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai (a sweet-savory noodle stir fry), Thai Penang curry, and more. Don’t worry about the budget too much, the prices are affordable here.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: The rocks at the waterfall are slippery and steep. Be careful when you climb them.
26. Visit the Big Buddha
The Big Buddha Temple is the most popular tourist attraction on the island of Koh Samui. The 12-meter tall golden statue of Buddha in a seating posture is located on a little island just off the coast of Koh Samui. A causeway to Koh Samui and is one of the island’s most famous landmarks is connect to the temple beholding the statue. The temple is Wat Phra Yai.
The Buddha made of gold is seated in what is called the Mara position, and it depicts the time when Buddha was having an inner battle with all the temptations imposed upon him. The big statue is one of the first things you see when you fly above Koh Samui or take a boat ride around the island, due to its huge size and vibrant golden color. You can also check out the food shacks and amulet stalls on your way back.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Like all places of worship, this is an extremely sacred and holy place to the Buddhist people, so remember to dress modestly, and not do anything disrespectful that might hurt their sentiments. Although they are a very much peaceful bunch of people, it is only the most civilized thing to do to respect their customs.
25. Go to Chaweng Beach to meet the Ladyboys
Experience the nightlife of Chaweng Beach with performances set up by the ladyboys of Koh Samui. These ladyboys are on different stages of their transformation. Their performances mostly consist of lip-syncing to popular songs and dancing. With grotesque makeup and costumes, they deliver a unique form of entertainment to tourists who are open and accepting to diversities. Chaweng Beach is also known for its colorful nightlife with exotic bars bustling throughout the seaside keeping the night alive.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: The ladyboys are divided into groups and sometimes the groups bargain and compete between themselves to get the most customers, which can be a bit disturbing if you are new here. Also, the show is avoidable if you are not comfortable with it.
24. Angthong Marine Park
Board a tour boat and take a trip to the Angthong Marine Park, go kayaking beside the coastline, climb on top of the Mae Koh and awe at the stunning view of the Emerald Lagoon, explore the Wua Talap Island after a quick lunch at the boat. The view of the islands spread across the sea is so outstanding tat renowned author Alex Garland took inspirations from this place to write his legendary book, The Beach. In the book, he speaks of a Utopian Paradise that has striking similarities with the Angthong Marine Park, and the Phi Phi Islands. You can go kayaking in here if you are a boating enthusiast. Kayak along the coastline until you discover a salt lake as green as emeralds. Take a moment to awe at its beauty and click photos.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: The sun can be quite harsh, so make sure to take shades and sunglasses with you. And it’s better to take a speedboat rather than a slow boat if you are seasick or motion sick.
23. Go Scuba diving!
Take a dive deep into the sea at the Gulf of Thailand and explore through the underwater world with the help of an instructor certified by PADI. Take a look right into the heart of the ocean to get a glimpse of the marine life of Thailand.Each dive lasts for around 40 to 50 minutes and is safe enough for even absolute beginners to take a shot at it. Trust me when I say that this dive will definitely be among the best things to do in Koh Samui and is not to be missed.
Just remember to check that the driving school’s certificates are up to date and that you are absolutely aware of and agree to all the safety procedures and policies. And once you’re done with that, the mysteries that the dive will uncover before your eyes will change the way you look at the sea forever. Moreover, this is an experience not to be missed, and never to be forgotten.
Special Notes/Safety Precaution: Make sure to check and double-check the license and certificates of the diving school and thoroughly read the terms and conditions before you agree to go diving with them.
22. Fly High!
After the dive deep into the ocean, your thirst for adventure surely will rise to its peak. The next activity will take you even higher, both literally and figuratively. Hop aboard the Sky Fox cable cars to take a glance at the natural beauty of the lush green sceneries of Koh Samui’s vegetation. Then swim in the serene water of Koi Samui’s largest waterfall, the Hin Lad Waterfall.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Again, make sure to check and recheck all the safety guidelines and only agree to take part in this activity if you are fully comfortable with it. Not recommended if you have a cardiac condition or are scared of heights.
You might take a look at 50 Amazing Things to Do in Bangkok, Thailand
21. Hiking to Elephant Rock
Situated in between Chawang and Lamai beach, the giant rock got its name not only for its shape but also for its size. The place is a perfect go-to place for solo-trippers or anyone who wants a little ‘me time’ away from the madding crowd, with long snaky roadways and hiking spots. Take some music along with you, sit on top of a rock and meditate in the calm and quiet of the jungle. It is a beautiful place to reflect and rearrange your thoughts if you are on vacation after a stressful time.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Trekking is only recommended for those who are fully physically fit. Make sure to take adequate amount of water and a first aid kit with you.
20. See the two cultures blend at the Wat Jee Kong
The Chinese immigrants settled on Chaweng Beach after they first came to Thailand many years ago. They blended in with the local Thai culture and traditions occasionally adding their own elements to it. One of those many elements is architecture. Golden sculptures and decorations around the temple that are not made of gold, nut shavings of stones that reflect the sun’s rays and get their color, and represent the true diversity and harmony among both the cultures.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Make sure to take a tour guide with you who speaks both Chinese and Thai along with English so that it is easier for you to communicate with the locals.
19. The Mummified Monk of Wat Khunaram
The famous Buddhist monk Luong Pordaeng passed away in 1973 while still sitting in his meditative position. It was decided that his body would be preserved in that position as a mummy in a glass case on display, and it has been kept like that ever since. Surprisingly, the corpse hasn’t decayed or degraded at all. It is a mystery yet to be solved, because of the scientific reason behind it. But don’t freak out thinking the place is haunted or something, because it is not. The Thai people, especially the Buddhists, have a very different perspective towards death than the westerners. Also, they believe that death is not the end of your journey, but the beginning of it getting you just one step closer to your creator. So the place has a very peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. The visitors and devotees go there in search of inner peace.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: This is a sacred place of worship, so make sure to maintain the utmost respect and behave accordingly. Although taking pictures is not prohibited, do not go too close to the Mummified Monk as it may seem inappropriate.
18. Take a stroll across the Fisherman’s Village
In the old town of Koh Samui, there is a Fisherman’s Village Walking Street market. The place is famous for its vintage look and feels that take you back centuries to the days when fishing used to be the only means of livelihood of the inhabitants of the island. Lately, the main part crumbled down and the fishermen left their hereditary profession and moved on to other ones, but the old wooden shacks are still there, with narrow alleys running in between them preserving the old town’s vintage looks.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Take a tour guide with you who is fluent in the local dialect as well as English to make it easier for you to communicate with the local shop owners and bargain when you shop from here.
17. Sunset at Rock Bar
The Rock Bar alongside the Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks at the beach is the best place for a laid back and relaxed end of the day. The Bar sits atop a number of steps and ladders leading up to it giving it a more chilled out, beach-like look. How good would it feel to end the day with a chilled drink in hand, watching the sun go down from up there?
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: The bar is restricted to customers of drinking age only.
This temple is comparatively newer than the other ancient temples of Thailand, but I assure you, it is one place to see if you are in Koh Samui. The temple upholds a humongous statue of the 18-armed Thai deity Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. However, the way that this temple design is using old techniques and architectural styles from decades ago, keeping up with the tradition. Amongst the vast majority of Buddhists in Thailand, this temple is a dazzling example of ancient Thai faith and how it is respected, practiced, and preserved by Thai people, in general, setting a beautiful example of tolerance and religious harmony.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: This is a holy place of worship, so remember to dress modestly and maintain the utmost respect.
You might take a look at 50 Amazing Things to Do in Bangkok, Thailand
15. Elephant back ride through the hills
Go trekking through the lush green tropical hills of Thailand on the back of its national animal, the elephant. Right in the heart of Koh Samui is a range of tropical forests and waterfalls. And the best way to explore the wilderness is on the back of an elephant without a question. So, hop on the back of your big buddy and let him or her give you a tour around his or her homeland!
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Be careful to be seated properly before the elephant stands up. Remain calm or you may excite the animal. Try to stick to the mahout’s instructions and do not do anything that might scare, hurt, or anger the elephant.
14. Go-karting at Easykart, Chaweng Lake
Take a shot at life in the fast lane, go break those speedometers at Easykart to feel the thrill on a go-kart. Best place to go if you have teenagers or you are one. But since there is no upper age limit, adults and even senior citizens can have a go. This is an ideal activity for the whole family. However, the place stays open throughout the week from 10 am to 1 am.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: The age restriction of this activity is 8 years and above, so not recommended for toddlers.
13. Pamper yourself at the spa
Thailand is famous for its spas, and when you’re in there, taking a foot or full body massage is definitely one of the best things to do in Koh Samui. There is a wide range of spa resorts all over the island of Koh Samui, but the best ones among them are: The Four Seasons Resort in Ang Thong, The W Retreat Koh Samui Resort in Maenam Beach, The Banyan Tree Resort in Lamai, the Internation Baan Samui Resort in Taling Ngam, and The Tongsai Bay at Choeng Mon Beach. You can pick anyone according to your budget and preference, and you will not be disappointed.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: No safety tips here. What could go wrong with getting a body massage?
12. Get the Thai Experience
Get the best of Thai cuisine at the Thai Experience, a restaurant that aims to give you a taste of the real Thailand through its exotic menu and dazzling traditional interiors. The reason why they named it the Thai Experience is because instead of separate tables, all the guests here are arranged to share a common communal table like a family or community. However, you get welcomed with a cocktail ‘welcome drink’, and introduced to the other diners to break the ice. This helps them to get to know each other and bond and share as a typical Thai community would. Their specialties include the Malay Curry, Coconut Spring Rolls, Crab Rangoon, Pineapple Fried Rice, Honey Walnut Shrimp, Seafood Rice Pot, Fried Calamari, Pork Dumpling Skewers, and more. Foodie or not, dining here will certainly be one of the best things to do in Koh Samui for you.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Some of the foods may be a bit too spicy for your taste if you are from the west.
11. Nathon Town
The bustling town called Nathon Town is the capital of Koh Samui. But if you really want to explore it, you’d have to skip the flight and get there on a ferry boat. Located just along with the ferry port, the town is known for its shops, cafes, souvenir stores, and cafes that are super friendly to the pocket. Yes, you’ve heard it right, Nathon Town is perhaps the cheapest place for touring and shopping all over Koh Samui. The most interesting thing about the market, however, is the Chinese shophouses. Therefore, Little houses owned by Chinese immigrants that they live in and also use as shops for selling their goods which are mostly made by themselves. Even jewelry made from real gold is sold at a really cheap price here, the perfect place for gift shopping and souvenir hunting above all.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Again, take a multilingual tour guide with you to help you around with the communication and bargaining.
10. Visit the Laem Sor Pagoda
On the South-West of Koh Samui, just near the village of Bang Kao lies a peaceful little place of worship locally known as the Chedi Laem Sor. There are two giant statues that guarded the gateway of the pagoda complex with swords to ward off anything negative or evil. However, the quiet and tranquility that you find upon entering are unique and divine. However, apart from its many spires, and decorated Buddha statues in various postures, here is also a wax figure sitting in a tiny boat. It is the figure of the monk who established the pagoda. If you are a photographer or a photography enthusiast, this is one place you don’t want to miss.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Religious place again. The same rules for every other religious place apply here. And do not give a monk a knuckle rub on the head. Just kidding, behave.
9. Dinner on the sea surface
Enjoy a candle-lit dinner for two with your significant other rights on the heart of the sea. Chaweng Regent Resort is the restaurant that offers this. The package has a table for two on a deck that has candles, flowers, and confetti. They serve a dinner menu of authentic Thai dishes. Imagine having dinner in there with your loved one on a full moon night or a starlit evening, or both!
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: This is completely safe as the deck is tied to the shore with a strong rope. Just don’t fall off the side of the deck.
8. Check out the Paradise Park Farm
While advising you on the best things to do in Koh Samui, it will be largely unfair if we don’t mention the Paradise Park Farm, located in the middle of a jungle in the highlands. The park is famous for its unique fusion of being a farm, a zoo, and a safari park. Unlike walking past the cages of the birds or animals, here you walk right into them and get to meet and greet them. However, there is an assortment of birds such as parrots, pigeons, cockatoos, big birds such as ostriches and peacocks, sheep and goats, ponies and deer, and small fish in the ponds. All the animals are very friendly. The park is a must-see if you have kids with you.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Feeding the animals with food from outside is strictly prohibited. Only feed them with nuts and other things that the park authorities will be providing you for free.
You might take a look at 50 Amazing Things to Do in Bangkok, Thailand
7. Take a snorkeling day tour to spot pink dolphins
The Golf of Thailand is the territory of the exotic pink dolphin. Koh Samui and the islands surrounding it are the only places on earth where extremely rare these water mammals live, breed, and play around. Take a boat ride and roam around the waters, there is a 99% chance that you will spot the creatures, and don’t forget to shoot them on the lens when you do. However, the dolphins are free to go wherever they want, and they keep coming. Meaning you can see them in their natural habitat, and spend some time with them. After the boat ride, a Thai buffet lunch will be awaiting you at the beach with options for vegetarian and Halal food according to your preferences.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Feeding the dolphins, trying to touch them, and swimming in these waters are strictly prohibited.
6. Take a look from a panoramic viewpoint
At Lamai Beach, just beside Koh Samui ring road is where the Lamai Viewpoint is located. It is an all-in-one complex that offers outstanding views especially for photographers and videographers, hop on a zip line ride across the valley nearby to get the full experience of a bird’s eye view. There is also a restaurant and a bar here if you want to have lunch while enjoying the view.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Make sure you are absolutely okay with heights when riding the zip line.
5. Test your skills at watersports
Trying out the exhilarating water sports is definitely one of the best things to do in Koh Samui. The island offers a wide range of them from jet skiing to flyboarding to sea walking to fishing. However, you can pick any one or two of your liking, or try out all of them.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: These activities require medical tests before you are allowed to participate in the. So make sure you are fully fit so that you can enjoy the fun.
4. Visit the Shrine of Guan Yu
The Chinese Buddhists respect Guan Yu as a Bodhisattva who was a Chinese general from the ancient times, by; a saint on the path towards Buddhahood or Enlightenment. Although there are many shrines lying across the Chinese localities of Koh Samui that pay homage to him, this particular one located in Tambon Maret is the most remarkable of them all. Therefore, At the center of the shrine complex, there stands a huge statue of Guan Yu holding a sword overlooking the whole area. The colorful statue made of bronze is even taller than the Big Buddha by several meters. People hosted the Ceremonies with attractive displays here that tell stories of his might and grandeur.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: The usual religious place rules apply.
3. Take a quad-bike ride through the coast
Go speeding off across the dense green jungles of Koh Samui on a quad-bike, a four-wheeled motorbike with large tires designed for hiking across uneven, rocky roads. Whether if you are a biker or not, the vehicle is super easy to ride and completely safe for adults. The kids can also take a ride sitting at the back with a parent or a guardian. Ride through the dense jungles and uncover secret waterfalls like a true explorer. Take a video camera with you to keep the memories of the ride alive forever.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Although the quad-bikes are restricted to a minimum speed limit, it is recommended to wear helmets and sit tight, especially for the one riding at the back.
2. Take a Thai cooking class
Thailand’s cuisine is one of the most ecstatic and flavorful cuisines of the whole world. And after staying a few days in Koh Samui and trying out their authentic dishes, we’re guessing that you fell in love with them and definitely want to try them out at home and maybe even invite friends and family over to try them out. So why not take a short course in Thai cookery?
Take a short half-day cooking course on Thai cuisine conducted by professional chefs specializing in Thai recipes. Choose from the long list of 180 authentic dishes what you want to learn to cook, with most of the recipes having options for adjustments according to special diets such as vegetarian or no salt. However, the course takes place in an air-conditioned traditional Thai house. After the course, you get to taste your own cooking alongside a three-course lunch with appetizer, main course, dessert, and a drink of your choice.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: Children aged 8 and above are allowed with adult supervision.
1. Samui sunset at the beach
Save this one for your last day at Koh Samui. Whether you are on a long trip lasting weeks or a short 2 to 3 day trip, your visit to Koh Samui will remain incomplete without stopping at the beach in the evening and watching the sun go down on the horizon setting fire to the water and dazzling your eyes, filling you with awe and peace at the same time. Therefore, Thailand is famous for its many beaches, but there is somewhere the view of the sunset is better than the rest and also have bars and snack shops for your convenience. Watch the sun go down with a chilled drink of your choice in hand to make the perfect conclusion to your visit.
Special Notes/Safety Precautions: No safety rules here. Just sit back, relax, and recall the wonderful experience of the past few days on the island.
You might take a look at 50 Amazing Things to Do in Bangkok, Thailand
Why is Koh Samui Attractive for Tourists?
While many other holiday destinations are extremely expensive and way beyond the reach of many, especially for the backpackers out there, Koh Samui remains to be surprisingly more affordable than you’d expect. You can make a trip to the island and back at almost half the expense of a tour to Europe or any other place in North America, or even Australia. And getting there is so simple and easy that the island is attracting more tourists every year.
The natural beauty of this place is haunting and daunting. With peaks of islands standing up to the sky for as far as you can see, and the lush green tropical forests that are not only home to its exotic animals, but also to a handful of stone Buddhas in various avatars and positions, Koh Samui is one of the most beautiful pieces of land ever to be discover by humans. It is the only place on earth where the rare exotic you can see pink dolphin and the only place where you can play a weird but fun sport called frisbee golf (not joking). So, what are we waiting for? Let’s begin our next big adventure towards Koh Samui!
How to Get to Koh Samui?
By plane: There are a couple of pf domestic flights that fly from Bangkok and Phuket to Koh Samui such as the Lion Air. Book your tickets according to your budget preferences. From Bangkok, the planes leave from the Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok and landing at the Samui Airport. From Phuket, the flights take off from the Phuket International Airport and land in Samui Airport.
By boat: There are many boat services that take passengers to and from Koh Samui on a regular basis. Therefore companies such as Lompaya, Nok Air Transport Co, Lion Air, Siatran, etc. offer the best and safest boat rides.
Koh Samui Useful Links
Here are some links that will come in handy while you make the best out of your trip to Koh Samui:
It is impossible to explore and experience the whole of Koh Samui in just a day or two, the list is just a little attempt to describe what to expect here, the best things to do in Koh Samui, and what these activities have to offer in no particular order. However, if you are on a short trip, you can choose from this list the things that attract you the most or you think are the most suitable for you considering every aspect. If you go through this list before making your trip, you can set your plans accordingly to get the best experience out of your trip.
There is actually so much to explore, discover, and experience in the island of Koh Samui that it is very difficult to cherry-pick a handful. Here we have tried to enlist the most remarkable places and activities that would make a permanent folder in your travel memories making you want to go back there again and again.
The prices of the things (foods, hotel fares, entry fees to activities, etc.) and the total cost of the trip didn’t mention here as it varies from season to season. However, the best time to visit Koh Samui is around late winter during the Christmas holidays. During this time the beaches stay warm and you can go sunbathing.
Koh Samui is the ideal holiday spot for people of all ages and backgrounds. It is nearly impossible to pick all of the best things to do in Koh Samui. But the list here covers most of them to help you make the most out of your tour. Hope you enjoy the trip.