Day trips & tours on Samui Island
Things to do in Koh Samui
Koh Samui is Thailand's second largest island and covers a land mass of approximately 228 km² making it very easy to explore the captivating wealth of sights to be found there. Wherever you are based on the island, you'll find that day trips are acheivable either by renting a car, hiring a driver and vehicle or trying out some of the public transport options.
We have selected some of the most popular, interesting and inspiring sights that you can experience while based on Koh Samui;
|Big Buddha Temple / Wat Phra Yai|
The Big Buddha and surrounding temple complex of Wat Phra Yai is perhaps the most visited attraction on Koh Samui and will certainly be one of the first things you see just before you touch down at the airport. The 12 metre high gold statue sits on a small island just off the north east of Koh Samui (between Bophut and Choeng Mon) and is accessible by a paved causeway. The temple grounds consist of open spaces with areas for contemplation, and small buildings used for teaching and meditation. There are also a handful of food and souvenir stalls on-site.
It is important to observe the dress code at this temple as with all Buddhist temples in Thailand. Both sexes should make sure that shoulders and knees are completely covered but covering the ankles is also very much appreciated. Consider wearing long trousers or skirts on the bottom, and a t-shirt, blouse or shirt on top. Scarves/sarongs can be used to cover shoulders or create a long skirt. Visitors must remove their shoes so it's a good idea to bring some socks with grip as the shiny stone floors and steps can get incredibly hot in the sun.
|New Temple / Wat Plai Laem|
Between Big Buddha Beach and Choeng Mon Beach, and just a 5 minute drive or a pleasant walk of under 20 minutes from Big Buddha past shops and cafés lies the colourful Wat Plai Laem, or New Temple. Despite it being a modern day structure, many traditional methods and techniques have been used in its artistic creation. The eye-catching complex features a statue of the 18-armed Guanyin, the goddess of compassion and mercy, and also a large white laughing buddha. The temple grounds are surrounded by a picturesque lake and if you donate to the site, you'll receive a bag of fish food to feed the many that inhabit the waters. You may even see some turtles!
Please see the information regarding dress code at buddhist temples above in the Big Buddha Temple section.
|Fisherman's Village - Bophut Beach|
Located in the Bophut area, the Fisherman's Village makes for a lovely day out and a good, quiet alternative to Chaweng or Lamai. It's no longer the fishing hub that it once was owing to the pier collapsing, however, the charming old wooden shophouses and narrow alleyways remain, and the village is now filled with an array of interesting boutique shops and stalls attracting shoppers from all over the island. There are plenty of decent restaurants and cafés with delicious offerings to try, and the beautiful sandy Bophut beach is right there infront of the village so a day in the area is well spent.
Visit in the evening on a Monday and Friday and you'll find the night market in full swing (open between 17:00 - 23:00). It's considered one of the most exciting on the island and fun for all ages.
|Hin Ta and Hin Yai|
These interesting rock formations known affectionately as 'Grandma and Grandpa' are uncannily shaped like male and female genitalia and have a tragic folklore tale attached. The story goes that there was an old couple who's sonhad reached marriagable age, and so they set sail to a neighboring province to secure the hand of a local family's daughter. A storm hit en-route which capsized their boat and sadly they were both killed at sea, turning into rocks to prove to the potential bride-to-be's family of their true intentions.
The rocks have become a well known attraction on the island and are located south of the scenic Lamai beach.
|Red Temple / Wat Sila Ngu / Wat Ratchathammaram|
This beautifully constructed temple has an eye-catching terracotta hue and is decorated with carvings of snakes and sea monsters. Inside is just as impressive with further carvings of buddhas and sculptures in relief adorning the walls.
It sits close to the roadside between Lamai Beach and Hua Thanon, just south of Hi Ta and Hin Yai rocks and makes for an interesting stop on a tour of the island.
|Ang Thong National Marine Park|
Take a private boat trip or a group tour from Koh Samui out to the idyllic Angthong Marine Park, characterised by majestic limestone forests, mangroves and clear turquoise waters encompassing 42 tiny islands and a plethora of wildlife.
The park was the inspiration for Alex Garland's novel 'The Beach' and with the subsequent release of the blockbuster film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it has become a perrenial favourite amongst tourists.
Boat tour companies can organise activities such as hiking, Kayaking/canoeing, diving and snorkelling at the park and most will have a lunch included on-board.
|The Secret Buddha Garden|
The Secret Buddha Garden is a labour of love created by the late Khun Nim Thongsuk, who began collecting intricately carved stone deities, animals and other figuerines on his land back in 1976. Khun Nim continued adding to his collection until his death at the age of 91 and his legacy has become one of the top attractions on Koh Samui.
The garden is small and an hour is enough for most people to enjoy the statues and the surroundings. There is a small coffee shop and souvenier stall on site.
|Samui Elephant Sanctuary|
This peaceful spot is a sanctuary for elephants rescued from brutally hard lives in the logging industry and long hours of unethical 'entertainment' for tourists. Here, the gentle giants enjoy a restful life living in their protected forested environment, foraging, socialising and lounging in their purpose built pool.
Visitors are educated on the importance of these wonderful empathetic creatures and gain valubale insights in to their fascinating lives. As part of the visit to the sanctuary, visitors are able to observe the herd as they 'express their natural instincts', walk with them, and also feed them.
The Samui Elephant Sanctuary was the first ethical sanctuary for elephants to open on the island and they have since been able to open a second sanctuary. You can find out more about their history and initiatives here.
|Laem Sor Pagoda|
On the southern tip of Koh Samui looking out to sea is the Laem Sor Pagoda, a shining gold coloured structure of intricate design that creates a striking photo opportunity against the blue sky backdrop.
There are various statues of Buddha around the site as well as two forboding stone figures with turquoise faces known as Yakshas who protect the pagoda and the main statue of Buddha that sits in the doorway.
This makes for a good stop off on a tour of the island and if you plan to use the quiet white sandy beach then be sure to bring plenty of water and sun lotion as there are no amenities nearby.
Chaweng is where everything happens and if you're not already staying there then it makes for a great day trip as there is something for everyone. For sunseekers there is approximately 5km of white powdery sand on the beach to enjoy, as well as an endless array of beach bars and clubs, and opportunities to enjoy a massage while listening to the sound of the waves lapping at the shore. Watersports are also big here and there are many types to try.
Chaweng's food scene is exemplary and not only does it have a plethora of restaurants but also many establishments offering to teach the Thai culinary arts so that visitors can go home and recreate their favourite dishes.
Shopping is another popular pursuit in Chaweng with night markets, a shopping mall, and a handful of big name brands.
Fans of Thai Boxing should head to the Chaweng Boxing Stadium to check out a match. These occur usually twice a week and provide a thrilling and atmospheric night of entertainment for locals and tourists alike.
Those in search of a great night out will find it here in Chaweng at one of the many beach bars and clubs, or on one of the dedicated walking streets; the lively Soi Green Mango or Soi Reggae. Many of the bars and clubs on these two streets offer table top games and live music with either bands or DJs providing the entertainment.