With its many beautiful sandy beaches, it’s tempting to spend time just soaking up the sun on Koh Samui. However, the island offers plenty more to do and see that will give you a good glimpse of Thai culture, and the local landscape.
To help you plan your time at Koh Samui, I’ve described the top 12 things to do, from popular activities like kayaking and snorkeling to more offbeat attractions like a mummified monk. This should give you a good idea of what your itinerary would look like.
Organised Things To Do
These activities are organised by third parties, and will let you experience the best of Koh Samui’s sights both on land, and out at sea.
Kayaking and Snorkeling around Ang Thong National Marine Park
Ang Thong National Marine Park is a protected area with 42 islands featuring sandy beaches, hidden bays and inlets, and jungles. Its beauty inspired the book and movie ‘The Beach’, so naturally exploring this area is one of Koh Samui’s top things to do.
You can sign up for a full-day tour that takes you kayaking and snorkeling at some of the most beautiful islands in the marine park, like Ko Mae Ko, and Ko Tai Plao. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot whales, dolphins, or monkeys on the islands!
Sail to Koh Pha-ngan on a Junk Ship
For a more unique way of exploring the waters around Koh Samui, hop aboard a traditional junk ship, which will take you to the nearby island of Koh Pha-ngan!
On the boat, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a hearty lunch with Thai cuisine, and relax on the sunny and spacious deck. The boat will take you snorkeling and also stop by a secluded beach on Koh Pha-ngan, before heading back at dusk for a spectacular sunset on board.
Explore Koh Samui with an Off-Road ATV Tour
After taking in the underwater sights of Koh Samui, you can experience its rainforests the adventurous way – with an off-road ATV tour 🙂
Tours start on an easy dirt track leading all the way to the highest point of the island, where you can enjoy amazing views over Lamai beach. You’ll even have the chance to stop at a hidden waterfall for a swim before heading back.
Zipline across Koh Samui’s Forests with Skyhawk Adventure
If you’re a thrill seeker, a trip to Skyhawk Adventure is worth considering. There, you’ll get great views across the island from elevated platforms, some at a height of 600m!
There’s plenty to do there, with a variety of adventurous activities there like abseiling, sky bridge walks across the rainforest, and 21 zipline routes. You’ll also have the option to book a round-trip transfer to your hotel with meals included for your convenience.
DIY Things To Do
On this list are fun activities you can do on your own, without booking through any third party.
Discover Koh Samui’s Best Beaches
Koh Samui is most famous for its sandy shores, and it’s a rather large island with around 40 beaches. Some of them are bustling and lively, like Chaweng Beach, and others are secluded and peaceful, like Choeng Mon Beach.
With so many beaches, it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. To help you with that, I’ve created a list showing and describing Koh Samui’s 12 best beaches, so that you can get a good impression of what they’re like, and visit the ones that you like best.
Experience Koh Samui’s Vibrant Nightlife
Koh Samui is also well known for its happening nightlife. There’s a spot for everyone to check out after sundown – from chilled out bars, lively nightclubs, and also ladyboy cabarets Thailand is famous for.
To find the nightlife venues that best suit your style, see my guide on Koh Samui’s 12 best bars and clubs.
Sample Thai and International Cuisine
Dining in Koh Samui is a culinary adventure. You’ll find plenty of street food like Som Tam, Kao Mon Gai and more at night markets and from roadside vendors, as well as international fine dining at upscale restaurants along the beach.
To help you decide where to have your next meal in Koh Samui, I introduce 12 of the best places to eat on the island, as well as some great street food to try.
Hunt for Hidden Waterfalls
Most visitors head to Koh Samui for its beaches, but the island has some wonderful waterfalls worth a visit for a refreshing break from the heat.
Some of the most popular ones are Namuang 1 and Namuang 2, Hin Lad and Wang Sao Thong falls. To access the waterfalls, renting your own transport like a scooter or a car is recommended.
Attractions To Visit
These are points of interest that you can see on your own, without booking via any third parties. They include some of Koh Samui’s most well-known landmarks.
Hin Ta and Hin Yai
One of Koh Samui’s most famous attractions is Hin Ta and Hin Yai, or “Grandpa and Grandma”, a pair of rocks naturally shaped to look like male and female genitalia. Don’t leave your imagination behind when you visit them 🙂
Legend has it that an old couple were traveling to ask for a man’s blessings for his daughter to marry their son. Unfortunately, the old couple’s boat ran into a storm and they perished at sea, turning into that pair of rocks as proof of their intentions.
Big Buddha Temple
The Big Buddha Temple, or Wat Phra Yai, with its 12-metre Buddha statue is one of Koh Samui’s most popular attractions. It’s often the first landmark of the island you’ll see if you’re flying in to Koh Samui!
As the temple is a religious site, do note that there’s a dress code you’ll need to adhere to. Your shoulders and knees should be covered, so keep your pants or skirts knee-length and below, and bring a scarf to cover shoulders if you don’t have a shirt that does so.
Located on Bophut Beach, Fisherman’s Village is where Chinese fishermen migrated to from the island of Hainan in the 19th century. The village is worth exploring to see original wooden houses with decorative Chinese lanterns, still inhabited by some descendants of the migrants.
The best time to visit Fisherman’s Village is Friday night from 5pm – 11pm, when the village comes to life with a weekly night market. The roads are closed to traffic, and you can take your time browsing for food, clothes, and various souvenirs.
The Mummified Monk
Another one of Koh Samui’s more unusual sights is a mummified monk, at the Wat Khunaram temple. The monk, Luong Pordaeng passed away in 1973 in a seated meditative position, and amazingly, shows little sign of decay even over 30 years later.
Far from being just a seaside destination, Koh Samui offers plenty of unique and unusual attractions that you probably wouldn’t find in other parts of the world.
So when you’re done kayaking, snorkeling, and tanning on the beach, mark down these activities for plenty more to keep you occupied 🙂 Hope this helps you plan your Koh Samui trip!