About Koh Samui
Around the Island
When you travel around the island you will find a wealth of natural beauty and cosmopolitan luxury.
Samui is small enough to drive a car around in about two hours and big enough to discover new things and beautiful places even if you stay for several weeks. While the most visited areas have roads lined with shops and businesses, much of the island remains covered with coconut groves, rice paddies and tropical forest. A sense of adventure and a bit of effort will be amply rewarded with everything from sophisticated shops and restaurants to serene hikes, jungle drives and spectacular views.
Chaweng has the longest beach and is the biggest town on the island. There are dozens of hotels and restaurants along its fine white sandy beach. Chaweng beach road running parallel has the highest density of shops, bars and restaurants on Samui.
Lamai has Samui's second largest beach after Chaweng. The water is excellent for swimming at the bays southern end and the palm fringed beach is studded with elegant granite boulders. Although the town can get rather busy during the evenings it offers a good balance between some of the more remote areas and the hustle and bustle of Chaweng. The main street has some decent bars and high quality restaurants.
All the government offices and main banks are located in and around Nathon. It is the primary port for the mainland and also offers transport to other islands. Being less touristy than both Chaweng and Lamai, the shopping here is less expensive and there is lots of interesting souvenir and copy items for sale. Most of the shops are on the inland road, however the ocean road has a number of good restaurants for breakfast and lunch and the teak shop houses that line the middle road provide a glimse into Samui's traditional way of life.
Easily the most charming village on the island and consists of a single street of old Chinese shop houses, many converted into elegant restaurants, chill out bars and shops lining the water's edge. The 'village' boasts the only walking street on the island, perfect for strolling after a romantic beachside dinner. Both the cuisine and the architecture have a distinctly Mediterranean feel.
Bang Rak and Big Buddah Beach
This is home to the 12 metre tall golden Big Buddah, Samui's most famous landmark. The proximity to the airport makes the area around Big Buddah Beach very convenient. Again, less touristy than either Chaweng or Lamai the ocean road has a growing number of fine dining possibilities and some popular bars.
The muslim fishing village of Hua Thanon is clustered around a 90 degree turn in the road just south of Lamai. There are a few restaurants, but the main attraction is the artistry of the local fishermen. Their intricately painted boats are moored just offshore from the thriving market. The beach is not recommended for swimming but a stroll along it affords a glimpse into the real life of one of Samui's main economic activities.
Just south of Nathon, this is one of the best places on the island to catch the sunset. The water here is very shallow and you can wade out for 200 metres and the water is still no higher than your waist. The velvety feel of the ocean bottom attracts local children as well as visitors in the late afternoons.
A sandy beach and great views towards the neighbouring island of Koh Phangan make this one of Samui's most popular beaches. The number of fine restaurants and businesses along its main road are steadily increasing. In the hills above Maenam is the world famous Santiburi Golf and Country Club, set within a spectacular tropical landscape of lush fairways, beautifully manicured greens, waterfalls and creeks, with dramatic views of the coastline towards Maenam.
This fashionable resort has a laid back Mediterranean atmosphere, a wonderful sandy beach and the sea is ideal for swimming. Several upmarket hotels, beach bars and restaurants make the area a popular choice with visitors.
Samui's Natural Wonders
Samui's natural environment is one of its biggest attractions.
The lushness of the greenery, the blue of the sea, the fantastic beaches, the hidden waterfalls and elegant geography have been attracting both new and repeat visitors for years. Travellers from temperate countries especially, can hardly fail to be impressed by the sheer diversity of Samui's natural wonders. Explore to your heart's content, but please respect the island environment. Don't spoil the experience for others by picking wild plants or leaving rubbish behind.
Na Muang Waterfalls
Not far from the ring road between Hua Thanon and Nathon, the twin Na Muang waterfalls are easily accessible to visitors. Rocks and tree roots form a natural staircase leading directly to a large pool at the base of the waterfall. Be careful when diving or swimming in the pool, however, as sharp rocks are hidden by the frothing of the fall. Elephant trekking is also available here. A pleasant 10-minute walk up a rocky path will bring you to the base of the second and most beautiful waterfall on the island.
Hin-Ta and Hin-Yai
These two stones, called Grandmother and Grandfather respectively, have been naturally crafted by the elements to resemble male and female genitalia. The stones are a favourite tourist destination and equally popular with local Thais on weekends. Follow the ring road south west of Lamai, and look out for the signs. The road leading to the site is lined with souvenir shops. This is the best place to buy the beautiful bowls and vases made from coconut palm wood and one of the few places to buy garamear, Samui's very own coconut candy - a tasty glutinous mixture of coconut, palm sugar and sticky rice.
This rock has a precarious perch overhanging a daunting cliff top high above Lamai. Walking all the way can be pretty exhausting, but the view is fantastic and there's a refreshment stand to help you recuperate when you arrive.
The Southern Peninsular
The south of the island is an area of unspoilt natural beauty that gives a good impression of what the island must have been like before tourism took hold. Coconut palms stretch towards the sea, and there are a number of hidden bays and beaches that provide the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the more popular locations.
There are now several ways to take a trip into Samui's mountainous interior. The views are spectacular, and the atmosphere is completely different from down on the coast. The deeper you go, the more the jungle takes over with cicadas buzzing in the background and small villages set amid the hills. Great care should be taken however because access is mainly on steep and unpredictable dirt tracks. One of the more accessible routes begins just south of Nathon. Another road leads into the mountains from Maenam. On both these routes if you make it over the bumps and gullies you will reach a relaxing viewpoint restaurant.