Koh Samui beach view

Top 10 Things to Do in Koh Samui

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Koh Samui is Thailand’s second-largest island (Phuket takes the crown) and is situated in the Gulf of Thailand alongside Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

Just like its neighbours, Koh Samui is surrounded by stunning, white-sand beaches and endless activities. This makes the island an extremely popular destination, attracting a wide audience, from budget backpackers to wealthy holidaymakers.

Koh Samui is also a popular island due to the abundance of things to do here! You can spend your days living it up as a beach bum, exploring the jungle and underwater worlds or immersing yourself in the Thai culture.

Don’t have time to read the whole article? Here are some of the top activities to do whilst on Koh Samui:

Keep on reading if you want to find out everything you can do during your stay on Koh Samui!

New to Koh Samui? We’ve written this compact Koh Samui guide to show you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Koh Samui!

#1 Diving, snorkelling, kayaking…the list of watersport activities goes on

Coral in Gulf of Thailand
Fish swimming around the coral of Koh Samui

You can’t stop dreaming of exploring that warm, tropical sea? Neither can we, and Koh Samui definitely doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its sea-based activities.

Kayaking, diving, and snorkelling are among the most popular activities, with SUP, jet skiing and sailing close on their heels.

Diving on Koh Samui

If you want to take your adventures to new depths, you will find countless diving companies on the island where you can embark on a PADI course. The water around Koh Samui is teeming with vibrant marine life and evolving underwater landscapes. With visibility between 3-30 metres, it’s a great diving and snorkelling spot.

Some of our favourite sites across Koh Samui include Coral Cove for incredible coral reefs and Taling Ngam for it’s underwater rock formations.

PRO-TIP: While Koh Samui offers amazing diving sites, it can’t beat the neighbouring island of Koh Tao. Check out our island guide of Koh Tao to see why it is often called Thailand’s mecca for diving.

#2 Explore Koh Samui’s best beaches

It’s no surprise that Koh Samui is so popular when it has 50km of coastline that’s dotted with over 40 picturesque and powdery white-sand beaches.

Most beaches offer a range of accommodation, from resorts oozing with luxury, to cheap and cheerful bungalows, no matter which one you pick.

Chaweng Beach (northeast of Koh Samui)

Chaweng Beach at Koh Samui
Chaweng Beach – the most popular beach in Koh Samui

It’s not a coincidence that the most popular resort area on Koh Samui also has one of the most idyllic beaches on the island.

The delicate white sands making up Chaweng beach are encased by rocky headlines and bordered by picture-perfect palm trees.

Exploring the offshore reef gives you the perfect opportunity to work up an appetite that you can then satisfy at one of the many restaurants and beach bars lining the beach.

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Taling Ngam (westcoast of Koh Samui)

Taling Ngam Beach, Koh Samui
Leaning palm trees at Taling Ngam Beach

If you’re looking for tranquility and seclusion from your trip to Koh Samui, then you’ve pretty much found it in Taling Ngam beach.

The beach offers a front row, intimate showing of the glorious sunset each night as the sun retires for the day. Even better, the backdrop to this stunning spectacle is Ang Thong Marine Park. Now that’s got to take some beating!

With the nearest sizable town, Nathon, a 20-30 minute drive away you’ll get to experience peace and seclusion which is fast becoming scarce in this world.

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Bang Por (southwest of Koh Samui)

Bang Por Beach at Koh Samui
Sunset at Bang Por beach, southwest of Koh Samui

Bang Por holds the crown for the longest stretch of sand on the island, reaching an impressive 11km of uninterrupted pristine sand.

This beach adds a tropical touch to your visit, creating an off the beaten track vibe whilst still providing a reasonable selection of restaurants and bars. The seafood is a real winner here!

Only 5-10 minutes away from the less sleepy village of Maenam and capital town of Nathon, Bang Por is a great beach to add into your day trip plans.

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#3 Take a boat trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Ang Thong National Marine Park
Ang Thong National Marine Park

Just a 45-minute boat ride away from Koh Samui, you’ll find the Ang Thong National Marine Park.

This park is a protected archipelago of 42 islands featuring limestone mountains, lush jungles, white-sand beaches, waterfalls, and hidden lakes. It’s almost too much to fit in a sentence, let alone a day.

One of the highlights of this 100 square meters marine park is Ko Mae Ko Island, where you’ll find the Emerald Lake. An enchanting mint blue lagoon that looks just unreal and is also strictly off limits for anyone wanting to take a swim in the lake. We promise just admiring this natural beauty is enough!

How to book a tour to Ang Thong

You can book the Ang thong National Park Day Tour from Koh Samui for only 945 THB ($29.55) and 475 THB ($14.85) for children. This also includes a light breakfast and a buffet lunch. You’ll definitely be hungry after all the swimming and exploring during the boat tour.

Camping at Ang Thong National Park Day

Camping at Ang Thong National Marine Park, Koh Phangan

Camping adventure at Ang Thong National Marine Park

If you feel like just spending the day at Ang Thong Marine Park isn’t enough, you can also book a boat trip that includes overnight camping in one of the few basic bungalows or tents at Ko Wua Talap. Just be aware that you’ll need to book this in advance as the number of bungalows and tents are very limited!

There’s nothing better than waking up to the sound of the birds chirping and the waves crashing rhythmically on the beach.

Ang Thong National Marine Park Fee

Whichever tour company you book with, bear in mind that the park entrance fee of 300 THB (150 THB for children) isn’t included in the initial price.

#4 Take a walk back in time at the Fisherman’s Village

Fisherman Village at Bophut Beach, Koh Samui
Main street in Fisherman Village

Sometimes there’s nothing better strolling through foreign streets, absorbing the sights and sounds of a new and exciting place. Fisherman’s Village is definitely a place you can stroll for hours without even realising!

While you can visit any day of the week, Friday night is a must. The street is closed to all vehicles and becomes a bustling Walking Street lined with shops, restaurants, bars and all things Koh Samui has to offer.

While many of the fisherman no longer live in the village, they bring their daily catch to the restaurants here, making it the perfect place to sample the freshest seafood.

#5 Head to Wat Phra Yai to see Koh Samui’s Big Buddha

Wat Phra Yai Temple, Koh Samui
Wat Phra Yai Temple, also known as the famous Big Buddha of Koh Samui

Situated just off the northeast coast, on a little island connected to Koh Samui is the famous Big Buddha.

The sight is much more than just a photo opportunity. Take the time to admire the hours of work now reflected in the delicate and intricate detail of the statue. Standing at 12 metres tall it’s difficult to not be awestruck by this spectacular Buddha made from gold.

Reminder: Do keep in mind that this is a religious site, so act and dress respectfully. A great rule of thumb for most temples in Thailand is for both sexes to have their shoulders and knees covered.

#6 Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Koh Samui

Wat Plai Laem Temple at Koh Samui
Wat Plai Laem Temple with Guanyin statue on the right

Wat Plai Laem is a modern working Buddhist temple that cleverly replicates centuries old art techniques. It features a 18-arm statue of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion alongside a large white Chinese Buddha. The extravagant and vibrant details create a sight you can’t miss.

Both are surrounded by a lake teeming with fish thoughtlessly going about their days. If you like, in return for making a small donation to the temple, you are given a bag of food to feed the fish.

#7 Visit some questionably shaped rocks – Hin Ta and Hin Yai

Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks in Koh Samui
Hin Ta and Hin Yai rock in Koh Samui

Also known as Grandpa and Grandma rock, it’s not the name that has made these rocks famous.

You can’t help but notice that these strangely shaped rocks closely resemble male and female genitalia. It’s hard to not let out that childish giggle when admiring these natural phenomena.

We shouldn’t be surprised, it is Thailand afterall.

However, there’s more! According to folklore, the rocks were formed after a couple’s boat was flipped during a storm. Unable to swim, they both sadly died and were transformed into the rocks on Koh Samui.

#8 Wander through the world of waterfalls at Nu Muang

Na Muang 1 waterfall, Koh Samui
Na Muang 1 waterfall

There’s definitely something magical about waterfalls, and Koh Samui is one place that’s not short on one of Mother Nature’s best creations.

Taking the top spot for most picturesque has to be the Na Muang falls. Even better, you get double the fun as there’s not one, but two waterfalls to explore here.

The first wall of water cascading from the jungle is no more than 100 metres from the car park – Na Muang Waterfall 1. The first one can get a little busy, so it’s definitely worth the extra 20-30 minute walk to reach Na Maung 2.

Something we all love to hear is that the park featuring the waterfalls is free. There’s also a selection of small vendors selling food and drink for when you fancy a break from your exploration.

#9 Sneak off to the Secret Buddha Garden

Ancient stone statues in secret Buddhism magic garden in Koh Samui
Ancient stone statues at the Secret Buddha Garden in Koh Samui

Cocooned by the lush tropical jungle, at the centre of Koh Samui you’ll find the Secret Buddha Garden.

This peaceful oasis began in 1976 when an old Samui fruit farmer began filling his land with various statues and temples depicting animals, humans and deities. A huge accomplishment and wonderful creation, Khun Nim continued his work until the respectable age of 91!

Accessibility to the location isn’t great. The steep and bumpy road makes for a difficult journey for most vehicles unless you’re in a 4 wheeled drive. However, once you reach the top, the panoramic views of Koh Samui reward any traveller determined enough to make the drive.

#10 Join in the festivities and annual traditions of Koh Samui

Koh Samui hosts plenty of annual festivals including the Samui Regatta, Songkran (water festival) and a Full Moon Party.

Samui Regatta

Samui Regatta at Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui
Samui Regatta (yacht event) at Chaweng Beach

The Samui Regatta usually occurs in May and is the biggest regatta of its kind in all of Asia and attracts visitors from all over the world. During this event, yachts race across the turquoise sea, utilising the power of the wind.

Songkran

Songkran Festival at Koh Samui
Travellers celebrating the start of the Buddhist New Year at Songkran Festival

Like lots of other places in Thailand, Koh Samui also takes part in Songkran which celebrates the new year by throwing water on each other. This symbolises the ridding of any bad luck as the new year begins. It’s virtually impossible to avoid getting wet, so as they say – if you can’t beat them, join them

Oktoberfest

Not what you would expect 9,000km away from Germany, but Koh Samui has been celebrating Oktoberfest since 2004. Now hosted at Nikki Beach Resort, the festival delights visitors with lederhosen, bratwursts and a flood load of beer!

Potentially helping to make you feel better about drinking your body weight in beer, the festival is used to raise money to buy equipment for local schools and other good causes.

Check out how to get to Koh Samui from other destinations in Thailand!