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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!