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What to See and Do in Koh Samui, Thailand?

Koh Samui is one of the most popular islands among tourists and offers incredibly wide range of unique attractions and experiences.

The entire country of Thailand is home to hundreds, even thousands of religious and cultural monuments, but at Koh Samui these are combined with incredible natural wonders, such as the Namuang Waterfall.

Not only is there religious and cultural experiences the backpacking scene is pretty lively and something not to be misses.

If you want to make the most of your experience and ensure you take in the vibrant authenticity of Koh Samui you need to try and fit in some of the sites described in more detail below:

The Big Buddha Statue

This is truly a spectacular sight particularly at sunset.  You may have seen others but the Big Buddha statue is well worth checking out.  Located on the northern coast of Koh Samui the 12 meter high golden statue is the most recognizable landmark of the area.  Not only is it know because of its spectacular appearance but it also has significant religious importance.

Around the base of the Big Buddha you will find lots of nik naks for sale in the form of various amulets and other artifacts.  These items are traditional and it is believed will help you deal with many of life’s problems.

Tourists visiting the big Buddha could have the unique chance to witness the everyday life of Buddhist monks.  The monks come to the statue to bring daily offerings of fruits and other goods.

Secret Buddha Garden

If you are fan of adventure, the Secret Buddha Garden will definitely capture your imagination. Hidden away in the deep jungles of the Koh Samui hills, the garden was created by a local farmer in 1976 and shares incredibly tranquil location.

It may be a little off the beaten track and have a more challenging climb on the final part of the journey but littered with traditional statues, carving, waterfalls and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Thai jungle this is a great place to chill out and wind down for a few hours.

More experienced travelers will often say that the Secret Buddha Garden offers you unique experience every time you visit.

Nature and Wildlife Tours

The wildlife on the Koh Samui Island is incredibly and there are numerous nature & wildlife tours available for any taste.

Private Day tours are highly recommended, especially if you decide to visit the elephant national park. I really can’t imagine a better way to experience Koh Samui than spending a fun day with well-trained elephants or being surrounded by the fascinating wildlife.

Angthong National Marine Park

Stretching over 42 islands, the Angthong National Marine Park offers some spectacular natural landscapes.

Although, when reading this you actually can’t imagine the size of the park or picture the vast landscapes but to give you some idea of the scale of the national park a full tour of all 42 islands is likely to take you few weeks!

Angthong National Marine Park is the home of some of the most beautiful and in many cases rather unusual scenery in all of Thailand and is certainly considered to be paradise for the adventure seekers and travelers that flock to the park in significant numbers.

A good place to start in this incredibly location is the Koh Mae.  You will certainly be rewarded if you follow the climbing pathways as you will discover breathtaking views overseeing all of the islands!

Wat Plai Laem

The Samui region has been subject to strong Chinese influences and Wat Plai Laem is a Buddhist Temple and one of the most spectacular monuments. Similar to the big Buddha statue in location and influence but created in more modern times the Wat Plai Laem offers tourists glimpse at another aspect of Thai religious life and beliefs.

The statue towering over the temple depicts the goddess of mercy and compassion Guanyin.

If you donate to the temple, you will be given a bag of food to feed the fish swimming in around it, this is can not only be quite fun but also a very rewarding experience.

The Most Backpacker Friendly Beaches on Koh Samui

While you will be welcomed by locals at most locations around Samui there are some more popular backpacker destinations.

Lets face it almost every backpacker wants to experience the tranquility the Thai islands have to offer during their journey so finding the perfect beach is essential.

On Koh Samui, backpackers will definitely enjoy Chawang and Lamai as this is where the traditional Thai calmness meets the vibrant nightlife so typical of Thailand:


The fact that Chawang is named as the best beach in Koh Samui is an obvious draw to backpackers.  As you would expect there are loads of options to let your hair down, sample some of the local bevvies and party the night away.

Not only do you have the social options here but you will also be able to find loads of cheap accommodation nearby with hostel and hotel rates on the road opposite of the Chawang beach quite affordable.

If you decide head here and visit this beach you will not be disappointed, you will have great time with a small budget and at one of Thailand’s most beautiful spots.


Lamai is comparable in its beautiful with Chawang but is famous all over the area for its vibrant nightlife.

Along with the usual nightlife party atmosphere the fabulous lady bars are just another part of the scene here and not for the fait hearted!.

If you fancy something a little different for a couple of hours hit the night market.  This market is famous for its delicious meals and is definitely something you can’t miss.

Don’t forget the beach…. It is pretty simple to grab a local meal and drink, from the nearby store on the cheap, head to the beach and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of Lamai!

What else does a backpacker need anyway?

Other options

If you want to truly experience the Thai culture and get a bit more integrated into everyday Thai life it could be a good idea to check out the volunteer scene. Find out some more amazing travel ideas at Experience Backpacking or drop by our travel shop and get huge discounts on Thailand travel packages!

Dedicating few weeks or even months to a good volunteering cause can be really effective. Not only are your efforts hugely appreciated you often have the opportunity to learn new skills, crafts and traditions while you are helping others.  This can be very rewarding on a personal level.

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