For my 21st birthday 4 years ago, my mum and I went to Koh Samui in Thailand.
Koh Samui is located off the East Coast of Thailand, and is the country’s second largest island after Phuket. It’s a quick flight from Bangkok and package holidays to Thailand will often include a few days in Bangkok followed by a relaxing island getaway to Samui. We visited Koh Samui in June at the beginning of the rainy season, and unfortunately the weather was rather wet, but there were still plenty of things to do on the island to keep us entertained.
Here are 10 things to do on your Koh Samui holidays:
1. Visit the Big Buddha
The Big Buddha is Koh Samui’s most famous landmark, and as its name suggests, it’s very…BIG! The 12-metre high golden statue sits at the top of a grand staircase, and it’s big enough to be seen from the sky as your plane approaches the island. The Big Buddha was built in 1972 and is part of the Phra Yai Temple in the northeast of the island. You can walk up the stairs for views from the top, and there are several shops nearby selling good quality Buddha ornaments and statues.
2. Visit the Grandmother and Grandfather Rock
The Grandmother and Grandfather rocks are the Koh Samui’s famous penis and vagina rocks. Yes you heard me correctly! Located at the south end of Lamai beach, these rocks have been shaped by the wind and ocean to resemble male and female…um…private parts.
3. Elephant Trekking
I know there’s a bit of controversy over whether people should do elephant trekking or not, but I’ll leave that one up to you to decide. You can choose a 30-minute or 60-minute elephant ride through the lush jungle, and stop at a waterfall on the way. Our elephant loved stopping to munch on plants and spray itself with water! You can stop to have your photo taken along the way, and afterwards you can feed the elephants with bananas.
4. Do a Kayak Tour
The Kayak tour was my most memorable experience in Koh Samui. The day trip takes you to Ang Thong National Marine Park which featured in the famous movie The Beach. The scenery is beautiful with white sandy beaches and emerald green waters. Sights visited on the tour include the sandy beach of “Ko Mae Ko”, the hidden “Emerald Lake” and the “Praying Monkey” rock. You’ll kayak through tunnels, caves and bizarre rock formations, and snorkel around the islands of Ko Tai Plao.
5. Have a Drink in the Ice Bar
What? There’s an ice bar in Koh Samui? Yep! Don fur hats, capes and gloves and enter the chilly world of Bar Ice to try some delicious flavoured vodkas and cocktails. In a country as hot as Thailand, it’s weird to swap the humidity of outside for temperatures of -7 degrees Celcius! The best part? The full-size tuk-tuk sculpture made entirely of ice!
6. Send a lantern into the sky
If you walk along Chaweng beach at night, there are people selling paper Sky Lanterns, which you can light with a flame and launch into the sky. Watch as the paper lantern ascends higher and higher and drifts away into the night sky.
7. Eat some grilled corn on the beach
I’ll never get how delicious the corn was in Koh Samui. On Chaweng beach there are vendors selling fresh grilled corn and fruits like pineapples and mangoes…yum!
8. Have dinner on the sand
There’s nothing like dining under the stars listening to the sound of the ocean. Just before the sun goes down, the restaurants start setting up tables, laying out cushions and transforming the wooden sun loungers into comfortable platforms to dine on. At night the beach is lit up with torches, lanterns and fairy lights, creating a romantic vibe. There are lots of restaurants serving Thai food, delicious seafood and cocktails, and there are sometimes live fire dancing shows.
9. Watch a Thai Dancing show
Many of the hotels and restaurants in Koh Samui put on classical Thai Dancing shows, which provide a great opportunity for photo taking. Have a delicious Thai dinner and enjoy an evening of traditional entertainment watching the dancers perform in colourful costumes. During certain parts of the year hotels here can get expensive. It is recommended to book your Koh Samui hotel early to cut down on travel costs.
10. Swim Under Na Muang Waterfall
For a change from the beach, head inland to the Na Muang waterfalls. There are several waterfalls on Koh Samui, but Na Muang are the most beautiful. The two cascades at Na Muang can be accessed via a footpath from the entrance to the park, and the pool at the bottom of the first waterfall is a great place for a refreshing swim.