Koh Samui is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus in Thailand, near by the mainland Surat Thani town. It is Thailand’s third largest island, with an area of 228.7 km2. There are several free natural attractions located on or near the main ring road. These are included in most guided tour itineraries. You are likely to stop at most or all of them if you take one of the Island Tours. Or you may desire to map out your own route, and track it on rented bike or in a jeep.
The island is roughly circular in shape, and is about 15km across. The central part of the island is an (almost) uninhabitable mountain jungle (peak Khao Pom, 635m) and the various lowland areas are connected together by a single road, that covers the circumference of the island.
Nathon is the old capital. You can find the major port for fishing and inter-island transportation on the southwest coast of the island. Nathon is the seat of the regional government, and the true commercial hub of the Samui locals. It has a pleasant pace, and is almost small enough to walk everywhere. The old Chinese shop houses along the middle street whisper of an exotic history.
Samui is an island of wonderful natural beauty and variety. It’s easy to let the sun and sea lull you into the feeling that you never want to move from the beach. There are lots of unusual attractions that make the most of the island’s culture and island charm. Even those who don’t get excited about sightseeing will find that the journeys to these well-known attractions will give their own delights.
Big Buddha temple is the famous place in the northern coast of Koh Samui. It is a twelve-metre high statue of the Buddha, which lies at the top of ceremonial dragon-steps at the Wat Phra Yai. Inside the surrounding temple are many different shrines and other smaller ornate Buddhas. There is also a small market selling a wide range of blessed charms and other souvenirs, along several food stalls.
How to get there?
The temple is located in the northeast of the island on route 4171 close to the airport.
Na Tian Butterfly Garden is situated at the bottom of the hill south of the island. They have hundreds of spectacular butterflies. For bug enthusiasts there’s also an Insect Museum, featuring rare insects from Thailand and other countries, and a bee house, which allows the visitor to observe the activities of bees. The insect museum, most of rare insects from Thailand and other countries are showed here.
Meaning of Grandfather Rock and Grandmother Rock respectively located at the south end of Lamai beach; Samui’s phallic rocks are as popular with Thai visitors as foreigners. In local legend the rocks represent two doomed lovers who drowned themselves in the sea here, because their families disapproved of their relationship. There is a large board at the site tells their story in full dramatic detail. The street approaching the rocks is lined with stalls selling a nice range of coconut wood products.
How to get there?
Located south-west of Lamai Beach, just off the 4169 ring road.
The two Na Muang waterfalls are probably the islands most stunning. Na Muang Waterfall is located 10 km south from Nathon at Ban Thurian. There are 2 waterfalls. Na Muang one is 18 meter high and can be reached by vehicle or 30 minute walking. The name Na Muang (meaning purple in Thai) refers to the enormous purple rocks that create the waterfalls. Rocks and tree roots form a natural staircase that leads to the base of Na Muang 1. A big natural swimming pool sits under the waterfall, although beware of the hidden rocks when diving and swimming. The water is always cold, so it’s great for a hot day. A calm walk 10 minutes further up the mountain leads you to Samui’s most gorgeous waterfall, Na Muang 2. Na Muang waterfalls are easily reachable from the main ring road between Nathon and Lamai and are well noticed.
How to get there?
The waterfall is located between Hua Thanon and Nathon in the southwest sector of the island just off a concrete road at Ban Thurian, making it 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 as shallow sharp rocks are obscured by the frothing falls. Na Muang waterfall actually consists of two waterfalls while the one accessible by road is 18 meters high and the other Na Muang 2 is about 80 meters high and can only be reached by a 30-minute walk. The waterfalls are the most scenic on the island and well worth to pay a visit.
In Koh Samui, the monkey undoubtedly qualifies as man’s best friend. Since Koh Samui is synonymous with coconut trees - there are literally plantations all over the island, and until tourism arrived, coconuts were the main industry here. How do you get at the coconuts? The people here have used monkeys to do the hardest part of the work climbing the trees to pick ripe nuts on their coconut plantations. These active little animals are greatly prized and give a demonstration of their unbelievable agility (and not just at picking coconuts) in the outdoor theatre. The entertainment also includes performing elephants.
Show times at 10:30am, 2 pm and 4pm daily. Fee is 150 Baht for adults and 80 Baht for kids.
Contact: Tel.: 071380018 & 091189688
They can provide you many of Thailand’s tropical favourites above and below the water. Lots of coral fish, huge catfish and several sharks including Leopard and Black Tips Samui’s local zoo neighboring to the aquarium, house some south-eastern Asian tigers, parrots, hornbills, sea hawks, eagles or even otters who will entertain you. You can have your photo taken with the tiger by paid some money to them. Don’t worry because your money goes to the Tiger’s Foundation. On the way out, don’t forget to say “hi” to the birds and monkeys in smaller cages, some of the parrots are quite friendly and their language, as well as their feathers, can be quite colourful.
The secret Buddha Garden or “Magic Garden” was the inspiration of a Samuian fruit farmer, Nim Thongsuk, started to build the garden in 1976 when he was 77 years old. There are temples and waterfalls in a hidden location high up in the hills of Samui. To get there is a bit complicated as the only concrete road leading there is a military road and is not accessible by “normal” people. So, the only way to get there is through the jungle, rivers and mountains by a four-wheel-drive jeep. The journey takes about 2 hours starting at the back of the Lamai temple and is only recommended for experienced “outdoor” drivers. You also can get there trough local travel agents.
How to get there?
The only way to get there is through the jungle, rivers and mountains by a four-wheel-drive jeep. The journey takes about 2 hours starting at the back of the Lamai temple and is only recommended for experienced “outdoor” drivers.
Another way to get to the garden is by joining one of the jungle tours.
Chaweng Beach, located on Koh Samui’s east coast, is the most developed area on the island and the longest and most famous one with very smooth sand and clear water. With plenty of restaurants, discotheques, bars and shops it is the main tourist center and nightlife area. It draws many young travelers and families alike, and remains good value for the money. It is bordered by dreamy, emerald-blue waters and a coral reef where waves break, leaving the bay quite peaceful. Two small islands are close to the reef - walking through the shallow waters can easily entrance the nearest one. The second island, further out and larger, provides the ideal chance to enjoy snorkeling and kayaking. Bring shoes if you plan to walk around the islands, as they are made of sharp coral sands.
How to get there?
Chaweng is just a few minutes from the airport. Taxis are readily available or book a transfer with your hotel.
Lamai beach is the second largest tourist center, Located 10 Km south of Chaweng on the east coast. To get there, turn left on the main road coming from the airport (see map). The wide sandy beach is not as powdery as that of Chaweng but the hundreds of coconut trees bending over the blue-green waters give Lamai a more peaceful and natural atmosphere. The beach is a little bit rougher and the water is deeper. It’s a superb place for swimming and has a well-known nightlife. Lamai can be discovered by walking as the area is not as big as Chaweng.
How to get there?
Minibus or private taxi can transfers between Lamai and Samui Airport.
There are a lot of shopping bargains to be had on Samui at almost every angle of the island. The main shopping sites are in Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut, Maenam and Nathon but there are shops significance visiting elsewhere on Samui. Keep your eyes open when you are on Samui, there are many unexpected shoppig opportunities all over the island. Thailand is well known for its copies of almost everything from watches to trainers to CDs. Prices at most department stores are fixed, but you can strike a bargain with the friendly shop keepers if you’re polite.
Thai silk reflects the prosperous aspect of Thai culture. Thai silk is respected as being among the best in the world, due to the high fibre ply and quality of weave, much of the silk in Thailand is still hand woven by traditional methods, ensuing in a really good quality product. Thailand’s Northeast is home to Thais of various ethnic origins. Each has their own weaving and dyeing styles and techniques. Thai people of Lao origin (Tai Lao) living in the south of the region are renowned for their Mut Mee and Khit silk, usually made into tubular skirts, or Phasin.
In Southern Thailand, Pum Riang silk is produced by Thai Muslim villagers who apply traditional weaving patterns to Japanese silk, The Yok Nakhon cotton of Nakhon Si Thammarat is equally distinctive. Batiks and Patae skirts glow with the shining colors of Malay-influenced designs.
The best shopping in Samui is around Chaweng, Lamai, and Nathon market, but there are smaller shopping areas at some of the other beaches, and sometimes the smaller places can be a better place for bargains.
Most of the world’s gemstones are sent to Bangkok for cutting and setting, and the prices in Thailand can be considerably lower than somewhere else. Some areas of Thailand are blessed with a natural plenty of rubies, sapphires, zircon, onyx, jade and opal. Local cutting, design and manufacturing skills promise a well range of quality items with a wide choice of prices.
The amazing gemstones shining under the lights of the jewelry store windows can make anyone excited. Samui has a first rate lapidary on the island, while other stones or set pieces of precious and semi-precious quality are hand picked from Bangkok. Pearls are the specialty of the South and they come in a variety of makes, sizes and colors. From Southern pearl farms come the rare South Seas pearl, cultured pearls, and Mobe pearls in every shade of cream, to pink, and black.
If you want to make order for custom clothes Chaweng and Nathon Town are excellent places to provide you with expert dressmakers and tailors. You can be assured of receiving an excellent garment within few days if you show them your own individual sketches, or a photograph of the style you desire. Imported linens, blended wools, and print cottons are well-liked fabrics to choose from, while the lustrous Thai silk is very hard to resist.
Cultured pearl farms are found principally in southern Thailand, particularly in Koh Samui, Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket and Surathani areas. Cultured pearl creation imitates the natural process to produce pearls of guaranteed class.
Primarily they are using gold in temples and palaces, just like a golden Buddha images, jewelry and royal insignia and decorations. Gold leaf and gold is used to decorate Buddha images.
Lacquerware is an antique oriental craft, and needs a repeated process of coating structural bamboo or wood by lacquer before hand-painting it with elaborate designs. Usually, objects are produced in either gold and black, or yellow and green on a red-brown background.
One more traditional northern craft is Silver beating. Bowls, boxes, cigarette cases, vases and cutlery are expertly worked with relief models.
The art is widely practiced in Nakhon Si thammarat. Nilonware is a related craft that has been experienced in southern Thailand for hundreds of years. Nilonware, or khrueang thom, is the craft of decorating objects with delicately etched designs which are filled with a metal alloy to create a soft patterned surface in black and gold.
Pewterware, essentially an alloy of lead and tin, which produces a metal with a soft and glossy feel, move toward mainly in the form of beakers, goblets, tankards and attractive figurines.
You can taste any foods no matter what it is and where is it comes from at Samui. The island has an enormous range of restaurants, cafes, bakeries, noodle shops and local places to eat. Head to Chaweng beach for its high concentration of internationally acclaimed restaurants of Chaweng beach, or for high quality reasonably priced Thai food, Lamai is your best bet. As well as a large choice of what to eat, Samui offers unlimited choices of where to eat. You can even get food on the beach with charming dining underneath the stars on a moonlit beach? Or in a chic restaurant with a live band? Hilltop restaurant with a fantastic view? You can deserve it here.
Chaweng Beach has lots to offer whatever your taste in food by numbers of restaurants on the island, plus an enormous range to choose. You can find Italian, Japanese, French, Pacific-Rim, local specialties and Royal Thai cuisine. You also can dine literally on the beach, seated on cushions, or under a thatched roof, or in air-conditioned space.
If don’t want to leave the beach to enjoy the feel but you also want to have foods,don’t worry because the beach vendors will come to you, offering fruit, ice creams and sweetcorn. There are also several small restaurants along the beach varying in style and price. Lamai is on a smaller size than Chaweng beach, but there is still bounty to select from both on the main street and around the town itself.
One of the greatest places to eat on Koh Samui, especially if it’s a passionate evening you’re after. Even away from the mass of Chaweng but still with abundance of alternative of restaurants and cooking. Fisherman’s village houses several funky restaurants and pubs, there are several seafront shop houses which have been converted into cool restaurant establishments while some other superb restaurants propose beautiful and calm settings for lunch or dinner. Most of these restaurants propose excellent selection of international dishes served on a small and cozy terrace right over the beach and overlooking the Bophut Bay with a stunning view on the far islands of Koh Phang Ngan and Koh Tao. If you need a transform from the yummy local food joints, there are several stylish up market restaurants to attract you. Bophut is fame for having an excellent supply of new seafood, whether you’re in a food stall or a five star venue.
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