Angthong National Marine Park is a pristine archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand. It features towering limestone mountains, thick jungle, white-sand beaches, waterfalls and hidden coves and lakes to explore. Within sight of Koh Samui, Angthong Park is a protected area of more than 100 square kilometers of land and sea. It is home to a rich variety of exotic wildlife and sea creatures. Snorkeling, hiking, sea kayaking, diving, and simply relaxing are the main activities to enjoy at Angthong. Most Angthong visitors arrive on a join-in day trip or by boat charter from Koh Samui or Koh Pha Ngan. For those who wish to stay overnight, there are simple bungalows and camping tents available on Koh Wua Ta Lap. The Park Headquarters also hosts a simple restaurant. Despite its increasing number of visitors, the Angthong islands remain the postcard-perfect image of a tropical paradise.
Koh Nangyuan & Koh Tao – meaning ‘Turtle Island’ – lives up to its name, being the scuba diving destination of choice in Thailand. The perfect white-sand beaches which ring the hilly 21 km² island are surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand. The vibrant coral reefs there are home to a wide range of exciting and colorful sea creatures, including turtles, naturally. The compact island is 55 km to the north of Koh Samui and was only really ‘discovered’ in the early 1980s, but now supports a varied selection of hotels, from budget guesthouses and beach bungalows all the way up to five-star luxury resorts. The choice of restaurants and nightlife establishments has also been constantly growing, to the point that there is now something for almost every taste. So far from civilization while still being relatively easily reached, it is the idyllic tropical island paradise.
Koh Phangan Full Moon Party has become a world-famous institution, but its ancestral home remains the crescent cove of Haad Rin Beach on the southernmost tip of Phangan Island in Thailand. More than 12 powerful sound systems turn the 800-metre beach into possibly the most popular open-air nightclub in the world once a month, with a lively festival-like atmosphere, great music and huge quantities of alcohol. This one-of-a-kind event is routinely listed on bucket lists as one of the essential experiences in Thailand which absolutely must be seen to be believed. As many as 30,000 party people gather on the famous strip of sand to party in the glow of the Earth’s nearest celestial neighbour, right through the night and into the dawn. Due to the cost of cleaning up after such carnage, the local community implemented a 100 baht entry fee to access the beach on the night of Koh Phangan Full Moon Party.
Koh Phangan Full Moon Party dates for 2018 Tuesday 02 January 2018
Wednesday 31 January 2018, Friday 02 March 2018, Saturday 31 March 2018, Sunday 29 April 2018, Wednesday 30 May 2018, Wednesday 27 June 2018, Sunday 29 July 2018, Sunday 26 August 2018, Monday 24 September 2018, Thursday 25 October 2018, Thursday 22 November 2018, Saturday 22 December 2018, Tuesday 25 December 2018, Monday 31 December 2018
Sabienglae Restaurant in Lamai Beach is an outstanding local Thai restaurant. It serves first-class cuisine in an easy-going setting right by the beach, with remarkably low prices given the quality. Although there are at least two other restaurants around Koh Samui which have the same name (at The Wharf Samui in Bophut and on the outskirts of Chaweng), they are not part of a brand and the Lamai restaurant is the original and best of the bunch. The restaurant is found between the main ring road around Koh Samui (Route 4169) and the beach just south of the renowned Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks. Entering under the illuminated sign by the road, you pass the fish tanks where the live seafood is stored before finding the restaurant proper. It is quite a rough-and-ready building, with a palm thatch roof supported by bare concrete pillars and wooden tables and chairs set out on a bare concrete floor. At the far end is a wooden deck with steps leading down to the beach.
Fisherman’s Village Walking Street brings the quiet, sleepy town of Bophut to life every Friday from 17:00 to 23:00. It sees the narrow Beach Road and adjoining streets crammed with market stalls and shoppers from across Koh Samui, with a diverse range of wares available at very low prices. Many of the stalls sell much the same items as you will find in markets throughout Thailand, including 100-baht T-shirts, simple jewellery, handbags, sunglasses, beer cosies, souvenirs, watches of questionable mechanical soundness, branded clothes of dubious manufacture and electrical goods of suspicious provenance. As with all market shopping in Thailand, a certain amount of judgement and measured expectations is necessary when selecting your purchases.
Lamai Walking Street Lately, the Walking Street phenomenon has spread like wildfire throughout southern Thailand’s popular resort towns. In Koh Samui, all major destinations – Chaweng and Bophut – hold this fun weekly market-like fair which attracts an ever growing number of visitors. Lamai Walking Street (aka Lamai Jai Dee Walking Street, meaning Lamai ‘Kind-Hearted Walking Street’) is held every Sunday on Lamai Beach Road in between the fresh market and the bridge in the northeastern part of the town. For this occasion, the road is closed off to traffic and is full of stalls selling clothes, handicrafts and local street food. The items for sale come at affordable prices which make them a good opportunity as souvenirs and little presents to bring back home for friends and family, but as in most southern Thai walking streets, the highlight is the outstanding choices of delicious food to be sampled here from grilled corn to pad Thai to kebabs to pizza to barbecued seafood to cocktails and more. Strolling along Lamai Walking Street is definitely a great way to spend a Sunday evening in a welcoming and busy local atmosphere. Opening Hours: Sunday from 16:30 – 00:00 Location: Lamai beach road in between the fresh market and the bridge in the northeastern part of the town
Big Buddha temple sits majestically on a small rocky island off Koh Samui’s north-eastern corner. Known locally as Wat Phra Yai, its golden, 12-metre seated Buddha statue was built in 1972 and remains one of the island’s most popular attractions. Set on Koh Faan, Big Buddha temple is reached by a causeway that connects it to the main island. The Big Buddha can be seen at a distance of several kilometres and is often the first landmark people see when arriving to Samui by air. The Big Buddha sits in the Mara posture, with the left hand’s palm up resting on the lap and the right hand facing down, the fingers hanging over the knee and grazing the ground. It depicts a time during Buddha’s journey to enlightenment where he successfully subdued the temptations and dangers thrust at him by the devil-figure Mara by meditating and remaining calm. The pose is a symbol of steadfastness, purity and enlightenment.
Wat Plai Laem is a Buddhist temple compound on Samui’s north-east coast of Samui, featuring a striking white 18-arm image of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. Close to the Big Buddha temple, Wat Plai Laem offers visitors a view into Chinese-Thai beliefs as well as some elaborate Buddhist-themed art and architecture. Wat Plai Laem is a living and active temple, where devotees come daily to pay homage to Guanyin and the Buddha, who is also depicted in a number of statues and murals around the temple. This is a relatively new temple but the art techniques used in its creation are centuries-old and based on ancient beliefs. Adding to its feel of tranquillity, the temple is surrounded by a lake, which is teeming with fish. Visitors who make a donation to the temple are given a bag of food to feed the fish.
Hin Ta and Hin Yai, some fascinating rock formations on Koh Samui’s south coast, have been a source of mirth and wonder on the island since they were discovered by the locals many years ago. Art often imitates Nature, but less common is Nature imitating Art, especially the Art of the Ribald. But in Thailand anything is possible and these rocks, known as Grandpa (Ta) and Grandma (Yai), look, respectively, like male and female genitalia. Set on the rocky coastline between Lamai and Hua Thanon, Hin Ta and Hin Yai raise indulgent chuckles or embarrassed titters from those who go to see them. This unusual and titillating sight has, naturally, given rise to a legend explaining how the rocks came into being.
Hin Ta & Hin Yai History The Hin Ta/Hin Yai legend is a tale of tragedy tinged with hope, as described on a signboard near the rocks: “A folklore of Samui Island tells the story of an old couple by the name of Ta Kreng (Grandpa Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandma Riem) who lived with their son in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Since their son had come of age, they felt that it was time he got married. “One day they decided to sail to the neighbouring province of Prachuap Khiri Khan to ask for the hand of the daughter of a man named Ta Monglai. During their sea journey, their boat was seized by a storm. The old man and his wife were unable to swim ashore. They died at sea, turning into rocks as proof to the would-be bride’s parents of their true intentions. The rocks stand there to this day.”
Secret Buddha Garden is hidden away high in the hills in Koh Samui’s interior, offering majestic views and an unusual collection of statues amid lush jungle surrounds. The gardens are a creation of an old Samui fruit farmer, Nim Thongsuk, who in 1976 began erecting several statues and temples around his family’s verdant land. The statues depict a number of animals, deities and humans in various poses, including one of Khun Nim himself, in a relaxed position sitting on a rock. Khun Nim continued to work developing his garden until his death at the age of 91.
Secret Buddha Garden Highlights Secret Buddha Garden, also known as Heaven’s Garden or Magic Garden, is the kind of place where each visit brings some new discoveries. With statues of all shapes and sizes scattered around the grounds, a wrong turn or a closer look behind a tree may yield yet another hidden surprise. During his working years, the Garden’s founder Khun Nim was known as an innovative durian farmer, who helped Samui become famous for this prized pungent fruit. Upon his retirement he opened his family’s land to the public and assembled a team to develop the garden, sculpting many figures representing mainly Buddhist folklore. Each statue has a story to tell, and most Thais will know the meaning and mythology behind these evocative works of art. Secret Buddha Garden sits atop the Tar Nim Waterfall peak. The views from within gardens and on the road leading up to it are spectacular, with many stops to enjoy the island panorama along the way.
Na Muang Waterfalls, a majestic set of two cascades on Koh Samui, show that the island’s beauty is not limited to its beaches. Found inland about 12 kilometres south-east of Nathon Bay, the Na Muang falls are reached by taking a walking path from the entrance to the park. The first waterfall, Na Muang 1, flows down into a pretty natural pool that provides a cool escape from the heat. About 30 minutes by foot further uphill is the smaller yet equally inviting Na Muang 2
Highlights and Features Na Muang Waterfalls are set in lush jungle surrounds, easily accessible just off the main ring road Route 4169 about halfway between Nathon and Lamai Beach. Visitors with a reasonable level of fitness will be able to reach the falls on foot. The paths leading to the falls can be steep or slippery in places so be sure to wear some sturdy footwear and take care when walking. Though access to the waterfalls is free there is plenty along the way to spend your money on, including several stalls selling snacks and souvenirs and offers of a guided tour of the area. An entire day could be spent at the falls swimming, hiking, exploring, picnicking – a cool and peaceful alternative to the beach
Na Muang Waterfalls Location: Na Muang Waterfall is off Route 4169 south of Koh Samui’s inland mountains between Nathon and Hua Thanon. Remarks: There is no entry charge to the Na Muang falls, so be aware that some local ‘guides’ try to ask for money for access or assistance but this is not necessary since the route is easy to travel on your own. Bring swimming gear and be sure to wear quality sandals or walking shoes to enjoy the walking trails safely. The best time to go is in the wetter months of September through November when the waterfalls are in their full flowing glory. How to get there: From Nathon, drive along the main road for about 11 kilometres until reaching the signed entrance road to Na Muang falls. The park entrance is about one kilometre up this road. Na Muang 1 is reached by a 100-metre walk from the parking lot, while Na Muang 2 is a further 100 metres away along a more challenging path.