Non-touristy Koh Samui attractions
Less than a two-hour flight from Thailand’s capital is Koh Samui – a tropical island that locals and foreigners alike will testify is a place like no other.
Whether it’s because of the idyllic crystal clear waters, world-class resorts or signature Southern hospitality, we can’t say. What we are sure of, however, is that in addition to pristine beaches, Koh Samui offers some unique activities and attractions that aren’t even in most guidebooks yet.
If you’re game to take the road less travelled, here’s a list of 6 non-touristy things to do for those who’ve already conquered beach hopping.
More places to check out:
- The Shrine Of The Serene Light is known only to locals
- This hidden rainforest resort in Phuket has fairytale vibes
- Koh Matsum has piglets you can swim with
1. Check out the all-pink Sila Ngu temple
Yep, you read that right. The pink-washed Wat Sila Ngu or “Temple of Stone Snakes” is made entirely of terracotta clay, giving rise to the shrine’s stunning coral hues.
Upon setting foot on the grounds, visitors will see just how the site got its name – intertwined terracotta snakes and other mythical creatures guard the entrance.
Image credit: @jasbriellecoo
Venturing within, a gold-plated Buddha statue sits enshrined among hand-carved walls and marble floors. Said to be a relic from Lord Buddha’s lifetime, Theravada Buddhists believe it originated somewhere between the 5th and 6th century BC.
Carvings depicting Rahu swallowing the sun are featured on the walls.
Image credit: @tultultumrontunyaluk
Intricately carved murals that line the temple’s interior walls depict stories from the Ramayana as well as major historical events that shaped Buddhism.
Before you exit, drop by the viewpoint right behind Wat Sila Ngu to see the entirety of the coast that wraps around Hua Thanon, a small fishing village.
Image credit: @noontravels
For a visit to this beautiful shrine with a hidden viewpoint, work in a short 5-minute detour from your pilgrimage to the well-known “Hin Ta Hin Yai” formations.
Less than a kilometre off the main road, we think it’s worth donning your sarong for a visit, to bask in the all-pink temple’s beauty.
Wat Sila Ngu
Address: Wat Sila Ngu Tambon Bo Put Koh Samui District, Surat Thani 84320
2. Snap a shot worthy of IG’s Explore page at Overlap Stone
What’s a trip to Koh Samui without a shot of you drinking out of a coconut on the beach?
While that picture is a great way to commemorate your time on the island, it’s also been done multiple times. Set yourself apart and snag a picture at Overlap Stone, where you can get the sea, sky and the island’s forests in the background.
Image credit: @bas_gowentgo
The large boulder is a viewpoint that overlooks Koh Samui’s eastern shores.
Step onto the bridge for an uninterrupted forest view while also snapping an #OOTD shot without people in the background. IG-Boyfriends, take note.
Image credit: @egleridik
Overlap Stone is located on the southeast side of Koh Samui, just a short motorcycle ride up a hill, and a five-minute walk into the forest.
Upon arrival, visitors are asked to pay an entrance fee of ฿40 (~USD1.22) – these proceeds go to the local family that runs and maintains Overlap Stone.
Heading over would also mean supporting community tourism, which would be greatly appreciated given the current situation.
Address: 438/34 Moo 1 Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84310
Opening Hours: 5AM – 6PM, Daily
Entrance Fee: ฿40 (~USD1.22)
3. Swim in a secret lagoon at Hin Ta Hin Yai
Hin Ta Hin Yai, also known as “Grandfather and Grandmother Rock”, is one of Koh Samui’s most visited spots for their undeniable resemblance to several cheeky body parts.
Besides being evidence that Mother Nature has a risque side, the rocks’ appearance belies their tragic origin story.
Locals claim Hin Ta Hin Yai represents a couple who drowned on their way back from successfully proposing to a woman on their son’s behalf.
Image credit: @auuguapo
While the rock formations are something to marvel at, what visitors typically overlook is the secret lagoon located behind them.
Image credit: @chaiko191286
Just a 15-minute trek from the boulders is a lagoon with waters so crystal clear that hikers are often met by schools of little fish.
Image credit: @anantaralawana
Whether you’re in the mood for a short trek, photoshoot, picnic, or all of the above, this secret lagoon offers the perfect setting – especially for all you travellers with a wry sense of humour.
Hin Ta Hin Yai
Address: 92 84310 126/92 Moo 3 Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84310
Opening Hours: 8.30AM – 5.30PM, Daily
4. Snack on insects and bargain like a local at Fisherman’s Village
Part of every quintessential getaway is to fully indulge in the hotel’s amenities and room service. But if you’re looking to take off those fluffy bathrobes and venture into one of Koh Samui’s local districts, we’d suggest making the trip to Fisherman’s Village.
The main road spans just 1KM and is lined with beachside restaurants and quaint little boutiques.
Image credit: @enbiere
The street’s highlight, though, is its weekly night market that operates every Friday from 5PM – 9PM. An array of street vendors await your attempts to haggle for hand-woven purses and leather goods.
Image credit: L B via Google Maps
Adventurous first-timers with iron stomachs can also consider nibbling on the world’s newly proclaimed “superfood” – freshly deep-fried insects.
Image credit: Yochai Gilad via Google Maps
If you’re trying to keep your protein intake up and stay swol during your holiday, a plate of grasshoppers should definitely be on the menu.
Of course, there are also stalls that offer more typical night market fare – aka seafood, glorious seafood.
Just look at the size of these freshly torched oysters going for under ฿200 (~USD6). We’d reckon they’d cost way more back home.
Before heading down, do double check if the market is open due to the current situation. Ask any local or your resort’s concierge, who’ll be happy to assist you.
5. Give yourself some TLC at this spa hidden within a cave
After climbing over rocks, swimming in hidden lagoons and schlepping through a street market, our muscles can get a little sore.
If you’re one of those people that brought their foam rollers or lacrosse balls over, then good on you. However, for travellers who aren’t in a codependent relationship with their TriggerPoints, we’d recommend treating yourselves to some #selfcare at this spa that’s hidden within a cave.
Image credit: Muang Samui Villas
Cave Rai Ra Beach Spa is a wellness centre that synergises adventure and relaxation into one place. Here, guests can navigate the cavern’s maze-like interior in order to get to their treatment rooms.
Image credit: @mimama_max
The spa offers services like full-body scrubs, herbal steams, specialty baths, and of course, a plethora of massages.
Image credit: Muang Samui Villas
Travellers would be hard-pressed to find a wellness centre that’s built in a cavern with streams, waterfalls and natural pools to soak all your troubles away in.
Image credit: @annie_dhanatcha
Visitors can head over to the spa’s socials to look through their full list of therapies, as well as different promotions happening throughout the year.
Considering how hard we hustle everyday, it’s good to take things a little slower when we’re on vacation. In between adventures, take some time to rest. After all, holidays are there to help us recharge, and we can’t do that if we’re constantly on the move.
Cave Rai Ra Beach Spa at Royal Muang Samui Villas
Opening Hours: 9AM – 10PM, Daily
Address: 89 Bontji Moo 4 Bo Put, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84320
6. Take a dip in one of Samui’s “purple” waterfalls
For the uninitiated, Koh Samui’s emerald oceans are what first put Koh Samui on the map.
However, we think aquaphiles will def adore taking a dip in this amethyst waterfall – aka the Nam Tok Na Muang, or “purple faced waterfalls”.
Image credit: @kassiaphoy
Situated on the South side of the island, the waterfall is easily accessible, comprising 2 sections, Nam Tok Na Muang 1 and 2.
Image credit: @thestay.samui
To get here, do note there’s a parking lot that’s just minutes away from Nam Tok Na Muang 1. Daily parking fees for bikes go for ฿20 (~USD0.60) and ฿60 (~USD1.80) for cars.
Image credit: @the_thailandlife
For those looking to get to the arguably more scenic Nam Tok Na Muang 2, we’d recommend donning some trainers and packing a hand-held electric fan.
That’s because the water feature’s sibling is a hefty 30-minute trek from Nam Tok Na Muang 1, and Thailand’s heat is not merciful.
Nam Tok Na Muang
Address: Na Mueang, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84140
Opening Hours: Open 9.30AM – 5PM, Daily
Flying into Koh Samui in 2021
Koh Samui opened its borders to vaccinated international tourists back in July. While all visitors are welcome, Singaporeans are just a two-hour flight away from Koh Samui.
With flights in place, you can then look into which hotel to spend your days in Koh Samui.
For their first week here, travellers are required to stay in a Samui Extra Plus hotel. After that, they’re to move to a SHA Plus resort.
Infinity pool at Panacea Retreat, a Samui Extra Plus hotel
Image credit: @beautifulhotels
These Samui Extra Plus and SHA Plus accredited hotels are vetted thoroughly for visitors to enjoy Koh Samui in style while addressing all hygiene, health and safety concerns.
After all travel arrangements are settled, visitors can then apply for a Certificate of Entry (COE), subject to vaccination requirements and/or Covid-19 test results.
FYI, guests are welcome to travel to neighbouring islands like Koh Tao and Koh Phang Ngan, as long as you reside in an approved hotel.
Image credit: @siamsecrets
If you’re heading over from the Lion City, Bangkok Airways also has non-stop flights to Koh Samui from Singapore every Sunday, Monday and Thursday from 1st August 2021.
To sweeten the deal, the first 50 visitors to sign up for Singapore to Samui flights, will be flown there for free by Bangkok Airways and TAT. The deal includes:
- Free roundtrip SG-Samui plane tickets
- 3-night hotel stay
- Hotel to airport transfers
- RT-PCR tests
Here’s how it works. Once your COE is pre-approved, TAT will issue a promo code you can use to redeem flight tickets from 1st September 2021 to 31 October 2021 on a first-come, first-served basis. Head over to their site for the full deets here.
Koh Samui’s sprawling tropical beaches and big-name temples usually take centre stage on many tourists’ itineraries.
If you’re not one for crowds, take the road less travelled and explore the island’s other hidden biomes. There’s no time like the present, so you can def start planning your trip right now.