Koh Samui is the second largest island in Thailand after Phuket and lies off the coast of Surat Thani province. The island group is principally known for Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, however the group of islands actually count more than 70. If you are a sun worshipper then you will love Koh Samui beaches, but if you venture further afield you will find the province has an abundance of fertile forests, great beaches, waterfalls and offshore islands. Where you stay on the island depends on what type of holiday you are after, if it is action, then head to Chaweng on the east coast, this is the most popular beach with an array of accommodation, restaurants and activities. Lamai Beach is similar but a little quieter; on the north coast the beaches of Bophut and Mae Name are calm and peaceful places to chill out.
Wat Bophut is a pleasant place to visit due to the spacious park full of palm trees to find shade under, traditional wooden houses and temples; At Wat Kiri Wongkaram you can take a peek at the mummified body of the highly respected Buddhist monk Loung Por Ruam, who has lain there for the past 25 years; Samui's most prominent landmark is Big Buddha who resides at the top of a staircase adorned with dragons. The golden statue is pretty impressive standing at 12 meters. You can make a donation by writing your name on a tile that will be incorporated into the floor or have your fortune told by a 5 Baht coin machine!
If you have had your fair share of wats then take a trip to Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo, the aquarium has many local varieties of coral fishes, giant cat fishes and leopard and black tip sharks. They also have shows with different types of birds, amongst them parrots, sea hawks and eagles perform comical tricks; If you are a nature lover seek out Namuang Falls, there are two waterfalls, Na Muang, which is 18 meters high and Na Muang Two, which is about 80 meters high, the waterfalls are the most scenic on the island and a great place to have a picnic; Hin Ta & Hin Yai are unusual rock formations also known as ‘Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks’. They are popular due to their close resemblance to male and female genitals, there is a local tale describing the rocks existence on the island that an old couple's boat was ship wrecked and sunk in the bay, their bodies washed ashore and created these strange rocks; The Secret Buddha Gardens are hidden in the hills of Samui there are several statues, temples and waterfalls, all of which were built by one man over the last 20 years. Check it out before you visit as the location is difficult to reach. Another out of reach destination but worth the trip is the Mountain View Point on the west coast; the highest point reaches 467m. You can always book a tour through one of the travel shops who will take you up there by land rover.
Koh Samui and the neighbouring smaller island of Koh Tao have great diving opportunities and the area is a popular dive training center for the South East Asia region. To reach some of the better dive spots you have to go by boat, but a day trip can also give excellent diving trips, numerous reefs are sited off the island's shores. There is a multitude of dive shops located all over the island who can book trips whether you are just looking for fun or an advanced diver looking for accreditation.