What to do on Koh Samui

Koh Samui , nestled of the coast in the Gulf of Thailand, offers a virtual treasure trove of activities, if just hanging out at the beautiful beach is no longer amusement enough. There are things to do on the water, on land, and even in the air, if you’re a bit adventurous!

Surrounded by the Gulf, and the rest of the Archipelago (sixty or so small islands, some with their own fantastic beaches), the waters of Samui are varied enough, based on position, wind, reefs, and tides, to offer the water sports enthusiast a continuous blast of things tried and things new – Jet skis, kayaking and sailing are all available, with Hobie Cats and Jetskis for rent, especially near the bay at Choeng Mon. The clear waters of the Anthong Marine Preserve, inspiration for the book “The Beach” (and which encompasses a large portion of the archipelago), present opportunities for scuba diving and snorkeling, with boats and guides available at most resorts for rent to take you to destination dive spots. Always take a picnic, unless food is provided on your boat, and spend the day. For those who require slightly more civilized surroundings, there alre sailing yacht charters with various levels of creature comforts.

And, of course, if you’re feeling athletic, windsurfing and the aeronautically-oriented test of kite boarding are available at various spots on the island 0 the best spots are determined by the prevailing winds at the time of year. I haven’t seen any parasailing yet, but I’m sure they have it by now.

If you’ve had enough of the water for a while, spend a day touring the island for some other great activities. Koh Samui has a full-on eighteen-hole golf course for those who can’t stand to stay off the links for a whole vacation, and there is mini-golf in Chaweng for those who are either too young or disinclined to spend an entire afternoon on the course. While activities like paintball can be found, there are also ATVs for exploring the hills, and tours of the different beach areas. One of the things I think everyone must try is the Elephant Tours, also billed as “Ecotours”, during which guests ride on the Thai national animal, up into the hills for some surprise spots including waterfalls and spectacular views.

As the sun goes down, The Chaweng and Lamai areas light up with a variety of bars and nightclubs, for those who came to party. These spots can get pretty rowdy, so if you want a quieter dinner and relaxation without the rock and disco beats, you can try Bhoput Beach, Maenam, or Choeng Mon, for some very nice restaurants, both Thai and Western. Be careful where you eat Thai food, because not all the restaurants cater to Westerners and the food can be VERY hot! All things considered, your days and nights on Ko Samui can be filled with exciting new things to do, or can simply afford you some well-deserved relaxation. It would be impossible to do everything, so pick carefully and make every minute count.

If you wish to explore more than just swim or sunbathe, then you can go to another island. Just hire a boat and travel to Koh Phangan for the legandary full moon parties, which is the closest and largest island that has some bungalows in economy class. You will also find beautiful waterfalls and scenic beaches. You could also visit one of the two smaller islands, Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan, which are day trips. You can snorkel in the beautiful water and see all the underwater beauty lay.

For those who are more on the adventurous side, there is Ang Thong Marine National Park. It’s a full-day trip. You can explore limestone caves, blue lagoons, and of course, beaches. In Ko Wua Ta Lap, headquarters of the park, you can rent bungalows. There are guided tours provided through travel agents on Samui.

If you wish to stay on the island and explore that for a while, you might try to visit Surat Thani. It’s a center for fishing and shipbuilding. You can either take a walk or go on a canal tour down the Tapi River. Surat Thani is well known for its oyster farms, which harvest giant oysters.

Another place to visit would be Chaiya. It’s around 45 minutes north of town. You could take a ride and visit this important historical site. Some intellectuals believe that the ancient Srivijaya Kingdom’s capital was here. That may be up for debate, but one thing for sure, Chaiya has ancient temples there. The temple Wat Phra Boromathat Chaiya has a monument that is thought to be over 1,300 years old. Three others Wat Wiang, Wat Long, and Wat Kaeo should be visited as well. If you go to Wat Suan Mok, also known as Monastery of Flowing Water, which is a few kilometers away from Chaiya, you will find a meditation center.

The last place you could visit is the Khao Sok National Park. It is rich with the tropical scenery and you can rent a bungalow there as well. If you don’t care to stay in a bungalow, you could always rent a treetop guesthouse.

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