Koh Samui is one of the most interesting islands on Earth. Though it may only be Thailand’s third biggest island, it certainly packs a lot into its relatively small landmass when compared with the others. It also has a reputation of being more leisurely, and slightly more upmarket in parts than the rest of Thailand’s main islands. And though there are places where the mega rich lurk, there’s also holiday bungalows that cater for the more budget oriented traveller. So, much of the main attractions and bars are very inexpensive.
So what can you expect to get up to during your stay? And where is the best place to stay?
Big Buddha Statue
It’s one of the first things you can see if you arrive by air. And it can be accessed via a causeway on Samui’s North-Western coast. Buddhist pilgrims from all over Thailand travel to the statue to leave gifts for Buddha. And non-Buddhists are welcome to come and observe. It’s important to remember though that you are in fact visiting a religious site, so it’s a good idea to dress modestly and be polite.
Not only is the statue itself well-worth a look, but the intimate surrounding area is also breathtakingly beautiful. If you wish to get a bite to eat or a refreshing beverage, the Big Buddha Café is located on the coast near the end of the causeway.
The Mummified Monk
It sounds a little macabre, but it’s actually not. Going to see the mummified monk in Wat Khunaram is among the most thought provoking things to do on the island from a historical standpoint. It’s certainly unusual to see, and it’s a very unusual story behind the mummified corpse. It’s absolutely fascinating, if a little weird for some.
One of the weirdest things about the experience is the fact that the monk – known in life as Luong Pordaeng – is casually wearing shades which have been placed upon him to hide the decay of his eyes (he does look pretty stylish though…).
We were VERY lucky to stay at the Backpackers Hostel on the island and I don’t think I can truly do it justice in this short piece. Not only was this place set in a superb location (a small walk to the beach and amazing nightlife) but also excellent value for money and home to the most welcoming host that we met throughout our 3 month trip of Asia!
The hostel prides itself on a ‘family atmosphere’ ensuring that each night is one to remember, from discounted nights at the famous Ice Bar to boat trips over to the Full Moon party. There is even a small food station in the reception with free tea and coffee to easy your hazy hangover the next day.
There are so many more great things to do and see on Koh Samui that have not been mentioned in this post, including snorkelling, Snake farms and secret Buddhist gardens. Ideally, you will want to book in for at least a week to experience everything this wonderful island has to offer.
Words by: Kelsey Purnell