Fisherman's Village and More: The Best Koh Samui Attractions
Although smaller than Phuket, Koh Samui offers an equally beautiful take on the Thai island experience with attractions like the Ang Thong National Marine Park.
Famed for its relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, Koh Samui offers a distinctively different island experience from other party-loving islands such as Phuket. Expect breathtaking coastal scenery and authentic local experiences as you explore some of the best-known Koh Samui attractions.
What to Do in Koh Samui: Shop at Fisherman’s Village
Once home to a community of fishermen and fish markets, Koh Samui’s Fisherman’s Village has undergone quite an amazing transformation. The Fisherman’s Village is today a neighbourhood that counts boutique stores and trendy bars among its many residents.
Marvel at the well-preserved wooden shophouses (built by fishermen in the past) as you explore the shops and restaurants during the day. Fashionistas will want to visit Saona Collection, a local boutique featuring boho chic and ethnic-inspired clothes and accessories.
The district comes to life every Friday at about 5pm, as locals set up shop on Beach Road and its surrounding streets. This is the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street and it is possibly liveliest area of the Bophut region every Friday evening as locals and tourists alike gather to shop for goods ranging from unique handicrafts to herbs and spices, and dine on Thai street food classics like pad Thai and more. Be warned that a certain amount of patience is needed as the already-narrow streets of the Fisherman’s Village become even more crowded on such evenings.
Tip: enjoy majestic views of the ocean and Koh Phangan mountains from many of the neighbourhood’s open-back restaurants.
Where to Go in Koh Samui: Ang Thong National Marine Park
If you want to enjoy the best of what nature has to offer on Koh Samui, then you must pay the Ang Thong National Marine Park (also known as Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park) a visit. This protected park is an archipelago of 42 islands scattered across the Gulf of Thailand, with over 100 square kilometres of pristine, secluded beaches, dramatic waterfalls, towering limestone mountains, exotic wildlife and much more.
You can also explore Koh Samui’s diverse marine ecosystem by snorkelling or scuba diving at any of the diving sites around the smaller islands to the north. Simply hop on a quick boat trip from Koh Samui to witness the beautiful coastline first-hand — you can even stay on-site to extend your trip and take an extra day or two to explore the waters!
Tip: the March-to-April period usually offers best underwater visibility, allowing you a chance to more clearly observe marine creatures when you are snorkelling, such as green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles and more!
What to See on Koh Samui: Big Buddha at Wat Phra Yai
Admire the golden 12-metre-tall seated Buddha statue at the Big Buddha temple, also known as Wat Phra Yai. The majestic, towering figure built in 1972 sits atop a hill on the small rocky island known as Koh Faan, overlooking the clear waters and the island. While Koh Faan is easily accessible by foot from Koh Samui via a causeway, you can choose to drive over by car and park in the temple grounds too.
A pair of vibrant green-and-red seven-headed naga (mythical serpent beings) flank the bottom of the steep flight of stairs leading up to the Big Buddha statue; save your feet the agony and bring along a pair of socks if you are visiting during the afternoon as the tiled steps can get very hot on a sunny day!
As with all sacred grounds on Koh Samui (and the rest of Thailand), do dress appropriately and remove footwear in designated areas — watch out for signs that tell you to take your shoes off around the temple grounds.
Tip: for an authentic cultural experience, come during the early mornings and witness monks doing their morning prayers, as well as locals who gather to present offerings to the temple.