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Posted On 09/05/2019 17:15:21
Trip Date 03/16/2011
Destinations | Cruises | Thailand | Koh Samui | Southeast Asia | Diamond Princess | Big Buddha Temple | Lad Koh
Our cruise aboard the Diamond Princess left from Tianjin, China (the nearest port
to Beijing). On our way to Singapore, we enjoyed port visits in Japan, China, Vietnam
Thailand. The last of our two Thailand ports of call was the island of Koh Samui. After
researching the island, we realized it would be hard to see and do our top choices on our own due
the distances between each of them. We found a tour company offering a private half-day tour for
two of us that included almost everything on our list and more!
If you are deciding between cruises visiting Southeast Asia, this series of articles should
helpful in deciding which ports you most want to visit. Of the 8 ports that we visited, Koh Samui
definitely had more of a traditional island feel. While tropical it was, the island had more to offer
beaches and relaxing. The Big Buddha Temple and Lad Koh, an awesome
come highly recommended. While the provider that we used is no longer offering tours, choosing
favorites from our itinerary will be helpful in customizing a perfect day.
Arriving in Koh Sumui by Cruise Ship
All cruise ships anchor in one of the bays of the Gulf of Thailand. Passengers are then
transported to the island via a tender boat. Our private tour operator met us right at Nathon
Pier, the docking point for the tender, holding a sign with our name.
Koh Sumui, the Island
Koh Samui is a tropical island vacation destination located south of Bangkok in
Gulf of Thailand. The pristine beauty of the island is what draws most travelers to plan a
to Koh Samui. The island is naturally blessed with scenery appearing to have come straight out of
storybook. There's so much more charm, however, to the province than what you think of when
describing a typical island paradise. As with most of the country of Thailand, the region is also
with history and culture.
From March to June, Koh Samui's weather can be very hot indeed - with temperatures reaching up
100F. There is usually little to no rain during these months. The pace of life on the island tends to
slow down due to the high temperatures and water shortages caused by the lack of rain.
Tap water is generally not potable, and some complain about the taste of the water. It is highly
recommended that visitors drink bottled water - even when dining out. Restaurants on the island
use unsafe tap water to make ice for drinks.
The Temple of the Big Buddha
Dominating the culture of Koh Samui is the religion of Buddhism. The religious doctrines
linked inseparably with the daily lives of most Thais. It is therefore hardly surprising that one of
leading tourist attractions in all of the island is related to Buddhism. The Temple of the Big
Buddha, locally known as Wat Phra Yai, is a 12 meter tall statue of Lord Buddha
surrounded by numerous smaller golden Buddhas.
Surrounding Golden Buddhas
Built in 1972, the temple is actually located on Koh Faan, a small island just off the
northeastern shores of Koh Samui. The imposing statue, which can be seen well before it is
dominates the temple grounds of the tiny island on which it sits. The smiling deity even gives the
nearby Bang Rak beach its most common name (Big Buddha Beach).
Big Buddha Temple on Koh Samui
Vendors selling everything from religious souvenirs to food are located around the base of the
In addition to all of the tourists on site to see the island's main attraction, you'll find plenty of
worshippers on both the upper and lower platforms. Heading up the stairs will take you to the
platform, lined with huge prayer bells, upon which the deity sits.
The Monks at Big Buddha
Scott and Stacy at the Big Buddha
In addition to the obvious photos of the huge statue, don't miss seeing the views of the gulf and
nearby beach from the platform's edge. Planning a sunset visit, which is difficult to do when
by cruise ship, will offer even more excellent photo opportunities. Before leaving the temple
you can make a donation at the island's only fully automated donation machine located near the
Lad Koh Viewpoint
The island's most spectacular viewpoint, Lad Koh, is a must for photos. For the amateur
photographer to the professional, and everyone in between, the viewpoint offers a splendid view
the whole Chaweng Bay area. Also known as Zenith Viewpoint, it is located right
the Koh Samui ring road. Leaving Chaweng, travel southbound in the direction of Lamai.
Stacy at Lad Koh Overlook
Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks
The bizarre stone formations known as Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks (Hin Ta
Yai Rocks) is a humorous, yet typical, tourist stop. These odd-looking rocks are situated on
Lamai Beach. Because the rocks bear a striking resemblance to male and female body
they have turned into one of the island's biggest tourist attractions!
If you want to hear the legend about the rocks, all you need to do is ask any local. Grandpa and
Grandma lived with their son in southern Thailand. Grandma and Grandpa felt that is was time for
their son, who had come of age, to get married. They set their sights on a girl who lived in a
Grandpa and Grandma set off by boat to make the arrangements. On the way, the boat was
in a storm and sank just off of Koh Samui. The couple, unable to swim, drowned and turned into
rocks. The rocks remain to this day as proof of their good intentions.
Monkey School Show
Koh Samui is well known for its coconut trees. There are coconut plantations all over the island
until tourism arrived, coconuts were the island's main industry. Also on the island, monkeys are
considered to be man's best friend. The Monkey School Show, another popular tourist
attraction, pairs the two together!
A Monkey with his Coconuts
Believe it or not, some monkeys on the island attend Monkey School. During three to six
months of classes, monkeys learn how to pick coconuts - and only the ripe ones. The show
the prized graduate monkeys showing off their abilities in an outdoor theater setting. Just watch
you'll be amazed to see the trained monkeys as they demonstrate their skill.
Climb that Tall Coconut Tree!
Monkey School Show
Lunch at a Beach Restaurant
One of the highlights of our day was enjoying a Thai Set Menu Lunch at a beach
Lamai. Upon our arrival, we were led to a preset table overlooking the bay. What an awesome
we had as we waited a short time before our lunch was served.
A Beautiful Koh Samui Beach
Lunch with a View
We weren't really sure what to expect at lunch. All we were told was that the menu was set, it
be typical, not spicy, Thai food. To top it off, we weren't really very familiar with Thai food as we
frequent Thai restaurants at home before our trip.
Once our lunch started coming, it seemed like it would never stop. Servers proceeded to bring us
plate after plate after plate (and more plates) of various Thai foods. We thoroughly enjoyed
everything that was brought to us, and since our awesome lunch on the beach, we have loved
food. We often visit our local Thai restaurants for our favorite Thai curry dishes. While Thai food
prepared close to our home is great tasting, the view is just not the same!
Thai Set Menu Lunch
The mighty elephant is the country of Thailand's national animal, a symbol of royalty and strength.
Had we known what we now know about the regular mistreatment of elephants on the island of
Samui, we probably would not have included Elephant Trekking as part of our day's
At the time, it came highly recommended and, in reality, was a highlight of our trip and something
we fondly remember.
After traveling to a national animal reserve, we were seated on a bench on the back of one of
seemingly gentle giants. Our 30 minute long ride took us through a part of the tropical rain forest
Koh Samui's center. Traveling through this verdant forest allowed us to experience some of
natural beauty - the exotic fauna, flora and even a waterfall.
Elephant Trekking in Koh Samui
Posing by a Waterfall with our Elephant Friend
Na Muang Waterfalls
As we headed back to the port area, we made a short refreshing stop along the way. The Na
Muang Waterfalls are the most scenic on the island. Reaching the lower fall requires walking
path leading from the park entrance directly to Na Muang 1. While some swim in the pool
the base of Na Muang 1, we chose just to admire nature at its best.
Na Muang 1 Waterfall
The smaller upper waterfall, Na Muang 2, is reached by another, slightly longer uphill hike.
addition to swimming and hiking, visitors with more time can also enjoy the tropical surroundings,
picnic . . . or of course, make a purchase from one of the many nearby vendors.
Shops at Nathon Town
As if there were no other opportunities for shopping along our route around the island, we said our
goodbyes to our guide at the local Nathon Town Market. Although we did more looking
shopping, it was certainly fun to see the variety of goods offered for sale.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day exploring the island of Koh Samui, but were saddened as we
that our trip was nearing its end. As we reflect back on our Asian adventure, we are grateful that
had the opportunity to experience two vastly different cities within the country of Thailand. Check
our post titled Private Bangkok Tour with Thai Tour Guide for Cruise Ship Passengers to
about our awesome experience seeing the best of Bangkok. Although our drive from the port to
city took almost two hours, our guide and owner of Thai Tour Guide gave us a truly memorable
To see how our Asian odyssey ended, be sure to subscribe to our growing community. You will
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If you were to recommend your top two or three "must see" destinations within Thailand, what
be on your list and why?
Created On 07/19/2019 16:23:09
Updated On 09/17/2019 16:54:18
Scheduled On 07/28/2019 22:15:21
Posted On 09/05/2019 17:15:21
Last Editor Stacy
Location Na Muang Waterfall