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Island Tour of Koh Samui, Thailand

Island Tour of Koh Samui, Thailand


By avatar  Scott
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 city to Beijing). On our way to Singapore, we enjoyed port visits in Japan, China, Vietnam and 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 to the distances between each of them. We found a tour company offering a private half-day tour for the 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 be 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 than beaches and relaxing. The Big Buddha Temple and Lad Koh, an awesome viewpoint, come highly recommended. While the provider that we used is no longer offering tours, choosing your 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 the Gulf of Thailand. The pristine beauty of the island is what draws most travelers to plan a visit to Koh Samui. The island is naturally blessed with scenery appearing to have come straight out of a 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 rich with history and culture.

From March to June, Koh Samui's weather can be very hot indeed - with temperatures reaching up to 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 may 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 are linked inseparably with the daily lives of most Thais. It is therefore hardly surprising that one of the 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 which is surrounded by numerous smaller golden Buddhas.


Surrounding 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 reached, 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

Big Buddha Temple on Koh Samui

Vendors selling everything from religious souvenirs to food are located around the base of the statue. In addition to all of the tourists on site to see the island's main attraction, you'll find plenty of Buddha 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

The Monks at Big Buddha

Scott and Stacy at the 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 traveling by cruise ship, will offer even more excellent photo opportunities. Before leaving the temple grounds, you can make a donation at the island's only fully automated donation machine located near the entrance.



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 over the whole Chaweng Bay area. Also known as Zenith Viewpoint, it is located right on the Koh Samui ring road. Leaving Chaweng, travel southbound in the direction of Lamai.


Stacy at Lad Koh Overlook

Stacy at Lad Koh Overlook

Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks

The bizarre stone formations known as Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks (Hin Ta Hin 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 parts, they have turned into one of the island's biggest tourist attractions!


Grandpa Rock

Grandpa Rock

Grandma Rock

Grandma Rock

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 nearby province.

Grandpa and Grandma set off by boat to make the arrangements. On the way, the boat was caught 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 and, 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

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 features the prized graduate monkeys showing off their abilities in an outdoor theater setting. Just watch and you'll be amazed to see the trained monkeys as they demonstrate their skill.


Climb that Tall Coconut Tree!

Climb that Tall Coconut Tree!

Monkey School Show

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 restaurant in Lamai. Upon our arrival, we were led to a preset table overlooking the bay. What an awesome view we had as we waited a short time before our lunch was served.


A Beautiful Koh Samui Beach

A Beautiful Koh Samui Beach

Lunch with a View

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 would be typical, not spicy, Thai food. To top it off, we weren't really very familiar with Thai food as we didn't 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 Thai 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

Thai Set Menu Lunch

Elephant Trek

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 Koh Samui, we probably would not have included Elephant Trekking as part of our day's itinerary. At the time, it came highly recommended and, in reality, was a highlight of our trip and something that we fondly remember.

After traveling to a national animal reserve, we were seated on a bench on the back of one of these seemingly gentle giants. Our 30 minute long ride took us through a part of the tropical rain forest in Koh Samui's center. Traveling through this verdant forest allowed us to experience some of Thailand's natural beauty - the exotic fauna, flora and even a waterfall.


Elephant Trekking in Koh Samui

Elephant Trekking in Koh Samui

Posing by a Waterfall with our Elephant Friend

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 on a path leading from the park entrance directly to Na Muang 1. While some swim in the pool at the base of Na Muang 1, we chose just to admire nature at its best.


Na Muang 1 Waterfall

Na Muang 1 Waterfall

The smaller upper waterfall, Na Muang 2, is reached by another, slightly longer uphill hike. In 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 than shopping, it was certainly fun to see the variety of goods offered for sale.



Bangkok, Thailand

We thoroughly enjoyed our day exploring the island of Koh Samui, but were saddened as we realized that our trip was nearing its end. As we reflect back on our Asian adventure, we are grateful that we had the opportunity to experience two vastly different cities within the country of Thailand. Check out our post titled Private Bangkok Tour with Thai Tour Guide for Cruise Ship Passengers to read about our awesome experience seeing the best of Bangkok. Although our drive from the port to the city took almost two hours, our guide and owner of Thai Tour Guide gave us a truly memorable experience.

To see how our Asian odyssey ended, be sure to subscribe to our growing community. You will receive no more than one e-mail each week which will alert you when successive parts of this cruise (as well as other travel posts) are published. It's quick and easy to subscribe at Wordy Explorers User Account by completing the form.

Touring Thailand

If you were to recommend your top two or three "must see" destinations within Thailand, what would be on your list and why?


Island Tour of Koh Samui, Thailand






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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
LinkId  KohSamuiAsia8
StoryId  1563567789913





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