Koh Samui Highlights Koh Samui is a living, working island with a huge choice of natural, traditional and modern attractions for the visitor. You can rent a moped or jeep to get around, or travel by local taxi and public pick up truck (locally known as songtheaws). Below are some of the best sights, most of them close to Panya Resort.
Choeng Mon Beach
This superb crescent of white sand is one of the best beaches on Koh Samui. The water is shallow and crystal clear year round, ideal for swimming and water sports. The beach is lined with resorts and small, local restaurants offering fresh seafood, fruit shakes and other local specialities. Beachside services include excellent Thai massage, foot massages and friendly beach vendors wander past selling sarongs, jewellery and other popular Thai crafts. At the southern tip of Choeng Mon Beach you can cross at low tide to a small island to collect shells and explore the rock pools. (5 minutes walk from Panya Resort)
Big Buddha and Plai Leam Temples
Koh Samui is famous for its Big Buddha statue, a 12 metre, golden sculpture on the island's northern shore. Steps lead up to the Big Buddha statue and giant bells surround it, which monks use as part of their religious ceremonies. The temple is used fo important Thai festivals and the area outside the entrance is also a popular shopping spot, with stalls selling clothes, jewellery and quality souveniers. (10 minutes by road from Panya Resort)
Plai Laem temple is just around the corner from the Big Buddha, heading back towards Panya Resort. This modern temple complex features two, giant religious statues and a glittering, brightly coloured temple building, all built on small islands in the middle of a man-made lake. The waters are teeming with hungry fish and you can buy pellets to feed them, which is considered an act of merit for Buddhists. (10 minutes by road from Panya Resort)
Samui's largest and most popular tourist location, Chaweng Beach, is a lively stretch of sand, sea, food, shopping and nightlife options. A truly international destination, Chaweng has everything from Thai street stalls to international chain stores and brand name fast food outlets. The 5 kilometre strip also offer a choice of fine restaurants and entertainment venues. The Green Mango Club is the centre of Chaweng's party zone, with a collection of popular bars and nightclubs booming out music until the early hours of the morning. Chaweng is not everone's idea of a perfect holiday, but most people visit at least once during their stay, even if it is only to buy presents for their family and friends. (15 minutes by road from Panya Resort)
Samui is blessed with a number of spectacular falls, most of them located in the south of the island. Namuang 1 and Namuang 2 (40 minutes by road from Panya Resort) are the most visited and easily accessed from the main island ring road near Ban Saket. The water flows all year, but is most impressive just after the monsoon rains. Shops and restaurants have sprung up close to the waterfalls and you can also take a trek up the hillside on an elephant, which makes for some fabulous photos. A less visited waterfall is Hin Lad, just outside Nathon Town (40 minutes by road from Panya Resort). At the base of HIn Lad Falls you can visit a peaceful and interesting example of a Thai forest temple.
Hin Ta, Hin Yai
Samui's Grandmother and Grandfather rocks have long been one of the island's main tourist attractions. Shaped by nature to look like male and female genitalia, the rocks sit side by side on a stunning headland south of Lamai beach, where waves crash in from the glistening Gulf of Thailand. A small lans leads to the rocks, lined by local craft shops and small restaurants. It's one of the 'must see' sights on a tour of the island.