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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 21, 2021
Headline for 5 Must-Visit Attractions in Koh Samui - Top 5 Highlights to Explore in Koh Samui
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Joanna James Joanna James
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5 Must-Visit Attractions in Koh Samui - Top 5 Highlights to Explore in Koh Samui

As Thailand's most popular beach holiday island, Koh Samui is not only a recreational heartland for the masses. From cultural hotspots to other attractions, here are 5 sites every traveller must visit during a holiday in Koh Samui.

1

Secret Buddha Garden

Occupying pride of place in Samui's lush tropical hills, the Secret Buddha Garden is an off-the-beaten-path attraction most visitors miss during a getaway in the beach capital. Perched at a vaulted location, the hike up to the garden is well worth the effort not only due to the many sculptures of the Buddha one comes across along the way but also due to the various mythologies surrounding this "magical" garden. Having been open to the public since the late 1970s, the Secret Buddha Garden appears to be centuries older with its eerie atmosphere and ancient appearance.

2

Na Muang Waterfalls

Nature lovers and waterfall hunters alike will relish the chance to gaze upon Koh Samui's iconic Na Muang Waterfalls, which offers visitors two cascades for the price of one. Awe-inspiring at first glance, the Na Muang Waterfalls are arguably the most stunning natural wonders on the island. Easily accessible via a short hike up a well-trodden trail from the main road, the best time to tour the Na Muang Waterfalls is in the afternoon hours. The massive bathing pools at the base of the cascades are also ideal for swimming activities while those based at Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort or any similar Koh Samui Villa Resort can pack a picnic basket and enjoy an unforgettable evening out by the waterfalls.

3

Central Festival

Although Samui's shopping precincts cannot compete with that of Bangkok or Phuket, Central Festival remains the island's go-to location for international brands and quality souvenirs. Fashionistas and brand-conscious shoppers will find the plush signature stores and luxury boutiques housed within Central Festival shopping centre a welcome refuge from local markets as one can buy everything from Adidas swimwear to Jim Thompson silk clothing items at this one-stop shopping Mecca. The Central Festival is also home to some of the island's finest restaurants, which makes it both a leisure hub as well as a retail highlight.

4

Wat Plai Laem

Situated on the northeastern shores of Koh Samui, Wat Plai Laem is perhaps best known for its breathtaking sculpture of the Goddess Guanyin. The larger than life statue of the deity of mercy and compassion may be the main reason locals and tourists flock to the venue but the 18-armed icon is just one of the many unique features of this Chinese heritage site. Overlooking a tranquil lake, one can hardly conceive of a more picturesquely located temple.

5

Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park

Tipped to be a water sports lover's dream destination, no trip to Koh Samui would be complete without spending a day snorkelling and swimming across the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park. Lined with scenic beaches and boasting an impressive marine life heritage, this sanctuary laden with waterfalls and caves is a marine wonderland like no other.