May 03 2013

Things to do off the beach in Ko Samui

Published by at 5:37 am under Sights & activities


If you’ve topped up your tan and had your fill of sand and surf, consider what there is to do away from the beaches of Ko Samui. Here are a few suggestions.

A change from blues to greens.

A change from blues to greens.

Golf enthusiasts will enjoy the Santiburi Country Club, renowned as one of Asia’s finest golf courses. It’s located in Mae Nam Hills, north of the island. The fairways and greens are set in 23 acres of coconut groves, with views over the bay and to the neighbouring islands as spectacular as the landscape.

If you’re more into a family golf day, give Samui Football Golf a go. Set amid a coconut grove near Choeng Mon beach, the fairways and greens offers a fair amount of shade, but we’d still suggest an early morning or late afternoon start. Regular golf rules apply, but instead of using clubs, you’ll kick a football from hole to hole. Balls are provided, so no kit is required. The grounds of the 18-hole, par 66 course are well maintained, and the course is easy to follow.

No caddy, no cart. More energetic for sure.

No caddy, no cart. More energetic for sure.

If you feel like improving your kitchen skills and want to get a taste of genuine local cuisine, a cooking class is a great way to pass the time. Many of Samui’s hotels and resorts offer in-house cooking classes, but few do it quite as well as the island’s longstanding cookery school, the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts (SITCA). They offer half-day classes, including enjoying the meal afterwards, for 1,900 baht, but longer courses are available for seasoned chefs  — excuse the pun.

I hope I can remember all of this at home!

I hope I can remember all of this at home!

Samui’s interior is as beautiful as its beaches, and several scenic drives let you enjoy the interior up close, with sea views in the distance. A road constructed in 2010 joins Mae Nam to Lamai via the interior rather than the ring road. From Lamai, it leaves the ring road near Tamarind Springs, and from Mae Nam, turn left at the bridge opposite My Bar. Drive through the jungle, banana plantations, coconut groves and over hills that offer spectacular views. Take in the scenery from old Samui, as it’s not yet developed along the road.

Loo break.

Loo break.

Another way to enjoy the interior is by exploring the many waterfalls. These won’t top a list of the world’s most impressive waterfalls, but they’re worth a visit to cool off away from the beach. Several elephant trekking bases are also located near the waterfalls, so you have the option of pachyderm transport rather than your own legs if you’re not opposed to elephant tourism.

Not quite Victoria Falls, but worth a potter around.

Not quite Victoria Falls, but worth a potter around.

Thailand is all about temples, and Samui has its fair share, with Big Buddha and Wat Plai Laem being the most impressive two, both located at Samui’s northeastern corner. Kunaram temple houses Samui’s most famous mummified monk, Loung Pordaeng, and is located on the 4169 ring road between the Na Muang waterfalls and Hua Thanon. The temple is popular with locals, and is interesting to visit. Don’t be alarmed by the open display of the monk’s well-preserved body. Dressed in orange robes and wearing sunglasses, he is still sitting in the meditation position that he was placed in when he died more than 20 years ago and won’t bite. And if you’re more interested in Chinese Buddhism, there’s the Chinese temple near the Mae Nam walking street market, or the Guan Yu Shrine in Hua Thanon, opened in 2012.

When you’ve exhausted all those options and it’s time to return to the beach — here are our picks of where to head based on your travelling style.

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