- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Koh Samui, Thailand
Koh Samui (Samui Island) is a cosmopolitan melting pot, attracting budget travellers staying for a month or two in simple beachside bungalows, to the wealthiest holidaymakers dropping in for a weekend at one of the many luxury resort or villa on the many white sand beaches of Koh Samui.
From the hustle and bustle of Chaweng Beach to the lively yet relaxed atmosphere of Lamai Beach to the timeless feel of Bophut's Fisherman's Village to the tropical beach paradise of Maenam, Koh Samui is unique among Thailand's islands in maintaining a broad appeal for everyone.
Koh Samui's repertoire of things to do and see is varied and interesting: the island hosts a great deal of splendid natural and man-made attractions from mummified monks to the famous grandma and grandpa rocks (Hin Ta & Hin Yai) to attractive waterfalls and more, there's nothing to stop you having a blast on Samui Island.
For those interested in religious imagery and architecture the Big Buddha will impress - especially at sunset. Nature lovers can visit Ang Thong Marine National Park on a day trip to enjoy a genuine 'get away from it all' feel in the splendid tropical islands it hosts.
Ang Thong National Marine Park
Ang Thong National Marine Park is a pristine archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand with towering limestone mountains, thick jungle, white-sand beaches, fertile mangroves, waterfalls and hidden coves and lakes to explore. Within sight of Koh Samui, Ang Thong park is a protected area of more than 100sqkm of land and sea, and home to a rich variety of exotic wildlife and sea creatures.
On the northern coast of Koh Samui is the famous Big Buddha shrine. Probably Samui's most well known landmark, the 12 metre high golden Buddha can be seen from several kilometres away. Inside the surrounding temple are many different shrines and other smaller ornate Buddhas. There is also a small market selling a wide range of lucky charms and other souvenirs, alongside numerous food stalls.
Na Muang Waterfall
Although Samui has several waterfalls, the two Na Muang waterfalls are probably the most picturesque. The name Na Muang refers to the massive purple rocks at the waterfalls. Rocks and tree roots form a natural staircase that leads to the base of Na Muang 1. A large natural pool sits under the waterfall. A 10-minute walk further up the mountain leads to Samui's most beautiful waterfall, Na Muang 2.
Mummy Monk in Koh Samui
Koh Samui’s Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram is an unusual sight yet it offers a unique insight into Buddhist and Thai culture. The monk Luong Pordaeng died in 1973 in a seated meditative position, and ever since his body has been on display in an upright glass case at the temple. Remarkably, even more than 30 years on the monk’s body shows little sign of decay. For some visitors, having a dead man in full view might be a shocking sight, but for Thais it is something to reflect upon and revere. Far from being frightened by death, most Buddhist Thais are highly accepting of the end of life as the natural order of things and they view death as an opportunity to be reborn into a better place, one step closer to nirvana. There are other mummy monks on Samui and throughout Thailand, but Loung Pordang is among the most highly revered.
Secret Buddha Garden in Samui
Secret Buddha Garden is hidden away high in the hills in Koh Samui's interior, offering majestic views and an unusual collection of statues amid lush jungle surrounds. The gardens are a creation of an old Samui fruit farmer, Nim Thongsuk, who in 1976 began erecting several statues and temples around his family's verdant land.
The statues depict a number of animals, deities and humans in various poses, including one of Khun Nim himself, in a relaxed position sitting on a rock. Khun Nim continued to work developing his garden until his death at the age of 91.