There is no need to stray too far from Villa Kalyana in order to find some interesting sights and activities. The local area has a number of good attractions that are easily reached on foot or very quickly accessible by bicycle, motorbike or taxi. So once you are ready to leave the sanctuary and comfort of the villa, have a quick browse below for some local fun and adventure
Laem Sor Pagoda
Laem Sor Pagoda’s golden building presents a beautiful contrast to the sharp blue skies and seas. The entrance to the pagoda is guarded by two sword-wielding ‘Yak’, warrior statues who protect the Buddha who sits just inside. The grounds are pleasant to walk through and you can get a refreshing coconut to drink while watching some Buddhist Monks chanting, meditating and going about their business at this peaceful oceanfront setting. In the grounds is a glass-fronted hall encasing a wooden boat, and with the boat is a glass case containing the mummified body of a Thai monk. The white Chedi on the top of the hill offers incredible views of the beaches and landscape behind it.
- Do be respectful with clothing choices and refrain from wearing swimwear
- The Chedi is reached by a very steep road which is better to walk rather than ride.
Thong Krut Village
Visit our idyllic local village of Thong Krut with its peaceful shallow water bay and laid back restaurants. Plenty of traditional, colourfully painted Kolae boats give a rich contrast against the blue of the sea and sky – creating a terrific visual experience. You can try your hand at chartering a long-tail boat by simply having a few words with a boat owner and finding an agreeable price for you both. Haggling may be challenging as prices are usually fixed, but bargain with a smile and try your luck. It’s also easy to organise snorkelling, diving or fishing trips around here and the picturesque islands of Koh Matsom and Koh Tan are just a short boat ride away.
Hemingway’s on the Beach Cooking School can offer you great Thai cooking classes in Thong Krut. https://www.facebook.com/hemingwaysonthebeach
Secret Buddha Garden
This super hilltop jungle garden, also known as the Magic Garden or Heaven’s Garden, is set in calm and peaceful surroundings with a waterfall and stream flowing nearby. After making the 4 x 4 road-trip toward Samui’s highest point you’ll find this landscaped garden teeming with a number of Buddha statues of all shapes and sizes depicting local folklore. Founded by a retired durian farmer, Khun Nim, in the 1970’s the project began with just a few statues but the gardens are now overflowing with human and animal figures. All have different meanings and are arranged in scenarios representing diverse ideals; most Thais will know the meaning and legends behind these expressive works of art. You’ll be assured some great views from the gardens and on the road leading up to Samui’s high point so get your camera ready.
Take a day tour of Koh Samui’s interior so your guide will be able to explain the meanings of the Secret Garden’s statues and images.
Lamai is Samui’s second-largest resort area after Chaweng and the lovely beach has a slightly more laid back feel. Lamai makes a great day out if you are looking for a change from the peaceful backwaters of Laem Sor. There are plenty of dining and shopping options to keep you entertained and busy and some great spas and tourist sites to explore. The Lamai Night Bazaar offers up some good retail therapy while the Cabaret Lamai Beach produces the best lady-boy [talented transgender performers] shows featuring comedy, song and dance routines. The Lamai Viewpoint offers a panoramic spot to get a drink and is just a short 15 minutes hike up the hill.
- Swimming at the southern end is best for clearer seas
- Do watch out for any warnings posted about seasonal jelly-fish
- Nearby Wat Khunaram houses the body of Samui’s most famous mummified monk, Loung Pordaeng
- Walking street is on a Sunday evening for shopping stalls, live music and food
Ban Khao Walking Street
There are great shopping experiences to be had at our local walking street market which comes to Ban Khao village every Saturday. Walking street markets happen around Koh Samui throughout the week and Ban Khao is the most traditional of all with local foods and treats for sale. The event has a good collection of stalls selling plenty of indispensable holiday goods and even some rather quirky foods for you to try – do try a few deep fried insects!. There are a collection of local street performers and musicians who add vibrant sounds to the walking street’s dynamic atmosphere. An array of handcrafts and souvenirs are among the most plentiful offerings, and ample fashion and accessories can also be found.
Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)
If you have not seen Thai Boxing, known as Muay Thai, then you are in a good location to observe one of the most arduous contact sports in the world. Regular weekly bouts are held at two Thai boxing stadiums, the Chaweng Stadium and the Petch Buncha Stadium. Fights are widely promoted with flyers and mobile with loudspeaker announcements. Fighters start at a very young age and learn the necessary skills involved in attack and defence with three judges scoring fighters on their artistry in both these areas plus several nuanced factors including behaviour of the fighters and fighting strategies. Thais love Muay Thai and you’ll soon see why as the atmosphere is often electric with an overexcited commentator and traditional Thai music playing throughout. The whole event will last around 3 hours with 8/10 bouts so arrive a little later if you want a quick run into the main event.
- Do some Muay Thai training at one of the many local boxing camps. Sessions are for people of all ages and gender – from about 10 years old up.
- Petch Buncha- fight times are usually every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday Night at 21:00. Chaweng Stadium – fights times are usually every Mondays and Friday at 21:00
Magic Alambic Distillery
A local distillery that offers up some rum specialties with a nicely run restaurant with friendly staff attached. Not a distillery that runs tours but you can spend 5 mins looking at the equipment if you wish. Samples are approx. U$2 and all the lovely flavours are worth a try. Before you take on several shots do remember that 40 proof isn’t for every palate and neat rum is very, very testing. Maybe mix your rum with a Coke or 7-Up to ease the spirit down.
- If you are driving buy a few bottles for later on rather than risk using the roads after a few drinks on site
- Try the house-made mixer syrup made from a hush-hush mix of ingredients including brown sugar and lime juice
Na Muang Waterfalls
Right in the center of the island lie the two Namuang waterfalls which make for a great day out. Both waterfalls are reached by way of some really pleasant walking trails and they are just 30 minutes apart so you can visit both on the same day and get a good walk between them. You’ll get some perfect exotic shots at both so bring your best look and smiles. A short jungle path leads to Namuang 1 falls which drops into a beautiful natural pool and provides one of the most idyllic places on the islands to swim and relax. A slightly more challenging walk will take you up to Namuang 2 falls which at around 75 meters is Koh Samui’s tallest waterfall. If any rain has fallen recently then you’ll be awed by this great natural marvel. There are two small pools which are both good for a dip in the cold mountain waters – the highest pool is reached by a path to the side.
- Entry to both waterfalls is free but guided tours of the waterfalls and the surrounding Namuang Safari Park can be obtained near the entrance for a fee Remember to bring sun cream and to stay hydrated
- Good footwear is an idea for the walks which may be slippery after rain or dew
We mention the below tourist attractions and sights with due consideration for individual views on the subject of activities which place ‘wild’ animals at the centre observation. We have listed the activities along with a link to the TripAdvisor review page so you can study the views of other visitors and decide whether the attraction is to your liking. We advise spending a little time reviewing several opinions so you can form a clear understanding of any issues relating to animal suffering, cruelty or ill-treatment and conditions.
- Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g293918-d456472-Reviews-Samui_Aquarium_and_Tiger_Zoo-Ko_Samui_Surat_Thani_Province.html
- Paradise Park Farm: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g293918-d1631943-Reviews-Paradise_Park_Farm-Ko_Samui_Surat_Thani_Province.html
- Samui Butterfly Garden: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g293918-d552509-Reviews-Samui_Butterfly_Garden-Ko_Samui_Surat_Thani_Province.html
- Samui Elephant Camp: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g293918-d1453736-Reviews-Island_Safari_Tours-Ko_Samui_Surat_Thani_Province.html#REVIEWS
- Samui Snake Farm: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g293918-d650943-Reviews-Samui_Snake_Farm-Ko_Samui_Surat_Thani_Province.html