Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s top islands, offering palm-fringed beaches, tropical rainforest, posh resorts and more. But despite the island’s over-developed tourism scene, there are plenty of things to see and to do here that are less touristy.
One of the most unique and interesting attractions on Koh Samui is the Secret Buddha Garden. This mystical, magical garden features statues of Buddhas and other deities carved into stone.
1. Wat Khunaram
Wat Khunaram is one of the most unique temples in Koh Samui. It's renowned for its mummified monk and it's worth checking out.
The mummified body of a monk is considered a symbol of Buddhist culture and it's not uncommon to see these bodies in temples around Southeast Asia. The monk in this case, Luong Pordaeng, died in 1973 and asked that his body be put on display if it did not decompose.
He has been mummified in a seated position and his corpse is in excellent condition, with no sign of decay. This is a truly magical sight that you'll never forget.
2. Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks
Hin Ta and Hin Yai are a popular attraction in Koh Samui, which is renowned for its natural landscapes and unique rock formations. The rocks are shaped as male and female genitalia, and have a legend and folklore that revolves around them.
These unique features are located south of Lamai Beach on the island’s southern coast and are well worth a visit. A small hike leads to the rocks, and a quick swim or a little snorkel is recommended to take in their incredible natural sights.
It is possible to reach Hin Ta and Hin Yai via a sightseeing tour or a Jeep Safari/Adventure Safari. These tours will bring you to these famous Koh Samui attractions and also tell a mystical story about the rock formations.
3. Guan Yu Shrine
One of the best things to do in Koh Samui is visit the Guan Yu Shrine. Located in Hua Thanon Village, this temple is a symbol of the Chinese influence on Samui.
The 16-metre-tall statue of Guan Yu is a sight to behold, and the interiors are ornately decorated with golden murals depicting Chinese culture and calligraphy. It’s also home to a traditional tea room and museum.
The shrine is run by Khun Virach Pongchababnapa, who wants to preserve the Chinese culture on the island. He has displayed photos and portraits of Chinese Samui settlers and is a mine of information on how the community first arrived.
4. Na Muang Waterfalls
Na Muang Waterfalls is one of Koh Samui's most picturesque natural attractions and is a popular spot for families. It's an easy place to visit as a day trip from the beach, with swimming and hiking possible.
There are two waterfalls: the first is a shorter trek to reach and is easily accessed, while the second is more challenging and requires a hike to get to it.
The first waterfall is a short drive from the main road and is accessible for all with no entrance fee. It's a great spot for a family picnic and swimming as the lower tier is suitable for swimming.
There are also jungle zip line cable rides, jungle water slides and other activities you can try out here! The jungles of Na Muang Waterfall are fascinating, and you can explore them on foot or by elephant.
5. Mummified Monk
The Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram might not be everyone’s first choice for a temple visit, but it is a unique sight that offers an insight into both the Buddhist culture and Thai society. This temple houses the mummified remains of the monk Luong Pordaeng who died in 1973 in a seated meditation posture and his body has been on display ever since.
For religious Thais, it’s a reflection of life and death and a reminder that we all should strive to live our lives according to the Buddha’s teachings. It is also a beautiful example of the beauty and diversity of Buddhist art, architecture and beliefs.