In 1976, up on one of the highest peaks of central Koh Samui, an old, local durian farmer decided to start a Magic Garden. At 77 years old, upon retiring from farming Thailand’s most popular and foul-smelling fruit, Nim Thongsuk started setting up a variety of Buddha statues on his family’s land and kept expanding the park until his death fourteen years later. Today, the Secret Buddha Garden is a popular tourist attraction and although it remains private, it can be accessed for a small fee.
The statues are set up in the midst of a lush jungle landscape, next to a waterfall and stream amongst Koh Samui’s native trees and flowers. Often, the statues are hidden amongst the foliage, with new discoveries to be made around every corner. The Buddhas, animals and deity figures are all hand carved, each with their own unique stone carvings and decorations. Some are arranged in groups, frozen in dance-like poses or with instruments in their laps, others stand alone, but they all tell tales from popular Buddhist folklore and mythology and they all have different meanings, which a guide will tell you about. On the way to the garden, as well as within the park itself, beautiful views over the island can be had and there are several viewpoints worth a visit.
As the location is fairly remote, getting to the Secret Buddha Garden takes about two hours and is a bit of a challenge. To get there, take the road directly opposite the Wat Khunaram temple near Lamai. The road is a very steep and bumpy dirt road and can only be accessed by a vehicle with a four-wheel drive.