Koh Samui is one of the most spectacular getaways in all of Thailand. Its pristine beaches and beautiful, clear green seas are just two of the reasons you’ll have a hard time leaving. This island is a festive melting pot of Southeast Asian and Western influences, and you’ll find these undercurrents in just about every facet of the population’s culture.
While Koh Samui has been inhabited for over 1,500 years, it was not until the early 1970s that it became a tourist destination. In modern times, hotels and resorts have sprung up around the various beaches, making many of them small towns in their own right. The island’s old capital, Nathon, is the regional seat and hub for commerce and travel, boasting a rich and exotic cultural heritage from decades of visitors and those who came for good. On a three day trip, you’ll find plenty to do.
Day 1: Buddha, Grandpa, and Grandma
Your best bet is to begin your stay with an island tour. Koh Samui’s most salient landmarks are the Big Buddha statue and the “Grandpa and Grandma Rocks.” The former reaches 15 meters tall (approximately 50 feet) and presides over a nice beach; like many of Koh Samui’s beaches, restaurants and shops abound here. The latter are a pair of rock formations that happen to resemble male and female genitalia. There is a story here, and your guide will be sure to share it with you. You’ll also visit the Na Muang waterfall – the views of the island and the surrounding wilderness are amazing.
Day 2: Explore the Marine Park
On your second day, book a Sea Kayaking Tour at Ang Thong National Marine Park. Koh Samui is ringed in small islands, and a “sea canoe” is one of the best ways to experience them. Paddling under and around a fantastic array of granite arches and outcroppings, you’ll explore the park and head to Tai Nalay, an amazing saltwater lake and marine habitat. From Tai Nalay, you’ll be taken by the escort boat to the northern region of the park, where even more fantastic grottoes, rock formations and lagoons await. The trip is rounded out by some snorkeling time; keep an eye out for dolphins, sea turtles and even the huge, harmless whale sharks that frequent the area.
Day 3: Cruise the Jungle
Spend your last day in the jungle. Explore the island’s interior in an open-air 4x4 with lunch at the restaurant on the mountain, in addition to an amazing view from atop the island’s highest peak.