To complement Koh Samui’s marine wonders, the lush jungle that covers the island's interior is also home to an array of attractions to keep visitors active and amazed. Whether its natural or man made attractions, the island offers a host of choices for a fun and fascinating day out.
For many travellers, especially children, a visit to the Land of Smiles wouldn’t be complete without a ride atop an elephant. There is no better way to explore the jungle than on the back of one of these gentle giants, which is also the national animal of Thailand. Packages such as the Namuang Safari Park tour include transfers, crocodile and elephant shows and elephant trekking or a cable ride in the jungle. Elephant trekking tours can be arranged through most local agencies, and often include treks that take visitors right past the Namuang 1 Waterfall where it is possible to take a cool dip as the afternoon sun reaches its peak.
Namuang 1 is one of several spectacular waterfalls dotted across the island. The site is actually home to two separate falls near Ban Thurian, widely considered the most impressive, with 20m and 80m drops respectively. Located approximately 12km from Nathon Bay, the waterfalls can be reached via a walking path at the entrance to the park. Namuang waterfalls draw a lot of families and are also a popular stop for organised tours. Hin Lad waterfall is a more secluded destination for visitors in search of more tranquil jungle surroundings, although it can be busy with local tourists at weekends or during Thai holidays. It is a great location for a absorb of the island's natural beauty and visitors should be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes if they want to follow the track that leads up the side other waterfall. Visitors to all the above waterfalls should take their swimming gear. After a trek through the jungle its to cool off with a dip in the refreshing water.
Another firm family favourite on Koh Samui are the animal shows. Monkey and crocodile displays delight the crowds and can be included in a day tour, the Samui Aquarium offers a glimpse of the island's surrounding marine attractions and there are even tigers to have photos taken with. Paradise Park Farm is great choice for visitors who want to split their day between jungle exploration and creature spotting. Perched on top of Samui’s highest mountain, Khao Pom, the park is home to hundreds of bird species including parrots, macaws and parakeets. Two of the farm's parrots are even trained to speak in Thai and English. The colourful inhabitants of the farm live in different zones around the 20 acre site, which are connected by quiet walking trails where guests can stroll and enjoy the beauty of the island’s tropical forest. After a morning of exploring, peckish visitors can enjoy a good feed at the farms restaurant which serves both Thai and Western dishes and even take a dip in the infinity pool.
Visitors with a sense of adventure should definitely make time to visit the Secret Buddha Garden, also known as Samui’s Magic Garden. Situated high in the island's interior, the gardens are nestled deep in the forest surrounding a stream that flows down form the peak of the Tar Nim Waterfall. A devout farmer began work on the gardens at the age of 76, filling them with statues and sculptures depicting scenes form the life of the Lord Buddha, and continued until his death at the ripe old age of 91. His labour of love now provides a peaceful destination for visitors to get away from the busier tourist areas, enjoy cooler, fresh air and gaze out on stunning vistas from Samui’s peaks. Accessibility to the gardens is difficult without a four-wheel-drive vehicle so many visitors opt to visit them as part of one of the jungle safari tours. Getting to the magic gardens is almost as fun as exploring them, as visitors can stop off at the island’s highest point overlooking the jungle scenery and surrounding islands.
Hin Ta, Hin Yai
A trip to Koh Samui would not be complete without a visit to Hin Ta and Hin Yai, an impressive set of rock formations found in the southern part of the island between Lamai and Hua Thanon. The phallic formations, more widely known as Grandmother and Grandfather rocks, are situated on a headland that juts out into the azure waters, surrounded by some of the white sand beaches Samui has become famous. Entry is free of charge and for visitors who take a trip to the area, there's also a shopping street with local souvenirs and for a real local experience, it is worth stopping off in Hua Thanon to see the fishing town’s seafood market, or savour some authentic local dishes at one of the area’s coastal restaurants.
Posted by Wayne Hue