What to do in Koh Samui if you don't want a tourist experience
Koh Samui is famous for its sandy beaches, luxury accommodation and great services. However, some people may be discouraged by the ‘touristy’ aspect of a trip to Samui, and may want something more than spending hours on the beach, buying souvenirs or getting spa treatments.
We’ve prepared a list of activities you can do in Koh Samui that are less obvious for tourists – you’ll certainly discover a few that fit your preferences.
Explore New Activities
Go to a Quiet Beach
There are plenty of beaches that are less packed with tourists, but the water may be quite deep by the shore and the sand a bit rougher than on the more popular beaches. Mae Nam, Bo Phut or Silver Beach are some of the more laid-back spots on the island. Alternatively, you could simply wake up really early one morning and go to your favorite beach, watch the sunrise and enjoy the calm moments before all the tourists show up.
Swim in the Na Muang Waterfalls
There are two beautiful waterfalls where you can find some peace and quiet from the overcrowded beaches. One is 18 m high, while the other goes up to 80 m. You can find a great spot for a picnic, and have a relaxing swim when you need to cool off. You’ll need to hike for about 30 minutes to get to the bigger waterfall, but it’s worth it. This area is free to visit, so if anyone asks you for an ‘admission fee’ or offers to guide you through it, know that it is most likely a scam.
Drive around the Island
You can rent a car and drive around to see all the hidden spots on the island, including quieter beaches. Or, if you’re even more adventurous, you could get a motorbike or a scooter – just don’t forget to wear a helmet.
Visit a Non-Touristic Village
You can see how the locals spend their time, see lots of fishing boats and, if you’re friendly and create a connection with the locals, you might be able to share a homemade meal with them and experience the most authentic Thai foods and traditions. The Pier is also a great destination, and it is surrounded by shops that serve the old local community.
The Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai)
It features a 40-foot statue, large enough to be seen from an airplane, built back in 1792. Try to visit it outside the weekend to be sure it’s not very crowded, and keep in mind that you should wear appropriate clothing – cover your shoulders and legs. The island view from the top of the hill is breathtaking, so don’t leave without having climbed all the stairs near the statue. However, the Wat Phra Yai is the most famous Buddha statue and it might get overcrowded at times, but there are plenty of other interesting statues that may be less known to tourists – the White Marble Buddha at Wat Samret or the Secret Hall of Buddhas, for example.
Learn New Skills
Learn to Cook Thai Food
If you are amazed by the food you’ve eaten on the island, you can come back from your trip with some very useful knowledge by attending one of the many cooking classes offered in Koh Samui. You’ll be able to skip the Thai restaurant back home when you’re in the mood for an exotic dish, and instead invite your friends over to show off your new skills.
Take a Muay Thai Lesson
There are plenty of dedicated gyms for this type of sport, which has become very popular all over the world. People of all ages can learn the basic moves at one of these training camps. If you’re not in the mood for physical activity, you can just go watch a fight at the Chaweng boxing stadium.
Learn the Language
You can do this before you arrive too, but if you run out of time you can also take a short course right on the island, to learn a few essential phrases that you can use when you explore the island and make friends with the locals. It will definitely enhance your experience.
Fruit Carving Course
Yet another special skill you can learn in Koh Samui, either through a short, one-hour course or a more advanced 3-day course, after which you also receive a guidebook and your own carving tools to take home.
Food & Drink
Drink Craft Beer and Rare Thai Rum
The Bees Knees Brewpub is the first craft beer pub in Samui and it has seen wild success since its opening, from tourists and locals alike. All the tap beers are made right in the small brewery, and there are plenty of options you can choose from – or you can try them all, of course. If you’re not really a beer lover and prefer some hard liquor, The Magic Alambic in Koh Samui is the only rum distillery in Thailand and it has lots of dedicated customers, offering a ton of amazing flavors.
Buy Food from Street Vendors
You can find them on busy streets or you can go to a market and get all kinds of delicious treats for really low prices. A market is also a great place to find the truly authentic taste of Thai cuisine and see the ingredients that locals use on a daily basis.
Shoot Real Bullets at the Rifle Range
It may be a bit pricey compared to other activities, but the shooting range offers a thrilling opportunity for when you’d rather do something different than sit on the beach all day. Make sure you listen to all the safety procedures and wear the right equipment to avoid any issues.
The Samui Snake Farm
This isn’t something for the faint of heart, but if you are, for some reason, fascinated by reptiles, you can go to this specialized zoo and see the most venomous snakes in the world.
Get a Traditional Thai Massage
They’re definitely not as expensive as the pampering you’d get in a luxury spa, and it may take up to two hours in some places. Thai massage is well known for its unusual techniques, but keep in mind that the methods are a bit rougher than a regular massage and they involve a lot of stretching and pressing on sensitive areas – but you should try it as you’ll feel amazing afterwards.
As you can see above, there are tons of options for fun and interesting activities in Koh Samui that can take you out of your comfort zone during your vacation. You might also want to ask some of the locals what they do for fun and you might find out about some activities that we might have missed.