5 things to see in Koh Samui besides the beaches

Big Buddha Temple, photo by benandannaclarke on Flickr

For the majority of people who don’t actually live on Koh Samui, this island is synonymous with the best beaches in Thailand. But what if beaches are not exactly what you’re interested in? Many travelers visit Thailand for its rich culture, delicious cuisine and many historical or religious attractions, with the beaches as a nice bonus merely. But when it comes to Koh Samui, although the beaches are the chief attention-grabbers on the island, there is plenty to see for those who are not satisfied with only the sun and the sand. So after you’ve roasted on a hot beach for a few hours and had a few cold beers, head out for the best 5 things to see in Koh Samui besides the  beaches.

Wat Khunaram Ko Samui

About 90% of the island’s permanent inhabitants are Buddhist, so naturally there are quite a few temples to see on the island. Wat Khunaram Ko Samui is the most famous, not only because it is quite pretty, but also (and mostly) because it houses the body of a mummified monk. Luong Pordaeng, the temple’s abbot, died in the 70’s in a meditation pose, and told his followers shortly before his death that he should be cremated if his body decays, but if not then he should be put on display. Curiously, more than 30 years later Luong Pordaeng’s shows little sign of decay.

Grandmother and Grandfather rocks

photo by Bertd

If you have a raunchy sense of humor you cannot fail to appreciate the hilarity of two rocks that look like…human reproductive organs. The two rocks, located in close proximity, were jokingly name grandfather and grandmother and they quickly became two of the most popular sights on Koh Samui for visitors from abroad. There are quite a few legends surrounding the rocks, so ask a local to tell you the stories.

Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo

Although the island’s wildlife is not as rich as in other, more lush parts of Thailand, you can see a nice sample of Thailand’s species of animals at the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo. The most famous residents of the zoo are the Bengal tigers and the leopards, with whom you can take your picture if you are brave enough. The zoo’s aquarium has hundreds of species of tropical fish and turtles.

Secret Buddha Garden

photo by grolli77 on Flickr

For an amazing view of the island, visit the Secret Buddha Garden which is located on Koh Samui’s highest point. Also known as Uncle Nimm’s garden, this beautiful park was built by a local fruit farmer and today it is one of the most interesting things to see in Koh Samui besides the beaches. The garden is surrounded by verdant jungle and it is decorated with countless statues depicting humans and deities.

Wat Phra Yai

Wat Phra Yai is alsd known as the Big Buddha Temple, due to the 15 meter tall statue of Buddha housed within. The temple is part of the daily life of most inhabitants, many of whom often come to pay their respects. Although the statue is far from being the oldest in Thailand (it was built in the 70’s), it is a must-see for anyone who is interested in Buddhist architecture and art.

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