Nestled in a private sun-kissed bay on the northeastern tip of the island and six kilometres from Samui International Airport, The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui is the perfect location to explore tropical paradise. Framed by azure waters, beaches and mountainous jungles, our hotel is near attractions like Big Buddha Temple, Fisherman's Village and Wat Plai Laem. Our concierge can help you make the most of your visit by recommending places to see.
Located northwest of Koh Samui, this protected archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand comprises of 42 islands covering over 100 square kilometres of land and sea, and is home to a rich variety of exotic wildlife and sea creatures. Explore white sand beaches, mangroves, waterfalls, hidden coves and lakes by snorkelling, hiking, kayaking, diving, sailing or simply basking in the sun.
Locally known as Wat Phra Yai, the majestic 12 metre seated golden Buddha statue was built in 1972. It remains as one of the island’s most famous landmarks that is visible from several kilometres from land, sea and is likely the first landmark you will see when approaching by air.
Distance: 3.5 kilometres, 10 minutes
Lined with old wooden houses and shops dotted with decorative red Chinese lanterns that serve as a reminder of its heritage, some descendants of those original families still reside and work here. Quiet during the day offering delightful waterfront eateries, Fisherman’s Village comes alive on Friday nights between 5pm to 11pm with a festive street market selling apparel, arts and crafts, souvenirs and more.
Distance: 7 kilometres, 20 minutes
WAT PLAI LAEM
This Buddhist temple compound features a towering white 18-arm statue of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, at its centre and is surrounded by a lake teeming with fish. The worship of Guan Yin dates back to ancient China and has spread across East and Southeast Asia since as she is believed to be a source of unconditional love, a protector of all beings and also seen as a fertility goddess. Her multitude of arms is seen as an illustration of her ability to reach out and provide help across the world.
The temple's intricate designs were created by one of Thailand's foremost artists, Jarit Phumdonming, using centuries old art techniques based on ancient beliefs. The Goddess is flanked by two long halls that feature colourful murals and frescoes depicting Buddhist mythological stories. Other features include a large white laughing Buddha statue, beautifully carved teak entry doors, and an elaborate ceremonial hall set on an island in the lake.
Distance: 2 kilometres, 5 minutes by car
HIN TA AND HIN YAI ROCKS
These natural geological formations, also known as “Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks”, are often the source of mirth as they resemble the male and female genitalia. Located between Lamai and Hua Thanon, the beachside rocks gives rise to a folklore about an elderly couple named Ta Kreng (Grandfather Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandmother Riem) who lived with their son in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat. As their son came of age to be married, they set sail to the neighbouring province to ask a man named Ta Monglai for his daughter’s hand. During their stormy sea journey, their boat capsized and they drowned. According to the legend, they turned into rocks as proof to the bride-to-be's parents of their genuine intentions. The scenic viewpoint looks out across the sea to nearby islands and closeby is a small white sand beach to cool your feet.
Distance: 45 minutes
LAEM SOR PAGODA
At the end of Bang Kao beach lies Laem Sor Pagoda that is a part of the Wat Laem Sor temple complex within beautiful jungle-like surroundings. The pagoda is constructed from yellow coloured tiles, making it appear golden in the sunlight and its entrance is guarded by two colourful yaks or “giants”, each holding a large sword. Nearby, the glass-walled Boat Hall houses the wax figure of a revered monk who built the pagoda and used the boat lying within. Locals often visit to pray and if their wishes came true, a small model boat is bought to be put into the large boat. Due west is a white coloured pagoda called Khao Chedi that is reachable through a climb up a hill where you will be rewarded by a wonderful seaview and the surrounding islands south of Koh Samui.
Distance: 60 minutes
With an overall area of 167 square kilometres, Koh Phangan is Thailand’s fifth biggest island located 12 kilometres from Koh Samui. Its name is derived from the word “ngan” which means “sandbar” in the southern Thai dialect due to the numerous sandbars found off shore. Predominantly made up of granite, its unspoilt beauty is accented by a hilly, lush tropical jungle interior, idyllic white sand beaches and has over 20 dive sites nearby, making the island an ideal day trip for snorkelling or kayaking. Transportation is mostly provided by converted pick up trucks called “song teaow” that ply the roads, rental jeeps and motorcycles or private taxis. The island’s main claim to fame is largely due to its monthly full moon beach parties attracting revellers from all over the world.
Distance: 20 minutes by Speedboat
KOH TAO AND KOH NANGYUAN
Prior to 1943, Koh Tao was known as “Turtle Island” when it was an uninhabited jungle with an abundance of turtles to be found here. The island’s natural beauty surrounded by large rock formations with stunning coral reefs and an abundance of marine life in calm, crystal clear waters, makes it an unforgettable destination for snorkellers, divers, kayakers and adventurers alike. You can choose to explore Koh Tao by hiking or trail running on various mountainous terrain routes that lead you around the towns of Sairee Beach, Mae Haad Bay and Chalok Baan Kao Bay.
Located just 15-minutes away by longtail boat is the island of Koh Nangyuan. Often combined with a visit to Koh Tao, the enticing aquamarine waters, picturesque rocks and white sand beach sets the perfect scene. Aside from its popularity as a snorkelling and dive spot, you can also hike up to admire the view of three islands connected by a sandbar from the lookout point. An entrance fee is levied and plastic water bottles are not permitted on Koh Nangyuan.
Distance: 90 minutes by Speedboat
HIN LAD WATERFALL AND TEMPLE
The stunning setting of the Hin Lad Waterfall is perfect for a picnic and relaxation with freshwater pools for a dip. Accessible to all regardless of their fitness level, the jungle path spans 3 kilometres for an easy 30-minute hike and the terrain is known for its spring flowers with an elephant reserve nearby. The waterfall is popular during the rainy season as it swells up and is at its best.
The famous Hin Lad Waterfall Temple is set within the evergreen jungle on the trail leading up to the waterfall. It features a lovely garden, walking path, images of Buddha, religious sculptures and a meditation area, making it a tranquil setting for those seeking peace of mind.
Distance: 45 minutes
NATURE ART GALLERY
Nature Art Gallery offers unique jewellery from Koh Phangan made of gold, silver, precious and semi-precious stones as well as a selection of handmade leather bags, belts and other accessories. The owners bring an extensive love and understanding of the power of crystals by sharing about the properties of stones and crystals, and creating beautiful jewellery that is healing in nature. The four shops are located on Chaweng Beach road (closet to the resort), in Central Festival Samui and in Haad Rin, Koh Phangan.
Distance: 8 kilometres, 20 minutes
CENTRAL FESTIVAL SAMUI
Described as the most complete and largest lifestyle shopping complex on the island, Central Festival Samui is centrally located in Chaweng. Its 90,000 square metres of triple storey retail space houses branded shops, eateries, cinemas and a Mario Land amusement park. The themed mall spaces highlight the Samui lifestyle; a contemporary Chaweng Port décor that reflects the charm of an old port, The Bird Cages theme that combines the local lifestyle with a SinoPortuguese style, a Fisherman’s Village theme, and an Old Town Market that reflects a colonial style combined with an East- West décor.
Distance: 20 minutes
The popular walking streets takes over entire towns around the island every week, offering a diverse selection of shopping and eateries.
CENTRAL FESTIVAL MARKET - The small market offers food, souvenirs and clothing stores from dusk.
When: Wednesday, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
CHAWENG WALKING STREET - A riot of colours, sounds and scents, this outdoor market offers plenty of merchandise for shoppers to practice their haggling skills. Extending along the main Beach Road for several kilometres, each block is packed with a variety of stalls along the footpaths selling fresh produce, cooked food or a variety of consumer goods.
When: Daily except for Friday and Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
FISHERMAN’S VILLAGE WALKING STREET - The largest walking street brings the sleepy town of Bophut to life, transforming the narrow Beach Road and adjoining streets into a bustling marketplace offering unique goods ranging from interesting handicrafts, herbs and spices, musical instruments, an impressive range of shoes, quality local fabrics, one-of-a-kind jewellery and fashion designs. Quieter sections of the 860 metre road and many side lanes are lined with food vendors, cocktail bars and street performances such as Muay Thai demonstrations, beatboxing and traditional Thai dances, particularly fronting the old pier, adding to the fun atmosphere.
Distance: 20 minutes
SANTIBURI COUNTRY CLUB
A stunning 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course set amidst a preserved coconut palm plantation with commanding views of Maenam Beach and Koh Phangan. An essential stop on the PGA Asian Tour for years, the mountainous course features spectacular elevation changes from 25 – 180 metres above sea level. The fairways are carved into tropical mountains following hilly contours to provide challenging moments of play and obstacles. The greens, constructed from TifEagle grass, are extremely fast while Bermuda grass used on the tees and fairways ensure good playing conditions all year. The course requires the use of golf carts due to its steep slopes and caddies are compulsory.