When you think of Koh Samui, you’re probably imagining beautiful, crystal-clear waters surrounding the island, with lots of the white, sandy beaches, natural greenery and snorkeling around the island. Koh Samui is the island of coconut trees, sailors, sea traders and the fisherman’s village, as well as a stunning view of the beach, whether you’re at a bird eye’s view or on the ground.
March, April and beginning of May make up the dry season. The skies are clear and blue – perfect for attracting visitors for a 1-2 week vacation on Koh Samui. I decided to book a 1-day trip with Buffalo Tour, a local travel agency with an information counter in the lobby of Amari Koh Samui. I asked the travel agent if I could do something besides the usual island hopping or snorkeling. She suggested I check out their jungle tour. This is where my amazing 1-day jungle adventure begins!
1. View Point
The driver picked our group up after breakfast in his open air 4×4 drive. It reminded me of the Iceland 4×4 van we hired on our trip a few years ago and reminded me to add another trip to Iceland to my travel list. I digress, it was a great day with sunshine and beautiful skies in Koh Samui. Our first stop was at the View Point, where you can see the entire beach and shoreline of Chaweng Beach.
Travel Tip: Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. If you get thirsty, don’t worry: the tour provides enough bottled water for everyone.
2. Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks
The second stop, believe it or not, has rocks that are shaped in an unexpected way: the Grandfather and Grandmother rocks look, respectively, like male and female genitalia. Hin Ta (grandfather) and Hin Yai (grandmother) are located between the Lamai and Huathanon area.
In this area, you can also find a shop that sells delicious local products: Kalamare, which is made from coconut milk, sticky rice and palm sugar. It’s also known as coconut caramel in English. I recommend you check out the first shop that sells coconut caramel right after you come back from visiting the rocks.
Travel Tip: Each Kalamare shop has its own secret recipe. They taste a little different, so you can give each shop a try, and then pick the ones you like best!
3. Wat Khunaram
The first temple we visited is called Wat Khunaram, located between Namuang and the Hua Thanon area. This temple is most famous for housing the Mummified Monk. The monk Luong Pordaeng died in 1973 in a seated meditative position and his body has been on display in an upright glass case at the temple ever since. Even after decades, the monk’s body shows little sign of decay.
4. Namuang Waterfall
We then continued to Namuang Waterfall on the other side of the island. They are two notable spots: one is 18-metres high and the other is 80-metres. As I mentioned before, we visited during the dry season, meaning there wasn’t too much water in the waterfall. Still, I climbed almost all the way to the top to see the waterfall. Here’s what I saw:
Travel Tip: There are two water slides (Fast and Slow), a zip line and so many activities to explore atop the mountain. Make sure you’re wearing the proper shoes for climbing!
5. Secret Garden
After lunch on top of the mountain (included in the tour), we headed to the Secret Garden, hidden away in the hills of Koh Samui. The property was owned by Khun Nim Thongsuk since 1976, who also owned a fruit garden. He had many Buddhist-influenced statues built to decorate the garden, including one of himself relaxing on a rock. Khun Nim Thongsuk continued to create numerous statues until he passed away at age 91.
6. Mountain Viewpoint and the Rubber Plantation
There are really so many attractions spot in and atop the jungle, such as the Mountain Viewpoint and the Rubber Plantation. The 4×4 drive around the jungle and mountains was so much fun – all of us definitely enjoyed the trip.
Travel Tip: Even if you are not on the beach, make sure to apply sunscreen regularly and wear sunglasses and a hat while you’re outside.
7. The Big Buddha
The last stop we visited was the Big Buddha temple, located Northeast of Koh Samui in the Plai Laem area. The Big Buddha was built in 1972, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Koh Samui. This golden 12-metre-long statue of a seated Buddha is posed to symbolise steadfastness, purity and enlightenment.
Travel Tip: It is inappropriate to visit any temple in Thailand if you are wearing shorts or a tank top. Most temples offer a scarf or sarong for visitors to cover up at no cost.
We finally reached the end of our journey. The driver and tour guide safely took us back to the hotel.
I would like to thank Buffalo Tours for well taking care of our tour group and showing us the hidden gems of Koh Samui.