This list of things to do in Koh Samui on a small budget gives you a great opportunity to discover some of the most iconic landmarks on the island without spending too much of your hard-earned cash. Those of you who have a taste for adventure and exploration will just need a small amount of baht per day to spend on a motorbike to discover all of these wonderful attractions.

    From secret beaches to splendid Buddhist temples and from outstanding panoramic viewpoints to kinky rock formations, Koh Samui has a good range of attractions that can be visited even if you’re on a tight budget. Check out the best of them below.

    What are the best things to do in Koh Samui on a small budget?


    Samui Secret Beaches

    Samui's main draw, free to enjoy

    Beaches are obviously the main asset of Koh Samui and the reason why so many people visit the island each year. The most popular beaches in Samui – Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut, and Maenam – offer all you need for a memorable vacation, but people who have an explorer’s spirit can still find small coves and strips of sand off the beaten path.

    From Samrong to Thongkrut and from Laem Yai to Ban Tai, the choices are plentiful. You can spend a great time discovering beaches you’ve never heard of before at no cost except your motorbike rental and fuel.

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    Samui Big Buddha

    A majestic landmark on a rocky island

    Big Buddha temple sits majestically on a small rocky island off Koh Samui’s north-eastern corner. Known locally as Wat Phra Yai, its golden, 12-metre-tall seated Buddha statue was built in 1972 and remains one of the island’s most popular attractions.

    As is the case at most Buddhist temples in Thailand, there’s no entrance fee, but you’re welcome to make a donation.

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    Location: Route 4171, Bophut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 6 pm


    Secret Buddha Garden

    A unique garden up in the hills

    Secret Buddha Garden is a secluded garden of statues high in the hills in Koh Samui's interior, to the northwest of Lamai Beach. The garden offers majestic views and an unusual collection of statues amid lush jungle surrounds.

    The gardens were the creation of an old Samui fruit farmer, Nim Thongsuk, who began erecting statues and temples around his family's verdant land in 1976. It's not free to get it, but the entrance fee is very small.

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    Location: Na Mueang, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84140, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm


    Hin Ta and Hin Yai

    Fascinating rock formations

    Hin Ta and Hin Yai are some fascinating rock formations located at the western end of Lamai Beach, reachable from Samui Ring Road. There’s no entrance fee to visit them.

    These rocks, known as Grandpa (Ta) and Grandma (Yai), look, respectively, like male and female genitalia, and have been a source of mirth and wonder on the island since they were discovered by the locals many years ago.

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    Location: 126/92 Moo 3, Lamai, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand

    Open: Sunday–Friday from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm, Saturday from 8 am to 7 pm


    Na Muang Waterfalls

    Samui's natural beauty beyond the beach

    Na Muang Waterfalls are 2 cascades located inland, about 12 km southeast of Nathon Bay. They show that the island’s beauty is not limited to its beaches. The Na Muang falls are reached on foot, after you've left your vehicle at the park entrance. Access is free.

    The first waterfall, Na Muang 1, flows down into a pretty natural pool that provides a cool escape from the heat. About 30 minutes of walking further uphill is the smaller yet equally inviting Na Muang 2.

    Location: 37/1 Thawi Rat Phakdi Rd, Na Mueang, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84140, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm


    Wat Plai Laem

    A temple with Chinese and Thai elements

    Wat Plai Laem is a Buddhist temple compound located on the northeast coast of Samui. The temple features a striking, white, 18-arm image of Guanyin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy and Compassion.

    Close to the Big Buddha Temple, Wat Plai Laem offers visitors a view of Chinese-Thai beliefs as well as some elaborate Buddhist-themed art and architecture. You can visit the splendid temple for free, and just make a donation if you wish to.

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    Location: Road 4171, Bophut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand

    Open: Daily from sunrise to sunset


    Bophut's Fisherman's Village

    A rustic, historical area in Bophut

    The Fisherman’s Village is a historical area in Bophut. It obviously went through transformations through the years, but still retains some of its original looks thanks to rustic-style buildings.

    Nowadays, boutique stores, trendy restaurants and a small selection of hotels occupy most of the street. Every Friday, the whole area becomes the site of the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street market which attracts huge numbers of visitors.

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    Location: Bophut Beach Road, Bophut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand


    Jungle Club Viewpoint

    Great views for the price of a drink

    Jungle Club Viewpoint is one of the most scenic spots on Samui. The drive up to this hillside resort restaurant may be hair-raising but it’s worth it for some of the best views on the island. The northerly views from Jungle Club are of Lamai, Chaweng, Bang Rak and the airport and, at midday on a sunny day, they are quite simply unbeatable.

    Jungle Club is a hotel, but you can just have a drink or a meal at its restaurant built out of completely natural products to enjoy the view.

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    Location: 44/11, Soi Panyadee, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand

    Open: Saturday–Wednesday from 8 am to 10 pm (closed on Thursdays and Fridays)

    Phone: +66 (0)81 894 2327


    Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram

    An unusual but interesting sight

    Koh Samui’s Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram is an unusual sight yet it offers a unique insight into Buddhist and Thai culture. The monk, Luong Pordaeng, died in 1973 in a seated meditative position. Ever since, his body has been on display in an upright glass case at the temple. Remarkably, after more than 30 years in Samui's humid climate, the monk’s body shows little sign of decay.

    Entry is free, though donations are welcome to support the temple’s upkeep. It’s a sacred place of worship, so be sure to dress politely by wearing trousers or skirts that cover the knee and covering bare shoulders with a shirt, scarf or sarong.

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    Location: Route 4169, Na Mueang, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84140, Thailand

    Open: Daily from sunrise to sunset


    Samui Overlap Stone

    Scenic balancing boulders

    The Samui Overlap Stone is a pair of visually striking balancing boulders and a scenic spot in Koh Samui. It is quite a challenge to get up to these impressive boulders, but the spectacular views on arrival make it worthwhile for the adventurous traveler.

    The steep, rough, dirt-track road leading to the viewpoint should only be attempted on a dirt bike or with a 4WD, and the last stretch may have to be walked, depending on conditions. Alternately, it's a tough 20-minute climb on foot, but there is a refreshment stall at the top and it's an exhilarating experience. A modest sum is asked to cross the small bridge that leads to the stone.

    Location: 438/35 Moo 1, Maret, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand

    Phone: +66 (0)62 120 7838

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveler

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