If you want to avoid the crowds that flock to the beaches on Phuket and Koh Samui, why not explore the islands’ lush green inland areas instead?
While tropical havens like Koh Samui and Phuket are more widely known for their gleaming, pristine beaches; each destination boasts plenty of charming inland scenery for visitors to explore.
Getting away from the coast for a day can provide a much-needed reprieve from the sun, sea and sand. It also offers the chance to explore a different side of Thailand’s islands.
Thanks to their manageable size, islands like Phuket and Koh Samui offer a choice of natural attractions, all within one- or two-day trip distance – everything from spectacular mountain-top vistas of rolling jungle to quaint Thai villages scattered across pineapple fields and coconut plantations.
Below are a few stunning locations and enchanting activities for you to try out on a day or two away from the beach.
Samui’s Purple Falls
The stunning mountainous interior of Koh Samui is covered in a rich blanket of tropical forest. Nestled amongst the trees are two magical cascades that are popular with locals and holidaymakers. The Namuang Falls take their name from the striking mauve rock faces that sit behind the flowing torrents of water. Situated 12km inland from the coast, both waterfalls can be easily accessed via a direct road from the park entrance, followed by a short walk. Once you reach the base of the falls, you can either relax in the splendid green surroundings, take a refreshing dip in the rock pools, or set yourself the challenge of a hike to the top – strenuous but rewarding.
Phuket’s Magical Cascades
Phuket also boasts wide expanses of abundant rainforest, and a generous selection of breath-taking waterfalls to visit. On hot weekends and public holidays, the waterfalls of the island are a popular spot for locals to enjoy a little relaxation and even a revitalising swim. Bang Pae Waterfall is a popular attraction located in Khao Phra Thaeo National Park on Phuket’s undeveloped east coast. While the waterfall is by no means Thailand’s answer Niagara, it is a pleasant location for a picnic and a quick dip. There are also a number of hiking trails in the surrounding area for those that want to delve deeper into the island’s enticing jungle-clad interior.
Whether heading to Phuket or Koh Samui, you should make it a priority to take in the stunning beauty found within one of Thailand’s national parks. Koh Samui is positioned in the centre of a vast tropical archipelago that includes the Ang Thong Marine National Park. While the 42 islands and the vast array of coves, atolls and lagoons are far too much to see in one holiday; the blissful serenity of Koh Mae is a favourite spot for those looking to experience Thailand’s unspoilt natural beauty in all its glory and the Emerald Lake, an inland saltwater lagoon, is a must-visit. Phuket is also the ideal base ror those that want to spend a few days exploring the natural delights and wild scenery of the Khao Sok National Park, which is found on the Thai mainland. This vast nature reserve measures 738 square km, with dramatic limestone formations, cascading waterfalls and a huge man-made lake amongst the highlights.
Cycle of Life
If you have energy to expend, consider hiring a bike or booking a place on a cycling excursion to enjoy the fabulous natural sights on offer around Samui and Phuket. The north west coast of Phuket is a fabulous area to explore on two wheels, as you will cruise through coconut and rubber plantations interspersed with rustic Thai villages. This is a great option for those that want a snapshot of authentic island life, as you will be cycling through farming communities that once provided the backbone of the island’s economy before tourism arrived. If you’re on vacation in Koh Samui, the area inland from the village of Mae Nam is an excellent choice for a bike ride. Winding through paths and tracks that run parallel to the 7km long Mae Nam Beach opens up a whole new world that seems a far cry from the more crowded beach resorts of the island.
Tee-off into Green
Golfers in Thailand will tell you there’s nowhere quite like a golf course to view the country’s emerald scenery. Phuket is home to six courses, of which the Blue Canyon Country Club is one of the most famous. The course features 730 acres of secluded tropical scenery, positioned in a deep valley that enjoys magnificent vistas of the island’s exquisite surroundings. Over on Koh Samui, the Santiburi Country Club is the island’s most popular course. The stunning but challenging hillside course has been carefully landscaped to complement the striking natural scenery, and offers breathtaking views of the ocean through coconut forest and regular glimpses of the island’s hilltop peaks.