With a plethora of attractions scattered along the coast that frames the Gulf of Siam, it’s tempting to hop on a boat from Koh Samui to the mainland and enjoy a bit of southern exploration.
Koh Samui is, without doubt, one of Southeast Asia’s true island gems, which is why it lures a growing number of international visitors every year. Thanks to this increasing demand, the island’s connectivity to mainland Thailand has improved considerably in recent years, which means that mainland day trips are within easy reach for intrepid travellers that want to explore a little more of the Kingdom.
Samui’s regular ferry services take approximately 90 minutes to reach the mainland shore, and visitors that want to speed things up a little more can even take a speedboat before hiring a car on the mainland.
Below is a selection of east coast mainland destinations to check out.
Simplicity and Spirituality
For a change of pace, Don Sak Fisherman’s village is a wonderful local treasure and a relaxed place to enjoy an early lunch when you arrive on the mainland. Two nearby piers provide the regular services to Koh Samui, but the original, quaint little town boasts attractions of its own. Make time to visit Wat Khao Suwan Pradit, a Buddhist temple perched on a hill overlooking the town. Absorb the tranquil atmosphere as you listen to the monks chanting nearby and gaze across the Gulf of Thailand towards the Ang Thong National Marine Park.
In English, Surat Thani
translates as ‘Town of the Good People’ and visitors often say it lives up to the name. As the capital of Surat Thani province, this bustling market town offers a good opportunity for visitors that want to sample local Thai hospitality without competing with the crowds of other tourists you find in Koh Samui’s main centres. The Night Market at the intersection of Tri Anusonn and Namuang Roads is a great place to tickle your taste buds with the local street fare along with the many stalls on the night pier. A trip to one of Surat Thani’s fresh produce markets also offers an authentic experience of local Thai life.
If you are searching for true, untouched natural beauty on the Eastern coast of Thailand, then head to Khanom and Sichon beaches, which are both situated south of Surat Thani on the way to Nakhon Si Thammarat. These beaches are as beautiful as those on Samui, but without the glitzy development to pull your focus away from the fantastic coastal scenery. Most of the resorts in the area cater to Thai people, so an overnight visit offers the chance to seize an authentic Thai beach experience while you absorb the pristine natural beauty of the area.
An Ancient Town
One of the oldest towns in Thailand, Nakhon Si Thammarat offers up a treat for history buffs in search of their next fix of Thai culture. The fortified city wall is well worth a look, as it dates back almost 800 years. Spread 456m from east to west and over 2km from north to south, the wall offers some splendid opportunities for amateur photographers – particularly when it glows red in the dimming light of sunset.
Wat Phra Mahathat Vihan is also well worth a visit if you are on a mainland road trip. A true golden oldie, this temple was constructed at the time of the founding of the town that has now become Nakhon Si Thammarat, one of Thailand’s main southern cities. The temple houses a tooth relic of the Lord Buddha himself and visitors can immerse themselves in the exquisite architecture of the temple, which includes a unique a gallery adorned with a cornucopia of Buddha statues and elephant sculptures.