From shimmering temples to imposing mountain peaks, Samui offers visitors a playground of treasures to explore at their own leisure in a hire car.
Home to a wealth of island attractions, from magnificent temples and shrines to jungle-covered slopes and shimmering beaches, Koh Samui is the perfect destination for travellers who enjoy exploring off the beaten track.
Renting a private villa on the island provides the perfect base for you to pack a bag for the day and head out in a rental car for a tropical adventure. The geography of the island means you never have to travel too far to encounter something wonderful, whether you are heading to popular resort areas like Chaweng or to the inland mountains for panoramic views of the ocean. Hiring a 4 by 4 vehicle is also a great way to explore Samui, because it gives you the freedom to see what you want, when you want.
Below are a few favourite places on the island to visit with four wheels.
Secret Buddha Garden
Nestled in the lofty hills that form Samui’s interior, the Secret Buddha Garden offers an afternoon of stupendous sights for every traveller that makes the trip to this hidden gem. The gardens are the work of Nim Thongsuk, a Samui fruit farmer, who began putting up statues and shrines across his family’s land in the 1970s. Wandering through the lush jungle amongst Nim Thongsuk’s eclectic collection of statues is a truly magical experience, with majestic views of the surroundings forming a stunning backdrop to the experience. To reach this enchanting place, follow the road from Baan Saket to Ta Nim Waterfall.
If you have taken the plunge and hired a four wheel drive to explore the island, it would be a great shame to miss out on its most dazzling viewpoint – Yaod Khao. Yoad Khao is a car journey deep into Samui’s mountainous interior, and located at the very highest point of the island, which means panoramic views of emerald forest, azure seas and peachy-pink sky at sunset. With the whole island at your feet, a trip to this lofty peak provides the opportunity to grab some sensational photographs before night falls. Then you can head to one of the nearby local family-run eateries for some tasty local food.
Known as Hin Ta and Hin Tai (Grandfather and Grandmother rock), these craggy outcrops are more than your standard rugged coastline. Over the years, legends have formed around these eye-catching protrusions because the look rather like artistic representations of male and female private parts. Whether you find them hilarious or rather embarrassing, the natural rock formations are worth the trip. Once you have photographed and chuckled to your heart’s content, check out the array of local souvenirs and sweets for sale from nearby stalls. The sticky coconut-based sweet known as "Kalamae" is a particular favourite with local visitors and well worth a taste.
The Big Buddha is undoubtedly one of the most famous landmarks on Samui – visitors arriving by plane can even see it's golden form just before they touch down at the airport. The famous shrine sits on a small rocky island off Samui’s north-eastern coast. The 12-metre golden statue was built in 1972, and is easily accessible for visitors who can access the temple from a causeway that connects it to the main island. While the shrine has become something of a tourist magnet, it is still a sacred place for the Buddhist devotees who arrive daily to make offerings of flowers and fruit, so it’s a great place to experience Thailand’s Buddhist culture first hand.
Thongtakien Bay is one of the most breathtaking locations on Koh Samui and a spectacular choice if you are heading out in search of brilliant beach and ocean views. Situated just off the main road as you travel from Chaweng to Lamai, the bay offers crystal clear waters and a pristine beach, fringed by dramatic limestone rocks. Thongtakien is also a great destination for paddling and sunbathing, so make sure to pack your swim suits and snorkelling gear. There is also a small selection of restaurants nearby to make a day of it.