Ko Samui (เกาะสมุย) is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus. It is Thailand's third largest island after Phuket and Ko Chang. Until the late-20th century, Ko Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand. The island was without roads until the early 1970s. Today Ko Samui's economy is based primarily on tourism.
Wat Plai Laem is a modern Buddhist temple. Its main statue is the Chinese style Guanyin, the "goddess" of compassion and mercy. She has 18 arms and is located within an elaborate ubusot on a platform-pavilion surrounded by the temple lake. The temple's design incorporates elements of Chinese and Thai traditions. Many events are held at the temple during the Chinese New Year celebrations. The area is only 3 kilometres away from Samui International Airport.
Wat Phra Yai, the Big Buddha Temple, is a Buddhist temple on Ko Phan, a small island offshore from the northeastern area of Ko Samui. The two are connected by a short causeway. The temple is home to a giant, 12-metre-high gold-painted Buddha statue. The Buddha statue depicts Buddha in a state of calm and purity and resolve, having overcome temptation and fear sent at him by Mara, Lord of Illusion. Built in 1972, it has become one of Ko Samui's main tourist attractions and a major landmark. There are many restaurants and shops around the temple in the area known as Big Buddha Beach (Bang Rak).
Bophut is a beach village located on the northern coast of Ko Samui. It is one of the few places on Samui that still retains some of the island's original Thai-Chinese atmosphere. It has been experiencing a boom with new hotels and guesthouses sprouting up for tourists. Bophut is famed for its jet skiing, sunsets, fine restaurants, numerous pubs and bars. The beach itself encompasses some 2 km of white sandy shoreline fringed by coconut palm trees.
Among all the waterfalls on Samui, Na Muang Waterfalls 1 and 2 are the most scenic and visited ones. Located inland on the island, the Na Muang falls provide a great opportunity for an easy hike in the forest and a swim in the fresh water. The two falls are about 30 minutes of hiking apart with #2 slightly uphill.
Hin Ta Hin Yai are natural rock formations located on the south coast of the island known for bearing a resemblance of the male and female genitalia. "Ta" means grandpa and "Yai" means grandma in Thai. The lookout point also provides a spectacular view of sunsets.