South Thailand




South Thailand / The Region

Typical highway town inThailand

To the foreign and Thai visitor, southern Thailand has a lot to offer: lush tropical islands, dazzling palm-fringed beaches, coral reefs teeming with colorful marine life, picturesque fishing villages with distinctive hand-painted boats, steep but not necessarily high hills that could be defined as enormous rocks, often more than 100 meters high spread through plains of rice fields, numerous caves (many of them of religious significance), waterfalls, remote National Parks (16 all in all), scenic wildlife sanctuaries, historic cities and the juxtaposition of Buddhist temples and Islamic mosques.

By far the most famous destination is the island of Phuket, with a well developed touristic infrastructure and its own international airport. For the more hippie type of travelers, Ko Samui has long been a favorite destination. But more and more other destinations, such as Krabi Province, have been discovered in recent years by those visitors to the Kingdom who like places where tourists are not as massed as on Phuket. For visitors from Malaysia and Singapore, Hat Yai is a well established destination though traditionally not for the (non-existent) beauty of the place but rather the nightlife.

Geographically, southern Thailand extends through the Kra Isthmus from Chumphon, 460km south of Bangkok, to the Thai-Malaysian border. To the east is the Gulf of Thailand, to the west the Andaman Sea of the Indian Ocean.


South Thailand / Regional Division

The sea east of the region is the Gulf of Thailand and the sea to the West is the Andaman Sea of the Indian Ocean.


South Thailand / Landscape

limestone mountains, which often pop up unexpectedly in the midst of rice paddies and thus appear alien and strange. They are indeed so strange-looking that there is no proper term for them in European languages. The term "mountain" seems inappropriate because they are elevations of only a few hundred metres and you can often take a walk around them - in European terminology a mountain is bigger. But to call them "hills" doesn't seem correct either, because thinking of a "hill" one inadvertently imagines a softer elevation. However, many of those "mountains" or "hills" in Southern Thailand feature steep cliffs as can be found in the Dolomite range of the Alps.

Finally, to call them "rocks" also seems incorrect, because they are too large and covered with vegetation. The fact is, that in European languages no fitting word exists for the Southern Thai "mountains" or "hills", simply because this kind of topographical formation cannot be found in Europe.

Many travellers passing through Southern Thailand by train will find it difficult to properly estimate the height of as well as the distance to these rock mountains. As the rock walls appear to the Western visitor as if they belong to high mountains one usually tends to estimate the height too high and the distance too far, compared to what actually is the case.


South Thailand / Economy

Processing coconuts to copra

Photo: Processing coconuts to copra, the base of many cooking oils and soaps


The South is rich in a number of important mineral resources including tin (the most important one), monazite (a phosphate of cerium and lanthanum, the principal ore of thorium), barite, lignite (brown coal) and gypsum.

Fishing is a major occupation of the South because of the close proximity to the sea on both sides. Fish farming along the seashore, particularly shrimp farming, has grown rapidly in recent years and offers good prospects for long-term development.

The economic structure of the South is mainly based on the agricultural sector, whose production depends on fishing and a few important economic crops such as rubber, rice, coconuts, coffee, and palm oil.

As the southern region is also extremely well-endowed with beautiful natural attractions, tourism related industries are a major activity.

According to the Thai Board of Investments, existing infrastructure facilities to cater for industrial and urban development are adequate and well maintained. As far as air transport is concerned, there are two international airports at Phuket and Hat Yai and two deep sea ports at Songkhla and Phuket.

The government has launched the Southern Seaboard Development Program which will essentially involve the construction of a land bridge joining the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea between Khanom and Krabi. The land bridge south of Surat Thani that will connect the two ports will consist of a highway, a railway, and a crude oil pipeline, cutting some 800km (500mi) of the route for cargoes at present shipped through the crowded Straits of Malacca.

The plan calls for the construction of oil refineries and storage facilities at Krabi and a natural gas petrochemical complex and container repacking facilities at Khanom. Tankers from the Middle East will be able to unload crude oil at Krabi for refining, or piping overland to the Gulf of Thailand for further shipment on connecting vessels to the Far East.

Essentially, the program is an infrastructure-led development based on the provision of key facilities and the utilization of key resources such as agricultural raw materials and minerals, combined with the concurrent development of natural gas-related upstream and downstream industries.

Carrefour in Hatyai


South Thailand / Cha-am

University campus in Cha-am

Cha-am is a small town in Petchburi Province, some 45km (28mi) south of the town of Petchburi. It is famous for its beach as has a lot of tourist infrastructure.


South Thailand / Hua Hin

major resort in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, some 35km (22mi) south of Cha-am and 90km north of the town of Prachuap Khiri Khan.

At Km marker 232 of Highway 35 from Bangkok, there is a 2km (1.25mi) branch road to the left leading to Hua Hin Beach. While Pattaya and Phuket are resorts which chiefly attract foreign tourists, Hua Hin is distinctively a Thai destination. For decades it has been a preferred holiday spot of the Thai Royal family.


South Thailand / Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park

limestone mountains, a wide prairie near the seashore as well as off-shore islands. The park, designated on June 28, 1966, has a wide variety of plant species and is home to many wild animals.

There are three caves worth visiting within the park; they are:

Sai Kaeo Cave

The cave near Pranburi is fairly deep and one needs a flashlight or lantern to go far inside.

Sai Cave

This cave is situated on the same route as Tham Sai Kaeo. To get there one passes Phu Noi Village, Phu Yai Village, Khao Daeng Village, and Khung Tanoad Village. Finally, one climbs the hill for 20 to 30 minutes.

Phaya Nakhon Cave

This cave is located near Pranburi. One can either take a boat from the mouth of the Pranburi River which takes 2hrs or a boat from Khung Tanoad Village which takes only about 30min to reach the fairly large cave. There are a couple of natural ventilation holes in the roof of the cave thus allowing sun light to enter. At the cave is Phra Thinang Khuha Kharuhat, a four-gable roofed pavilion constructed during the reign of King Chulachomklao (King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, reigned 1868-1910) in 1890. The pavilion is now used as official symbol of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.


South Thailand / Prachuap Khiri Khan

Photo: Kilometers of empty beaches near Prachuap Khiri Khan... too many for all to be developed as tourist destinations.

Prachuap Khiri Khan, on the bank of the Nang Rom Canal (called Klong I-Rom by the locals), is the capital of the seaside province by the same name, some 278km (174mi) south of Bangkok. Earlier names of the town were Bang Nagrom and Muang Na Rang. The town history dates back to the Ayutthaya period, but the original settlement site was abandoned after the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. In 1845, during the reign of King Rama IV (King Mongkut, reigned 1851-1868) the new town was established at the mouth of Klong I-Rom and the name was changed to Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, with an area of about 6,767.6sqkm (2,2612sqmi), is divided into 7 districts: the town of Prachuap Khiri Khan (Muang), Kuiburi, Bang Saphan, Thap Sakae, Hua Hin, Pranburi and Bang Saphan Noi. Near Prachuap Khiri Khan, the Thai territory on the Malay Peninsula is less than 20km (12.5mi) wide.


South Thailand / Ranong

Indian Ocean. It is Thailand's least populated province and has the country's highest rainfall. Ranong borders Burma at Victoria Point, a Burmese village famous for Burmese gems and other local products.

Ranong Province covers an area of 3,298sqkm (1,273sqmi) and is divided into 4 districts. It is 568km (355mi) south of Bangkok.


South Thailand / Phang Nga

tin mines. The region is mountainous with few basin areas. Phang Nga Province covers an area of 4,171sqkm (1,610sqmi), 57 % of which is mangroves and green forest. Phang Nga Province is 788km (493mi) from Bangkok and divided into eight districts: the town of Phang Nga, Kapong, Khura Buri, Takua Pa, Takua Thung, Thai Muang, Thap Put and Ko Yao.


South Thailand / Phang Nga Bay

400sqkm (154sqmi) lies merely 75km (47mi) northeast of Phuket and is one of the world's scenic wonders. Verdant limestone islands, honeycombed with caves and aquatic grottoes, soar perpendicularly, some 300m (984ft) high, from almost perpetually calm green waters.

Few islands are inhabited and except for the occasional fishing village, the bay is largely untouched by human hand. Visitors are awed by the bay's silent, primeval atmosphere which has remained constant for untold centuries and which, barring unimaginable catastrophes, will remain so far into the foreseeable future.

The bay's many moods range from early morning when mists evoke masterful Chinese paintings to spectacularly, riotously colored sunsets


South Thailand / Phuket

Thailand's largest island (approximately the size of Singapore) and nestles against the Indian Ocean coast some 890km (556mi) south of Bangkok.

Phuket derives its wealth from tin and rubber , is blessed with teeming marine life, and has enjoyed a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of the main trade routes between India and China and was often mentioned in the ships' logs of Indian, Arabian, Chinese and European visitors. The Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traded with Phuket. Other visitors were less friendly . The island's most famous monument is the memorial statue of the heroines Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sisunthon who rallied islanders in 1785 to repel Burmese invaders .

The island is blessed with magnificent bays, powdery, palm-fringed white beaches, sparkling island-dotted seas, sincerely hospitable people, comfortable accommodation, superb seafood, tropically vegetated mountains, lovely waterfalls and parks, and delightful turn-of-the-century Indo/Portuguese and Chinese-influenced architecture which create an enchanting ambience.

Patong Beach in the evening

Phuket's Indian Ocean coastline boasts the finest beaches while the eastern coastline overlooks some 30 lesser islands occupying largely tranquil seas. Islands vary greatly in size. Some are large enough to sustain fishing communities, coconut plantations, sea crocodiles, deer and wild boar. Others are little larger than massive rocks, while still others resemble fortresses and are riddled with caves containing birds' nests prized by gourmets.


South Thailand / Phuket / Climate

There are two seasons. The rainy season from May through October and the hot season from November through April. There are many sunny days throughout the rainy season and showers customarily last little more than 2 or 3 hours. September is the wettest month. The best months are November through February. Year-round average temperatures range between 21?and 34?Celsius (70?and 93?Fahrenheit).


South Thailand / Town of Phuket

Town of Phuket

Photo: Street in the Town of Phuket

Chinese temple in the Town of Phuket

Photo: Chinese temple in the Town of Phuket

The compact provincial town serves mainly as shopping center. Splendid colonial-style residences built by late 19th-century tin and rubber barons and shops from the same period provide a distinctive character.


South Thailand / Phuket / Chinese Vegetarian Festival

On the first day the gods, spirits and ghosts, which are fiercely believed in, are implored upon at the different Chinese temples of the town, to grant their merciful assistance during the festival. After the temple ceremonies follows a procession whose participants are all clad in white.

Procession during the Chinese Vegetarian Festival

During the following days so-called ascetic feats are performed.

After dark on the fifth and sixth day, believers gather at different locations to run over glowing charcoal. Places to watch these fire walks are the municipal stadium on the road to Patong, as well as a temple at the Heroines' Monument. The participants running over glowing charcoal suffer no burns on the soles of their feet.

On the seventh day of the Vegetarian Festival - again after dark - ladders with rungs of sharpened blades are climbed up and down. At the Bang Niau temple on Phuket Road, a 10-metre high ladder is used. The number of active participants is about 40. The editors of this database have failed to observe any climber suffering cuts on the soles of his or her feet.

Photo: Pushing iron rods through various parts of the body during Phuket's Vegetarian Festival

Vegetarian Festival

In the morning of the eighth and ninth day there are again procession through the entire town. Contrary to the procession of the first day, blood is shed. Several participants pierce different parts of their bodies with iron needles, occasionally even with four metres long lances.

In front of Chinese residences and shops, small altars are set up, at which the participants of the procession make short stops to distribute the displayed offerings to bystanders. On such an occasion the inhabitants of the house fall on their knees and pray.

Weeks before the festival the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) distributes brochures detailing when exactly the various performances take place, and where best to watch them.


South Thailand / Phuket / Patong Beach

Patong Beach, Phuket

Phuket's most developed beach is 15km (9mi) from town. Cabin and bungalow complexes, hotels, bars, discotheques, shops and restaurants front the crescent bay. Windsurfing, snorkeling, sailing, sunbathing and swimming are among the activities offered.


South Thailand / Phuket / Karon Beach

Karon Beach, Phuket

Karon Beach is 20km (13mi) from town, the next beach south of Patong Beach.


South Thailand / Phuket / Kamala Beach, Bangtao Beach, Pansea Bay

Evening at the beach

North of Patong Beach, Kamala Beach, Sing Cape, Surin Beach and Pansea Bay, 24km (15mi) from town, unfold in rapid succession. A public nine-hole golf course fronts Surin Beach where swimming is not recommended due to powerful surf and treacherous undertow. The northern end of Kamala Beach, however, is suitable for swimming.


South Thailand / Phuket / Surin Beach

Surin Beach

Photo: Surin Beach, Phuket


South Thailand / Phuket / Nai Yang Beach

Nai Yang Beach to the south, 34km (21mi) from the town of Phuket and part of a National Park, is peaceful and excellent for swimming and relaxation.


South Thailand / Phuket / Attractions

Phuket house

Photo: Portuguese and Chinese styles are combined in old Phuket houses


South Thailand / Phuket / Cape Phrom Thep

Cape Phrom Thep, Phuket

Cape Phrom Thep, Phuket

Phrom Thep Cape forms Phuket's southernmost point and is the perfect place from which to witness spectacular sunsets coloring the island-dotted sea.


South Thailand / Phuket / Rawai Beach

Rawai Beach on Phuket

On the eastern side of the southern tip of the island, the palm-fringed Rawai Beach, 17km (11mi) from town, hosts Phuket's sea Gypsies. Several offshore islands have gleaming white beaches and dazzling underwater scenery which attracts dedicated fishers and scuba-divers.


South Thailand / Phuket / Mai Khao Beach

The pine-lined Mai Khao Beach, 40km (25mi) from town, is Phuket's longest beach. Between November and February each year gigantic sea turtles struggle ashore to lay their eggs.


South Thailand / Phuket / Wat Phra Thong

Inland from Nai Yang Beach is Wat Phra Thong where a famous half-buried Buddha is enshrined. According to local legend, a boy tethered his water buffalo to a post protruding from the ground. Subsequently, both boy and animal fell mysteriously sick. Suspicious villagers uncovered the post and discovered it was the decorative topknot of a buried golden Buddha. They were able to unearth only the upper half of the image, over which they built the present chapel. Burmese invaders attempted to remove the image in 1785 but failed when they were attacked by vicious hornets


South Thailand / Phuket / Wat Chalong

The Wat at Chalong Bay, immediately south of the town of Phuket enshrines statues of Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang, Phuket's most revered monks.


South Thailand / Diving around Phuket

An abundance of fish makes the waters around Phuket attractive for divers

Near Phuket, on Thailand's west coast from Ranong down to Krabi are a large number of excellent dive sites. However, the area is sometimes tricky and can be difficult during the southwest monsoon from June to November.

Good sheltered water is found around the island at all times of the year. Spear-fishing though not encouraged, is fair to good down to a depth of some 15m (49ft). Thereafter, coral mostly run out and give way to a plain, fairly flat, sandy ocean bottom between 18-36m (60-120ft). The reefs are very colorful and picturesque and are particularly suited for snorkeling and photography.

As Phuket's popularity among divers of all nationalities has increased, so has the number of dive sites. Nowadays, regular trips lasting up to two weeks are made to distant island groups in the Andaman Sea. Many of them are uninhabited and absolutely pristine, with dive sites to rival the best in the world .

In Phuket, half day tours are available to the west coast where a short trip by motor boat takes the diver to the coral reefs. By far the most popular tours, however, are the full day trips to the islands off Phuket's south and eastern coasts. These islands include Ko Racha, Shark Point, Ko Dok Mai and Phi Phi islands.

Dive Sites

Ko Racha, to the south of Phuket some 2 hours by motor boat, has dives down to 30m (98ft) and a visibility range of 20-40m (65-131ft). In addition to the excellent visibility Racha's' attractions include huge rock formations, sloping coral reefs and steep drop-offs. From January to March manta rays and whale sharks can occasionally be seen, in addition to varied tropical marine life.

Shark Point and Ko Dok Mai, approximately 1.5hrs east of Phuket by motor boat, are beyond doubt two of the most popular dive sites in the area. Shark Point, a submerged reef, is a favorite sleeping spot for leopard sharks and sting rays. More daring divers have been hand feeding moray eels and leopard sharks (not with the diver's own limbs). The visibility at Shark Point is 10-22m (33-72ft) with dives down to 25m (82ft).

The island of Dok Mai offers dives down to 30m (98ft) with visibility of 10-25m (33-82ft). In addition to a variety of coral this dive site offers an impressive wall dive and a number of cave dives.

The Phi Phi Islands (Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lek), some 40km (25mi) southeast of Phuket and about 2hrs by motor boat, are among the most beautiful islands in the world. They also have some excellent dive sites between 10m and 30m (33 and 98ft), with a visibility of 15m-25m (49-82ft). In particular, the islands offer several cave dives and many impressive wall dives. In addition there are many hard and soft corals and an abundant marine life. In the tropical reefs one can see, among other fish, white tip sharks, sting rays and moray eels.


South Thailand / Similan Islands


The Similan Islands are a group of nine virtually uninhabited tropic islands approximately 80 kilometers (50mi) northwest of Phuket. The group was declared a Marine National Park and increasing efforts are being made to keep them in their present pristine condition. The islands encompass some of the best dive venues in Thailand.

The dive possibilities range from viewing coral gardens to adventurous drift diving in strong currents. In the judgement of Asia Magazine (issue of October 18 to 20, 1991: "Every diver has particular favorites, but few would dispute that the Similans... are one of the best. The visibility tops 100 feet between the November-April peak season, revealing a wonder world among the giant granite coral-coated boulders stacked one atop the other to depths of 90 feet and more."

Ko Huyong, the southernmost island of the Similan group offers a magnificent coral garden in 7-14m (23-46ft) depth. The garden consists of many varieties of soft and hard corals and abounds with small colorful coral fish. This site frequently has over 30m (98ft) visibility, only slight currents and is considered a very safe site.

An extensive reef runs off another of the southern islands and provides at least 4 different dive sites. One bottoms out at 25m (82ft) and has many large rocks which provide a most interesting contour; many large schools of fish inhabit the area. Another part of the reef has an excellent 20m (65ft) dive, with a lot of small lava type rocks which provide a home for colorful anemones, hydroids and soft coral as well as moray eels and red grouper. The visibility is seldom less than 30m (98ft) and frequently more. There is often a strong current here, a good site for drift dives.

Ko Miang

Photo: View from Ko Miang, Similan Islands

The central island of the group, Ko Miang, is the only island which is inhabited. There is also a number of excellent dive sites around this and the small adjoining island including one which features huge boulders leaning together forming many interesting tunnels and small caverns. This dive often has a strong surge which attracts a large variety of marine life. Small white tip sharks, rays, snapper and turtles are just a few of the species of marine life at this site.

An excellent night dive site is just around the corner and close to a safe overnight anchorage and a beautiful white sand beach. This dive site is a coral drop-off and depths range from 10m-20m (33-66ft). The almost complete absence of currents is what makes it ideal for night dives. Lobster and large red crabs are usually seen here.

Hin Pousar or Elephant Rock is one of the best known dive locations of the area; it has at least 3 more excellent sites. There are again many big holes and caverns created by the unusual rock formations. Anemones and coral provide a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, blues and browns. Frequently large rays, tuna or barracuda can be seen.

Further to the north lies an off-shore reef which comes up to within 8m (26ft) of the surface and drops off to over 35m (114ft). More tunnels, hollows and chimneys provide a site that never fails to impress even the most experienced diver. Two large sea cod and a huge resident moray eel add to the many interests of this site. Seldom is the visibility less than 25m (82ft) and usually much more.

These are only a few of the many dive sites available in the Similan archipelago. Each island provides its own special sites and there is something to be found to interest both the novice diver and the much traveled diver.

Similar conditions can be found at Surin islands and Tarutao Marine National Park though no regular trips to these island groupings are yet available.

Tours to the Similans generally last five days, though some are much longer in order to explore other nearby islands including the Surin group, some 30km (19mi) to the north. For accommodation, divers have the choice of tents, dormitory bungalows and on-board berths. During the trip all meals are provided and at least nine individual dives are organized.


South Thailand / Krabi

Town of Krabi

Photo: Town of Krabi

Krabi is the capital of Krabi Province, one of southern Thailand's most attractive provinces. Covering an area of 4,709sqkm (1,817sqmi), Krabi Province is some 814km (509mi) from Bangkok.


South Thailand / Phi Phi Islands

Beach on Phi Phi Don

The two islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le, lie some 30km (19mi) off the Krabi coast. The one which is the common tourist destination is Phi Phi Don; Phi Phi Le is basically uninhabited though it's often visited by people stying on Phi Phi Don. The superb scenery of Phi Phi Don includes high hills with jutting cliffs surrounded by beaches of silvery sand and an emerald green sea, banks of coral reefs and colorful marine life unrivaled in the area.


South Thailand / Ko Samui

Lonely Beach

The 247sqkm (95sqmi) island, 496km (310mi) south of Bangkok, is Surat Thani's major tourist attraction.

Ko Samui, with numerous lovely beaches and bays, measures some 21km (13mi) at its widest point and 25km (16mi) at its longest. A 51km (32mi) ring road largely encircles the island.

Samui's best beaches line the northern and eastern coasts. The most popular beaches are Chaweng and Lamai where the most attractive accommodation is found.

Besides beaches, other island attractions include the Hin Lut and Na Muang waterfalls, the phallic rock formations at the southern end of Lamai Bay, a massive seated Buddha image on Fan isle, and Naton, the island's major seafront settlement with shops, restaurants, tour agencies and hotels.


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Lamai Beach

Lamai Beach

Lamai was the Samui Beach first developed for tourism. However, Chaweng has meanwhile become the beach with the largest number of tourists on Samui. This resulted from the fact that more unoccupied plots suited to build large hotels were found on Chaweng Beach. While Chaweng Beach was almost uninhabited until some 20 years ago, there has been, for many decades, a fishing village on Lamai Beach.

The infrastructure of this fishing village has changed completely within the past two decades. By now almost the entire village is tourism-oriented. But what remains is the village character expressed, for instance, in the comparatively narrow layout of the structures on Lamai Beach.
Lamai is the beach on Ko Samui with the most developed night life. Most popular in the evenings is a kind of marketplace, where a permanent boxing ring has been set up. Bouts of Thai boxing are staged regularly, and quite often Western kick boxers participate.


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Chaweng Beach

Chaweng Beach

Photo: Chaweng Beach, Ko Samui


On Samui Island, Chaweng Beach offers the largest range of luxurious as well as simple accommodations. Furthermore, the tourism infrastructure covers restaurants of all categories. Numerous simple and better restaurants have specialized in seafood.

As everywhere on Ko Samui the visitors are mostly Western; the average age of tourists might be a little bit higher on Chaweng Beach than on the other beaches of Ko Samui - a result of the better hotels on this beach attracting a rather well-to-do clientele.

Surprisingly popular on this beach is parachute sailing; the participant is tied to a parachute and then pulled up into the air by a speedboat. While parachute sailing in Pattaya is rather an amusement for the young, on Chaweng Beach even women of over 60 have been observed dangling from a parachute. In most cases, it's rather a test of courage than an athletic effort.


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Choeng Mon

Photo: Choeng Mon Beach

Choeng Mon Beach


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Big Buddha Beach

Big Buddha

Photo: Big Buddha Beach with chief attraction

Big Buddha Beach (officially Bangrak Beach) is the easternmost of three touristically developed beaches on the north coast of Ko Samui. The most important attraction of the beach is a giant Buddha statue.


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Bophut Beach

Bophut Beach is the middle of three touristically developed beaches on the north coast of Ko Samui. Along the beach stretches a fishing village; a number of low and mid-class vacation hotels are within the village; the better resort hotels are found outside the village, driving towards Maenam.


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Maenam Beach

Maenam Beach

Photo: Maenam Beach is one of the best on Ko Samui

Maenam Beach is the westernmost of three touristically developed beaches on the north coast of Samui Island. It is also the longest of the three.

Right on Maenam Beach is a recommended holiday hotel, Paradise Beach Resort. The resort has been completely renovated in 1995, and new accommodation was also built. To switch to the pages of Paradise Beach Resort, please click here.


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Hinta / Hinjai


Photo: Hinta rock on Ko Samui

Hinta / Hinyai [in English grandfather rock / grandmother rock] is the number-one attraction for Thai, Japanese and Chinese visitors. The grandfather rock, Hinta, looks so obscene that one feels inclined to believe a hilarious, jocular sculptor must have created it. The locals insist that nature set up the rock in its particular way. Many Asian visitors believe a kind of pilgrimage to the site will improve fertility.


Photo: Hinjai rock on Ko Samui


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Big Buddha

Big Buddha


Photo: Ko Samui's Big Buddha

The Big Buddha sits on a small island in front of Bangrak Beach to which it is connected by a causeway. Because of the large statue, Bangrak Beach is also called Big Buddha Beach, and although the name is not official, it is commonly used in travel literature to refer to this beach. A long stairway leads up to the statue.


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Coral Buddha

Coral Buddha



Photo: Coral Buddha

This somewhat weather-beaten Buddha statue sits on a pedestal near the road from Lamai Beach to Nathon, about four kilometres south of Lamai Beach.


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Mumified Monk

Mumified monk

Photo: Mumified monk

The mummified Monk can be visited at Wat Khunaram, on the street from Lamai Beach to Nathon, about eight kilometres south of Lamai Beach. The mummy is the body of a formerly rich Samuian who, in advanced age, rejected all worldly possessions to devote his attention to his spiritual well-being. He died in 1973 at the age of 79.

As legend has it, a few days before his death, he instructed his followers to build a coffin for him. Legend further insists that the corpse of the monk, who had died exactly on the date he allegedly had himself predicted, simply "refused" to decay. Therefore a glass coffin was built in which the corpse is exhibited to this day.

To Thais the alleged fact that the monk's body "refused" to decay without human interference counts as a Buddhist miracle - or rather as proof that by Buddhist enlightenment achieved through meditation, every law of nature, or rather, every law of the physical world, can be overcome (Buddhist perceptions of the world are considered laws of nature by Buddhist).

The mummified monk is probably the one Samui attraction among those listed here, which remains most vivid in the memories of most tourists. Perhaps this is due to the macabre fact that the corpse of a person, who died more than 20 years ago, is exhibited as a tourist attraction (there are a few pilgrims coming to the site, but most visitors are tourists).

And: who has actually seen a mummy before? In the opinion of the editor, the corpse, although leathered, still looks surprisingly human - so human, in fact, that after some time of observation one can imagine the person alive - which is a lot more difficult with a sculpture.

As the mummified monk is a Buddhist place of pilgrimage no entry fees are charged for the visit. But a clearly visible glass box invites donations. Visitors are expected to sign into a guest ledger. There are signs discouraging the taking of photographs, but every visitor receives one photograph (independent from eventual donations). If you want to make your own shots, ask first (and do give a donation).


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Buddha Foot Prints

symbolic foot prints, created to express that the teachings of the Buddha have made their way up to this particular place.

Buddha footprints

Photo: Buddha footprints


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Two Chedis

Chedi Laem Sor

Photo: Chedi Laem Sor

The two Chedis, Khao Chedi and Chedi Laem Sor are on the hill Laem Sor (Cape Sor) on the south coast of Ko Samui.


South Thailand / Ko Samui / Waterfalls

Waterfall Nah Muang
Photo: Waterfall Nah Muang

All over Thailand waterfalls are marked as tourist attractions, often for local visitors rather than Western guests. Compared to waterfalls in the Alps or the Rocky Mountains, they are often not particularly impressive. However, the attention given to waterfalls is proof that the Thais, in spite of industrial progress and the connected destruction of the environment, are a people of nature lovers. On Ko Samui the waterfalls Hu Nam [Nam Tok Hu Nam] and Nah Muang [ Nam Tok Nah Muang] are promoted as tourist attractions. Use good shoes to walk up to the waterfalls. Walking up to the Na Muang waterfall will take about one hour.


South Thailand / Ang Thong Marine National Park

Fog over Ang Thong

The park comprises some 40 islands northwest of Ko Samui covering some 250sqkm (97sqmi) of which 50sqkm (19sqmi) is land mass. The most attractive islands include Ko Wua Talap (Sleeping Cow island), Ko Mae Ko (Mother island), Ko Prayat (Economical island), Ko Sam Sao (Tripod island), Ko Nai Pud (Mr Pud's island), and Ko Wua Teh (Kicking Cow island). Most islands are limestone masses reaching heights of up to 400m (1313ft), fringed by beaches and tropical rain forest.

The park office is on Ko Wua Talap where bungalow-style accommodation is available. Popular sites include Hat Chan Charat (Moonlight Beach), a high viewpoint and the Tham Bua Bok (Wating Lotus Cave, named after spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations). An emerald saltwater lake known as Thale Nai on Ko Mae Ko is the park's major attraction; to reach it requires a strenuous climb, but the resultant view is well worth the effort.