As Thailand’s second largest island, Koh Samui is a cosmopolitan melting pot offering a plethora of activities, accommodations and unique experiences for travelers on any budget. Many opt for a luxury resort or villa on the many white sand beaches of Koh Samui as over time it has transformed from a coconut plantation and a backpackers’ destination to over-the-top amenities you can desire to facilitate a truly memorable travel experience. You can never go wrong while discovering Thailand’s laid-back island life when staying at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui. Here, you can spend your days exploring pristine sandy beaches bordered by tropical greenery and calm blue seas, lounging by their infinity pool with a cool drink, or relaxing on your private deck overlooking the idyllic Gulf of Siam. With a wide range of attractions and activities to offer in the Gulf of Thailand, here are seven must-do destination experiences to truly immerse yourself as a local.

Koh Samui Experiences: Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village

Full of rustic-style buildings housing boutique stores and trendy restaurants, Fisherman’s Village Samui is a historical part of Bophut, which truly comes to life each Friday. Every week it holds the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street market that offers a lively atmosphere filled with huge numbers of vendors and shoppers from across the island. Once home to a thriving fishing community this area is unique in that many of the buildings on the beachside of the road are open at the back, with the picturesque main road becoming particularly striking in the half-light of dusk.

Koh Samui Experiences: Na Muang Waterfalls

Located about seven-and-a-half miles inland from Nathon Bay, the Na Muang falls are also locally known as the ‘Purple Waterfalls’, due to the striking purple shade of their rock faces. Best to visit is in the wetter months of September through November, the majestic set of two cascading waterfalls flow into a number of natural pools. Set in a lush jungle, easily accessed from the main road, the first waterfall is a mere 325-foot walk from the parking lot while the second waterfall is about a 30 minutes’ walk further uphill.

Koh Samui Experiences: Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park

Covering 42 islands in a total area of 63 square miles, Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park is a marine national park in the Gulf of Thailand. A dreamy realm of turquoise waters and magical islands, it gets its name from the region it covers as “Ang Thong” means ‘bowl of gold’ and “Mu Ko” simply means ‘group of islands’. Filled with a rich biodiversity both on land and sea, traverse through its thick jungle, white-sand beaches, waterfalls and hidden coves and explore the sea for its beautiful creatures below the ocean. Perfect for a day trip, charter your own luxury boat from Koh Samui for some of the best snorkeling and diving spots around. Visitors can also opt for Island Hopping with Captain Kai at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui for a truly immersive experience.

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Koh Samui Experiences: Big Buddha Beach

Reached by a causeway that connects it to the main island, Big Buddha Beach is one of Samui’s fastest developing areas and features the first landmark people see when arriving in Samui by air. On a small rocky island off Koh Samui’s northeastern corner and known locally as Wat Phra Yai, this 40-foot-tall seated Buddha statue is one of the islands’ most popular attractions. Also located near the beach is Wat Plai Laem, a Buddhist temple compound, which features an extremely large and ornate 18-arm image of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy and compassion.

Koh Samui Experiences: Muay Thai Fights

Muay Thai, sometimes referred to as ‘Thai boxing’ is considered to be Thailand’s national sport and definitely should top the to-do list when in Thailand. Koh Samui brings an island fervor to the sport known as the “art of eight limbs”, with two stadiums on the island providing the best place to catch a fight. Chaweng Stadium is the first stadium on the island and holds six battles, twice a week, with fighters from all across Thailand coming here to learn this style of martial arts. From the traditional wai khru (warm up), battles of entertainers and eventual fighters in the ring, this arena is a must-stop. Phetch Bancha Samui Boxing Stadium affords travelers to watch fights between enthusiastic amateurs to experienced professionals in a movie-like atmosphere with traditional Thai music and leading commentators. Join the Muay Thai Adventure at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui for a private lesson with a Muay Thai pro, Anupong Deesamer to learn the basic moves and techniques of the traditional Thai sport or enhance existing skills through full-day immersion in the “Art of Eight Limbs.”

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Koh Samui Experiences: Secret Buddha Garden   

Hidden high in the hills amid lush jungle surrounds, this garden was created by an old Samui fruit farmer in 1976. The unusual collection of statues started by Nim Thongsuk depict a number of deities, animals and humans in various poses who continued to add to this collection until his death. Best to get to on a 4WD vehicle due to the bumpy terrain, the garden is also known as Heaven’s Garden or Magic Garden.

Koh Samui Experiences: Ladyboys Cabarets Shows

On Chaweng Beach located in Koh Samui’s busiest and biggest town, Chaweng’s nightlife is head above any other location on the island. Visitors can enjoy a sparkling evening out to learn about the nation’s, katoey, or the ‘third sex’, entertainment industry. From lip-synched performances, complete with elaborate costumes and make-up, there is no shortage of glitter and glitz in these performances.