Hiking in Koh Samui: Tropical Trekking and Hidden Gems
Hiking in Koh Samui Reveals Unexpected Wonders
Koh Samui’s world class beaches and relaxation aren’t all it has to offer. As well as a stunning coastline, it also boasts a lush and green interior just waiting to be explored. Think tropical forest, sparkling waterfalls and a fair scattering of viewpoints and you’re on the right (hiking) track. Here’s all you need to know about hiking in Koh Samui, including our pick of the best routes and some hints and tips for getting the most out of your trip.
Hiking to Koh Samui Waterfalls
The hike to Hin Lad waterfall is a Samui classic. A pretty path runs alongside a river that winds deeper and deeper into tropical forest. As the river gains height you’ll start to hear the roaring noise of a lot of water moving very fast; that’s the sound of the waterfall up ahead! When you arrive you’ll find a gorgeous cascade tumbling down red rocks into an inviting plunge pool. Feel free to strip off and jump in, the cool water will be a delight after the hot walk to get here! The walk takes about 2 hours each way and is graded as easy.
Na Muang waterfall offers a similar, but slightly different, experience. Na Muang is popular as a day trip from Nathon Beach so you’ll likely not have these falls to yourself, but the hike to get here is picturesque enough for it not to matter. Again, the gradient is gentle so everyone should be comfortable making the trek, and there are several good restaurants to choose from in the area. This is a good introduction to Koh Samui if you’ve just arrived and are looking to acclimatize to the heat and humidity.
Underrated Hikes in Koh Samui
The island has a wealth of secret places tucked away for the keen hiker to explore, and the most intriguing of these is the spot known locally as the Magic Garden. The hike to get to the garden takes two to three hours and is a bit more challenging than the first two picks on the list, but when you arrive you feel like you’ve found something a bit special. Graceful religious sculptures are dotted through the undergrowth and the whole place has an air of mystery about it. Don’t underestimate how much water to bring on this hike, as the midday heat can be brutal when walking uphill.
If you arrive at the Magic Garden with energy to spare, then carry on up the track to the beautiful golden Sleeping Buddha. This is a walk with a purpose; arriving at the reclining form after a jungle trek is a magical moment. If you’re trekking with a guide then try and time your visit with either dawn or dusk, as the statue seems to glow and come alive in the orange light. Don’t attempt to do this on your own through, as getting lost in the forest in the dark is no joke!
The Nathon Mountain Ridge trail is a step up again in terms of distance and stunning views. The whole loop is only 13 km long, but it can feel like more when you take the hills and the heat into account! The route winds through coconut plantations and lush tropical forests before leading out onto a ridge with stunning panoramic views of the island. Leave early in the morning to make the most of the day and take plenty of snacks to keep you going.
Our final choice takes you on a hike to the iconic Emerald Lake Viewpoint, overlooking Ang Thong Marine Park. On an overcast day the view is stunning; on a clear sunny day it’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s a short trail but expect multiple flights of stairs and burning thighs by the time you get to the top, but don’t worry, the sight of emerald green islands scattered in the turquoise water will revive you. This is a must-do hike, so make sure you leave time to get to the viewpoint.
The Key to Hiking Koh Samui is Preparation
Hiking on Koh Samui isn’t a high-risk activity, but there are a few things to bear in mind before you start to make sure you have an enjoyable and safe time. Firstly, calculate how much water you think you’ll need…and double it! The heat can really take it out of you and you don’t want to be caught out in the countryside without anything to drink.
Secondly, make sure your footwear is up to the job. Hanging around beach bars in flip flops is all very well but they won’t offer any protection on a hike. Invest in a good pair of lightweight trail shoes and make sure you wear them in before your first hike. The feeling of a blister starting to form within the first half hour of a trek is not what you want!
Finally, make sure you know your route and make sure other people know where you’re headed. Tour agencies on the island can recommend good local guides if you’d like to hear about the area while you’re walking, and there are some good maps available in book shops and online.
Get Pumped Up for Koh Samui’s Amazing Hiking Trails!
With such a wide range of scenery to enjoy, hiking in Koh Samui is an absolute joy. We recommend picking a few walks and spreading them out between days spent enjoying the beaches and temples across the island. With natural beauty all around you, you can’t go wrong.
PS: If you have the time for more hiking in your backpacking trip, hiking in Chiang Mai is an amazing place to get it done!