So — we’re back in Koh Samui, Thailand. Why? Because it’s perfection, that’s why. Honestly — out of everywhere we’ve been so far on this adventure — this is our favorite spot. We fell in love with it last June/July and we knew we wanted to come back. So we did.
There are so many reasons why we love this island off the east coast of Thailand. For one — this is our apartment:
And those doors open up to this balcony:
Which open up to this view:
So, yeah. Our little “homebase” is enough to make us completely love it here. It’s funny because when we first arrived last year — we were terrified. We were way up on this hill with no stores around and no where to get to on foot. We hadn’t really driven scooters before so we felt like we were stuck. We thought there was no way we could possibly stay — we almost left to go somewhere else. I’m so glad we didn’t. We gave it a shot, got comfortable riding scooters, and ended up loving the seclusion of our little mountainside apartment.
We’re staying up on a hill just outside the capitol city of Nathon. It’s on the not-so-exciting side of the island which for us means…awesome. There’s not much going on the little city of Nathon and we love that. There’s a nightly food market, a grocery store, some shops, but other than that? Not much. The great part is — if you want to go clubbing or experience the busy touristy side of the island in the city of Chaweng — it’s just a 35-40 minute scooter ride away.
That’s why we love it here so much. It really has everything you need when you want it. And if you don’t want it? Just live on the west side of the island.
Mini Waterfall Tour!
Now that Kile and I have gotten comfy with riding around on this beautiful island on the scooter we really wanted to make sure we saw everything we possibly could. Last time we were here we noticed there were quite a few waterfalls around this side of the island — but June and July are considered the dry season: the waterfalls were non-existent. This time around? Not the case at all. The island just wrapped up a seriously heavy two weeks of rain — a perfect opportunity to explore some waterfalls. There are 11 waterfalls on this island; quite a few, however, are located on the quiet west side. Our mission was to see them all!
Zong Ruae Waterfall
This particular waterfall is literally down the road from our apartment. Maybe — a mile away, tops. It’s not very well-known and certainly not on the normal tourist exploration path. But by the looks of it — it won’t be like that for long. There is a massive zip-line being installed that goes from the top of the waterfall, pausing along stops in the canopy, before ending up at the bottom of the mountain.
The day we went up to visit Zong Ruae there were workers installing the new zip line cables — what a crazy job that is. But since it’s still a relatively unknown waterfall, we were pretty much the only ones there besides 3 other people.
It’s not the most impressive waterfall ever but it’s still undoubtedly beautiful. The tranquility of it all is, I’m sure, due to the fact that it’s not well-visited yet. We are constantly grateful of every opportunity we experience like this — being able to visit a place on the planet that’s yet to be really “discovered.” So awesome.
Zong Ruae is located just a few minutes from the Nathon Pier which is where most tourists would arrive if they flew into the Surat Thani airport and took the ferry to the island. Well worth the visit if you ever find yourself in these parts.
Hin Lat Waterfall
This particular waterfall was our favorite. I know I haven’t talked about the other one we visited yet but — as this post continues — you’ll find out why I say this. This was our next stop after the Zong Ruae waterfall. The Hin Lat waterfall is located about 2.5 miles south of Nathon — an easy peasy 10 minute scooter ride.
What made this one so awesome to us was that it required a hike and there’s not too many tourists. Getting from the base to the actual falls was about a 2 mile hike or so. The hike goes along the river of the falls and it’s straight up jungle. No joke. There’s clearly a walk-able trail but you are legit in the jungle. It’s dense. It’s humid. It’s hot. But it’s also crazy beautiful. It feels like you’re walking through some prehistoric time — vines everywhere, giant palms, little creeks flowing out of random directions. Gorgeous.
Sweaty, hot, and thirsty — we finally reached the falls. Thanks to the recent rains, this thing was straight POWERFUL. There were some calm swimming holes along the hike up (wish we had brought our swimsuits!) but once you reached the main falls? It was white, loud, churning water. There were maybe a dozen or so people at the peak of the trail so it was still relatively peaceful. Plus — there’s always some sort of unspoken camaraderie between people after finishing a long hike for the same goal.
Bummed we didn’t bring our swimsuits to take a dip after this sweaty hike — we made our way back down for a fresh coconut instead. Time to make our way to our next waterfall stop!
Na Muang Waterfall
Na Muang Waterfall(s) is (are) some of the most popular waterfalls on the island. There’s technically 2 waterfalls that branch off from the same river on the SW side of the island. They are in no way something to dismiss — but for us? They were our least favorite.
It’s a really built up tourist attraction. It’s waterfalls. It’s a safari park. It’s a zoo. It’s an elephant trekking tour (big fat no.) It’s a 4x4ing excursion. Blegh. It was just too much for us. Upon arriving, it’s encouraged to ride an elephant or take a 4×4 truck up to the waterfall. Since we’re VERY anti-riding elephants and definitely cheapskates — we weren’t doing either. So, we walked.
Before reaching the road to the trail, you’re forced to walk by the lines of people waiting to get on the back of an elephant (5 or 6 people at a time!) which was super depressing. It was another steep but fairly brief hike until we reached the beautiful Na Muang falls. Still though — there’s a restaurant, a water slide, or zip-lining tour every step of the way. Tourist trap. Tourist trap. Tourist trap. When we think “waterfalls” we think unspoiled nature…but this place kinda strayed from that. Hence the reason why we didn’t really love this place very much. Still…we had to see it. The falls were breathtaking but the experience? Kind of annoying.
We reached the as far as our trail could go and there was all of the sudden dozens of people trying to take pictures so…we got ours and we bailed.
Hin Lat Waterfall for the win!
The Koh Samui Sunsets
This island has so much to offer and we’re so glad we finally were able to see some beautiful waterfalls — especially ones 10 miles of where we are staying.
If there’s one thing that we can never ever complain about being on the west side of Koh Samui are the sunsets. We’ve witnessed some of the most unreal sunsets we’ve ever seen and will be soaking in as many as we can before we have to leave.
From Nathon Pier — you can you sit back with a beer and just watch the colors perform the most incredible display you’ve ever seen. By far some of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve seen on this planet.
Even though our time on Koh Samui is coming to an end — there’s no doubt we’ll be back. This is now one of our “ultimate favorite places on earth” and we’ll be making it a point to spend many more of our days on this gorgeous island.