southern part of Koh Samui offers a number of interesting places to visit,
among them temples, the Na Muang Waterfalls, and the famous Grandfather
and Grandmother Rocks near Lamai Beach. If you start from Chaweng, just
drive in southern direction on highway No. 4169 past the end of the beach.
There is a sightseeing platform on the left side of the road from which
you can enjoy wonderful views of the lovely Chaweng bay. For an
even better view, you can drive on the very steep side road on the right
up to the Bay View Restaurant (they have a nice viewing platform; however,
they appreciate it if visitors do not just wander around, but also order
a meal or at least a drink).
After you have had
your fill of Chaweng Bay, get back to the road and follow it Laem (cape)
Nan to Lamai Beach. Lamai is, besides Chaweng and Maenam, the most
popular beach of Ko Samui and a lot of hotels, restaurants and guesthouses
(most of them in the low to medium price range) are located here. There
is a village with the Lamai Cultural Hall, where you can make a
stop (to get to the museum, do not follow the small road that runs parallel
to the beach, but stay on highway No. 4169. It is located at the 90 degree
turn. ). The museum displays local tools, music instruments, ceramics,
and so on. At
the end of Lamai Beach, on a small cape, you will find the two rock formations
that are known as Grandmother Stone and Grandfather Stone (Hin Ta and
Hin Yai)- two rocks that are on Koh Samui revered as, let`s say, fertility
symbols. The place is very popular among tourists and the short path that
leads from the highway to the shore is lined with many, many stalls that
offer cheap clothes, costume jewellery, and all kinds of souvenirs. Not
far away from here is the Overlap Stone, an excellent viewpoint,
but difficult to reach. The trail is very steep and you can drive only
about half the way up and have to hike the last kilometer (bring a bottle
of water and a lot of energy!). Once you are on the top, however, you are
rewarded with beautiful views of the southern coast of Koh Samui. You can
find the trail if you drive on the highway past Hin Ta and Hin Yai and
watch out for a sign on the right side of the road that says "Overlap Stone".
If you are not interested in hiking tours, you can visit two interesting temples, Wat Khunaram and Wat Sumret. Just go an driving south on highway No. 4169 until the little village Ban Hua Thanon and then drive about 1 kilometers east (i.e to the right). On the left side of the highway is a narrow dirt road that leads (after 1 more kilometer) to Wat Sumret. Wat Sumret is, like most of the temples of Ko Samui, inhabited by only a handful of old monks that look after the buildings and keep the paths clean. It is a quiet and lovely forest monastery, with a number of very beautiful old teakwood buildings. The fact that it is almost forsaken only adds to the charm of the place. On the temple grounds is the ruin of an old chedi, probably from the 17th century. One of the buildings houses a precious Buddha statue made of Burmese white jade (the building is usually locked; you have to ask the friendly old guardian or one of the monks to open it for you. Do not forget to leave a donation in the donation box!)
Wat Khunaram, the second temple mentioned above, is located some kilometers west of Wat Sumret. Drive back from Wat Sumret to the highway No. 4169 and turn left. After 1 1/2 kilometers you will see on the the left side of the road an arch that marks the entry to the temple. Just as in Wat Taling Ngam, the major relic here are the intact, undecayed remains of a monk who died 20 years ago. In Thailand, this is viewed as a sign of high spiritual accomplishment. It sits (in proper meditative posture) in a glass shrine in a simple hall. There are always some worshippers who put flowers or other offerings in front of the altar.
A little bit north of Wat Khunaram are two waterfalls, the Na Muang falls - but they are even less remarkable than the Hin Lad falls, especially in the dry season. However, if you feel like visiting them, just get back to highway No. 4169 and follow it for about 2 kilometers. There is a sign at the turn off on the right side of the road. The falls (so to speak) are only a short walk away from the parking lot - if there are not too many tourists or local picnickers, the place has a certain quiet charm - but do not expect too much of it!
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