Coming to Thailand, you’ll expect palm trees and lots of orchids. But there’s so much more to Koh Samui gardens!
Even the smallest parcels of land have plants, trees and vegetation that look – to our Western eyes – wildly colourful. So, with alarming enthusiasm, here’s my Koh Samui gardens and tropical plants hit-list: island gardens for you to visit, explore and enjoy.
Koh Samui gardens and tropical plants
Across Koh Samui, in all seasons, you’ll see plants and flowers in the brightest reds and pinks. When I first visited Koh Samui I’d never seen wild banana trees, let alone the rarer things. Since then, I’ve learned many such plant names, but are always trying to pick up more. Whether walking through your resort’s garden on Koh Samui or visiting a restaurant, you’ll see beautiful flowers in every corner. You might even see the supremely ugly dragon fruit cactus, probably much bigger than my dragon fruit grown from seed.
Wildlife word of warning
Read our readers’ sightings of Koh Samui’s monitor lizards to learn that this is indeed a jungley, tropical island with plenty of nature. I generally assume that bushes can bite back and always side with caution.
Koh Samui gardens you can visit
Koh Samui’s Secret Buddha Garden
This garden sits high in the jungle hills and getting there requires hanging on tightly to something with four-wheel drive. It’s certain to be unlike anywhere else you’ve visited. The focus here is less on a plant garden, and more on the former owner’s many (many, many) intricate carvings and statues.
As well, there are at least two butterfly gardens on Koh Samui – both of which you’ll see advertised in island brochures, and reviewed (not terribly favourably) on TripAdvisor. You might prefer to sit in a pretty corner of your hotel and watch them come to you. If you’re an all-around lover of nature, you’ll soon notice the variety of bird-life on Koh Samui.
Resort and restaurant gardens
Do you love exploring gardens and new sights? Some of Koh Samui’s larger resorts, particularly those with the luxury of space, have done incredible things with their landscaped gardens. Stop by any of the following for a happy hour cocktail or book in for dinner, and enjoy a leisurely garden exploration while there. Some of Koh Samui’s resort gardens could rival major metropolitan botanical gardens.
Anantara Bophut: On Bophut Beach, Anantara Bophut Resort has both an ornamental garden and a small kitchen garden (on Bophut Beach). Those interested can also see how composting happens in the tropics.
Melati Beach Resort: Melati Beach Resort (near Choeng Mon Beach) is huge and meandering, with lots of pond features.
Six Senses Samui: Six Senses Samui has one of the largest kitchen gardens on the island, including chickens and goats! (Plus old toilets now used as plant pots – a touch that’s weirdly charming).
Four Seasons Resort: Four Seasons Resort, on Samui’s northwestern-most corner, is said to have over 150 varieties of flowers alone, and that’s before you see the home-grown Thai chilli supply. Garden tours are offered to guests and come highly recommended.
The Tongsai Bay: The Tongsai Bay also has an incredible garden, plus a large peninsula maintained as a nature reserve.
Koh Samui Airport
Believe it or not, one of these photos was taken at Koh Samui Airport security. (And another just moments before boarding). Stressful air travel this is not!
Koh Samui garden centres
I’ll venture off now into “plant insanity”, and recommend – if you, too, love green things and pretty flowers – a visit to any of Koh Samui’s numerous garden centres. It’s not something you’d typically look for while on holiday, but if you keep your eyes open while walking or driving around, you’ll definitely encounter them (especially on the fringes of all the main beach towns). It’s really fascinating to see the sheer variety of tropical plant life – including things you’ll have never seen in your life – all in one place.
You won’t believe how little an orchid (or home-grown bananas) cost on home turf.
Supporting local business: Keep in mind that Samui’s garden centres are often small, family-owned businesses and while they’ll be happy to have interested visitors, they’re not tourist destinations (so – as always – keep your beach clothes on the beach!). As a show of goodwill, consider buying a potted orchid or small plant to keep in your hotel room or at your villa during your stay. You won’t believe how little an orchid (or home-grown bananas) cost on home turf.