Samui’s waterfalls – every bit as good as the beaches
What’s Samui’s most overlooked attraction? The answer – its waterfalls. Are they worth a visit? Absolutely!
The island’s waterfalls are amazing places to spend time. Although waterfalls do appear on tourist itineraries they tend to be neglected. And that’s because they’re a little harder to spot than the beaches. They’re hidden away in lush jungle and are impossible to see from the road.
Every bit as Instagram-worthy as the beaches, the cascades of water, the rocks and the enigmatic jungle backdrop are not only beautiful but practical places to get away from the heat and have a cool dip. That’s why local people love them so much.
Most of the island’s waterfalls are close to the ring road and you can easily drive to them. Park up and you’re ready for a good few hours of fun and great memories. But just be careful. Though shady, waterfalls are still places where you can get some serious sunburn. Don’t forget that sunscreen and don’t just rely on a pair of sandals if you’re heading along rocky paths or traversing boulders. Take a watch too. Sunset comes down fast in the tropics and you don’t want to be walking back to your car in the dark.
Samui’s best waterfalls
Hin Lad Waterfalls: not just one waterfall, Hin Lad is a series of falls that are linked by a walkable track that takes you high up into the hills. Hin Lad is a few minutes’ drive south of Nathon and then 2 km up the road that heads into the hills (turn left at the large roundabout).
Drive until the road stops and you’ll find yourself at Hin Lad Temple, which is definitely worth a visit – it’s basically set within the jungle.
To the right of the large rock pool next to the temple, you’ll find the path that takes you up towards the next waterfall. It’s about a 20-minute walk and you’ll arrive at a quiet area with rushing water. It’s a great place to stop and relax – you may find it tempting just to stay here, and why not? If you want to explore further then just keep on going till the next waterfall.
Time spent at Hid Lad will tend to leave you with good memories and makes for a great alternative to the beach. When you get back, you’ll maybe want to avail yourself of the drinks and food stalls by the car park.
Hin Lad is too good to miss. It will certainly make you curious about the other waterfalls on the island.
Lad Wanorn Waterfall: this beautiful waterfall is a further 2 km south of Hin Lad on the ring road. You can park up nearby, thanks to a drivable dirt track. You’ll find smooth rock formations and water flowing over the rocks and into pools, which are ideal for dips. It’s less frequented that Hin Lad, but has no cafés or eateries. A great place to stop off at on hot days when you just want to relax a while.
Namuang: in the south of the island, you’ll find the two waterfalls that are the most visited on the island. The first is Namuang 1. Unmissable signs on the ring road tell you exactly where to turn off. Follow the road to the falls. Here you can swim under the falls themselves, an amazing experience. Once you’re finished, follow the path up a steep slope until you get to Namuang 2. There are good views from the viewing platform at the top and you’ll want to spend some time here before going back down again. Namuang, it should be noted, is quite commercialized these days, but is still always worth a visit.
Tan Rua: situated in the north of the island and accessible via soi 5 on Maenam, the final approach to Tan Rua is quite steep. You may wish to park up when the road starts to look scary and walk the rest of the way. If on a scooter, make sure it’s a manual one, as automatic bikes can be dangerous on steep descents – their brakes can fail. The waterfall here has no pool of any size to sit in, but on the other hands you can sit directly under the waterfall itself. And there’s a good café to hand, ideal for taking a break. The area is very scenic with good views out towards the sea.
When visiting waterfalls, it’s best not to go alone, or if you do, at least tell someone where you are going. Waterfalls can be dangerous places, so exercise all due caution. Be very careful of slippery rocks and never jump into the water as there may be hidden rocks. And – do we even need to say this? – taking that selfie as you stand on a scenic lip of rock may result in your hospitalization. Or worse.
Be cautious at all times – the same goes for the beach of course – and you’ll be able to spend a good few hours enjoying parts of Koh Samui that are unknown to most.