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The best of Samui’s waterfalls.

The best of Samui’s waterfalls.Samui’s beaches duly amaze. Driving around the ring-road, people gaze out towards the sea, rather than inland towards the hills. They want to glimpse the sea, and hopefully come across one of the well-known beaches, or perhaps discover a more obscure one, all of their own. Samui is after all a beach destination, and a world-famous one at that. But if you were to ask a Thai where they might go for a dip, you might be surprised to hear that their favourite swimming spot isn’t a beach but a waterfall. Why’s that? Especially when guide books and all their digital counterparts are singing the praises of the shores, whilst the waterfalls are definitely in second place?


There are some good reasons, one of the most popular being that most beaches are extremely hot, and offer relatively little in the way of shade. Waterfalls, however, are usually densely integrated in a landscape of trees, bushes and foliage. The sun gets a look in, but through a dappled veil of greenery. Close-by, but never obtrusively so, you’ll find carts and vendors selling food at low prices. And last but not least, access is usually easy – you don’t have to walk through the grounds of a hotel to get to waterfalls.


It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but here’s a round-up of Samui’s most interesting waterfalls, all of which have pools that you can swim about and splash in.


Hin Lad
One of the island’s most popular waterfalls, it is just a few kilometres south of Nathon. Simply called Hin Lad, it’s both quiet and beautiful. Park up where the road ends and you’ll find a monastery (definitely worth exploring) and the first of a series of pools. This is a popular spot for swimming and whiling away a few hours. The best of Samui’s waterfalls.But there’s a lot more to it than just a placid pool. Hike up through the jungle and you’ll come to more pools. The walk, which is about two kilometres, requires good shoes and a certain amount of concentration – the path is quite rocky, so you’ll need to actually stop if you want to look at something. The path weaves through trees and you can glimpse rushing torrents beneath you at times. It’s well-worth the climb; by the time you’re finished you’ll be in the mysterious interior of the island, a green and silent world of its own. Take a well-earned dip in the pools along the way.


Lad Wanorn

A few kilometres on from Hin Lad, Lad Wanorn waterfall is much smaller, and is the place to come if you’re looking for a quiet place to relax – there are generally very few people around. Water flows down a rocky incline into some small pools, so it’s not dramatic but is scenic enough to warrant a visit. Soak up the atmosphere, but no need to spend longer than half an hour here.



The two Namuang waterfalls are both highly recommended. They’re off the ring-road in the southern part of the island, some 12 kilometres south of Nathon.


The first waterfall, known as Namuang 1, has water cascading down into a big pool, and is easily accessible. Just take the paved path from the car park which will take you straight to the nearby falls.


Namuang 2 is much further up the same hill and is surrounded by a safari park (admission free). The walk is part road and part track, but also includes some wooden walkways. It’s quite a hard walk if you’re coming the whole way from the other waterfall, but is a fun and rewarding experience.The best of Samui’s waterfalls. Get ready for some amazing views at times, and the experience of simply being surrounded by so much jungle. Once you’ve made it to the waterfall, you’ll be pleased you came; water plunges 80 metres down into a pool. Some great swimming is to be had here, but as with all waterfalls, caution is advised. Namuang makes for a great morning or afternoon out.


Khun Si

A great place to visit, but you’ll need nerves of steel. It’s situated off the mountain road that links Maenam and Lamai. It’s very steep at times and difficult driving whether you’re in a car or on a scooter. It’s incredibly scenic, but you won’t be able to take your eyes off the road. At the highest spot, a very rutted dirt track leads to the falls – easier by bike than by car. Follow the track to the end, and walk down to the falls (the walk back is of course a lot more taxing). The falls aren’t very big, but you’ll probably have them to yourself. Just getting here will give you a real sense of adventure. The falls by the way gained international notoriety last year when a visitor, travelling alone, fell down badly injuring himself. Unable to move, he was eventually rescued after some days when a local person spotted a bike some way off and wondered what had happened to the owner. Most residents on the island have yet to make it out to Khun Si; with it’s beautiful but tricky reputation, it’s not one everyone’s list of places to go. But put it on yours if you have a real sense of adventure.


Samui’s waterfalls deserve to be better known – they’re definitely beautiful and always worth visiting. Just make sure of a few obvious points: if the weather’s been dry for a while, enquire if the waterfalls are likely to have water. And even more important, exercise care and caution. Remember to take mosquito spray, sun-tan lotion, good footwear and plenty of water. Rocks can be skating-rink slippery and pools may have hidden rocks. Think twice before taking young children with you.


 Dimitri Waring


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