South Thailand / Ko Samui / Mumified Monk
By Jan Garanoz
Photo: Mumified monk
The mummified Monk can be visited at Wat Khunaram, on the street from Lamai Beach to Nathon, about eight kilometres south of Lamai Beach. The mummy is the body of a formerly rich Samuian who, in advanced age, rejected all worldly possessions to devote his attention to his spiritual well-being. He died in 1973 at the age of 79.
As legend has it, a few days before his death, he instructed his followers to build a coffin for him. Legend further insists that the corpse of the monk, who had died exactly on the date he allegedly had himself predicted, simply “refused” to decay. Therefore a glass coffin was built in which the corpse is exhibited to this day.
To Thais the alleged fact that the monk’s body “refused” to decay without human interference counts as a Buddhist miracle – or rather as proof that by Buddhist enlightenment achieved through meditation, every law of nature, or rather, every law of the physical world, can be overcome (Buddhist perceptions of the world are considered laws of nature by Buddhist).
The mummified monk is probably the one Samui attraction among those listed here, which remains most vivid in the memories of most tourists. Perhaps this is due to the macabre fact that the corpse of a person, who died more than 20 years ago, is exhibited as a tourist attraction (there are a few pilgrims coming to the site, but most visitors are tourists).
And: who has actually seen a mummy before? In the opinion of the editor, the corpse, although leathered, still looks surprisingly human – so human, in fact, that after some time of observation one can imagine the person alive – which is a lot more difficult with a sculpture.
As the mummified monk is a Buddhist place of pilgrimage no entry fees are charged for the visit. But a clearly visible glass box invites donations. Visitors are expected to sign into a guest ledger. There are signs discouraging the taking of photographs, but every visitor receives one photograph (independent from eventual donations). If you want to make your own shots, ask first (and do give a donation).
More about Ko Samui
South Thailand / Ko Samui
The 247sqkm (95sqmi) island, 496km (310mi) south of Bangkok, is Surat Thani’s major tourist attraction.
Ko Samui, with numerous lovely beaches and bays, measures some 21km (13mi) at its widest point and 25km (16mi) at its longest. A 51km (32mi) ring road largely encircles the island.
Samui’s best beaches line the northern and eastern coasts. The most popular beaches are Chaweng and Lamai where the most attractive accommodation is found.
Besides beaches, other island attractions include the Hin Lut and Na Muang waterfalls, the phallic rock formations at the southern end of Lamai Bay, a massive seated Buddha image on Fan isle, and Naton, the island’s major seafront settlement with shops, restaurants, tour agencies and hotels.
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Lamai Beach
Lamai was the Samui Beach first developed for tourism. However, Chaweng has meanwhile become the beach with the largest number of tourists on Samui. This resulted from the fact that more unoccupied plots suited to build large hotels were found on Chaweng Beach. While Chaweng Beach was almost uninhabited until some 20 years ago, there has been, for many decades, a fishing village on Lamai Beach.
The infrastructure of this fishing village has changed completely within the past two decades. By now almost the entire village is tourism-oriented. But what remains is the village character expressed, for instance, in the comparatively narrow layout of the structures on Lamai Beach.
Lamai is the beach on Ko Samui with the most developed night life. Most popular in the evenings is a kind of marketplace, where a permanent boxing ring has been set up. Bouts of Thai boxing are staged regularly, and quite often Western kick boxers participate.
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Chaweng Beach
Photo: Chaweng Beach, Ko Samui
On Samui Island, Chaweng Beach offers the largest range of luxurious as well as simple accommodations. Furthermore, the tourism infrastructure covers restaurants of all categories. Numerous simple and better restaurants have specialized in seafood.
As everywhere on Ko Samui the visitors are mostly Western; the average age of tourists might be a little bit higher on Chaweng Beach than on the other beaches of Ko Samui – a result of the better hotels on this beach attracting a rather well-to-do clientele.
Surprisingly popular on this beach is parachute sailing; the participant is tied to a parachute and then pulled up into the air by a speedboat. While parachute sailing in Pattaya is rather an amusement for the young, on Chaweng Beach even women of over 60 have been observed dangling from a parachute. In most cases, it’s rather a test of courage than an athletic effort.
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Choeng Mon
Photo: Choeng Mon Beach
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Big Buddha Beach
Photo: Big Buddha Beach with chief attraction
Big Buddha Beach (officially Bangrak Beach) is the easternmost of three touristically developed beaches on the north coast of Ko Samui. The most important attraction of the beach is a giant Buddha statue.
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Bophut Beach
Bophut Beach is the middle of three touristically developed beaches on the north coast of Ko Samui. Along the beach stretches a fishing village; a number of low and mid-class vacation hotels are within the village; the better resort hotels are found outside the village, driving towards Maenam.
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Maenam Beach
Photo: Maenam Beach is one of the best on Ko Samui
Maenam Beach is the westernmost of three touristically developed beaches on the north coast of Samui Island. It is also the longest of the three.
Right on Maenam Beach is a recommended holiday hotel, Paradise Beach Resort. The resort has been completely renovated in 1995, and new accommodation was also built. To switch to the pages of Paradise Beach Resort, please click here.
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Hinta / Hinjai
Photo: Hinta rock on Ko Samui
Hinta / Hinyai [in English grandfather rock / grandmother rock] is the number-one attraction for Thai, Japanese and Chinese visitors. The grandfather rock, Hinta, looks so obscene that one feels inclined to believe a hilarious, jocular sculptor must have created it. The locals insist that nature set up the rock in its particular way. Many Asian visitors believe a kind of pilgrimage to the site will improve fertility.
Photo: Hinjai rock on Ko Samui
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Big Buddha
Photo: Ko Samui’s Big Buddha
The Big Buddha sits on a small island in front of Bangrak Beach to which it is connected by a causeway. Because of the large statue, Bangrak Beach is also called Big Buddha Beach, and although the name is not official, it is commonly used in travel literature to refer to this beach. A long stairway leads up to the statue.
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Coral Buddha
Photo: Coral Buddha
This somewhat weather-beaten Buddha statue sits on a pedestal near the road from Lamai Beach to Nathon, about four kilometres south of Lamai Beach.
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Buddha Foot Prints
symbolic foot prints, created to express that the teachings of the Buddha have made their way up to this particular place.
Photo: Buddha footprints
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Two Chedis
Photo: Chedi Laem Sor
The two Chedis, Khao Chedi and Chedi Laem Sor are on the hill Laem Sor (Cape Sor) on the south coast of Ko Samui.
South Thailand / Ko Samui / Waterfalls
Photo: Waterfall Nah Muang
All over Thailand waterfalls are marked as tourist attractions, often for local visitors rather than Western guests. Compared to waterfalls in the Alps or the Rocky Mountains, they are often not particularly impressive. However, the attention given to waterfalls is proof that the Thais, in spite of industrial progress and the connected destruction of the environment, are a people of nature lovers. On Ko Samui the waterfalls Hu Nam [Nam Tok Hu Nam] and Nah Muang [ Nam Tok Nah Muang] are promoted as tourist attractions. Use good shoes to walk up to the waterfalls. Walking up to the Na Muang waterfall will take about one hour.