Dipabhavan Meditation Center
101/18 Moo 3 Tambon Maret, Moo 3
"Dipabhavan" essentially means "a private place to learn the teachings of the Buddha," which is what locals and tourists have been doing here since it opened in 2005. The center is based on Vipassana, an ancient form of meditation that involves a minimum of ten days of silent, self-observing mental training. You come here with two goals: to free your consciousness of misery, and to strengthen your mind-body connection. The practice is rigorous, daunting, and sometimes uncomfortable, but it's worth the mindfulness and peace you gain. The retreat is completely free of charge (they welcome donations at the end) and pared back (you won't get a full-service spa here), but the team looks after your every need.
9/99 Moo 3
Come here for the Thai tapas—small plates of grilled shrimp over stir-fried papaya noodles and crispy pork with cashews—and to propose. We're not kidding. This is probably the most romantic restaurant on the island. Ask to be seated outside and you'll have a table overlooking the Gulf of Thailand with no one else around you. Order some champagne (there’s a lengthy list of wines and bubbly), and enjoy what will likely be one of the most memorable meals of your life (proposal or no proposal).
48/10 Moo 3
For one goop editor, Muay Thai was the workout she didn't know she was looking for. It changed her entire perspective on exercising and mindfulness. The thing about traditional Thai boxing is that you can't focus on anything else but what's happening in front of you. When your master yells "kick," you kick (or "jab" or "uppercut"). It's a practice of being present. And one of the most fun, intense workouts you'll ever do. This particular gym is known for some of the best instructors in the country.
Na Muang Waterfall
Na Muang, Moo 3
Don’t leave Koh Samui without making the pilgrimage to Na Muang. Try to visit during rainy season, which runs from late October to the middle of December. This is when the water creates a rushing, visually stunning cascade into the rock pools below. These pools fill up and transform into the most idyllic spot for a swim surrounded by beautiful, untamed jungle.
Secret Buddha Garden
Na Mueang, Moo 3
From 1976 until his death, durian farmer Nim Thongsuk placed sculptures around his family’s expansive jungle garden, making it one of the most gorgeous landmarks on all of Samui. High on a hilltop and surrounded by greenery, the Secret Buddha Garden sits beside a serene waterfall that trickles into a stream. Some of the statues are of Nim Thongsuk himself and his parents, seated beside characters of Buddhist folklore and a band of musicians. Get an experienced taxi driver with a four-wheel drive to take you to this mountainous getaway (the country road can be a little bumpy—heads up).
Boulangerie Patisserie de Samui
5/17 Moo 3
This is everything you might imagine a tropical island café to be: open, full of island plants, and anchored by lots of bamboo furniture. It's a French café, so come in the mood for buttery, flaky croissants and strong coffee. Or if you're looking for more substance, order one of the custardy omelets at an outside table before heading to a morning yoga class. Then again, maybe wait until after your sun salutations.
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