In Buddhism, waterfalls symbolise the fact that we are always moving. Water symbolises purity, clarity and calmness, and reminds us to cleanse our minds to attain a state of purity. Maybe that’s why it’s not just tourists who flock to the waterfalls on Samui. Namuang falls are a majestic set of two waterfalls off route 4169, between Nathon and Hua Thanon. From Nathon, drive south for roughly 11 kilometres until you see the signed entrance to the falls. The park entrance sits about one kilometre up this road. The first waterfall is just a short walk away, but if you want to see the second one you’ll have to negotiate a rather more challenging 30 minute hike. Once you’ve seen this beautiful oasis, you’ll see that Samui has more to offer than just beautiful beaches. There are a few other pathways to hike along, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find some spectacular rock formations here too, so remember to pack your camera.
The first waterfall called Namuang 1 and is around 18 metres high. Just follow the natural pathway and steps to the base of the falls. It flows into a large pool, and the icy cold water is always perfect for a swim on a hot day. Do watch out for hidden rocks while swimming and don’t jump into the water just in case they make themselves known to the bottom of your feet.
Once you’ve enjoyed your swim and cooled off, you can prepare yourself for the 30 minute hike to the next waterfall, Namuang 2. It’s the highest waterfall on Samui, falling from an impressive 80 metres. That’s 24 stories which is pretty high!
There’s no entry fee for the falls so be wary of local ‘guides’ trying to ask for money for access. If they offer to lead you there, politely decline, the route is easy to find on your own. The site has many little shops selling souvenirs, snacks and drinks at reasonable prices. There is also a restaurant. Make sure you buy food and drink before you start your hike as there isn’t anything available further up.
Bring your swimming gear and comfortable walking shoes. The tree roots and the surrounding rocks form a natural staircase leading to the base, but it can be steep and slippery so make sure you take care while you walk. Stop often and admire the stunning views of the jungle and the lush vegetation. Don’t underestimate how much drinking water you’ll need – walking uphill in heat and humidity has the tendency to make you sweat more than you can imagine, and you risk becoming dehydrated, even if you are protected from the sun by the jungle canopy.
The best time to visit these falls are in the rainy season from September through to December. The rivers will be at their fullest and the waterfalls at their most beautiful, powerfully cascading over the rocks. Because of the uphill route needed to get there, this waterfall is less touristy, which means you can enjoy the panoramic views of the forest and cascading water, in relative peace.
Between the two waterfalls is the Namuang Safari Park which offers many exciting holiday activities, such as elephant rides through the jungle; monkey shows (which are great for both adults and kids alike); quad bike rides through the jungle and its rivers; 4×4 trips around the island and cable rides through the treetops. Elephant rides are a perfect way to explore the surrounding jungle, and because you’re up so much higher, your views are much better than if you’d simply walked. There are so many activities in this area; you really would need a whole day (or perhaps even a few days) to fully appreciate everything. Most tour companies will collect from your hotel so don’t waste your hard-earned holiday money on expensive taxi rides.
So if you’re looking to see another side of Samui, don’t be afraid to head away from the beaches and see what’s on offer inland. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.