|Deities and scenes from Budhhist folklore in the garden|
|Some of the bizarre sculptures in the garden|
This lush jungle property, now known as the Magic (or Secret) Buddha Garden, is today one of Koh Samui's post popular day trips, allowing visitors to experience the island's interior as they wander through this rather bizarre attraction.
|The road to the Magic Buddha Garden|
Getting to the garden is half the fun. Located on a steep (though thankfully concreted) road accessible only by four-wheel drive, most people choose to visit as part of a 'safari adventure' day-tour with Samui Off-Road Mountain Tours, based at the Namuang Safari Park.
Our group just did a garden visit with this company, who use 4WD open-backed trucks with bench seats, plus two seats atop for thrillseekers. I travelled up the winding road on top, through coconut and durian groves, wind (and the occasional branch) rushing through my hair and my nerves on full alert - it's seriously scary stuff at first!
|The perilous top seat of the Off Road Mountain Tour|
While the garden itself is a tranquil retreat, choose your time to visit wisely - we arrived at the same time as several tours, which meant we had to battle half-dressed Russian backpackers swimming in the waterfall, yelling at each other and generally getting underfoot. It was chaos - but once they'd left, the garden was a different world, serene and intriguing.
It's certainly a change from the beaches, nightclubs and bars of Koh Samui, and well worth visiting to experience an alternative side to paradise.
Getting there: Secret Buddha Garden is found on a hilltop, just off Route 4169 (ring road) at Baan Saket. Follow the signs on the air force road leading up to Ta Nim Waterfall.
Cost: Entry fee 80 baht per person unless travelling as part of a tour.