Go for a swim with Buddha as your lifeguard. The two-mile beach on Ko Samui, in Thailand, is supervised by a 12-meter-tall golden statue. It’s not an ancient relic—this statue is only about 40 years old, and is the centerpiece of a meditation center/temple. Be sure to tear yourself away from the beach long enough to explore the temple grounds.
Despite the holy theme, many people flock to the beach for the nightlife. Open-air bars spill out on to the sand, and live music is always bumping. Come on Sundays for the week’s biggest party: a music festival held by Secret Garden Bungalows.
Despite the parties elsewhere on the island, people still like bringing their kids to Big Buddha Beach, as the water is shallow and fairly calm, making it a pretty safe spot for swimming.
Where is it? Ko Samui (North), Thailand
Where to stay? Bacaya Villa, your very own private oasis with a terrace, garden, and infinity pool overlooking the beach. Get a whole group together though, as the villa starts at $500.
What else should I know? You can get to the island by plane (Ko Samui Airport) or boat.
Who’s it for? Partiers, beach-lovers, Buddha-appreciators.