While sharing our top 10 fun and FREE things to do in Koh Samui – we came across one free activity that we would NOT recommend. Our misadventure was worthy of its own blog post (that you are now reading – enjoy!).
If you’re a frequent traveler, you might be familiar with the offline map app Maps.me. On the Maps.me map of Koh Samui, we came across a tag for “secret wooden tower with a beautiful view.” Since we had success visiting the “overlap stone” (secret stone – listed in our fun free things to do in Samui blog) earlier that day and we were nearby, we decided to give the secret viewpoint a shot.
We ended up in a makeshift parking lot with a lot of cars where many people were doing construction (on a house?). We couldn’t see a tower and felt silly asking if the locals knew where the “secret tower” was (since it didn’t appear that they knew English) but one of them pointed towards a barbed wire fence. We found a spot in the fence where the wire was stretched out so a person could squeeze through.
*Please excuse the low resolution quality of the following photos, they are screenshots taken from our Instagram story
We ducked under the wire through the fence and low and behold, a short distance in front of us stood the “secret wooden tower with a beautiful view.” We were surprised that it existed and that we found it!
The structure was about two stories tall and made of very thin wooden strips. It resembled a platform with two levels and railings but did not look overly sturdy, despite the little tree in the center supporting it. We quite possibly had a quick debate whether or not to climb up it when I decided for us by heading up the first ladder (made out of the same thin material as the rest of the tower).
As I said in our Instagram story “we’re just hoping it’s stable but we’ll give it a go.” Safety was a bit of a concern. But we figured if it was on Maps.me, that meant some other tourists had been there and it should be fine – plus we wouldn’t stay for very long.
When I reached the first platform and continued up the second, Matt began to climb up the first ladder (we decided it wouldn’t be smart for both of us to be on the same ladder at the same time). This second ladder led to the “beautiful viewpoint’ with a much larger platform that was enough to fit a few people.
The view lived up to its name (beautiful and then some – it was breathtaking!). Gorgeous green hills loomed behind us laden with palm trees. The bright teal sea stretched out before us.
Looking over the edge of the platform, the drop down was even higher than the two stories we climbed because the tower stood on top of a slope. The hill was blanketed in skinny trees (likely the same material used to make the tower) and Matt made a comment about how it wouldn’t be pretty if this collapsed, as we could end up speared by the trees. Nice.
We were soaking up the view as Matt was taking photos for a panorama and I was taking a video for our Instagram story. I was asking Matt to take a photo of me with the view when all of a sudden the tower shuddered and the corner of the platform I was standing on dropped several inches down!
We glanced at each other wide eyed in panic as Matt said “we need to get off, now.” We did not want to go down with the tower!
We scrambled with our camera gear, and I turned to the ladder. My mind did an awkward panic of – do I face forward and head down this ladder as if it were stairs, or do I spin around and climb down it the same way I climbed up? Matt urged his arms at me to move as my mind stalled on the process and he waited anxiously on top.
Once I made it to the lower platform he began his descent. We made it safely to the ground, adrenaline pumping through our bodies. We agreed this was one thing we wouldn’t recommend to others, despite the gorgeous view. Granted, it probably wasn’t made for two people (especially someone Matt’s size) but who knows when this thing is going to collapse.
Moral of the story: Don’t visit or climb up the “secret wooden tower with a beautiful viewpoint” in Koh Samui! This secret is one that should remain just that – a secret! But the dangers of it should be shared so no one ends up hurt or worse. We are fortunate enough to tell the tale (without another claim added to our travel insurance). It is dangerous and unstable!
If you take pleasure in other people’s travel misfortunes – check out the lowlights from our year around the world in 2017, or read our three part travel misadventure series: part I (where we were denied entry into India because of an emergency passport), part II (where we were detained overnight in Bali), and part III (where we booked the wrong flights through China).