Koh Samet Travel Guide

Photo of Koh Samet

Koh Samet Overview

Any destination boasting 14 pristine beaches, clear blue waters and the ability to avoid much of the monsoon season, paving the way for a near perfect climate, is always going to be popular..and Koh Samet is very much that. Sat just off the coast of Rayong and a little over 200km from Bangkok, the island is an increasingly fashionable place for tourists, Thais and expats looking to escape the throng of the city. Arrive on a weekend and search for that elusive quiet spot on the beach before partying with the Thai students, or, drop over on a weekday and discover the natural beauty that first brought the tourists coming.

 
Stretching only 6km from top to toe, much of this small island forms the national park of Khao Laem Ya - Mu Ko Samet, with visitors required to pay a 200 baht park fee, although, unfortunately, it may not be immediately obvious where this money gets spent. The northern end of the island is slowly developing commercially and, with stylish resorts springing up by the minute, budget accommodation is on the downturn. Needless to say, with still many untouched bays in the south of the island, there is no doubting what the original backpackers first came to enjoy.
 
With its close proximity to the coastal town of Ban Phe, a short ride from Rayong, during peak season boats depart hourly, are cheap and take just half an hour to arrive at the Na Dan pier at the islands north. Getting to Rayong couldn’t be easier either, with hourly bus services running to and from both Bangkok and Pattaya.
 
The smallness of Koh Samet makes it the ideal place to enjoy on foot and, in fact, its possible to walk the length of the island in about 4 hours. A network of trails and dirt roads lead from one bay, around headlands, to another and a day could easily spent taking a dip in several beaches, pausing for lunch then watching the sun down drift down.

Things to do in Koh Samet

Koh Samet Beaches - Proudly boasting 14 beaches it comes at no surprise that time in Ko Samet is best spent on the beach, lapping up the sun, swimming, getting a Thai massage and enjoying candlelit dinners. Of all of the bays, Ao Hin Kok is the most backpacker orientated with a few of the last surviving truly budget resorts and bargain seafood restaurants. Hat Sai Keaw, on the far east tip, and Ao Noi Na further north are the most commercial with upscale resorts, package tours and endless activities along the busy sandy beaches. For the ultimate in luxury, Ao Phrao on the west coast is where most travellers will require a mortgage to stay.

 
Thai Boxing School - Anyone bored of lazing around on the beach can use up their energy reserves at the Muay Thai School at Naga Bungalows. Lessons cost around 250 baht per hour with either a Thai or English speaking instructor. Naga Bar next door organises regular Thai boxing fights and, who knows, perhaps the opportunity to try out the newly learnt skill.
 
Koh Samet Nightlife - Not renowned for being a party island, there are nevertheless a good selection of watering holes around Hat Sai Keaw and Ao Phai. Look out for touts handing out flyers along the beaches throughout the afternoons. Naga Bar is a good spot for cheap drinks and a chance to take on a friend in the Thai boxing ring. Silver Sand Bar is probably the islands busiest joint pulling the backpackers onto the dance floor. Next door, Gecko Bar is a more relaxed affair, serving up good cocktails and hosting movies nights. Failing these, just take a walk along the beach and something is sure to catch the eye.
 
Scuba Diving Koh Samet - For the best underwater experience it is necessary to jump on a boat headed for one of the nearby islands of either Koh Thalu or Koh Kud, both off the northeast coast. Should they not actually offer them themselves, most resorts will be able to assist with finding trips out to the islands. Ploy Scuba offer PADI courses and trips the length of the Thai coastline and islands.

Hotels in Koh Samet

Budget Hotels Koh Samet

Ban Samet Hill - Family run hotel with clean and spacious rooms. Tel (66) 83 107 0551.
Jeps Bungalow - Big range of beachside accommodation, popular with weekending Thais. Tel (66) 38 644112.
Naga Bungalows - Simple huts on the beach and one of the last remaining pure backpacker resorts. Tel (66) 38 644168.
 
Midrange Hotels Koh Samet
Sai Keaw Villa - Wide selection of rooms from simple doubles to stylish chalets. Tel (66) 38 644144.
Tubtim Resort - Stylish and long established resort offering cheap beach huts to luxury bungalows. Tel (66) 38 644025.
Vongeuan Resort - Immaculate beach houses and cottages bordering luxury. Tel (66) 38 644171.
 
Luxury Hotels Koh Samet
Le Vimarn Cottage & Spa - Fancy boutique resort ideal for those with money to burn. Tel (66) 38 644104.
Mooban Talay Resort - Stunning resort on Ao Kiew Beach with an emphasis on relaxation. Tel (66) 81 838 8682.

Koh Samet Weather

Koh Samet Travel Resources

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This page was last modified on 18 Mar 2011 by Matt