Located 220 km Southeast from Bangkok in the Rayong Province, Koh Samet (or also Koh Samed) is the week-end destination for Bangkokians! Thus, don’t expect to see a majority of westerners and be ready to enjoy the Thai lifestyle!
Having a monday off, we decided to go there with my friends, leaving Bangkok early on a Saturday morning (See below How to get there). Once arrived on the island, we first looked for renting scooters. If you are two people or more, it is definitely a fun way to go around the island and really helpful on your arrival for finding a place where to sleep. The price was 250 Bahts per day (gas included). Therefore, roads are only paved in the north of the island so you’ll have to drive carefully. Try the breaks when getting them and – of course – don’t drive being drunk!
Most of the guesthouses on Koh Samet don’t take reservations so you have to walk-in. You should therefore look before for accomodation options in order to have a better understanding of the island and its beaches and where you can find a guesthouse. This map can be really useful to do so. We finally ended up staying at Naga Bungalows located at Ao Phai/Phia. This guesthouse offers bungalows ranging from wooden ones with only a fan and a bed with mosquito net with outside facilities for 600 Bahts per night to concrete ones with air con and hot shower for 2 500 Bahts per night. I found the prices expensive but hé! We are on a island! We took a double wooden bungalow (so two rooms for 4 people) paying 1 200 Bahts (the cheapest alternative) and it was OK for 2 nights (not more I would say!) for any backpapers. I just would like to mention one point, stairs are SO steep there and especially the (few) ones from our bungalow plus really narrow… A nightmare at night! Haha As well, Naga Bungalows has the only Post office and Muay Thai Boxing ring on Koh Samet and a really nice beach bar: Naga Bar.
On our first day, we stayed on the Tubtim beach just chilling and on our second day, we took an islands tour available on the main beach – Hat Sai Kaew – for only 600 baht per person. It takes you to four neighboring islands by speed boat where you can spend the day snorkeling and chilling on the beaches (again! Love it!). Lunch and snorkeling gear were included so it was a pretty good deal. It was a whole day thing (11-5pm) and it ended up being really good. We got to go snorkeling and see some cool fish and hang out and swim at the other islands. Finally on our last day, we tried (yes, I well said “tried”) to reach the southest point of the island – Ao Karang. Driving a scooter in deep sand, we felt like on the Dakar rally ended up like that:
How to get there?
The cheapest option is to take a bus from Bangkok’s Eastern Ekkamai Bus terminal to Ban Phe. It will approximately takes 3 hours and a half (depending on traffic jam) and costs around 200 Bahts. You can as well take a minivan at Victory Monument. It will be faster but more expensive, aroud 300 Bahts.
Owing to the island’s close proximity to the coast, just 7 kilometres offshore, boats travel supposely every hour (more like when the boat is full) from Ban Phe to Koh Samet in approximately 30 minutes for 200 Bahts roundtrips.
- As Koh Samet is a National Park, you will have to pay an entrance fee of 200 Bahts
- ATMs, pharmacies and 7/11 are available on the island
- Koh Samet has its own micro-climate (the driest archipelago in Thailand) and thus gets much less rainfall than the rest of Eastern Thailand. The rainy season is May to September but even then it still has significantly less rain than the other islands in Thailand.