Koh Samet is one of the first islands to attract foreign tourists in the 1970s. The travelers simply came to lay back and enjoy the quiet and simplicity of its pristine beaches. In the last decade, the island has developed a lot, but it still manages to maintain its simple and calm nature.
Although the residents of Bangkok have known the beauty of the island for decades, the Thai government has excluded it from tourism for many years, and only in 1981 was the island declared a National Park to be visited. There are stories telling that many years ago the island was home to pirates and to this day, there are many treasures hidden somewhere around Island, adding to the exotic and mysterious atmosphere surrounding it.
Koh Samet is located only 7 kilometers away from the mainland of Rayong Province, but is blessed with a “microclimate” (climate that is different from its immediate vicinity) and is considered one of the most dry areas in Thailand. The rainy season on the island lasts between May and September, but even during this period, the amount of rainfall is smaller than in other islands.
The island itself has one main road, so it is very easy to commute. The best way to travel around the island is with the famous green pickups, with the benches behind, which reach most of the beaches on the island and cost between 20-100 baht per person, depending on the distance of the trip. Another way is to rent a scooter. Most hotels offer scooters for rent, but charge very high prices.
Another activity on the island is bicycle rental that allows for a nice and safe way to travel the island while staying fit.
There are also several companies that offer a variety of boat trips around the island on small motor boats, a nice trip to spend a few hours on. You can also take a 7-island trip on speed boats and visit the islands near Koh Samet, which also stops at a variety of beautiful snorkelling sites . It is important to check the weather forecast before booking a trip, because in rough weather the trips are canceled.
Some of the best barbecue restaurants on the island are along the coasts of Hat Sai Kaew and Ao Pai, and there are also restaurants serving western food and of course local Thai food is found all over the island. Almost every hotel or guest house has its own restaurant. Some places put chairs and tables on the beach at night and offer dinner in a romantic and special atmosphere.
Although Koh Samet is not considered a party island, on Hat Sai Kaew and Ao Pai beaches you can find many young backpackers and cool parties at night. Every day, local bars distribute flyers advertising their alcohol deals and some even offer a first drink for free. The better days for parties are of course on the weekends when the island is packed.
The main bars in the Hat Sai Kaew beach area are the Lima Bar, the Island Bar and the Sunrise Bar, all of which are nice little bars, in some you can find live shows by local bands.
Koh Samet provides a variety of accommodation options, most of the hotels and guest rooms are located on the eastern part of the island. On Hat Sai Kaew and Ao Hin Khok beaches, there are plenty of bungalows, and you can rent a room with or without air-conditioning.
On the northern side of the island, you can find some magnificent resorts and on its southern side are areas of bungalows and three to four-star hotels.
It is important to consider that during the peak season, on weekends and especially during local holidays, the island can be filled with visitors to the point where you won’t find an available room, so it is very important during this period to book rooms in advance!
Most places and beaches on Koh Samet belong to the Khao Laem Ya-Mu Koh Samet National Park, so if you take a taxi from the ferry to one of the beaches, the entrance to the beach will have a pay station. Locals pay about 40 baht and foreigners about 200 baht.
Arrival to Samat is by private car or taxi to Rayong city or by a bus from Bangkok from the Ekkamai Eastern Bus Station. Iit takes about 3.5 hours to drive to the pier pier at Ban Phe Beach, and from there you’ll take a 30-45 minute ferry ride to Koh Samet. From places like Pattaya, there are minibuses departing each day which cost about 600 baht per person.
The Beaches on the Island:
The island’s main beaches are mostly on its eastern side and hidden by small bays protecting them from the weather conditions. Here is a brief overview of the island’s popular beaches:
Hat Sai Kaew Beach: Meaning The Diamond Beach, is the largest beach on the island and one of the most beautiful and popular beaches. It’s about one kilometer long and most of it has sun loungers belonging to nearby restaurants. The beach offers a variety of attractions such as jet skis, surfing, boating on a catamaran boat, banana boats and even parties at night, you should know that this beach can get a little noisy.
Ao Hin Khok Beach: A very small beach near Hat Sai Kaew beach, along this coast there are several monks’ quarters and signs that ask to keep quiet, allowing for a peaceful time for those seeking to be alone with a good book or to watch the sea and the endless horizon.
Ao Pai Beach: A small beach with several local restaurants and a nice bar where you can find the island’s nightlife, which parties until the wee hours of the night.
Ao Put Sa Beach: Suitable for those looking for quiet and has a good area for snorkelling. The best time to snorkel at the beach is at low tide.
Ao Nuan Beach: A beach hidden in dense vegetation, suitable mainly for those seeking seclusion. On the beach there are nice bungalows built by the owners of the beach, available for rent.
Ao Cho Beach: A relatively neglected and unattractive beach. Not recommended!
Ao Wong Deuan: The second largest beach after Hat Sai Kaew Beach, and there is a ferry service connecting it with the central land.
Ao Thian Beach: Which means “the beach by candlelight”. The beach is mostly rocky, very quiet and bustling with hikers groups.
Ao Wai Beach: The coast most remote from the central area, the beach itself is shaded by coconut trees, very quiet and suitable for viewing the amazing surroundings.
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