- For the smaller Ko Samet in Chumphon Province, see Ko Samet (Chumphon).
Ko Samet is not overly renowned for its parties (unlike Ko Pha Ngan) or its diving (unlike Ko Tao), but it has both convenience and quietness in its favor. It's a popular tourist destination for Thais as well as foreigners for its proximity to Bangkok.
Even though Ko Samet is only a few kilometers from the mainland of Rayong, the island with its micro-climate (the driest archipelago in Thailand) gets much less rainfall than the rest of the province. The rainy season is May to September but even then it still has significantly less rain than the other islands in Thailand. Tourists should, however, be careful of occasional storms.
It is believed that once upon a time, Ko Samet was the home of pirates and that until this very day there is still lost treasure buried somewhere on the island.
Thailand’s legendary poet Sunthorn Phu was the first one to put this island on the map when he set his classical epic there, Phra Aphai Manee “The Story of Princes, Saga, Mermaids and Giants”.
Even though Bangkokians had known about the beauty of Ko Samet for decades before, the Thai government put this island off limits and restricted overnight stay there; that was until 1981. In that year, on 1st October, the Forestry Department of Thailand declared Koh Samet and its surrounding to be a national park.
Located just 200km from the capital in the Gulf of Thailand, the T-shaped island of Ko Samet is famed for its white sandy beaches, exotic coral and crystal clear waters. The island is 6.5 kilometres offshore of Ban Phe, Mueang district. Forest remains blanket up to 80% of the total area of 3,125 rai.
Koh Samet is under the administration of Pe Sub-district, Muang District, Rayong Province.
Most of Ko Samet, including all of the good parts, is part of Khao Laem Ya and Mu Ko Samet National Park and has an entry fee. Thais pay 40 baht [200 baht in Fe 2009?], foreigners 200 baht [400 baht in Fe 2009?] - a classic example of Thai dual pricing. This two-tier pricing policy is applicable to all national parks. If you can explain, however, that you actually live or work in Thailand, then you may not have to pay the ‘tourist’ price. If your ferry arrives at the main pier and you take a songthaew to the beaches, there will be a stop at the main ticket checkpoint. If your ferry arrives at one of the beaches, an officer will collect the fee as you step out of the surf. Note that there is plenty of foot traffic in and out of the park to the 7-Eleven, ATM or other shops and restaurants and if you have no bags you can nonchalantly walk into the park without anyone checking your ticket. There is a road via the temple which avoids the checkpoint entirely. Note: some bungalows might give the impression that the entry fee is included in their booking, but it is not.
There are many routes from Bangkok to Rayong:
- Driving along Sukhumvit road (Highway No. 3); passing Bangpu, Chonburi town, Bangsaen, Sri Racha, Pattaya, Jomtien Beach, Sattahip, Banchang and get into the centre of Rayong province. The total distance is approximately 220 kilometres.
- Taking Bangna-Trat road (Highway No. 34); off the Highway No. 3 at Chaloen Nakorn Toll Plaza through Pang Phi and Bang Bo of Samut Prakarn province and connect with the Sukhumvit road (Highway No. 3) at 70th kilometres. The total distance of this route is approximately 220 kilometres.
- Drive along the Sukhumvit road (Highway No. 3) from Bangkok to Banglamung then off at 140th kilometres that connected with Highway No. 36 and take about 70 kilometres to Rayong. The total is about 176 kilometres.
- Taking Highway No. 344 to Chonburi; through Ban Bung, Nong Yai, Wang Chan and end at Klang district, Rayong province. Total distance is 180 kilometres.
- Driving along Motoway from Pattanakarn road to Pattaya and followed by Highway No. 36 about 50 kilomatres to Rayong province.
Taxi service (the street taxis) is also available to Rayong. You need to specify Ban Phe since the pier at Ban Phe is at the lower outskirts of Rayong itself. The metered fare is approximately 1600 baht, but most drivers will want to go "off meter" for a fare ranging from 1500 baht (for some drivers who don't realize the meter is slightly higher) to 2000/2200/2500 baht. Expressway tolls of about 100 baht are additional. You can either grab a taxi from your hotel or guesthouse that is willing to make the drive on the spot, or pre-arrange a pickup from a taxi driver you like by asking for his cellphone number and calling to make a booking - the latter routine works best if you have a native Thai speaker to help you. Look for a later model taxi and do a quick visual check of the tires before committing to a trip. As a general precaution with all taxis in all countries, it's better to double up in a taxi with a friend on a long ride like this.
There are also mini-vans that leave from Victory Monument and charge 250 bht per person. This is a slightly nicer alternative to the larger tourist buses that depart from the bus stations. While the mini-vans drive faster than the tourist buses, they also make several stops along the way in Rayong which makes the trip about the same time as the tourist buses. The best way to get to Victory Monument is via the BTS Skytrain, since traffic is quite busy around this section of town. The mini-van "stations" are close to the base of the Victory Monument Skytrain stop.
Bangkok Airways has operated a flight daily from Phuket and Samui to U-taphao Airport. For more information contact Bangkok Airways at number (0 2265 5678) or travel agents.
The 1st class bus from Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) to Ban Phe usually takes 3.5 hours, costs 178 baht, and terminates opposite the ferry piers (there's no direct service to Ban Phe from Moh Chit - nearest alternative is to Rayong, from there you can take a songthaew to Ban Phe). If you take a regular bus from Pattaya or Sattahip, you'll need to take a songthaew or charter a tuk-tuk to the ferry piers. Minibus services go straight to the piers.
For Ekamai Station
- Rayong Tour Company: 0 2712 3662
- Cherdchai Tour Company: 0 2391 2237
- Khonsong Co., Ltd.: 0 231 2504
For Morchid Station
- Rayong Tour Company: 0 2936 1216
- Cherdchai Tour Company: 0 2936 0199
- Khonsong Co., Ltd.: 0 2936 2852 to 311
Buses from Rayong to Bangkok are available from 03.00-21.30 hrs.
- Rayong Tour Company: 0 3886 1354-5
- Cherdchai Tour Company: 0 3867 4144 (Samyan), 0 3861 1528 (Phe)
- Khonsong Co., Ltd.: 0 3861 1378
- Nakornchai Air Company: 0 3861 6009
There are also mini-vans that leave from Victory Monument and charge 250 bht per person. This is a slightly nicer alternative to the larger tourist buses that depart from the bus stations. While the mini-vans drive faster than the tourist buses, they also make several stops along the way in Rayong which makes the trip about the same time as the tourist buses. The best way to get to Victory Monument is via the BTS Skytrain, since traffic is quite busy around this section of town. The mini-van "stations" are close to the base of the Victory Monument Skytrain stop. For the return, there is a mini-van pickup station midway between Ban Phe and Nuan Thip piers on the ocean side of the road.
Ferries from Ban Phe or Nuan Thip (they are about 1/8 mile apart, with Ban Phe to the north opposite a 7-11) to Ko Samet take around 30 to 45 minutes. Only buy a one-way ticket, as there's no discount on round-trip tickets and you won't have to worry about losing it or finding that your ticket isn't valid for the most convenient return ferry. The ticket sellers may also offer to sell you the national park ticket - don't bother.
Ferry time tables from Phe to Samet Island
There are difference ferry services from Phe; Nuan Thip Pier (0 3865 1956), Phe Pier (0 3889 6155-6) and Sri Ban Phe Pier (0 3865 1901) to Samet Island everyday. The trip take about half and hour. Fare ranges from 50-150 baht; hiring private boat is also available. Transportation on Samet Island is local bus services and on foot.
Alternatively, there are 2 speedboat companies that operate from the Phe Pier. A speedboat prices can range from 600B to NaaDaan pier to a few thousand baht for the outer-lying bays and beaches.
For the return from the Koh Samet public pier, take either the Nuan Thip or Ban Phe piers for your destination - it doesn't matter which one you departed from, you can return to either, they are only a short walk apart, and you might get an earlier boat back if you are willing to be flexible and return to a different pier. Both are served by the song thaew "pickup taxis"; Ban Phe has an informal "taxi stand" in front of the 7-11 across the street, with passenger cars used as cabs. It cost 200 baht for a ride from Ban Phe to the Novotel, quite a distance down the coast, in early 2009.
Getting around on Ko Samet: The island has only a single main road. Some parts are concrete and some parts are only a dirt trail. There are two methods to get around the island. The first is by songthaew (usually a rather well-worn pickup truck with two benches in the back and no roof), which costs 200 baht for a private trip, or between 20 and 60 baht per person for a full car, depending on which beach you are going to. This is a rather expensive method to get around the island, and the dusty roads can make it an uncomfortable trip. The second way is by renting a motorcycle. Signs advertise 300 baht per day or 100 baht per hour, but when you go to enquire about renting they will often say 400 or 500 baht per day. Insist on paying 300 baht. That is for mechanic moto. If you want to get automatic one, you will pay 400 Baht per day. You will usually be able to rent it from the hotel you are staying at. Leaving your passport or a deposit is not necessary or advisable.
Warning: Only hire a bike from a reputable hotel and not some dodgy agent; he could be a scammer.
You can also rent/hire an ATV/Quad/4x4 for 1600 baht/day
As Ko Samet is so near Bangkok, the island is ideal for those in the capital wanting to chill-out with their families for a couple of days, without having to go through all that rigmarole of having to travel down south. Ko Samet has developed steadily over the past decade or so, but it hasn’t been the victim of over zealous construction which has hit the likes of Ko Samui or even Ko Chang. The island is typified for its splendid beaches and white silky sand, surrounded by tropical coral reefs and crystal clear sea. Tourists can also enjoy a plethora of delicious cuisine and fine nightlife.
Thailand’s most famous poet, the legendary Sunthorn Phu, set his classic Phra Aphai Manee on Ko Samet. The story revolves around a giantess who captured the revered Phra Aprai Manee and held him there. Subsequently, he was able to escape and married a delightful mermaid and lived happily ever after. There is a statue of him at Hat Sai Kaew.
Thai Buddhism is a large part of the people’s lives on Ko Samet and so there some temples scattered around. Most of the folk on Ko Samet however, are not originally from the island, but moved there to make a decent living through tourism.
Events and Festivals
Rayong Fruit Festival (งานเทศกาลผลไม้และของดีเมืองระยอง) In May of each year, Rayong's fruit reaches its peak season. The venue for celebration is always changed between Mueang and Klaeng districts. Tourists can enjoy floats decorated with fruits, fruit contests, beauty contests, as well as fruit and seafood fair.
Sunthon Phu Day (งานวันสุนทรภู่) Organised on June 26 of each year at Sunthon Phu Monument, Klaeng district, to honour the great poet. Exhibitions and plays from his poetry will entertain visitors.
Changing the robe for Phra Chedi Klang Nam (งานห่มผ้าพระเจดีย์กลางน้ำ) The annual traditional event is held during the full moon night of the 12th lunar month, or in November. The robe blanketing around the pagoda in the middle of the Rayong River, in Mueang district, will be changed. Meanwhile, the people will celebrate the event along with the Loi Krathong Festival by boat racing and many kinds of local entertainment.
Thot Pha Pa Klang Nam (Waterborne Robe Offering Ceremony) (งานทอดผ้าป่ากลางน้ำ) During the Loi Krathong Festival of each year, or on the full moon night of November, people living near the mouth of the Prasae River will prepare a monk's robe at the pier. After completing the ceremony on the boat, a monk will come to get it. Normally, the robe offering ceremony is held at the temple. This special tradition has been inherited for over a century.
- Catch the sunset from dramatic cliffside locations along the south-west coastline.
- A fireshow at the renowned Ploy Thalee Restaurant/Bar on Saikaew Beach. They are held twice a night around 8.30pm and 10.30pm.
Most beaches are on the eastern side of the island. The beaches hide in small bays and stretch some 200 metres. From the north, there are Hat Sai Kaeo, Hat Hin Khrong, Hat Khlong Phai, Ao Phutsa, Ao Thapthim, Ao Naun, Ao Cho, Ao Thian, Ao Wai, Ao Kio Na Yok and Ao Karang. The only beach on the western side is Ao Phrao. One of the famous beaches is Ao Wong Duean in the middle of the eastern side. This beach stretches in the shape of an almost complete circle. Both Ao Wong Duean and Hat Sai Kaeo have very fine white sand.
Hat Sai Kaew (Diamond Beach) One of the most beautiful and most popular beaches on Koh Samet, Hat Sai Kaew is 1 kilometer long and 25 – 30 meters wide. The name speaks for itself, Hat Sai Kaew, which literally means Crystal Sand Beach, is a nice beach filled with activities. From dusk to dawn, visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, jet skiing, windsurfing, riding on a banana boat or even partying at night.
Accommodations provided include bungalows and villas.
Ao Noi Na, which is located near Hat Sai Kaew, has different ambience. It is quieter and therefore more suitable for those looking for a truly relaxing experience on the white, clean sandy beach.
Ao Hin Khok is separated from Hat Sai Kaew by a small rocky sea point where a mermaid statue is located. The beach, which is half the size of Hat Sai Kaew, is famous for its strangely shaped rocks. There are inexpensive bungalows/huts located along the beach, and also value-for-money restaurants providing fresh, quality seafood dishes.
Ao Pai Located close to Hat Sai Kaew, Ao Pai is therefore quite crowded small beach. For visitors interested in sunbathing, it is the beach locating between the crowded beaches and the quited beaches. There is a restaurant locating quite to the end of this beach called Samed Villa Restaurant, here you can find delicious Thai and European cuisines especially their BBQ.
Ao Put Sa is a small bay on Koh Samet which draws repeat visitors intent on relaxing. Suitable for those who are tired of crowded beaches and nightlife activities, Ao Put Sa offers a quite retreat that reunites visitors with nature in its crystal clear waters.
Ao Tub Tim, which is set in a tranquil atmosphere, is located near Ao Put Sa and is well known for its white sand and clear water. Ao Tub Tim has a small, cozy resort in a well decorated compound.
Ao Nuan is located near Ao Put Sa and is a perfect hideaway for holidaymakers in search of tranquility.
Ao Wong Deuan is the second largest beach on the island (the first being Hat Sai Kaew). Ao Wong Deuan attracts tourist groups during both the high and low seasons due to its beautiful white sandy beach and good accommodations. On top of this, good seafood restaurants with nice views are also available.
Ao Thian (Candlelight Beach) Ao Thian’s topography is painted by rocky beach in which some nice spots for skin diving are available. This beach is very quiet and free from group tours with bungalows and resorts available around the beach area.
Ao Wai is located within a short walking distance of Candlelight Beach. Shaded by coconut trees, the beach is a quite, scenic and serene spot for sea lovers.
Ao Kiu Nok This bay is a perfect secluded den for those planning to keep their distance from the busy, crowded beaches and vibrant nightlife. From Aow Kiew Nok, visitors can actually walk to Aow Kiew Nai which is the ideal spot to see the spectacular sun rise and sun set.
Ao Karang The best place to experience the traditional lifestyle of the residents of Koh Samet is at Ao Karang where there also are a number of seafood restaurants providing fresh seafood dishes at reasonable prices.
Ao Wiang Wan is located on the west of Na Dan Pier, a large bay where lots of sport activities such as fishing, etc. take place.
Ao Phrao is one of the quietest beaches of Ko Samet. Located quite far away from the lively nightlife of Ko Samet; Ao Prow is preferred by travelers who quietly enjoy the deep blue sea and white sand in the sunshine. Ao Prow has a long white sandy beach which is ideal for swimming.
How to get there: Four operators; namely, Nuanthip, Si Ban Phe, Phe Port, and Saphan Pla, around Ban Phe offer shuttle boat services between their ports and the main port of the island. All operators charge a flat rate of 100 baht per person for a round trip or 50 baht for a single journey. Boats can leave anytime when more than 20 passengers are waiting. The service is available around the clock, seven days a week.
For groups of at least 7 persons, Nuanthip Boat (0 3865 1508) offers a shuttle boat service to other bays as well, such as Ao Wong Duean (120 baht each) and to the last bay Ao Pakarang (200 baht each). Si Ban Phe Boat (0 3865 1902) also runs a scheduled boat service during weekends between Ban Phe and the main port of Samet. The hourly boat service from Ban Phe runs from 8.00 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the return trip from Samet, the boat leaves at 10.00 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. The company also offers a speed boat service at 1,000 baht a trip for 12 people to the main port, or higher rates for other routes. A parking service on the main land is available.
Ko Kruai, Ko Kham, and Ko Pla Tin (เกาะกรวย เกาะขาม และเกาะปลาตีน) These islands are some 600 metres north of Ko Kudi. With coral reefs, tourists can enjoy fishing here. A rental boat service is available at the port in Ban Phe. Ko Kudi or Ko Kut (เกาะกุฎี หรือเกาะกุด) The island is on the east of Ko Samet, six kilometres from the mainland. Ko Kudi totals an area of 63 rai. A nice beach and coral reefs make it a nice place for a hideaway. Nearby islands are Ko Thai Khangkhao and Ko Tham Ruesi. Without accommodation, the national park office on the island offers a tent for rent at 200 baht per person/ night. Pitching a private tent requires paying a fee of 20 baht per person/night. For more information, call Tel. 0 3865 3034, or in Bangkok at Tel.0 2561 2919 and 0 2561 2921.
Ko Thalu (เกาะทะลุ) Some 6 kilometres east of Ko Kudi, the island is another scuba diving site among coral reefs. The island totals an area of 69 rai, most remains lush forest. While high cliffs occupy the west, white sandy beaches occupy the east and south of the island. Ko Thalu is a habitat of seagulls, flying fox, and turtles.
Tourists visiting Ko Kudi, Ko Kruai, Ko Kham, Ko PlaTin and Ko Thalu should rent a boat from Ban Phe or Ko Samet. They should prepare food and water, as there is neither facilities nor food supplies available on such islands.For more information, please contact Ireland Tour co.,Ltd., Tel. 0 3865 3055-9
- Boat trips - should cost around 600 baht and can include snorkeling, fishing, a visit to the fish farms and floating restaurant, or a tour around the island and nearby Ko Thalu, Kud, Pateen and Kham etc. It is simple to find a boat trip and they come in either of two forms – by slow boat or speedboat. Most, which are for the full day, include a barbeque lunch, snorkeling gear and drinks.
- Yoga, ask for yoga at the Sea Breeze restaurant at Ao Pay beach. There is a yoga teacher who has been doing yoga for thirty years. He also does different types of massages (deep-tissue, aromatherapy, relaxation etc). Contact Bapa at Sea Breeze restaurant for all kind of yoga, (different levels, group or private) and massages.
- Traditional on almost every South-East Asia beach, Ko Samet has started featuring "Full/Half/Dark Moon" nights - not be confused with the massive Full Moon Parties on Ko Pha Ngan or other parts of Southern Thailand - here they are simply an excuse for drink specials, which are present every night of the year anyway
- Drink the local speciality, a SangSom bucket, which is a toxic mix of Thai whiskey, red bull and coke, served in a kids sandbucket with lots of straws
- Volleyball / Frisbee Tourists enjoy playing volleyball and Frisbee on the beach, if you don’t have your own you can ask the place you are staying at for a loan of theirs.
- Fishing Night fishing trips for squid can be arranged for around 500B.
- Windsurfing With its rocky coastline and offshore winds, north of Hat Sai Kaew is an excellent location for those wishing to try out a bit of wind surfing. Windsurfs can be rented out from most guesthouses and hotels for around 100-200baht per hour.
- Massage For a proper massage visit one of the indoor massage shops. Look to be paying around 200+ baht per hour. Doctors advise against having a massage from one of the many masseurs on the beach as many of them are poorly trained. If a Thai massage is performed wrongly it can do more harm than good.
Snorkeling/diving - Tourists can take a tour around the island and go snorkeling, if they wish, off the rocky uninhabited western side, or around the reefs at the southern tip. Scuba diving excursions can be arranged at Vong Duang.
Diving Center The two nearby islands of Ko Thalu and Ko Kud are excellent diving spots. Among the more reputable scuba establishments are:
- Ao Prao Diving Center, at Ao Prao Resort, Ao Prao Beach, Ko Samet. Tel: (038) 644-100. Diver propulsion vehicle (scooters) available for hire, PADI. www.aopraoresort.com
Ko Samet doesn't have much in the way of shopping beyond basic beach accessories (sarongs, T-shirts, etc). But, there are high quality crystal products and reed products. Crystal can be purchased at Lotus Crystal Factory in Pluak Daeng District of Rayong.
Most hotels have some books to trade or rent, and there are a growing number of hawkers selling books too.
Popular local food in Ko Samet includes sumptuous fried durian and fruits which also includes rambutan and mangosteen. The province is also well-known for its great seafood products such as: shrimp paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp, squid, octopus and other dried seafood.
Spas in Hotels/Resorts
- Ao Prao Resort (อ่าวพร้าวรีสอร์ท) Ao Prao Beach, Ko Samet (Tel: 0 2438 9771, Website: www.aopraoresort.com)
- Dhivarin Spa (ทิวาริน สปา) Paradee Resort & Spa, 76 Mu 4, Tambon Phe, Amphoe Muang, Koh Samet, Rayong
- Le Vimarn Cottages & Spa (เลอ วิมาน คอทเทจ แอนด์ สปา) 40/11 Mu 4, Ko Samet
- Sai Kaew Beach Resort (ทรายแก้วบีช รีสอร์ท) Sai Kaew Beach, Ko Samet (Tel: 0 2438 9771, Website: www.aopraoresort.com)
- Sai Kaew Villa (ทรายแก้ว วิลล่า) Sai Kaew Beach, Ko Samet (Tel: 0 3864 4144, Website: www.saikaew.com)
Thai Boxing (Muay Thai)
For those interested in learning Thai Boxing, there is a Thai boxing school with Thai and English instructors - Naga Muay Thai. They also organize regular Thai boxing matches at the ring adjacent to the Naga Bar. Naga Bungalows, Ko Samet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.nagamuaythai.com
For around 1,500baht, there are three day courses on learning the art of fire-spinning. The small school is located in Ladan Village.
Seafood, seafood, and seafood, some of the best barbeques are found along Ao Phai and Haat Sai Kaew beaches. But there's also meat and veggie curries as well as Western favorites like pizza, and a bakery that makes fresh bread at the Naga Bar and Bungalows on Ao Hin Khok. The best burgers on the island can be found at Saffron, while Jep's Restaurant offers cooking you'll still be missing a year after you leave -- try the chicken and cashew nuts with steamed rice. Almost every hotel and bungalow operation has its own restaurant but it's only the movies that differentiate them. Many also set up tables and chairs at night for dining on the beach.
If you are relaxing on the beach during the day there are plenty of hawkers selling fresh fruit, BBQ chicken wings, dried squid, papaya salad (can be extremely spicy) and even ice creams at reasonable prices.
Also if you need a break from Thai cuisine a number of the restaurants along Haat Sai Kaew make excellent club sandwiches. They also offer western style breakfast. (eg. bacon and eggs, yogurt or breakfast cereal)
In town (Na Dan), there are two smallish, more traditional Thai eateries that serve good quality Thai food at fairly cheap prices. One is located across the road from the 7/11 near the national park entrance, and the other is just a few shops down from the same 7/11. Both have menus in English.
If you're jonesing for some sticky rice and other country fare head down to Ao Wong Duan.
If you are after a traditional Thai breakfast there are a couple of ladies who set up their mobile eatery daily next to the Tourist Police checkpoint that services Haat Sai Kaew. They serve boiled chicken on rice (khao man gai tom), fried chicken and rice (khao man gai tort) or rice porridge (jok) for 20-30 baht. The food is fresh and they do a brisk trade serving locals as well as a few tourists.
- Gecko Bar - at the end of Ao Phai beach next to Silversand Resort, does an excellent barbeque with chicken steaks smothered in mushroom sauce and sizzling beef and chicken hotplates. Between 100 and 200 baht, these meals are definitely good value, try the fries or the competitively priced barbeque.
- Joe's - next to Ploy Thalee on Saikaew Beach, this newly redecorated restaurant has one of the best value barbeques on the island - large kebab, corn, potato and salad for around 100B.
- Ao Prao Resort, . Very posh resort on the west side of the island. You might even see some of the Thai glitterati lounging about - if only you could recognize them.
- Samed Villa. - Here they serve both delicious Thai and European cuisines both in the restaurant and on the beach setting.
- Indian Summer - Samed's only Indian restaurant is located on Ao Noi Naa at the Baan Phu Paan boutique resort. Whilst it is located a fair way from the majority of the tourist beaches, the trip is well worth it for a delicious Indian feast served on the resort's private pier. (open from 5pm)
Although Ko Samet is not a renowned party island, Haat Sai Kaew and Ao Phai do get their fair share of backpackers, and therefore have their fair share of parties. Everyday on Ao Phai flyers are handed out from the different bars that advertise the drink specials for that night, and might even give you a free drink. Biggest nights are generally Thursday-Saturday, when more of the backpackers and expats come to the island.
The main bars along Haat Sai Kaew are:
- Lima Bar: a small bar thats still getting started, but does excellent cocktails - try the chocolate martini. Located at the end of the village road, next to Buddy Bar.
- Ploy Bar: a large, generally Thai-style night spot that often has live acts and some manner of sideshow games. Located in the middle of Haat Sai Kaew, a big establishment, you can't miss it.
- Sunrise Bar: a small, newly opened bar located on the 'mermaid headland' at the bottom of Naga hill, this bar is a nice spot to relax with a drink in the late afternoon, or chill out and enjoy their selection of guest DJs.
...and along Ao Hua Khok / Ao Phai are:
- Naga Bar - At the top of 'Naga Hill' between Haat Sai Kaew and Ao Hua Khok. Once 'the' bar on the island, it has gone downhill somewhat in the last few years, but still a good place to hang and enjoy cheap drinks and a few games of pool with locals and tourists alike.
- Tok's Little Bar - A small thatched hut serves as the main bar for this laid back, chilled out drinking spot located next to Naga Bar. They generally have good drink specials and a different theme for every night, so grab a bucket and chill out on a mat on the beach. Occasionally has some fireshows and special parties.
- Silversand Bar - at the opposite end of Ao Phai to Naga Bar. Arguably the most popular bar on the island, Silversand brings in the largest backpacker crowd, and is generally where everyone ends up at the end of the night. The bar boasts quite a big dancefloor and generally the best fire shows on the island.
- Gecko Bar - located just next to Silversand, this small but personal bar offers a superb selection of specialty cocktails and icecream sundaes, as well as pool tables and movies. You can't go past the bar's signature cocktail, the 'Beach Bar Coffee'.
- Baywatch bar, AO wong Duan, . Popular bar for foreigners and Thai on AO Wong Duan with very relaxed chairs and an extended cocktail list to enjoy those long Thai nights. Currently they are expanding having rented the space from the bar next to them.
The local special can be reproduced as follows:
- one child's sandbucket, small
- one pint Mekong whiskey
- one can Coca-cola or Pepsi
- one scoop ice (Optional, most hardcore people can make the ice from tap water, which guarantees a massive hangover.)
- one to three straws
Place all ingredients in sandbucket and drink via straw. Repeat until the sandy beach rises up to meet you.
There's also the usual assortment of Thai beer - Chang, Tiger, San Miguel, Leo, and Carlsberg. Prices are significantly higher than on the mainland, but most bars have some form of happy hour. Alternatively, there's always the option of buying a 6-pack and sitting on the beach; for non-drinkers there are tropical fruit drinks.
Most of the accommodation centers around the beaches on the east coast; try to arrive on the island as early as possible to have the best selection to choose from. Tourist season on Samet is generally from November - February and June - August, at which time finding vacant accommodation can be a challenge. Also, beware any public holidays, the island fills up like crazy!
The northern-most beaches of Hat Sai Keaw and Ao Hin Kok have many bugalow operations with typical Thai concrete bunker-style rooms. If your room doesn't have air conditioning it can get a little hot during the day. At the very northern end are a few upscale resorts. At beaches further south you'll find the bungalows ranging from dismal shacks to four-star, air-conditioned mini suites.
Unless you've made the mistake of booking your room with the touts back at the dock you'll find a place by strolling down the beach. As this island becomes more and more popular it's getting harder to find rock-bottom prices. On some beaches you can expect to pay 600 baht for the basics. Most of the accommodation is first-come, first-served and the cheaper bungalows tend to go fastest. High-end establishments usually take reservations by phone, fax, and via the web.
Always ask to see the room before taking it. Many rooms will have minimal bedding so you might want to bring your own sleep sack or sarong. Towels, soaps, toilet paper, etc. may not be provided in basic bungalows but should be for sale cheaply somewhere close by.
Always check that the windows on the room have well sealed mosquito screens. Dawn and dusk are the times that the mosquitos are out and about. It is well worth buying a mosquito aerosol spray and giving your room a blast before going out for your evening meal/drinks. Personal mosquito sprays or lotions are also recommended whilst you are out in the early morning or evening. Also if your room has an en-suite close its door as this will take away one water source for the mosquitoes. Also sleeping with a fan panning over the bed while you sleep makes it harder for any mosquitoes that you may have missed to actually land on you.
Always take a padlock and key with you if staying at some of the cheaper establishments. Some bungalow doors can be opened with a knife in seconds, and robberies, though less common than in the past, are still present.
- Naga, bamboo huts with fan and mosquito net for 200 Baht. A favorite among backpackers.
- Jep's, A Hua Khok, offers clean, nicely designed fan and air-con bungalows from between 800 - 2000 baht per night. A favourite among Thais, this establishment fills up very quickly on holidays.
- Lung Dam Bungalow, located on Ao Lung Dam (a one-hour walk south on the beach from Na Dan), has very basic bungalows in the 300-500 baht range. It's on a small bay that is excellent for swimming. The restaurant has excellent service and is one of few on the island that is open early for breakfast. This beach is not accessible directly by road; unless you arrive directly by boat, you must walk on the beach for at least part of the way.
- Silversand Resort, Ao Phai, though becoming more upmarket everyday, Silversand still offers a few decently priced fan bungalows with attached bathroom for around 600 baht.
- Sea Breeze, Ao Phai (behind Silversand), is a dingy little place offering fan bungalows with attached bathroom from about 400 baht/night, about as cheap as you will get, and in a fairly decent location.
- The Lost Resort, Ao Phai (up the road from Silversand), an old, ratty hotel owned by a British expat, this resort offers triple-share rooms with attached bathrooms for about 1000/night. The small reception/restaurant area does some breakfast, but much better options are available on the beach.
- Tok's Little Hut, A Hua Khok (sometimes part of Ao Phai), offers fan and air-con bungalows with individual bathrooms from between 300 and 800 baht/night, depending on proximity to the beach. The bungalows are not necessarily pretty or overly clean, but if you want cheap they're fairly good value.
- Tub Tim Bungalow, Ao Tub Tim (AKA Ao Phudsa), is usually reliable and has rooms in the 600-1300 baht range. It's in a quieter area, although at night you might find the sound of bar music drowns out the lull of the ocean waves.
- Nuan, located at Ao Nuan is quite a bit out of the main beach areas, but great if you are looking for some deserted areas on the island. Get a bike and drive down on the gravel road. A bit hard to find, just go down to the beach and walk along. A small bunch of bamboo huts, with mosquito nets and a fan. Comes with an almost private little deserted beach. Prize start at 500 baht/night wit shared outdoor shower and toilet.
Most accommodation operations on Ko Samet offer a variety of different types of rooms, most of which fall in the mid-range category. If you are willing to spend between 500 and 1500 baht/night, you shouldn't have any trouble finding accommodation, no matter what beach you are on. A few such places are:
- Sai Kaew Villa, has clean and serviced bungalows and some concrete bunker style accommodation starting at 500 baht (fan, w/o breakfast) up to the 3000 baht price range (A/C) set amongst well groomed gardens. Their large dining and evening beach restaurant on Haat Sai Kaew serves good food and the staff is friendly. They are also a two minute walk from the Seven-Eleven and internet shops.
- Tarn Tawan, located on Ao Cho, is a clean, pleasant spot with decent bungalows, friendly service, and excellent food. The air-con bungalows are good value.
- Ao Prao Resort, . Very posh resort on the west side of the island.
- Lima Bella Resort, 
- Samed Villa Resort, . It is recommended for those who seek for relaxation in a lush tropical garden.
- Beaches on Koh Samet, . Koh Samet, Beaches, Rayong, Thailand.
- Resorts on Koh Samet, . Ko Samet, Rayong, Thailand.
- Ban Ploy Samet (บ้านพลอยเสม็ด) Ban Phe (Tel: 0 3864 4188-9 www.ploytalayresort.com) 14 rooms: 1,800-4,000 baht
- Mu Ban Thalay (หมู่บ้านทะเล) 1/8 Mu 4 Ban Phe (Tel: 0 3864 4251 0 1838 8682 www.moobanthalays.com E-mail: moobanthalays.com), 21 rooms: 2,900-8,000 baht
- Sai Kaew Hill Resort (ทรายแก้ว ฮิลล์ รีสอร์ท) 11/6 Mu 4 Ban Phe (Tel: 0 3864 4234-7 E-mail: SHR@Saikaew.com) 60 rooms: 1,000-5,000 baht
- Samet Club Resort (เสม็ด คลับ รีสอร์ท) 100 Mu 4 Ban Phe (Tel: 0 3864 4341 - 7 www.samedresorts.com), 27 rooms: 1,400-2,800 baht
- Pineapple (ไพน์แอปเปิ้ล) Ban Phe (Tel: 0 1658 5832 0 1743 8804) 20 rooms: 800 baht
- The Umbrella (ดิ อัมเบรลล่า) 97/5 Mu 4 Ban Phe (Tel: 0 3864 4221 www.theumbrella.net) 8 rooms: 800-1,600 baht
- Laemyai & Ploy Resort (แหลมใหญ่ แอนด์ พลอย รีสอร์ท) Mu 4 Ban Phe (Tel: 0 3865 1661 0 3865 1496) 57 rooms: 800-4,000 baht
- Sai Kaew Beach Resort (ทรายแก้ว บีช รีสอร์ท) Mu 4 Ban Phe (Tel: 0 3864 4195-7 www.samedresorts.com) 87 rooms: 2,900-8,000 baht
- Samet Grand View Resort (เสม็ดแกรนด์วิว รีสอร์ท) 95/2 Mu 2 Ban Phe (0 .3864 4220 www.grandviewthai.com) 36 rooms 1,500-2,200 baht
- Sai Kaew Villa (ทรายแก้ว วิลล่า) Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3865 1535 0 3864 4144 www.saikaew.com E-mail: email@example.com) 80 rooms: 700-4,990 baht
- Samet Green Inn (เสม็ด กรีน อินน์) 33/4 Mu 4 Ban Phe (Tel. 0 3864 4318) 24 rooms : 800 – 1,500 baht
- Ton Sak (ต้นสัก รีสอร์ท) Mu 4 (Tel. 0 3864 4314 0 3864 4330) 26 rooms 2,000 – 5,000
- Ao Phai Hut (อ่าวไผ่ ฮัท) (Tel: 0 3864 4075-6) 65 rooms: 500-1,200 baht
- Samed Villa Resort (เสม็ดวิลล่า รีสอร์ท) (Tel: 0 38 64 4094, 0 38 64 4161)www.samedvilla.com 35 rooms: 1400-3200 baht
- Little Hut (ลิตเติ้ล ฮัท) 16/1 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3864 4073) 36 rooms: 300-800 baht
- Jeab (เจี๊ยบ) Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3864 4113 0 1853 3121 www.jepbungalow.com) 60 rooms: 1,000-2,500 baht
- Naka (นากะ) 36 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3864 4034-5 0 3864 4167 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) 28 rooms: 250-500 baht
- Sea Breeze (ซี บรีส) 23 Mu 4 (Tel/Fax 0 3864 4124-5) 52 rooms: 600-1,500 baht
- Silver Sand (ซิลเวอร์ แซนด์) 92 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 1996 5720) 42 rooms: 300-800 baht
- Tu tu (ตู ตู บังกาโล) Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3864 4113 0 1853 3121 www.jepbungalow.com) 60 rooms: 1,000-2,500 baht
- Phuttra (พุทรา) 75 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3864 4066 0 3864 4030) 25 rooms: 400-1,700 baht
- Tubtim Resort (ทับทิม รีสอร์ท) 13/15 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 1218 7759 0 3864 4025-9 www.tubtimresort.com) 70 rooms: 500-1,200 baht
Ao Nuan – Ao Cho
- Ao Nuan (อ่าวนวล) 61/1 Mu 4 8 rooms: 150-400 baht
- Tantawan Resort & Ao Cho Guesthouse (ธารตะวัน รีสอร์ท แอนด์ อ่าวช่อ เกสต์เฮาส์) 46 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3865 3055-9 www.geocitie.com/ao-cho E-mail: Islandtour1999@hotmail.com) 45 rooms: 300-3,000 baht
- Ao Cho Hideaway (อ่าวช่อไฮด์อเวย์) Mu 4 (Tel. 0 3864 4332 www.grandviewgroupresort.com E-mail : email@example.com) 28 rooms : 3,700 – 4,700 baht
- Wonderland (วัลเดอร์แลนด์) (Lung Wung) (Tel: 0 3864 4162) 60 rooms: 200-2,500 baht
- Vimarn Samet (วิมานเสม็ด รีสอร์ท) (Tel: 08 6385 7841 08 6330 4002 www.vimarnsamed.com) 19 rooms: 600-1,200 baht
- Blue Sky (บลูสกาย)(Tel. 08 9936 0842 08 1509 0547) 7 rooms 1,000 baht
- Malibu Garden Resort (มาลิบู การ์เด้นท์ รีสอร์ท) Wong Duen Beach, Koh Samet, Rayong, (Tel/Fax: 0 3864 4020 www.malibu-samet.com), Rate start from 2,046 baht
- Samet Cabana (เสม็ด คาบาน่า) (Tel: 038 644 320) 40 rooms: 1,700 – 2,700 baht
- Sea Horse (ซี ฮอร์ส) 13/10 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3865 3740 0 3864 4209) 25 rooms: 500-2,500 baht
- Bell House (บ้านระฆัง) (Tel. 0 3864 4270) 10 rooms: 1,500 baht
- Wongduan Resort (วงเดือน รีสอร์ท) 22/2 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 1942 7220 0 3864 4171-2) 54 rooms: 2,000 -3,500 baht
- Wongduan Villa (วงเดือน วิลล่า) 22 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3865 2300 0 1863 9868) 31 rooms: 700-2,500 baht
- Candle Light (Saeng Tean Beach Resort-แสงเทียน บีช รีสอร์ท) 88 Mu 4 (Tel. 08 1295 9567 08 1996 9793 0 3864 4255) 18 rooms: 400 – 700 baht
- Ban Kiang Talay Resort (บ้านเคียงทะเล รีสอร์ท) (Tel: 08 6158 1619) 5 rooms: 500-800 baht
- Lung Dum (ลุงดำ) 229 Mu 2 (Tel: 08 6150 7661 08 1458 8430 0 3865 1810) 30 rooms: 200-3,000 baht
- Maeng ga proon fai (แมงกะพรุนไฟ) (Tel.:08 1652 5056 08 1458 8430 0 3864 4331) 15 rooms: 500 – 1,200 baht
- Ton Had (ต้นหาดบังกะโล) (Tel. 0 3865 1733 08 1435 8900) 6 rooms: 600 – 1,500 baht
- Ban Thai Saeng Tean (บ้านไทยแสงเทียน) (Tel. 0 3864 4322 08 1305 9408)
- Samet Ville (เสม็ด วิลล์) 229 Mu 2 (Tel: 0 3865 1681-2 www.sametvilleresort.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) 66 rooms: 900-2,500 baht
- Nimmanoradee (นิมมานรดี) 76/1 Mu 4 (Tel: 0 3864 4273 0 1862 8586 www.nimmanoradee.com ) 11 rooms: 2,000-3,500 baht
- Ao Prao Resort (อ่าวพร้าวรีสอร์ท) (Tel. 0 3864 4100 – 3 E-mail: frontoffice_ email@example.com) 52 rooms: 5,900 – 16,500 baht
- Le viman (เลอ วิมาน) 292/2 Mu 2 (Tel: 0 3864 4104-7 0-2438 9771-2 www.samedresorts.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) 28 rooms: 9,700 baht
- Lima Coco (ลิมา โคโค) 280/116 Mu 2 (Tel: 0 3864 4241 0 3864 4068 0 2938 1811 www.limacoco.com E-mail: email@example.com) 44 rooms: 2,500 – 6,900 baht
- Paradee Resort & Spa (ปารดี รีสอร์ท แอนด์ สปา) 292/2 Mu 2 (Tel: 0 38644 283-92 0 2438 9771-2 www.sametresorts.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) 10 rooms:15,000 – 80,000 baht
- Le Vimarn Cottages (เลอวิมาน คอทเทจส์) 40/11 Mu 4, Tambon Phe, Amphoe Mueang, Rayong, Rate start from 6,135 baht
- Paradee Resort & Spa (ปารดี รีสอร์ท แอนด์ สปา) 76 Mu 4, Tambon Phe, Amphoe Muang, Koh Samet, Rayong, Rate start from 9,225 baht
Health and Medical Centers
On Koh Samet, there is one hospital near Sai Kaew beach, but for anything serious it’s better to return to Bangkok. For nothing too severe there are plenty of clinics and pharmacies in the main areas.
More and more foreigners are living on Ko Samet, many of them retirees. A favourite spot for them are on the beaches. There are some other retirees though, who reside in quieter locations away from the tourist scene.
Nationwide television, cable TVs, local cable TV channels are available in Ko Samet. International newspapers and magazines are available at the tourist spots.
Landline telephones, satellite phones, all mobile phone systems, high-speed internet (ADSL), post offices and parcel services are available in most of the places of Ko Samet.
3 Days / 2 Nights
- Day 1: Leave Bangkok early in the morning and arrive in Ko Samet before mid-day. Go to one of the quiet beaches like Ao Wai or Ao Nuan, check in, and spend the rest of the afternoon sunbathing and swimming. In the evening, enjoy a romantic seafood dinner with your loved-one. Before bed have a cocktail under the stars.
- Day 2: Move to Hat Sai Kaew and go on one of the snorkeling tours to the nearby islands such as Ko Thalu and Ko Kud. In the evening, go on a bar crawl and shoot a few games of pool.
- Day 3: Spend the morning relaxing on the beach and see the statue of Phra Aphai Manee. Perhaps try your hand at windsurfing, volleyball or Frisbee. Return to Bangkok in the early afternoon after having had a seafood lunch at one of the top hotels.
- Sai Kaew Villa (ทรายแก้ว วิลล่า) Ko Samet Tel: 0 3864 4144
The best time of the year to see Ko Samet is from November to February where the weather is cooler and the seas are calmer. Since Samet has a micro-climate it is one of the driest places in Thailand. During the rainy season Samet has substantially less rain than the other islands in Thailand.
- Do make sure that any boat you take has enough life-jackets for everyone on board.
- Do protect yourself from mosquitoes.
- Do, if you come down with a high fever, go to the hospital immediately.
- Do, if you get bit by a dog, go to the hospital immediately.
- Do bargain the price of the room in the low season.
- Do bargain with vendors.
- Do contact the tourist police in any dodgy situation.
- Do be careful of over-charging drivers.
- Do carry around small change.
- Do try the local seafood.
- Do get off the beaten track.
- Do, if you hire a motorbike, make sure the owners have a trustworthy reputation.
- Do, make sure you avoid staying or eating at Samed Villa Resort.
- Immegration Office 0 3863 8674
- Highway Police 1193 0 3861 1203
- Tourist Police 1155 0 3865 1669
- Police Station 0 3887 1106
- Rayong Hospital 0 3861 1104
- Emergency Calls 191
- Weather Forecast Department 0 3865 5075
This page was last edited at 09:31, on 20 March 2009 by Jani Patokallio. Based on work by bornDistinction, Wikitravel user(s) Therightthing, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.