If you want an island get-away that isn’t far from Bangkok, has pure white sand, and is a place to relax or have fun, Koh Samet is for you.
Located just 140 miles from the capital, Koh Samet, sits in the Gulf of Thailand, just off the coast of Rayong province and is part of the Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park.
I have been there a few times and have always stayed at Hat Sai Kaew resort, the liveliest of the resorts. I took my friend there when she visited Thailand in 2015. Not much has changed. It’s still a stunning island.
There are 14 white sand beaches, and activities such as swimming, snorkeling and diving. There are lots of restaurants along the beach which have a good choice of both Thai and Western food, including breakfasts.
Since I was there last, there are a couple of larger hotels on the beach front but, because they are set back from the beach a little, they didn’t seem that imposing. Enough for the resort to retain some of its charm at least.
What surprised me more was the lack of people there, especially at night. I have been there when it has been absolutely packed out, but there weren’t even many foreigners in sight, save us two and a couple of others that we saw.
Still we had fun at the nightly fire show where the fire-dancers show off their skills to music that pumps out of the speakers. I might add, the same music was playing the first time I went, in 2008. Well, if it’s not broken don’t fix it as they say.
In the middle of writing this I found out that since 1st January 2016 all bars and restaurants must close by midnight and all music stop by 11.00pm. An order which the military have enforced. An act that may well stop tourists and, indeed, Thais from visiting the island. A sad fact indeed when you think of the people who live and work on the island, whose lives depend on the number of visitors. Apparently, this is not a new regulation. It is in line with national park rules that say businesses and visitors must not disturb the peace.
Koh Samet has been a popular destination for many years and long may it be so. Don’t let this curfew put you off visiting. It really is a beautiful place and one that can be enjoyed way before the curfew kicks in.
Bangkok to Ban Phe: Buses leave from Ekkamai Bus Station every hour between 5.00am to 7.00pm. The journey takes just under 4 hours.
At Ban Phe head to Tarua Phe Pier, across the road from the bus station, and buy a ticket for the ferry (around 100 baht). Please note you will also have to pay the national park entrance fee of 200 baht per person.
The ferry takes around 40 minutes to Nadan Pier and once on the island you will be able to take a songthaew to your resort. The last time I went there was a 20 baht charge on arrival at the pier, apparently for the upkeep of the island.