Koh Samet: Bangkok’s Getaway Destination
Leave the hustle and bustle of Bangkok behind and visit this petite picture-perfect island that's just 3.5 hours away from Thailand’s chaotic capital city.
Step out of a taxi and onto a boat that'll whisk you away to the white sands at Koh Samet - where dreamy holiday scenes like this... are made.
It's a small mesmerising getaway destination, situated on the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand, just 200km’s away from Bangkok.
The sand is fine and clean. The water warm and crystal clear. This is what set’s the ’T’ shaped island apart from some of its rivals nearby which are flooded with tourist who leave their rubbish behind and riddle the beaches with plastic.
You see, Koh Samet is different. Because it’s been under the protection of the National Parks Division organised by the Thai government, who’s rangers make their presence known by enforcing fines to litterbugs. There are signs everywhere warning tourists of the hefty penalties if they refuse to toss their trash in a bin. Locals are also on board the green movement, no longer issuing plastic bags at check-outs! Finally common sense prevails.
As the island is protected by the NPD, this comes at a small cost to guests. On arrival, every visitor is charged a 200 baht entry fee. In my opinion, the $10 AUD is worth every cent, as the coastline is kept pristine. Note: the ticket - is valid for 5 days. If you’re planning on staying longer - just purchase another pass from the rangers who guard the entrance of the National Park and its several beaches.
When it comes to your itinerary, I recommend you follow your instincts when you arrive and don’t get too caught up in pre-planning your days on Koh Samet. Instead, simply hire a motorbike for 300 baht a day, and explore the small island at your own leisure. From north to south, it's just shy of 7 kilometres in length. In fact, the time it takes for you to travel to work, is probably longer than what it takes to drive from one end to the other - just 20-30 minutes. So relax, take it all in. Breathe. You’ll have plenty of time to soak up the salt and sun on its many beaches that are lined with dreamy coconut palms which sway in the salty breeze.
Fun fact: Koh Samet was named after the ‘Samet’ tree - which grows in abundance throughout the forests, which blanket up to 80 percent of the island.
Here are some of my top places to see and things to do:
Have lunch at Ao Phrao, then swim in the water with plenty of starfish. Stay a few hours and sit on the beach until dusk to watch the sunset over the ocean.
Take a morning stroll and have breakfast, lunch or dinner on Sai Kaew. Buy a beach ball from a vendor (or a giant blow-up flamingo) and float in the ocean for hours. Feeling peckish? Purchase some fresh fruit (such as mango, drinking coconuts or guava) from locals who walk up and down the foreshore.
Watch the incredible fire twirling display on the beach at Silver Sand Bar in the evening.
Unwind, relax and watch the world go bye at Ao Wai. There's plenty of natural shade from the trees that line the beautiful beach.
Go explore the island on a motorbike and visit Koh Samet End View Point. Take a mat, some snacks and have a picnic on the rocks.
Indulge in a $3 Nutella banana crepe at one of the beach stalls in the evening on Sai Kaew Beach. 🤤
Where to stay?
Anywhere on the island!
In my opinion, one of the most luxurious areas is Ao Phrao.
Meanwhile, the main town in the north east tip of the island (behind Sai Kaew Beach) is also busy with restaurants, shops and massage parlours.
How to get there?
From Bangkok, it will take 3 hours to get to Sri Ban Phe Pier where boats depart for Koh Samet. Estimated cost: 2,000 car - 3,000 baht mini van
From Pattaya the journey is just 1.5 hours.
I recommend first checking the estimated cost of the journey on the GRAB app which is Thailand’s version of Uber. On the app, you can pay by credit card, or alternatively, receive a fixed priced (prior to your journey) giving you the option to pay the driver in cash once you’ve reached your destination. I also recommend downloading GRAB before you travel overseas if you don't have global roaming, as you’ll have to confirm your phone number by receiving a text during the sign-up process.
Getting from the Pier to Koh Samet
You can purchase your ferry ticket at Ban Phe. There are two options:
- 20 minute speedboat
- 45 minute public transport ferry
The speedboat will set you back 200 baht per person. The ferry costs 30 baht.
Best time to travel
Ko Samet is one of the driest archipelagos in the country. However, the island's wet season is between May and July.