Koh Samet Island in the Gulf of Thailand  |  Koh Samet, Thailand  |  A must visit, either for the day or overnight. When I told the concierge of my hotel that I was coming, he said …” Carlos, you should at least stay one night to experience the island in full…”, unfortunately that was not  possible, but now that I have seen it, I fully agree with him. Located on the Gulf of Thailand, it offers a great value option for those on the budget or with not enough time to explore other options on the gulf or the Andaman Sea. Only 4 hours away from Bangkok by car and ferry, and 2 hours from Pattaya. (find the full Flickr Photo Album below).

So I transferred from Pattaya to Ban Phe by mini bus (approx. 1 hour) and from Ban Phe we took a regular ferry to Koh Samet, arriving to Vongduern Beach (approx. 1 hour). Total cost of the tour, for the full day, including transfers from/to my hotel, round trip ferry and lucy at the Malibu Garden Resort, was THB 1200 (approx. USD 39). Do not be deceived by the first impression, it will feel and look highly touristy, and upon arrival to Vongduern Beach you will hate it…. but do as I did, start exploring around, and wonder away from the pack… and trust me, you will fell in love with Koh Samet.
Food on the ferry is not an issue, since most of the local vendors of the Island live in Ban Phe, and use the local ferry as their way of transportation in/out every day. From fresh coconut, all types of fruits to beer, anything you may need they will provide, and at a very reasonable price.
Plenty of beautiful small hotels and bungalows, distributed all over the island. Perhaps the best way if you plan only to spend the day, is to rent a motorbike (THB 500 x day) and spend the day trying all the different beaches of the island. Most hotels are located on the water and guarantee a full view of the waters of the Gulf of Thailand, some even with you own private access to the water. A few of my favorite that I was able to explore are: Paradee Resort, Tongta Pha View Resort and Samet Cabana Resort.
Lots of local food options, from the most rudimentary and basic to the chic and international, but always maintaining a very local style and concept. I particularly loved this ones right on the water, with magnificent panoramic views of the beach. A must try, are the Noodle Soups with local fresh just out of the water, fish, octopus, squid and shrimp.
Koh Samet has over 24 different beach options… all different and particular. I only had time to explore a few of them. I arrived to Vongduern Beach (which is the most touristy and crowded), and wondered around Aocho, Ao Nual, Ao Lung Dam, Laem Ruataek…. The beaches on the east and northeast of Samet are the most popular and visited.  The beaches on the south side of the island are the least visited – restaurants and shopping is very limited. An alternative for those who are looking for a holiday in peace and quiet. The west side is more hilly, but here you find a nice beach called Ao Prao, with some of the best sunsets you will ever see. Other must visit are: Ao Vong Duan, Ao Karang, Ao Phutsa, Ao Phai and Hat Sai Kaew (or Diamond Beach).
Unfortunately for the day visitors, 3.30PM marks the time to head back to Ban Phe in mainland, and the boats to the ferry get ready to take the passengers back. You can see the ferry at the far end. Fortunately for those staying overnight, when they have the island all for themselves. The ferry from/to Koh Samet, it is a very pleasant and relaxing experience itself.
Even the local vendors get ready to head back to mainland, after a long day walking up and down the beach offering their products to the tourists, at very reasonable prices.
Koh Samet, on the Gulf of Thailand off the coastline of the Thai province of Rayong. The name derives from the cajeput tree found throughout the island, as the Thai language word it is same A must visit and the perfect combination to your visit to Pattaya or Bangkok. CM

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