Koh Samet is fast-becoming one of Thailand’s hottest new destinations and being a stone’s throw away from Bangkok, it makes for a great Thailand stopover. Thatraveller blogger Holly O’Sullivan recently discovered its many charms.A short ferry ride away from Rayong’s southern tip and roughly 3-hour’s drive from Bangkok, Koh Samet is a relaxing beach-side alternative to a Bangkok stop-over. A short hop from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok’s city centre, step onto the white sandy beaches of one of Thailand’s most eco-friendly destinations.
Being so close proximity to Bangkok Koh Samet very popular with locals for weekend trips and short breaks. During my visit we saw very few international tourists, it was perfect that way, seemingly still undiscovered.
Tourists Welcome – Plastics Not
Koh Samet is one of Thailand’s first islands to enforce a full ban on plastic bags and foam packaging. In late 2018, the island launched a campaign to encourage visitors not to bring plastics. All hotels now avoid single-use plastics and locals can be served a THB 1000 fine.
Before the campaign launched, a study discovered that the 1,500 daily tourists who visit the island use an average of eight plastic bags each – that’s 12,000 bags dumped every day, so the ban has made a significant difference to the amount of waste the island produces.
This picturesque island’s beaches and resort life are its main attraction. Most of the larger resorts are based at Sai Kaew Beach – also where you can do plenty of activities; jetskiing, canoeing, parasailing, SCUBA diving, snorkelling, and windsurfing. The sea at most of the beaches is calm and pleasant for swimming and most resorts also have swimming pools.
A small walk south from Sai Kaew Beach is Ao Hin Khok. This beach is just as popular and this is where most of the islands budget accommodation and dining options can be found. By night the shoreline transforms into a nightlife hotspot. The restaurants set up their tables on the beach, offering all sorts of Thai dishes, from papaya salad, to panang curries and fresh seafood.
As well as the many popular karaoke bars that drift out onto the sand, a visit to Koh Samet isn’t complete without an evening spent at Ploy Talay.
Ploy Talay operates as a restaurant by day and a nightclub by night with fire shows on every night. Starting from about 8pm, on a busy night the shows can go for up to 45 minutes. The fire show performance starts on the stage, before the dancers take to the water – the luminescent sparks and flames looking all the more impressive reflected in the water.
Throughout the island visitors are able to hire scooters and bikes to explore, but with the islands flat terrain it can be easily covered by foot and along the open beaches.
Koh Samet is accessible from the mainland pier in Ban Phe. The pier has a large lounge area with a cafe and other amenities – the souvenir shop also sells necessities like sunscreen and dry bags (perfect for those taking part in water sports).
Upon check-in staff members are meant to check visitors for plastics, though tourists are not likely to be penalised (but this doesn’t mean you won’t be…)
The distance from the pier to the lounge is walkable, but the included open-air shuttle is a much loved inclusion to avoid handling all of your luggage in the warm sun.
All ferry companies charge the same fare:
- 70TBH one way
- 100TBH return
The journey takes about 40minutes and ferries run hourly from 8am to 5pm.
Speedboats are also available, and for most resort stays these trips are included:
- 200TBH one way
- 500TBH return
The journey takes about 15 minutes, but can take longer depending on your stop. For speedboat journeys, you are able to request your beach destination.