Ko Samet Travel Guide

Ko Samet is the closest island paradise to Bangkok, being a mere 200kms south of the capital, just offshore from Rayong. It is quite close to Pattaya but couldn’t be more different in style and charm.

Ko Samet is blessed with having the whitest beaches in Thailand, created from the large swathes of coral reef in the area. The island has a nice island atmosphere and although it can get pretty busy at weekends with visiting Bangkokonians, it is pretty quiet during the week.

Development on Ko Samet has thankfully been kept to a minimum, owing to its national park status (fees apply), and you may be surprised to learn that there is minimal road traffic and the way to get around is on foot or by boat. Accommodation is generally in the form of beach bungalows and villas that are unfortunately a little on the expensive size.

There are several beaches to check out although none are really well connected, with boat travel the only viable option for getting from the one to the next. The main beach is Hat Sai Kaew, or Diamond Beach; a long white stretch of sand with exquisite waters and several good restaurants as well as a bit of shopping. Sai Kaew can be found in the northeast and most ferries land here.

Ao Vong Duan (Vong Duan Bay), which means ‘Half Moon Bay’ due to its shape, is also a very popular beach on Ko Samet. It also has white sand, is farther south than Sai Kaew, more difficult to get to, less busy and more appealing in that respect. Honeymooners have plenty of choice, with the likes of Tub Tim Beach being the real deal.

The island is quite hilly inland and is tough going for those without good walking legs. There is a hiking route around the island’s interior although you will find zero facilities and transport options.

Getting There & Away

Ko Samet is 3 hours south of Bangkok by road. It has no airport therefore the only way onto the island is by boat, with the town of Ban Phe near Rayong having ferry piers. Boats leave throughout the day and take about 40 minutes to reach the main Ko Samet pier near Sai Kaew. Speedboats are an alternative, with the convenience of speed and direct access to your desired beach. They are not cheap. Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok is the gateway and is 2 or 3 hours by taxi from Rayong, the nearest major town to Ko Samet.

Things to Do

Ko Samet Attractions

Sai Kaew Beach

The main attraction of ko samet, with white coral sands, minimal water sports, and beachside bungalow resorts and restaurants.

Vong Duan Bay

Popularly known as half moon bay, this beach is farther south and less busy than sai kaew and is especially nice for its sunrises.

Sai Kaew fire show

A popular attraction which goes on twice nightly at ploy thalee restaurant/bar.

Snorkeling and diving

The remote western side of ko samet has the best underwater scenery and you can join snorkeling and scuba diving excursions at most beaches.