Let me give you an introduction to Koh Samet. Located off the coast of Rayong and approximately 180 km from Bangkok, the island of Koh Samet (also spelled as Ko Samed in some literature) is shaped like a long boot, larger on the top, and narrower at the bottom. It is 6.5 kilometres off Ban Phe and the ferry from the mainland takes approximately 30 mintues.
There are a number of white sandy beaches at Samet-ranging from beautiful to great. Most of the nicer ones are located on the east coast closer to the Nan Dan Public Pier and Koh Samet Village: including Ao Phai, Had Sai Keaw (also spelt Sai Keo or Diamond Beach), the bays of Ao Wong Duen, Ao Wai, and Ao Kua Na Nok towards the south. On the west coast, there is only one beach of note, and that is the cove of Ao Prao which is where I stayed.
The island itself has a rather hilly terrain which limits road access from one beach to another, and therefore transportation around the island is usually by means of speed boats, ferries and motorbikes, and of course, on foot.
How's the Weather?
Koh Samet can be visited virtually the whole year round, with the exception of a rainy /monsoon season around May. We visited in September and during those few days, we had perfect beach weather in the mornings and early afternoons - hot and sunny However, there were periods of heavy rain in the evenings-not enough to spoil the fun, but just enough to keep up the level of excitement! The best part was that the sea water was beautifully warm, even after the rain and into the late evening.
After we got into town, we were slightly confused and weren’t sure which road to take. It appears that there are several piers (see pics) & also more than one way to get to Ko Samet. To add to our confusion, there were a few instances where a few motorbikers tapped on the car window offering to help. Hate to be negative, but in truth we were kind of wary - from previous experience in Bangkok and Phuket, some people would try to attach themselves to you under the guise of being an impromptu guide, and then lead you where you didn't actually want to go in the first place.
From what we had read on the internet, Ban Phe Pier offers ferry services throughout the day at fairly regular intervals. Per the internet, fares range from 40 baht per person to Hat Sai Kaeo and 50 baht to Hat Wong Duen.
Warning If you are very pressed for time and are late for an important appointment (or get conned!), you may end up getting a speedboat to make the transfer, at 10 times the ferry price. Well, it is your choice, but let the buyer beware.
After taking a look at the picture of the calm sandy beaches of Ao Prao, you're probably dying to find out how to get there. (smile)
Well, in order to get to Ko Samet from Bangkok, you would firstly need to drive to the town of Ban Phe. There are several highways out of Bangkok and onto Ban Phe/Rayong area. One way is to take the highway to Pattaya using Highway No 34 (Bang Na Trat) (pay a combined toll of 60 baht), and from there it is about 60 km to BanPhe/Rayong on Highway 36. Another more direct route is to take the highway 34 from Bangkok to Chon Buri, and then Highway No. 344 (Ban Bung-Klaeng), then turn into Highways No. 331 and No. 36 to Ban Phe/Rayong.
A Short Introduction to Rayong: Rayong is 180 kilometres from Bangkok and covers a total area of 3,550 square kilometres. Administratively, it is divided into several districts including the district of Muang Rayong, Bang Chang (where Ko Chang is located) and others. This area, towards the South Eastern coast is beginning to become more popular with tourists and locals. If you have more time, you may wish to stop by and overnight at Rayong itself. Among its claims to fame is its 100 kilometre-long coastline, and it also boasts several beautiful beaches and scenic waterfalls and a few hotels such as the Novotel Rayong. Commercially, the region’s population rely upon fishing, agriculture (tapioca, tropical fruits such as rambutan, watermelon, durians, mangosteen, etc) and more recently industrial factories (including car assembly) to make a living.
The pictures here show scenes taken around Ban Phe Town. Ban Phe is the main embarkation port to Ko Samet National Park. As you can see from the pictures, this fishing town had lots of fresh and dried fishing produce being sold everywhere. Apart from that, there were shell based handicraft and souvenirs, fishy snacks, fresh fruits and brightly coloured toys for children. (check out my shopping tips)
We hired a car from Bangkok town and it took us approximately 2.5 hours to get to Ban Phe town. The cost of transfer from Bangkok to Ban Phe Pier is approximately 2,500-3,000 baht per car. The road itself was pretty good and our car traveled at between 100-120 km per hour most of the way. Traffic was initially quite heavy getting out of Bangkok, but smooth flowing once we were out of Bangkok and there were a lot of trucks and larger vehicles on the highway. Bangkok is a sprawling city and you'll know you are leaving Bangkok city when you start to see the signs that indicate the Exit to the new Bangkok airport.
Once off the highway, at about 19 km from Rayong town, there will be signs indicating "Ban Phe". Turn left at a set of traffic lights into Ban Phe town.
If you don't wish to hire a private car, you can also take the public bus from Bangkok but be aware that the journey will involve stops along the way and takes 4-5 hours.
Towards the end of the ferry ride, I got my first glimpse of Samet (see pics) and to my surprise, there was a reasonable amount of traffic (ferries, fishing boats, speedboats) plying between the island and Ban Phe. To get off the ferry was quite an experience because we had to climb onto another boat (try doing it while carrying your luggage in both hands-it is not that easy...) before actually stepping onto the pier itself. This is because of the boats that were already moored against the pier.
Some history: Ko Samet has been known as a safe anchorage for sailors since at least the 13th century, although some literature also mentioned that the straights between Samet and the mainland did provide opportunities for ambush by lurking pirates (how I love romantic stories!). The village of Na Dan (also spelt "Nah Dan") or Koh Samet Village dates back to about 50 years.
So what is it like now? The pier itself was a hive of activity. There was a medium sized 7-11, some small stalls, a few tour operators and various people milling about.
Anyway, after checking around a bit, we ended up buying a return ticket at approximately 100 baht per person to get on a ferry bound for Nan Da Public Pier (the main pier leading to Ko Samet village). The ferry itself was comfortable and came with brightly coloured orange life jackets (see main pics). The ferry ride to the island took approximately 1/2 hour-but hey, who's counting? : )
Funny/Fond memory: After we had purchased the ferry tickets, a guy came over in a little scooter with a side car and asked us to jump on, and so we did. He drove us only for a very short distance to the pier (see pics) (yes, we could have walked! LOL), and dropped us off in front of a restaurant on the pier. There we ordered a bite of fried rice-I actually wanted to try some seafood (some locals were happily munching away on crabs and clams so I figured it musn't be too expensive), but was afraid to order any fancy dishes, in case we missed the ferry. Anyway, the fried rice arrived in a jiffy and we were finished in ten minutes. On the ticket, we were informed that the ferry would leave at 2.45 pm. Suddenly, at about 2.30 pm, there was a heavy downpour! The roof of the restaurant started to leak, but we and our things were still ok. At about 2.45 pm, my husband started to get edgy and craned to look for the ferry. I told him not to worry because clearly there were still other passengers ("farang" with luggage - so must be waiting for the ferry right?) still hanging around casually in the restaurant. At about 2.50 pm, the rain had died down (thank goodness!), and two little scooters came over to pick us all up and drive us down to the ferry (about 200 meters only). We all then clambered on board the ferry, and sat there waiting for something to happen. Five minutes later, a large family arrived and boarded the ferry, and only then at approximately 3.00 pm, did the boat boys (see pics) allow the ferry take off.
Moral of the stoy: Learn to relax, you're on Thai time....
Two beaches and a panoramic promontory away from Ao Phai you can find the charming Ao Tubtim beach. This beach is just as nice as the other beaches - with the added photogenic bonus of a long old-looking wooden "bridge" onto the sea. In the afternoon - however - it gets very shady quite ewarly - so maybe it's not the best beach to get a perfect suntan.
Just take a swim in the great ocean.
But don't be suprised when the outside tempature is 35 degrees and the water 34 degrees or even hotter!
So don't expect a cold swim, it looks like you swim in a hot bath!!!!!
But except that it's a a great beach and nice sea to swim in.
Just relax in a free beachchair in front of the sea and watch the sun go down.
It is a really great place to watch the sunset beacause there's only sea in front of the beach (no Mountains or islands).
Catch a cocktail and a great friend or lover and enjoy!!!
At night you can watch all the fisher-boats with there funny light globes.
To stay a little bit fit and not sit the whole day in your beach-chair; just take a (short) walk on the beach.
Remember it's not a LARGE beach, so spend about 10 minutes; haha!!
We took a NIGHTWALK and it was great fun! Remember to put on good walking shoes, because after sunset it's ebb tide and you can step on sharp corals!!!
Take a flash-light with you and discover all the lively crabs and corals between the rocks at the beach.
...well, who doesn't like sunrises and sunsets at all? As for me, they're just the magical moments in my life! I'm not a sun worshiper either. But, these two psrts of the day are just something worth rushing off..The colours that makes them more lovelier is just lovely!
Koh Samet have these spectacular and magical moments!
...and it will give you soo much energy for a day! Well, atleast it give as just to what I wanted..heheh
I wanted to get up very early as possible so set the alarm clock at 5am! Hey, hubby waked me up! What a lovely sunrise they have and the water is freezing but I waited until 8am to swim!=)
...there's a Speed Boat service around the Samet Island. The one that we took was an hour to see around the Island which was amazing and you can also check out the beautiful bays and the visit to sea turtles and the shark farm. I lost all my pics in there, unfortunately as I brought along my small digi and didn't what happend..well, it was alot of fun after all!
The speed boat service varies according to time limit, they have programs in 4 types. The one that we had was Program A, for 2 persons and each person is 600 baht!
...in the Pier! Right next to where we stayed. They have this pier that if you like you can dive from there and as for me, it gave me enough view to the sorrounding white,sandy and crystaline beach!
I took most of my sunrise and sunset shots from there!
...leave a footprints behind and take a pic in it! The beach really is very pretty with the crystalline water and white sandy beach..my words can't do justice to the place...This pic is dedicated for a friend Footsie girl(Ling)...