Koh Samet is a beautiful, tourist-friendly, and yet largely untouched island located in the Gulf of Thailand, just off the coast of Rayong. It is, in a manner of speaking, one of few of its kind: Thailand may be packed with gorgeous tropical islands, but many of them have seen the adverse effects of mass tourism. Locals regularly bemoan the impact of visitors to tropical idylls such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and even Koh Phi Phi. Koh Samet Thailand is just as attractive as these islands, and yet somehow it’s maintained an authentic, unhurried air. There’s plenty by way of tourist provisions, such as Koh Samet hotels, found here, but generally speaking it continues to be an immensely alluring, authentic island destination.
Inevitably, it’s the beach in Koh Samet that attracts most visitors. Golden stretches of sand bordered by crystal-blue ocean are found at every inlet and bay here. Hat Sai Kaew and Ao Vong Duan are the longest beaches in Koh Samet Thailand, and you’ll find the majority of vacationers along these parts of the coastline. Over on the east coast, meanwhile, the intrepid traveler can seek out beaches such as Ao Phai, Ao Kui Na Nok, and Ao Hin Khoh. These are more isolated, quieter beaches, though they’re still outfitted with sufficient tourist provisions, such as eateries or—as is the case with Ai Hin Khoh—small and cheap bungalows.
Koh Samet is just as beautiful out to sea as it is on the shoreline. With coral to be found all around the island, diving and snorkeling are abiding favorites in terms of activities for those spending time here. Many Koh Samet hotels can help arrange diving trips, and there are also a handful of dive centers on Koh Samet that charter boats. Many of these trips travel close to the nearby islands of Koh Thalu and Koh Kud, where the very best sea life in the area is to be found.
Come nighttime in Koh Samet, the drinking and clubbing scene is not like that on Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, which means this probably isn’t the island for you if you’re looking to party while vacationing around the Thai islands. It is, however, the right destination if eating good food in tranquil settings is more your thing. There is an array of excellent dining options, with Koh Samet hotels all boasting of the varied eating options only a few meters walk from their entrances. Restaurants with a sea view are almost always the best bet if you’re looking to spend happily relaxed hours, though their food does come at a slight premium compared with joints further inland.
Koh Samet Thailand is known as a getaway destination for people who live in Bangkok, so getting from one to the other is consequently simple. While flights are possible, at only about four hours' drive, the most economic option is probably to take a coach, and plenty leave the Bangkok bus terminus. Having arrived at the ferry terminus, it’s then about an hour’s boat ride to the island itself.
Top image: SawHtoo (flickr)