Koh Samet is a popular island among many Bangkokians. Because the island is located only 220 kilometers from Bangkok, it’s a great place to escape from the city. The beaches are quite something: stretches of white sand, a clear blue sea and green trees adorning the coastline. To experience Koh Samet in this way, it’s important to know where to go. We’d like you to join us on a trip along the nicest beaches!

Koh Samet: a national park…?

I experienced first hand that Koh Samet is Bangkok’s perfect place to get a fix of heavenly island life, however my first impression was a different one.

Officially speaking, Koh Samet is part of Khao Laem Ya – Mu Ko Samet National Park. That’s why you need to pay a 200 baht entry fee to visit the island.

I don’t mind contributing to nature preservation, but in the case of Koh Samet, it didn’t feel right.

Upon arrival, Koh Samet didn’t strike me as a National Park in any way. Restaurants drown each other out with loud music, there’s trash by the roadside everywhere and the noise of speedboats and jet skis fills the bay…

National Park? Hardly.

It’s a good thing I quickly got to see the other side of Koh Samet. If you accept having to pay the entry fee and travel on to the south, you’ll notice the beaches become increasingly empty, clean and exotic.

Now I understand why Koh Samet is so popular!

Lounging at Ao Prao Bay

Koh Samet’s beaches

Although Koh Samet isn’t large (13 km²), the island has 14 gorgeous beaches and all of them have lovely soft, white sand and a clear blue sea. The island is known for the green cajeput trees growing on many of its beaches (Samet is the Thai word for cajeput). The beaches in the north are buzzing with hotels, restaurants and things to do. The beaches in the south are calmer, free from jet skis and overseen by luxury resorts.

Ao Prao: Resort beach

Ao Prao (meaning: Paradise Bay) is the only beach on the west coast. With its white sand, palm trees and green mountains, this beach is a true paradise. Scooters aren’t allowed here, which keeps it nice and calm.

Three luxury resorts along the coast separate the beach. But thankfully, you don’t need to stay in a resort to enjoy this little piece of paradise; the southernmost part of the beach is accessible to everyone. You can rent a beach chair for 50 baht. This is also the best spot for some great snorkeling and admiring coral and tropical fish.

It’s the perfect bay for the whole family!

Ao Prao Koh SametAo Prao Resort

Sleeping at Ao Prao

Le Vimarn:
Clearly the most beautiful resort on the island, with luxury cottages and a gorgeous stretch of beach. This is the place to be! From 8000 Thai Baht per night →

Ao Prao Resort:
A beautiful resort for enjoying some relaxation. A good choice for families with children. From 6000 Thai Baht per night →

Lima Coco Resort:
The ‘budget’ choice of this bay, but still really comfortable with a pool and a nice beach. From 2500 Thai Baht per night →

Great place to stay - Le Vimarn Cottages

Ao Karang: A calm little paradise

Ao Karang’s beach in the south of Koh Samet is located in an incredibly beautiful bay that ticks all the boxes: white sand, azure blue sea, rugged rocks and lots of cajeput trees providing the necessary shade. This calm, remote beach is perfect for couples as well as families with children. Ao Karang is also accessible to non-paying guests; you can rent a beach chair for 50 baht.

Chilling at Ao Wai Koh SametHigh tide at Ao Wai

Sleeping at Ao Karang

Nimmanoradee Resort:
Luxury, colorful cottages with an irresistibly beautiful view of the beach and sea. From 2700 Thai Baht per night →

Nimmanoradee Resort, Koh Samet

Ao Wai: Picture perfect

Ao Wai is another one of those gorgeous beaches. Although the resort is under construction (and a visit is not recommended) this secluded bay is picture perfect with its white sand, green trees and beautiful rocks at either end of the beach. Definitely worth a short visit for a swim and some nice pictures!

Blue waters at Ao Wai Beach

Ao Nuan: Small but beautiful

Ao Nuan (or Ao Nual) is a remote bay with a small but gorgeous little beach, with a few stray rocks here and there, trees and clear blue seawater. Yet again, this beach is calm and peaceful. It has only one accommodation and we think it’s great: Ao Nuan Bungalows – quite possibly the best budget accommodation in Koh Samet. Once again, this beach is accessible to everyone: beach chairs cost 50 baht per day.

Lovely Ao Nuan Beach

Sleeping at Ao Nuan

Ao Nuang Bungalows:
A mix of various types of bungalows, where the cheapest ones have a shared bathroom. From 800 Thai Baht per night. Bookings by telephone only: +66 38 644 334

Ao Lung Dam: Backpackers beach

Ao Lung Dam is a backpackers beach with a laidback vibe. Visit this beach for the nice atmosphere, not the beach. It has various kinds of basic bungalows at a low price. If you’re looking for a place to sleep without booking in advance, this is the place to go. We thought the atmosphere at Apache Restaurant & Bungalows was particularly fantastic – the relaxed island vibe!

Banana shake at the beachThe pier of Ao Lung Dam

Sleeping at Ao Lung Dam

Apache Restaurant & Bungalows: Basic bungalows with a laidback vibe. The treehouse bungalow on the beach is amazing. It’s also a great place to eat. From 600 Thai Baht per night. Bookings by telephone only: +66 81 452 9472

Haad Sai Kaew: Tourist trap

Haad Sai Kaew is Koh Samet’s most popular beach. We’re not quite sure why…it’s busy, the bungalows are very expensive and there are loads of bad restaurants. This isn’t the calm paradise you would hope for, but more like a tacky tourist trap. But given the number of tourists, apparently plenty of people do like Haad Sai Kaew a lot. Go and see for yourself!

Wind Sand Beach os Sai Kaew

Sleeping Sai Kaew Beach

Sai Kaew Beach Resort:
Located right along the big, crowded beach. Thankfully, there’s also a shaded private beach where you can retreat. From 4500 Thai Baht per night →ni

Olly’s Bar & Hostel:
Great hostel with a super-chilled atmosphere. The bar is a great place to have a drink. From 400 Thai Baht per bed →

Sai Kaew Beach Resort

Things to do on Koh Samet

Although the main reason for visiting Koh Samet is to relax on one of the many gorgeous beaches, that’s not the only thing you can do there:

  • Climb from one bay to the next scrambling over rocks;
  • Look for the southernmost tip at End Viewpoint;
  • Enjoy a lovely massage at Paradee Spa;
  • Admire the fire dancers after sunset on Haad Sai Kaew;
  • One of the great views from Koh Samet End Viewpoint.

Koh Samet viewpoint

Best time to visit Koh Samet

The best time to visit Koh Samet is October – April when the sun shines approximately 8 hours a day and temperatures are around 30 degrees. Koh Samet has its own microclimate, which means it gets relatively little rain, even during the rainy season. But you can still expect big downpours in July and August.

Tip: Avoid busy weekends and public holidays. The beaches will be packed with Thai tourists from Bangkok and you’ll pay almost twice as much for the same hotel room.

Mariska at the Koh Samet viewpoint

Getting there

BUS
Take a direct bus (or minivan) from the Ekkamai bus station in Bangkok to the Ban Phe pier in Rayong (06:00 AM – 6:30 PM, departure every hour, ± 200 baht). The trip takes around 3.5 hours, but if the traffic is bad it can take up to 5 hours. Getting back to Bangkok from Ban Phe, buses depart every other hour between 05:00 AM – 06:00 PM.

BOAT
It’s best to take a speedboat from the pier and let it take you directly to the bay of your choice. This saves you a taxi ride and a long ferry crossing. Buy a one-way ticket – not a return ticket. You’ll pay a little extra ((± 300 baht), but it means you are free to choose a ferry line and can depart wherever and whenever you want.

TAXI
There are green jeep taxis at the pier, ready to take you to your hotel. Prices are reasonable; it’s around 300 baht to get to the other side of the island (± 30 minutes). If you share the taxi with other travelers, prices drop considerably.

MOTORBIKE
Staying in a remote bay? Then it’s a good idea to rent a motorbike. It’s around 400 – 500 baht per day. It’s expensive, but we really enjoyed cruising around. The roads are easy, though the narrow roads down to the bays require some skill. Unfortunately, it will take some time to get around, because there are speed bumps every few meters. Surprisingly, in most cases, you won’t be given a helmet when renting a motorbike – something to bear in mind.

Driving a motorbike on Koh Samet

Best Hotels Koh Samet

Ban Chom Samed Resort, Koh Samet

Ban Chom Samed Resort - $$

Far and away Koh Samet’s best hotel recommendation, at the Ban Chom Resort you’ll be staying in a nice bungalow, with a balcony, situated in a lovely green garden. The nicest beaches are within walking distance. Don’t hesitate too much; it won’t be long until it’s fully booked.

Ao Prao Resort, Koh Samet

Ao Prao Resort - $$$

Staying the night on Koh Samet’s most beautiful beach is really expensive. But if you really don’t want to miss out on the experience, then the Ao Prao Resort is the best choice for families. The gorgeous beach out front and the lovely bungalows have made it the staple island destination near Bangkok.

When are you planning to visit Koh Samet?

Mariska

Author Mariska

Traveler, entrepreneur, book lover, foodie. In Thailand, you'll find me driving around on my motorbike, on the lookout for new hotspots.

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