Koh Samet

Koh Samet

Ko Samet(Cajeput Island; Thai: เกาะเสม็ด) is one of the eastern seaboard islands of Thailand. It is in the Gulf of Thailand off the coastline of the Thai province of Rayong, approximately 220 kilometres southeast of Bangkok. Ko Samet is part of the Phe (Thai: เพ) Subdistrict of the Amphoe Mueang Rayong (Thai: เมืองระยอง, the capital district, or Amphoe Mueang), of Rayong Province. Ko Samet is the largest and westernmost of a cluster of islands not far from the coast. Ko Samet measures 6.8 kilometres from north to south. At its closest point to the mainland, the island is 2.6 kilometres south of mainland Rayong Province; however the actual travelling distance from the main commercial tourist pier in the town of Phe to the island's closest tourist beach is about 10 kilometres.
Koh Samet Overview
Named after the ‘Samet’ trees (Thai for cajeput trees), which grow on the island in abundance, Koh Samet offers all the essential elements that make up a fun-filled holiday escape – an endless expanse of turquoise blue sea, crescent bays with fine white sand, lots of water sports and a throbbing nightlife. Koh Samet has significantly less rainfall than other Thai destinations but visitors get soaked anyway – in the sea.
Only a three-hour drive from Bangkok and about 45 minutes by ferry from Ban Phe Pier on the mainland, the island is usually packed with visitors on weekends and long holidays. A whole range of accommodations, from beachfront bungalows to cliff-top luxury resorts cater to equally diverse groups of tourists. Walk-ins are not advised on weekends, as the entire island’s accommodation is usually fully booked.
Koh Samet History
Formerly known as “vast jewel island” or to it’s natives as Koh Kaew Phitsadan due to it’s plethora of white sand. The island was later renamed Koh Samet or Cajeput Isle due to the bountifulness of Cajeput trees that grow on the island.
18th Century Classical Thai Poet Sunthorn Phu set some of his Phra Aphaimani saga on the shores on Koh Samed. The story about a prince exiled to an undersea kingdom governed by a giant lovesick female. The Prince aided by a mermaid escapes to Ko Samet where the giant is defeated by him playing a magic flute.
The island hasn’t always been as accessible as it is today and for many years the Thai government restricted people visiting and overnight stay on the island. Bangkokians would stay in local makeshift huts or camped out in tents. There was no electricity or running water and visitors would have to bring over there own food and drink from Bangkok or local shops in Bang Phe. There was no ferry service and those wanting to access the island would have to give money to the local fisherman to take them.
Between 1978 and October 1981 the island of Koh Samet was closed by the Thai Government due to an outbreak of Malaria/Dengue Fever. Despite strong warnings, brave travelers would still cross the waters to experience the untouched beauty of Koh Samet.
In October 1981 Koh Samet reopened and was granted National Park status which it’s still has to this day. The Sandy tracks that connected parts of the island were slowly turned into roads and more bungalows and huts would appear around the nicer beach areas. Over the last decade 5 star resorts have slowly begun to replace the bungalows and huts around the island.
Today Koh Samed still remains a popular getaway for locals and foreigners living in Bangkok.
Koh Samet Climate and Best time to see
Koh Samet has two seasons in the main, a hot and dry season (high season) and a rainy season. Although Ko Samet doesn’t suffer like other islands around monsoon season it’s advisable to know the best time to travel to suit your itinerary.
Hot And Dry Season
With Daily temperatures rarely dropping below 30 degrees the best time for sun worshippers to visit Koh Samet is between November and the end of April. Although you can expect some rainfall throughout this period it’s never to frequent and very short lasting. April is the hottest month of the year with temperatures reaching 32 degrees. This period is also the High/peak season for visiting the island.
Rainy Season
From May the amount of rain gradually increases on Ko Samet until the end of October. This period forms the rainy season. ( Note that the boats to the island still run regular schedules. ) Temperatures will reach highs of 30 degrees consistently through the rainy season meaning you can still enjoy the beautiful beaches of Koh Samed all year round. Expect the occasional day long thunderstorm but in the main rainfall will only last up to a couple of hours each day and falls mainly in the late afternoon or evening time. The increase in rainfall does mean that accommodation prices at preferable rates can be found during the low season.
Koh Samet Transportation
Getting around Koh Samet 
Taxi/Songthaew on Koh Samet
Getting around Koh SamedSongthaew on Koh Samet is an easy and great way to get around. The island is small, however, and there are not of them so if you have bad luck you can have to wait a little while before someone comes through that you can wave to stay. It costs 200 baht for a private trip when you rent the entire car itself, or between 30 and 100 baht per person depending on which beach you are going to Koh Samet. Also, how many go on the back of the truck sometimes determines the cost. This is a rather expensive method to get around Samet, and the dusty roads can sometimes make it a less pleasant journey.
Rent a motorbike or ATV on Koh Samet
Rent a motorbike or ATV on Koh SametJust as in most places in Thailand it is cheap to rent a motorbike or ATV on Koh Samet. This is the best way to cruise around the island, but the roads are in poor condition in some places, so be careful. It is also appropriate with a warning if you are a above the drivers, as you will be liable for the breakage in case of an accident. A motorbike rental costs about 500 baht per day or 200 baht per hour. When you go into motorbike shop to inquire about the price for hire they always tell the 400 or 500 baht per day. Insist on paying 300 baht. You can usually rent a motorbike from the hotel/resort you are staying at. You want to hire a ATV so expect about 1000 Baht per day or 400 Baht per hour.
Longtail boat rental on Koh Samet
The price to go longtail boat varies, but a longtail boat tour usually costs around 550 bath per person, and a big boat around the 650 bath. The advantage of the big ones is that it provides more shade, but longtails tend on the other hand, to visit more beaches. If you rent an entire longtail, be sure to specify exactly which beaches you want to visit before you leave. These trips normally include also lunch. If you want to make your own journey, it is easy to organize from Na Dan port or Hat Sai Kaew beach. If you want to rent your own longtail boat around the island, so it will cost you about 2000 Baht after a bit of bargaining.
By foot
Getting around Koh SamedHiking trekking on Koh Samet do you Want to take you from one beach to another in Koh Samet, you can do it with the help of the relatively primitive way in the interior of Koh Samet. Most of the beaches are on the northern and eastern part of this T-shaped island, while only a few, that is to say, Ao Prao beach, Ao Kham and Ao Kiu Na Nai is located on the west side. It is actually more convenient to reach the Ao Prao by a direct ferry from Baan Phe pier on the mainland.
Things to do and see in Koh Samet
Go Diving or Snorkelling
Most visitors to Koh Samet not only for the beach but diving and snorkelling. These two water sports even are popular activities for many visitors to Koh Samet.
Join A Island Tour
Koh Samet has some hidden coves and beaches that are worth exploring. By using a boat, you can go on a trip exploring the island. The island hopping trip lets you discover and go sight seeing every part of the island.
There are many speedboat operators around Sai Kaew Beach and Vong Duen offering island tours. The tours usually include snorkelling and a lunch barbecue.
Besides, many of them offer additional tours to some fish farms or other islands such as Kham, Kudi and Plai Tin. The tours can take hours to a whole day depending on the number of places to explore.
Travellers can also choose slower moving boats for a more relaxing experience. Prices vary and tourists can bargain them. So, before stepping on board, discuss the price with the operator to get the best deal.
Rent A Jet Ski
In popular beaches like Ao Phai and Sai Kaew, you can rent water sports equipment like parasailing, wakeboarding or a jet ski.
However, you have to be aware with scams perpetuated by jet-ski owners.
They might say that you have damaged the jet ski, as there are scratches on it and they will ask some money to have it repaired.
Go Canoeing and Kayaking
If using a jet skiing is not your thing, think about eco friendly ways to explore the island. Canoeing and kayaking can be great ideas to explore the island’s scenic coastline.
Of course, you have to be physically healthy to do these activities because they rely on your own paddle power.
You can go canoeing or kayaking at any time but it is recommended to do it in the late afternoon where the day is no longer so hot. Besides, it gives you an opportunity to catch a mesmerising sunset.
However, at this time of day, the waves can be high. So, stay close to shoreline for a safe canoeing.
Go Sailing and Windsurfing
Sai Kaew Beach is a popular place for sailing and windsurfing because of its strong currents and offshore winds.
Most of resorts and guesthouses in Koh Samet offer a service to arrange the necessary equipment for sailing and windsurfing.
Enjoy The Sunset
Any visit to Koh Samet is not complete if you miss the opportunity to see the beautiful sunset. You can enjoy the gorgeous sunset from the beach or from your room balcony. You are lucky of you have a west-facing balcony.
Most hotels located on the west coast allow you to do so. Or, you can take a sunset cruise for a greater sunset experience.
Try Fishing
If you are a fishing enthusiasts, deep-sea fishing should be listed in your must thing to do list. Koh Samet is the home to a rich diversity of fish.
Here, many fishermen rent their boat for tourists for fishing in the deep sea where you will have opportunities to catch exotic fish that you probably won’t find in your home country, such as Dorado, grouper, trevally and many more.
Koh Samet Travel Tips
Best Places to Eat and Drink in Koh Samet
Red Ginger
Located a short walk from Sai Kaew, Red Ginger serves high quality Thai food in an upmarket, modern setting.
La Luna Cafe & Bar
La Luna Cafe & Bar is a beachside cafe, restaurant and cocktail bar located right on Wong Duan Beach that’s perfect for enjoying the sunset.
Samed Villa Restaurant
Part of the Samed Villa Resort, Samed Villa Restaurant is a beachside restaurant on Ao Phai that offers dining right on the sand.
Tubtim Resort Restaurant
Part of the quiet and peaceful Tubtim Resort, Tubtim Resort Restaurant serves excellent Thai food, a selection of international dishes and great cocktails.
Ploy Talay Restaurant
With a location right on Sai Kaew Beach and a selection of great seafood dishes, Ploy Talay Restaurant even offers nightly fire shows for customers.
Antique Cafe
Located a short distance from Nadan Pier in Koh Samet’s small town centre, Antique Cafe is a small cafe with a great selection of snacks and Western-style breakfast dishes.
Banana Restaurant
Another convenient choice in Samet’s town centre, Banana Restaurant is a family-owned small restaurant that serves tasty Southern Thai food.
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