Ko Samet Beaches
Sai Kaew (aka Hat Sae Kaeo, Haad
Sai Kaew and Diamond beach) sunrise.
A few hours from Bangkok by bus and half an hour by ferry gets you to one of Thailand's best beach islands, Ko Samet.
Ko Samet attractions Cool, powder white sand, clean seas and an unusually fine and stable climate.
There is a big choice of beaches with varied accommodation options from pleasant low cost bungalows to glitzy and obtrusive resort hotels, though these monstrosities are not as dominant perhaps as on some other Thai islands that lack Samet's National Park status.
Samet is easy to get to from Bangkok, the sand quality is outstanding, the waters shelve slowly and are warm, clear and safe, while food quality - especially seafood of course - is excellent and nightlife lively on some beaches, but hardly outrageous.
In addition Ko Samet is statistically the driest island in Thailand so it's useable in the cheap-cheap wet season. The island is a mere 6 kms long and 3 kms and loaded with varied beaches so if one doesn't suit then the next will.
A resort on Diamond Beach.
Samet is a little shabby in places, with ratty power cables and occasional
careless garbage visible if you care to look. This is not Hawaii!
But neither are the prices generally.
• Since varied brash resorts have infiltrated this latterday paradise positive blinkers and patience to find your little Nirvana will be required.
• This is a National Park (hah!) so there's a substantial entry fee.
• snorkelling is not too successful here with little coral of interest.
• the scenery, mainly green and blue, is fine, but not what you might call spectacular like Phi Phi.
• Weekends and festive seasons can see the island packed with city folk so if arriving without reservations target mid-week. At the Thai
New Year in April accommodation is impossible to find. Prices rise considerably during weekends and holiday seasons. Book in advance!
Looking from Na Dan pier in north Ko Samet towards Ban Phe on the mainland.
Get to Ko Samet via an easy three or four hours bus or mini-bus from Bangkok to Ban Phe port (past Pattaya and Rayong) and then take the ferry to Na Dan village on the north coast (30 minutes) of Ko Samet or to Wong Duan on the central east coast (45 minutes). The crossing is generally smooth.
Ferries leave regularly between 8am to 6pm daily. Choose your ferry destination according to the beach on which you plan to stay.
Hat Sae Kaeo beach.
Had Sai Kaew (also Hat Sae Kaeo and other spellings) is now sadly over-developed and parasol-packed but still offers an unusually wide strip of exceptionally soft sand even for this island, so makes for a great people-watching stroll, while during the evenings the beach gets packed with dining tables that can be crowded but still have a pleasant ambience.
BTW, Hat/Had/Haad means Beach, Ao means Bay, Ko/Koh means Island.
Ko Samet seafood dinners on the beach. Most of the beaches have a similar set-up.
Vong Duern (aka Wong Duen/Duan) beach at high tide. Note boat of day-trippers arriving in the background.
Ao Vong Duern half way down Samet's east coast hosts a cluster of convenient bungalow operations and some fine little seafood restaurants as well as a landing stage for ferries from Ban Phe, though the beach is fairly narrow.
The cheapest bungalows are generally the furthest from the two main
landing points (Na Dan Pier and Wong Duan), so backpackers should
be prepared to walk a while.
Wong Duan bungalows.
The downside to Vong Duern is that the bungalows are not only pricier than those further away but also much desired by people who don't want to lug their bags a couple of miles, so book early. Furthermore, as the island's second landing point,
smelly, noisy boat traffic will be regularly in your face, as will the hordes of tourists being off-loaded.
Ao Thian, 'Candlelight Beach' at high tide. Next, Pictures of Ao Phrao beaches
Candlelight Beach embraces a lot of good value backpacker bungalows and useful facilities such as a funky hanging bar, even if the beach is narrow and rocky in parts.
Ko Samet weather
best time to hit the southeast Thailand beaches is December - March
apart from peak holiday times such as Christmas and New Year holiday periods.
The worst time to go is probably May - October, especially on the Andaman
(west) Coast where rains are heavy and prolonged. The eastern 'Gulf Coast' has a much less rain.
Rainy season benefits: On Ko Samet endless rain is rare; it's more scattered heavy showers and those are sometimes only at night. This break from constant sunshine may be compensated by the vastly cheaper accommodation - not to mention availability - space on beaches and tranquility all around.
Rainy season downsides: It could rain all day for two or three days in a row; or it could be overcast; you may get lonely; the mosquitoes (aka 747s in Thailand) may suck you dry; seas will be rough and water visibility less than clear.
Beach Pictures: Ko
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