Whilst I love Bangkok, it has to be said, sometimes it’s nice to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and retreat somewhere peaceful. And with friends over visiting, it felt like the perfect time to book a little getaway and see what things to do on Koh Samet island lay in wait.
The first time I went to Koh Samet, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that it was a quiet partially developed island that many Thai locals frequented on weekends and public holidays, and I knew it was easy to get to Bangkok. The bus to Koh Samet departs from Bangkok at Ekkamai bus terminal and takes you to Rayong for around ฿160. It takes around 3 hours, and once you arrive at Rayong, you just need to head to Ban Phe Municipal Pier where a 40-minute ferry ride will take you across to the island for ฿70.
Situated 6 km offshore from the coast of Rayong the island sits along the Gulf of Thailand on one of the Eastern seaboard islands. This means looking for things to do on Koh Samet island isn’t hard—especially if you like being in the water!
Due to its National Park status, there’s a ฿200 entry fee for adults and ฿100 fee for children on the island of Koh Samet and you’ll see the ticket office as soon as you disembark the ferry on Nadan Pier. If you don’t have cash on you there are three ATMs on the island—one of which is by the pier.
After an early start travelling out of Bangkok, we decided to spend our first day on the island along the beachfront to relax and really take in the beauty of our surroundings. But what we weren’t expecting was for the beach to be so quiet!
I had been told by many people, both Thai and expat, that Koh Samet was a weekend island and that people came down in large groups to party… Yet most of the beach was taken up by local businesses and people lazing in the afternoon sun. It was absolute bliss.
I was staying in Vongduean Resort, a small resort with low-rise buildings set amid tropical gardens, with direct access to the beach and that beach was empty. It’s not often you get a beach almost to yourself in Thailand, so we fully made the most of it. But after a while, the sand was getting a little irritating so we retreated to the hotel pool.
As we lay there, I began pondering the things to do on Koh Samet and came up with a plan of action for the rest of the week.
The best time to visit Koh Samet is between November and May, during what’s classified as the dry season. However, the rest of the year often works out well as Koh Samet is a pretty dry island. Because of this, it is blessed with incredible sunshine and much to explore and I knew we should rent scooters/quads and take a tour of the island to make the most of it.
There are numerous places you can do this across the island—just remember to never leave your passport as collateral.
The roads on Koh Samet were pretty limited, with the most developed roads being centred around the village, with the rest a mixture of dirt and gravel. Because of this, getting around wasn’t always the easiest—with some parts definitely being easier on a quad than it was on a scooter. But we managed it, and here’s what we explored.
Things To Do On Koh Samet
Walk Around Koh Samet Village
The village itself isn’t huge but is a great place to nip through if you’re looking for something to eat, wear or do. There are plenty of bars, restaurants and accommodation options in addition to chemists, fashion boutiques and souvenir shops.
Enjoy The Scenery From The Viewpoints
The topography of Koh Samet is elevated once you move inland, and as a result, has one elevated central road that winds its way south down the island—and along the way, there are numerous scenic viewpoints where you can stop to enjoy the scenery, but the most popular are Cabo Chirimoya (situated at the North tip of the island) which features rugged coastal views across the ferry route and Tay Koh (situated on the West coast) which is my personal favourite spot for a spectacular sunset!
Feel The Sand Beneath Your Feet
During my stay on Koh Samet, I stayed at Vongduean Resort, which meant I had direct access to the unmistakable crescent-shaped beach and bay. At 490m long, it’s the second largest on Koh Samet and honestly, was one of my personal favourites. It was so peaceful and serene, and whilst the water wasn’t as perfectly blue as some of the other sides of the islands, due to a few boats going in and out and turning up the sand, it was perfect for relaxing. Other beaches in Koh Samet include Ao Hin Kok, Ao Cho, Ao Prao, Ao Kiu Na Nok, Ao Tubtim, Ao Nuan and Hat Sai Kaew.
Find The Mermaid Statues
There are numerous legends, myths and stories of folklore interwoven with Thai culture and one of the most photographed spots is the mermaid statue located on Sai Kaew Beach. The current interpretation, by master sculptor, Haritorn Akarapat, takes inspiration from the love of “Nang Nguek” and “Sutsakorn”, and reflects the connections between mother and child. Outside of this, there are numerous other sculptures, including the statue you see upon arrival to the island at Na Dan Pier.
Get a Thai Massage
Being in Thailand and all, there are numerous places you can get a Thai massage, and it’s definitely something you should make time for. Combining acupressure with assisted yoga style postures, your body will be bent in numerous different shapes, and it won’t always feel good during—but the free feeling you have after is SO worth it.
See Koh Samet From A Different Angle
Being an island surrounded by amazing water, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of water activities that you can do. Parasailing, jet skiing, and my personal favourite: boat trips. There are numerous trips you can take to visit the nearby islands, with prices varying between ฿400 and ฿1,500 per person depending upon how many of the islands you go and see—with lunch, snorkelling equipment and fruit and water often included.