Once you’ve been in Bangkok for a while and had your way with that hot city, you’ll be ready to head to somewhere a little cooler. And if you don’t want to head too far away then Koh Samet is the perfect spot (it’s only 200km away from the city).
You get there by taking a bus from Ekkamai bus station to Ban Phe and then hop on a ferry to Koh Samet (or Koh Samed as it’s often spelt). It’s pretty straight forward, luckily there are English-speaking staff at the bus station, so they can help you a little, but don’t expect anything too outstanding. You’ll get your tickets and then be expected to know where you’re going. The 2.5 hour journey is pretty good going but you have to hope your bus actually has air-conditioning – mine had a little bit of cold air blowing but not very much. But hey, that’s travelling for you, you just have to put up with these things.
When you get to the ferry port you will be asked to pay a National Park admittance fee of 200B. This is legitimate and you will be given a sticker to prove that you have paid, but maybe ask for a receipt too. Once we arrived on the island, we were not asked about the fee again, but just in case, get that receipt and then you’ve got proof you’ve paid it. It’s annoying paying an additional fee I know, but all national parks have this charge and this island just so happens to qualify for park status. So as long as you know, you won’t get any nasty surprises.
But the ferry journey is pleasant, so just kick back, relax and enjoy talking to your fellow passengers. We met a nice Kiwi couple on this ride so that was cool.
Koh Samet is the land of mermaids, idyllic sunsets and warm waters…it’s the perfect city getaway in Thailand. It’s easy to think that all the beautiful islands are in the south of the country but there are little gems, like this, much closer to the capital.
Of course tourism is overwhelming these islands. So that’s why visiting Koh Samet is that little bit more interesting. Unlike Pattaya, Koh Samet is still relatively unmarked by mass tourism, so it’s really worth coming here while it’s still got that authentic Thai feel.
But I’ve got to admit, attempting to eat out at some of local Thai hotspots was a little off-putting, more so, because the staff at these places were quite unfriendly. As always, we preferred going to these little local joints, rather than to the flash tourist restaurants, because they are cheaper and much yummier, but here, these places were definitely more geared to Thai folk. It seems they really don’t want the tourists coming in. They’ve clearly seen whats happened to neighbouring islands and the hotspots of the south and they don’t want that ‘tourist-tarnish’ to occur on their lovely little island. Neither do we, but unfortunately we were typecast as ‘typical’ tourists who just want to party and ruin things for them. So we tried a few meals at these places but as they shut pretty early, we had to go back to eating mainly in 7/11′s again (damnit!). But oh well, you live, you learn eh?!
The only other not so positive thing, I will say is about our hotel. We did NOT enjoy our stay at the Ban Samet Hill Hotel - we went for the cheapest double room (as you do when you are backpacking) and it was basic but the bed was terrible. I can cope with a basic room that’s no problem, but the base of that bed needed to be thrown out a long time ago. Every time you turned over, no matter how lightly you tried, the whole bed would shake and roll on it’s wheels slightly (you couldn’t put breaks on them). If there wasn’t the risk of bugs getting in, even with our mosquito net on, we would have just put the mattress on the floor and slept on that – but a cockroach crept in one night and the floor was pretty grubby. So what was meant to be a nice 4 night stay ended up being a bit of a nightmare. We left after our third (awful) night without giving any notice. But as you can see on the Trip Advisor link above, other people were happy with it there so fair enough. If I were you, though, I’d book one of the many beach huts/chalet type-buildings available on the island – they looked very cute to stay in.
But amazingly you can run on relatively low sleep when you’re just chilling on the beach. So, of course, we still had a great time.
Koh Samet is a very beautiful place to visit and so you definitely should go there! It’s glorious! And also there is a lot of fun stuff to do there. You can relax, go surfing, rent a quad bike, a scooter and go touring around the island (the best way to see it all), go take awesome pictures, get painting some of that beautiful scenery, go to a cheesy karaoke bar – the list goes on…
But I’m sure, by now, you’re wondering what’s the deal with the mermaids here? Well, famous Thai poet Sunthorn Phu wrote a tale of a mermaid who guides a Prince safely to the shore of Koh Samet. So the statues stand as a tribute to his great literary work. I love mermaids in general, so I found all of this very exciting. From the first moment I saw The Little Mermaid, I was smitten with the idea of these mythical creatures.
And if you’re looking for a bit more Thai magic while you’re here, then check out the haunting images of sea trawlers at night. It really is this incredible in real-life. It’s like looking at the beautiful Aurora Borealis whilst imagining ghosts approaching from the scene of a horror film like ‘The Fog’. Pretty amazing.
So now you’ve walked on the white sand and dipped your toes in the warm sea, now you’ll want to know where to eat, drink and get merry?! Well I recommend going to ‘The Kitt and Food’ right on the beach. Go at sunset or night-time and enjoy cocktails and yummy food right on the beach. You get a cute little table to sit at and nice cushions to relax on, it’s lovely. Then you can watch fire-eaters and performers on the beach – it really is a very nice way to spend the evening.
So when you’re in Thailand, go to Koh Samet and see a beautiful Thai island before it gets overrun with tourists. Go!
Dont forget, to enter my competition to win a Panasonic Lumix Olympic Games camera! GO for it!
Love and mertails Em xoxo