Koh Samet is a Thai island close to Bangkok, making it one of the most convenient Thai islands to visit. It’s picturesque white sandy beaches are the main attraction.
This comprehensive travel guide will give you all the information you’ll need including general information, the best places to stay, how to get around and information on what to do and where to eat.
Koh Samet is named after ‘Samet’ trees that grow in abundance on the island. The word ‘Samet’ actually means Cajeput trees!
It is conveniently located close to Bangkok – it takes between 4-5 hours to get here (see our guide on how to get from Bangkok to Koh Samet). You’ll arrive at Na Dan Pier in the north of the island and from there you can easily walk to the main town area and most popular beach, Sai Kaew, which takes around 10 minutes.
Most of the island is part of the Khao Laem Ya-Mu Koh Samet National Park so you will be charged an entry fee whilst on the island (don’t worry you only have to pay it once). The fee is 200 baht (~$6) for an adult and 100 baht for a child (~$3). The price is less if you’re Thai. It’s a one time fee and the entrance to the park is just before you reach Sai Kaew beach.
What Is Koh Samet Like?
The island itself is quite calm and not overly developed. There is a single main road that runs from north to south, however most of the hotels, restaurants and bars are in the northern area. The most popular area is near to the Sai Kaew beach and it can get pretty lively here.
It’s a pretty small island – measuring just 7km (4.2 miles) from north to south. It is wide at the top and then gets progressively more narrow toward the southern tip. For information to help you explore the island, read our guide on how to get around Koh Samet island.
Koh Samet is very popular for weekend trips and short getaways, especially for people staying or living in Bangkok. This is mainly due to it being an exotic Thai island close to Bangkok whereas most of Thailand’s most famous islands are pretty far and require a lot more travelling. Check out this post for a comparison of Koh Samet and Koh Samui to see how they differ.
It has a very ‘undiscovered’ feel as you get less international tourists here, compared to other Thai islands, and it can get really quiet on weekdays.
There’s a good range of amenities on the island with plenty of bars and restaurants (many of which are on the beaches themselves). The island also has two 7-Eleven mini stores which are situated on the same street, literally right across from each other nearby to the national park entrance and it also has a range of other shops to purchase souvenirs, clothes and anything else you might need.
For more information, check out our comprehensive guide on the best beaches on Koh Samet. Here is a brief overview:
Koh Samet has many beautiful beaches that attract many tourists to the island. There are many unique beaches with something different to offer and all have calm seas so are great for swimming or doing water sports. Check out my post on all the best things to do in Koh Samet for more ideas.
The most popular beach on the island is Sai Kaew. This bar-studded beach is great for nightlife, has plenty of beach-front restaurants and has lots of great resorts, right on the beach.
Most of the beaches lie along the eastern shore of the island and you can easily hop from bay to bay. Some great beaches to check out include Ao Phai, Ao Wong Duean and Ao Cho. The main beach on the western shores is called Ao Phrao and is known to be the best sunset spot on the island!
How To Get To Koh Samet
Koh Samet is siutated close to Bangkok and Pattaya making it the perfect weekend getaway! If you’re staying close to Bangkok or Pattaya, this means you won’t need to fly to get to Koh Samet.
You can take a bus from either Bangkok or Pattaya to Ban Phe. At Ban Phe, you’ll need to head to the pier and take a ferry or speedboat to Koh Samet island. The journey is not too long and is also pretty cheap.
From Bangkok, the journey will take between 4 and 5 hours. Check out this guide for more information on how to get from Bangkok to Koh Samet.
For Pattaya, the journey will only take between 2 – 2.5 hours. Check out this guide for more information on how to get to Koh Samet from Pattaya.
Things To Do In Koh Samet
Koh Samet has a fantastic range of things to do and activities to keep you busy on your trip!
From water sports such as paragliding and jet-skiing to snorkelling and diving where you’ll be able to see rare blue-tipped sharks. Koh Samet also gets very lively after dark – you can see fire shows or head to a bar.
Koh Samet beaches are, of course, the main attraction but there’s plenty of other activities to try out. Check out our complete guide on all the things to do in Koh Samet for more information and ideas.
There are many restaurant options and a lot of them are right on the beach! It’s great if you like dining outdoors as many of the tables are set up on the beach itself so you can dine with your feet in the sand, right by the ocean.
You can get a range of different foods here – there’s something for everyone. The most popular dishes tend to be Thai cuisine and seafood but the island also has many international food options.
Top Pick: Funky Monkey – this restaurant is located just before Sai Kaew beach (see map below). It has a super relaxed atmosphere and serves a range of international foods – you can get Thai food, pizza and even a full English breakfast if you come in the morning. The owner is super friendly and happy to chat with customers.
For breakfast, lunch or dinner, one of the most popular places to eat is on Sai Kaew beach itself where you will dine by the ocean.
Top Pick: Buddy Bar & Grill – This restaurant has a fantastic range of options and is situated right on Sai Kaew beach! Make sure you try one of their refreshing smoothies which are perfect for after a swim in the sea.
There are a range of different places to stay on your trip to Koh Samet. If you’re looking for budget accommodation or a private, luxury resort, Koh Samet has it all.
The northern area of the island has some excellent hotels and guesthouses for a great price. You can easily find a decent place to stay for under $50 per night. These are ideally located close to the main beach and will have everything you’ll need. They are also located close to the shops.
If you’re a backpacker, you may feel most at home around Ao Phai beach as it is well known to be popular with travellers/backpackers – here you’ll find cheap accommodation and you’ll be able to meet other backpackers.
The island also offers a range of luxury resorts and villas. The western shores, by Ao Phrao beach, are lined with luxury resorts and in the south, the Paradee Resort has a private beach and exquisite villas.
For more options, check out our Koh Samet hotel guide where we discuss the best places to stay on the island with options ranging from $17 to $650 per night!
The nightlife on Koh Samet is pretty lively, especially on the Sai Kaew and Ao Phai beaches which are located in the northern area of the island. Lots of the bars lining the beaches cater to budget travellers so expect cheap cocktails filled with booze! Happy hour deals and other promotions are plentiful here. Most of the bars are on the beach or beside it so it’s a fun ambience with beautiful views. It can get crowded but it has a super relaxed, island lifestyle feel.
There is a huge range of bars here so if you’re wanting something a bit more sophisticated and less rowdy, then there are options for that too. You will also find bean bags situated on the beach so it can be pretty relaxing to grab a drink and sit down on the beach.
In the evening, you can expect to see fire shows on the beach so keep your eyes peeled as they are spectacular!
Top pick: Naga Bar – this cocktail bar is a hotpot for travellers so expect to meet backpackers from all over the world whilst sipping on a delicious bucket full of booze. It’s a great atmosphere with a gorgeous sea view. It’s pretty cheap as well so perfect for budget travellers/backpackers. Expect a super relaxed and chill vibe.
Koh Samet can be very busy on Friday and Saturday night as many Bangkokians come for the weekend. You’ll find it a lot quieter on weekdays.
When To Visit
The best time to visit is during peak season which is between December to March. Low season is from May to October.
It is also known to be one of the driest islands in Thailand, getting significantly less rainfall than other areas. Rainy season only stretches from May to July and even then, it gets a lot less rainfall than other areas of Thailand.
In general, there is no bad time to visit the island. Check out how Koh Samet compares to Koh Samui.
Peak Season (December to March)
- No rain
- Sunny and hot weather
- Lots of activities
- Lively atmosphere
- More expensive
- Very busy
Low Season (May to October)
- Less busy
- Most activities still running
- Cheaper accommodation
- Still hot temperatures
- Empty beaches
- May experience some rain
- Often cloudy skies
- Less lively
Thanks for reading this guide to Koh Samet in Thailand – a super convenient Thai island close to Bangkok. Enjoy your trip!
Don’t forget to check out our other Koh Samet posts here.