Samet Island

Ko Samet (เกาะเสม็ด) is a small island in Rayong Province, within easy reach of Bangkok.

Slogan :
As based upon the Rayong (province), holds the same slogan – Best of tropical fruits, industrial estates, finest fish sauce, the charming Ko Samet and the most famous poet “Sunthon Phu”.

Understand
Ko Samet is not overly renowned for its parties (unlike Ko Pha Ngan) or its diving (unlike Ko Tao), but it has both convenience and quietness in its favor. It's a popular tourist destination for Thais as well as foreigners for its proximity to Bangkok.

Climate :
Even though Ko Samet is only a few kilometers from the mainland of Rayong, the island with its micro-climate (the driest archipelago in Thailand) gets much less rainfall than the rest of the province. The rainy season is May to September but even then it still has significantly less rain than the other islands in Thailand. Tourists should, however, be careful of occasional storms.

History

It is believed that once upon a time, Ko Samet was the home of pirates and that until this very day there is still lost treasure buried somewhere on the island.

Thailand’s legendary poet Sunthorn Phu was the first one to put this island on the map when he set his classical epic there, Phra Aphai Manee “The Story of Princes, Saga, Mermaids and Giants”.

Even though Bangkokians had known about the beauty of Ko Samet for decades before, the Thai government put this island off limits and restricted overnight stay there; that was until 1981. In that year, on 1st October, the Forestry Department of Thailand declared Koh Samet and its surrounding to be a national park.

Geography

Located just 200km from the capital in the Gulf of Thailand, the T-shaped island of Ko Samet is famed for its white sandy beaches, exotic coral and crystal clear waters. The island is 6.5 kilometres offshore of Ban Phe, Mueang district. Forest remains blanket up to 80% of the total area of 3,125 rai.

Koh Samet is under the administration of Pe Sub-district, Muang District, Rayong Province.

Boundary :
Koh Samet is 6.5km south of mainland Rayong province and is surrounded by the Gulf of Thailand.

Get in

Most of Ko Samet, including all of the good parts, is part of Khao Laem Ya and Mu Ko Samet National Park and has an entry fee. Thais pay 40 baht, foreigners 200 baht - a classic example of Thai dual pricing. This two-tier pricing policy is applicable to all national parks. If you can explain, however, that you actually live or work in Thailand, then you may not have to pay the ‘tourist’ price. If your ferry arrives at the main pier and you take a songthaew to the beaches, there will be a stop at the main ticket checkpoint. If your ferry arrives at one of the beaches, an officer will collect the fee as you step out of the surf. Note that there is plenty of foot traffic in and out of the park to the 7-Eleven, ATM or other shops and restaurants and if you have no bags you can nonchalantly walk into the park without anyone checking your ticket. There is a road via the temple which avoids the checkpoint entirely.

Ferry :

Ferries from Ban Phe to Ko Samet take around 30 to 45 minutes. Only buy a one-way ticket, as there's no discount on round-trip tickets and you won't have to worry about losing it or finding that your ticket isn't valid for the most convenient return ferry. The ticket sellers may also offer to sell you the national park ticket - don't bother.

Culture

Thailand’s most famous poet, the legendary Sunthorn Phu, set his classic Phra Aphai Manee on Ko Samet. The story revolves around a giantess who captured the revered Phra Aprai Manee and held him there. Subsequently, he was able to escape and married a delightful mermaid and lived happily ever after. There is a statue of him at Hat Sai Kaew.

Life-style :

Thai Buddhism is a large part of the people’s lives on Ko Samet and so there some temples scattered around. Most of the folk on Ko Samet however, are not originally from the island, but moved there to make a decent living through tourism.

Events and Festivals :

Ferries from Ban Phe to Ko Samet take around 30 to 45 minutes. Only buy a one-way ticket, as there's no discount on round-trip tickets and you won't have to worry about losing it or finding that your ticket isn't valid for the most convenient return ferry. The ticket sellers may also offer to sell you the national park ticket - don't bother.

Rayong Fruit Festival
In May of each year, Rayong's fruit reaches its peak season. The venue for celebration is always changed between Mueang and Klaeng districts. Tourists can enjoy floats decorated with fruits, fruit contests, beauty contests, as well as fruit and seafood fair.

 

Sunthon Phu Day
Organised on June 26 of each year at Sunthon Phu Monument, Klaeng district, to honour the great poet. Exhibitions and plays from his poetry will entertain visitors.

Changing the robe for Phra Chedi Klang Nam
The annual traditional event is held during the full moon night of the 12th lunar month, or in November. The robe blanketing around the pagoda in the middle of the Rayong River, in Mueang district, will be changed. Meanwhile, the people will celebrate the event along with the Loi Krathong Festival by boat racing and many kinds of local entertainment.

 

Thot Pha Pa Klang Nam (Waterborne Robe Offering Ceremony)
During the Loi Krathong Festival of each year, or on the full moon night of November, people living near the mouth of the Prasae River will prepare a monk's robe at the pier. After completing the ceremony on the boat, a monk will come to get it. Normally, th
e robe offering ceremony is held at the temple. This special tradition has been inherited for over a century.

See

  • Catch the sunset from dramatic cliffside locations along the south-west coastline.
  • A fireshow at the renowned Ploy Thalee Restaurant/Bar on Saikaew Beach. They are held twice a night around 8.30pm and 10.30pm.

 

Most beaches are on the eastern side of the island. The beaches hide in small bays and stretch some 200 metres. From the north, there are Hat Sai Kaeo, Hat Hin Khrong, Hat Khlong Phai, Ao Phutsa, Ao Thapthim, Ao Naun, Ao Cho, Ao Thian, Ao Wai, Ao Kio Na Yok and Ao Karang. The only beach on the western side is Ao Phrao. One of the famous beaches is Ao Wong Duean in the middle of the eastern side. This beach stretches in the shape of an almost complete circle. Both Ao Wong Duean and Hat Sai Kaeo have very fine white sand.

Hat Sai Kaew (Diamond Beach) :
One of the most beautiful and most popular beaches on Koh Samet, Hat Sai Kaew is 1 kilometer long and 25 – 30 meters wide. The name speaks for itself, Hat Sai Kaew, which literally means Crystal Sand Beach, is a nice beach filled with activities. From dusk to dawn, visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, jet skiing, windsurfing, riding on a banana boat or even partying at night.
Accommodations provided include bungalows and villas.

 

Ao Noi Na which is located near Hat Sai Kaew, has different ambience. It is quieter and therefore more suitable for those looking for a truly relaxing experience on the white, clean sandy beach.   Ao Pai Located close to Hat Sai Kaew, Ao Pai is therefore quite crowded. For visitors interested in sunbathing, this is the ideal place as swimming is not recommended as there is whirlpool on the sea, as designated by the red flag.
 
Ao Put Sa is a small bay on Koh Samet which draws repeat visitors intent on relaxing. Suitable for those who are tired of crowded beaches and nightlife activities, Ao Put Sa offers a quite retreat that reunites visitors with nature in its crystal clear waters.   Ao Tub Tim, which is set in a tranquil atmosphere, is located near Ao Put Sa and is well known for its white sand and clear water. Ao Tub Tim has a small, cozy resort, which provides nice services in a well decorated compound.
 
Ao Nuan is located near Ao Put Sa and is a perfect hideaway for holidaymakers in search of tranquility.   Ao Wiang Wan is located on the west of Na Dan Pier, a large bay where lots of sport activities such as fishing, etc. take place.
 
Ao Phrao is one of the quietest beaches of Ko Samet. Located quite far away from the lively nightlife of Ko Samet; Ao Prow is preferred by travelers who quietly enjoy the deep blue sea and white sand in the sunshine. Ao Prow has a long white sandy beach which is ideal for swimming.   Ao Kiu Nok This bay is a perfect secluded den for those planning to keep their distance from the busy, crowded beaches and vibrant nightlife. From Aow Kiew Nok, visitors can actually walk to Aow Kiew Nai which is the ideal spot to see the spectacular sun rise and sun set.
 
Ao Karang The best place to experience the traditional lifestyle of the residents of Koh Samet is at Ao Karang where there also are a number of seafood restaurants providing fresh seafood dishes at reasonable prices.   Ao Thian (Candlelight Beach) Ao Thian’s topography is painted by rocky beach in which some nice spots for skin diving are available. This beach is very quiet and free from group tours with bungalows and resorts available around the beach area.
 
Ao Wong Deuan is the second largest beach on the island (the first being Hat Sai Kaew). Ao Wong Deuan attracts tourist groups during both the high and low seasons due to its beautiful white sandy beach and good accommodations. On top of this, good seafood restaurants with nice views are also available.   Ao Hin Khok is separated from Hat Sai Kaew by a small rocky sea point where a mermaid statue is located. The beach, which is half the size of Hat Sai Kaew, is famous for its strangely shaped rocks. There are inexpensive bungalows/huts located along the beach, and also value-for-money restaurants providing fresh, quality seafood dishes.
 

Ao Wai is located within a short walking distance of Candlelight Beach. Shaded by coconut trees, the beach is a quite, scenic and serene spot for sea lovers.

Shopping
Ko Samet doesn't have much in the way of shopping beyond basic beach accessories (sarongs, T-shirts, etc). But, there are high quality crystal products and reed products. Crystal can be purchased at Lotus Crystal Factory in Pluak Daeng District of Rayong.

Most hotels have some books to trade or rent, and there are a growing number of hawkers selling books too.

Popular local food in Ko Samet includes sumptuous fried durian and fruits which also includes rambutan and mangosteen. The province is also well-known for its great seafood products such as: shrimp paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp, squid, octopus and other dried seafood.

Credit by : www.tourismthailand.org, ThailandParadise.com



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