When you are looking for some relaxed days at the beach and don’t want to travel too far from Bangkok, then this island is an excellent choice. It takes only about three hours by bus and another 30 minutes on the ferry to reach this little paradise.
After being on the go for more than a year, our main purpose on this island was to relax and process our memories. But as we had almost two weeks, there was still time to find and present you the highlights of this island.
Relax at the pristine beaches
This island holds some of the best beaches in Thailand and they are absolutely perfect to relax on. Sai Kaew Beach is probably the whitest beach but also the most crowded one as mostly Chinese day tourists go there. But as soon as they leave it gets really nice. Ao Tubtim is probably part of the same beach but far enough from the arrival point of the day trippers that it is way more relaxed. Ao Kio is at the southern end of the island and absolutely worth a visit. Ao Noi Na at the northern tip of the island is super quiet and during low tide you can even walk around the cliffs and reach the Secret Beach. Ao Phrao on the north-west side of the island was our favorite as it was not only stunningly beautiful but thanks to the resorts, they also clean up the beach several times a day.
Explore the island with a motorbike
Even though the island is small it is way too far and hot to walk to all the places. And as there is no police on the island you can simply rent a motorbike and explore the island with the wind in your hair. And don’t worry about being too fast. There are so many speed bumps that you will automatically reduce your speed. You can reach all the beaches with your bike, plus there is a nice park at the southern tip of the island with views on the east and west coast.
Because of the rainy season our tour was interrupted several times by the rain but luckily there was always a shelter close by. And when the heaviest rain hit us, we were in a restaurant at the Ao Phrao beach and enjoyed the rain with a beer.
Help the Trash Heroes
Trash heroes is a great organization whose mission it is to reduce convenience plastic and clean up the island. They already managed that 7/11 is not handing out plastic bags anymore and that it is forbidden to bring plastic bags and foam food containers to the island. They also educate the locals on the damaging impact of convenience plastic and do a cleanup session every Wednesday at 2pm.
When we helped the trash heroes, we were not only cleaning up the school yard but also educating the school kids about how convenience plastic impacts the marine life. It was so much fun to interact with the kids and if the trash heroes manage to change their behavior then one day the entire island could become clean again.
Enjoy a fire show at Sai Kaew Beach
Even though fire shows are plentiful in Thailand, this one is probably the best one we have ever seen. They perform every evening at around 9pm at the different restaurants at Sai Kaew Beach and their show is short but spectacular. They do not only perform with burning sticks but also with burning “bags”. And when three of them swing them, the entire sky fills with fire sprinkles.
Get in touch with the locals
Because not many tourists stay overnight on the island, in the evening the ratio of Thai people to foreigners is way better than on most other islands. They are incredibly friendly and the ones who speak English love to chat.
We had the luck meet Anchalee who was serving us at the Banana Bar and she did not only teach us Thai but also told us a lot about the relationship of Thai people with politics, the king, family and so much more.
Eat Thai food and get a Thai massage afterwards
The Thai food on Koh Samet is excellent and our absolute favorite restaurant was the Banana Bar. Their dishes were so excellent, that went there every single evening but one and tried as many dishes as possible on their menu.
And right next to this gorgeous place is a massage place where you can get an excellent mix of an oil massage and a Thai massage.
The reef around Koh Samet is not world class but there are a few spots that are worth exploring. There is a little reef in front of the Larissa Samet resort, one at Ao Tubtim, Ao Kio and Ao Pakarang. The other ones can only be reached with a tour. And from what we have seen they were full of Chinese who didn’t take much care about the reef.