Koh Samet in Thailand for beaches and relaxation time. I would not recommend asking the question “Is Koh Samet worth a visit?” in Bangkok circles, at least not polite. That this idyll in the province of Rayong is the best island a few hours from the Thai capital is considered a fact among all the inhabitants of the city – all who speak English, anyway.
Ironically, it was by needing to visit Koh Samet on my own that I realized why people were so reluctant to answer or even recognize this question.
Below, I will explain my feelings about visiting Koh Samet from Bangkok, and provide you with some alternatives if you think you might end up feeling the same. (Don’t be shy: our circle doesn’t need to be polite!)
How far is Koh Samet from Bangkok?
For most people who say “is Koh Samet worth a visit?” if so, the proximity of the island to Bangkok is a major justification. According to most people, Koh Samet is “only a few hours” from the capital, although only a few span the number of hours actually traveled or the steps to follow along the way.
In my experience, the trip (which I took using public transportation) required a three hour round trip and four hours back to town. The longest part of the trip (which required a bus from Bangkok to Rayong, then a ferry to the island) was the stretch of Sukhumvit Road between Ekkamai station and Mega Bang Na shopping center – it’s parking , especially when you come back.
Tips for visiting Koh Samet
Take a private car
The only way around the long and slow bus route to Koh Samet is to travel by private car. You do not drive (or do not have a driver) in Bangkok? Negotiate a rate with one of the thousands of taxis in Bangkok, use Grab or organize a trip to Koh Samet with a friend who has a car. I repeat: if you travel by bus, you will be very annoyed when you arrive in Rayong.
Choose your beach wisely
Does Koh Samet worth a visit? To be honest, I don’t think most beaches are. I chose a hotel on Ao Tubtim (the one that no longer exists – it seems that the Samet Villa Resort was built in its place) and while the following walks north and south to other beaches were interesting, I haven’t seen any place that really impressed me, if I’m honest.
Consider how you will get around the island
With the exception of the hotel car waiting for me when I arrived in Koh Samet, I walked everywhere on the island. It sounds reasonable when you look at the map, but Koh Samet is much larger than it looks. I don’t drive a motorbike, so my only other option would have been to cycle, which would have been easy (the island is mostly flat) but hot and miserable.
Check the weather forecast
Speaking of hot and miserable, Koh Samet generally has a very similar weather to Bangkok. It was raining when I left Bangkok, for example; the storm came to Samet around the same time as me. Does Koh Samet worth a visit? Perhaps, but if your definition of “escape” from the capital requires that the climatic conditions of the two places be markedly different from each other.
In case you couldn’t tell, I was not a big fan of Koh Samet. It wasn’t that great – when is it so bad to sit on a beach in Thailand? – but I’m not sure that the stress of getting there was worth what I found when I got there. On the other hand, my expectations may be completely irrelevant. Maybe Koh Samet only looks mediocre if you expect a version of paradise.
Koh Samet Pictures
Alternatives near Koh Samet
Keeping in mind that I consider Koh Samet to be fairly average, I will make a rare recommendation: if you want to visit the beach for a weekend from Bangkok, but don’t want to fly, you should go in Pattaya. (You should also keep in mind that I have a less complimentary opinion of Pattaya, from which you can further extrapolate the depth of my apathy towards Samet.)
Does Koh Samet worth a visit? Honestly, not just for beaches (or hotels). In all honesty, even the best beaches in Samet are not much better than the acceptable ones in Pattaya, namely Jomtien Beach. Also, the hotels in Pattaya offer much more variety than what you find on Koh Samet, not to mention the fact that the trip from Bangkok to Pattaya does not require a boat ride (unless you are doing a day trip near Koh Larn).
And some not so close
Honestly, as far as I’m concerned, it’s smarter to take the time you would spend to go to Koh Samet (and maybe spend a little more money, let’s be honest), to fly and visit a destination of truly amazing Thai beach in Asia, as one of the following:
- Krabi (and Koh Phi Phi)
- Koh Samui
- Koh Yao Noi or Koh Yao Yai