Koh Samed Location
The island of Koh Samed is one of the popular destinations of all Thai islands. A reason for that is its location. Other famous islands need to be visited by 12 hr or longer journeys overland or by flights, like Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi in the southern part of Thailand. Koh Samed is located at the Gulf of Thailand. There are boats going all the way from Pattaya to Koh Samed, although it’s not the cheapest departure place and it will take much longer on the water.
The usual departure and arrival pier is at Rayong’s Ban Phe. For a 100 baht you can get yourself on an old wooden ferry. Before departure all passsengers are ordered to put on a life vest. It doesn’t make you feel better at all. It actually might give you an uncomfortable feeling once you’ve seen the state of the ferry. The ferry takes you to Koh Samed in about 30 minutes. A speedboat is doing the same distance of around 7 km in 15 minutes and cost from 200 baht up, depending on the boat, how many passengers, etc.
Koh Samed National Park
That it’s located relatively near Bangkok, makes it a perfect weekend outing for Thais and expats. This with the holiday tourists on top of that makes it at times a crowded island. The Island of Koh Samed is a national park and therefore a park fee is charged. 200 baht for foreign adults and 100 for children and the ticket is valid for five days. This means that when you have a holiday of 10 days, that you pay twice the park fee.
Park fees at Sai Yok National Park and Erawan National Park are 300 baht, so the 200 baht on Koh Samed isn’t too much compared to other parks. Don’t worry, you don’t pay the park fee as soon as you step of the boat. Once arrived, you walk over the pier into the port. You will be pointed to the e-ticket machines where you pay 20 baht each as island fee. An employee might say for the maintenance of the pier, which could be a topic for discussion.
When you walk out after passing the coin machines, you’ll immediately see the green pickup cars, like the blue ones in Pattaya. They can bring you for cheap to the park entrance, but it won’t be necessary, as the park entrance is just about 200 meters away and it’s only one road leading to it. Most hotels and guesthouses are located along this road, before the Park entrance. Just as all restaurants, convenience stores and motorbike rent places.
Koh Samed has a lot of beaches to offer. That means that even though there can be many visitors on the island, there is still space enough to be found on at least one of the beaches. The first beach, straight from the park entrance, is Sai Kaew beach. The busiest of all beaches, possibly because the beach is bigger and has the most resorts and restaurants along it. Beach chairs with food and drinks is important for many.
The strangest thing on this beach might be a shipwreck. To our knowledge not sure if it’s there for a long time already and more of a touristic thing or that it’s there at the beach in the water recent and still needs to be removed. Either way it can be somewhat of an annoyance or hinder for kids and people playing in the water and for speedboats to park.
Other beaches are often small like private beaches. White sand and clear water. Some of them lack chairs and food possibilities, so bring your own box and things. Some of them you need to be aware of rocks at the seabed. All of them are of absolute beauty and worth a visit. Names of some beaches are Ao Wai, Ao Prao, Ao Wong, Ao Cho, Ao Phai, Ao LungDam, among others.
Driving on a motorbike over the only road from the entrance point leads you eventually to a viewpoint. You can go to the viewpoint east and viewpoint west. They’re located just a few minutes walk from each other. Not the final point but the start of the paths at a park office. It’s windy of course but it’s worth a visit to see the sea and beautiful nature.
Koh Samed has something to offer for everyone. Any age group and any nationality. People looking for quiet beaches or people looking for crowds. You won’t find kite surfing as on Coastline beaches, but the island is a popular destination for all it does have to offer. An impression video can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7CFyuRQYOQ&t=158s
The only tricky thing with going to or wrapping up your trip on the island is the boat and other way of transportation. Tickets at Ban Phe are sold at one of the many counters but often nobody looks after you when you have your ticket. Find your own way to the pier and to a ferry at the pier. When you bought a two way ticket, you might find yourself ending up at another place of Samed port than many other waiting passengers. You might be waiting for a ferry that never comes, or who knows when. Recommendable is to take just a one way ticket each time.
When you are back at Ban Phe and you came with one of the many speedboats, you realize that it’s not the same building where you departed from. There they sell taxi tickets to Pattaya or Bangkok, but for way too much. Check out more tables and counters and bargain hard. When you go for a shared minibus, suddenly they are able to get a taxi for much cheaper and you decide to take it. You still end up in a minibus, only the minibus that was planned as public transportation to share, suddenly changed into a private taxi and therefore you got still a ripped off feeling the least. It’s an annoyance and cost you, but it can’t really spoil your Koh Samed trip.