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Out on the east coast, a little over 200km from Bangkok, is the small island of Koh Samet, part of the Khao Laem Ya – Mu Koh Samet National Park. This once idyllic island paradise has developed over the last decade at break neck speed resulting in a some loss of its character and natural beauty. Despite this it still remains a great place to escape to with some fantastic beaches.Ever popular with Bangkok residents it can get quite busy at weekends and during school holidays so for those interested in a quiet life weekdays are the best option.

Part of Samet’s popularity is its close proximity to Bangkok and the fact it can be reached so easily.Air isn’t an option unless you have your own helicopter or sea plane, though Rayong’s Utapao airport is a 45 minute flight from Bangkok if you really feel the need to fly.

Boats out to the island leave from Ban Phe, a short ride out of Rayong town. The journey by road from Bangkok to Rayong and Ban Phe will take around three hours by car and four by bus. Buses leave from Ekamai station and Mor-Chit, cost around 100 baht and leave every 40 minutes throughout the day. Some taxis will make the journey and depending on your bargaining skills it will cost in the region of 2,000 baht one way.

When you get to Ban Phe prepare to be cajoled by touts selling tickets for the sea crossing and accommodation on Samet Island. Price for the boat trip across varies but is generally from 50 to 100 baht for a return ticket, takes around 40 minutes and leaves 3 or 4 times a day. Most boats go straight to the main port of Nadan but boats are also available to: Ao Cho, Ao Wong Duan, Ao Thian, Ao Wai, and Ao Phrao. Speedboats for around 1,000 baht are also available and a few of the resorts have their own boats and transport thrown in as part of the accommodation cost.

Once in Nadan you’re greeted with pick-up taxis ferrying guests to and from the various beaches and resorts for up to 40 baht per person. Alternatively you might want to try hiring one of the many motorbikes available for a few hundred baht a day.

Koh Samet is in a national park and therefore visitors to the island have to pay an entrance fee. In keeping with Thailand’s rather unfair dual pricing policy entrance to the island is 40 baht for Thais and a whopping 400 baht for foreigners.

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