Ko Samet (Thai: เกาะเสม็ด, Thai pronunciation: [kɔ̀ʔ samèt]), is one of the Eastern Seaboard Islands of Thailand. It is located in the Gulf of Thailand off the coastline of the Thai province of Rayong, approximately 220 kilometres (140 mi) southeast of Bangkok. Ko Samet is part of the Phe (Thai: เพ) Subdistrict of the Amphoe Mueang Rayong (Thai: เมืองระยอง, the capital district, or Amphoe Mueang), of Rayong province. Ko Samet is the largest and westernmost of a cluster of islands not far from the coast.
The Island 
Popular with foreign tourists and as a weekend getaway for residents of nearby Bangkok, most of the island (excluding the Na Dan area) belongs to the Khao Laem Ya - Mu Ko Samet National Park. In 1981, the Royal Forest Department declared the archipelago of Samet, along with nine other small islands, the headland of Khao Laem Ya, and the 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) Mae Ramphueng Beach to be a National Park, and is thus Ko Samet is under the protection of the National Parks Division of the Thai Government.
Travel to and from Ko Samet is typically via the small local port at Ban Phe (Thai: บ้านเพ) on the coast. Travelers from Bangkok frequently travel by bus, with departures to Ban Phe from Bangkok's Eastern Bus terminal, the Ekkamai bus station, and travel time from Bangkok to Ban Phe of approximately 3½ hours. Owing to the island's close proximity to the coast, just 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) offshore, boats travel casually from Ban Phe to Ko Samet in approximately 30 minutes.
Geography and climate 
Located just 220 km from the capital in the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Samet is approximately 13.1 square kilometres (5.1 sq mi) in size, and shaped somewhat like a letter "t". Along the length of the "t" (north-south) the island measures approximately 7 km, and measures 4 km across the "t" (west-east). Forest remains blanket up to 80% of the total area.
Closest to the Rayong coast, lies the small island port village of Na Dan, commonly known as Ko Samet Village, with its popular nearby beach Hat Sai Kaeo (Thai: หาดทรายแก้ว), the longest beach on Ko Samet. Most of Ko Samet's beaches lie along the eastern shore of the island. Other beaches on the island include: Ao Phai, Ao Wai, Ao Kio Na Nai, Ao Cho, Ao Kio Na Nok, Ao Wong Duean, Cape Kut, Ao Toei, and Ao Karang at the southern tip, and Ao Phrao on the western shore of the island. Just off the southern tip of the island are three small rock-islands, Ko Chan (Moon Island; Thai: เกาะจันทร์), Ko San Chalam (Shark Fin Island), and Hin Khao (White Rock; Thai: เกาะหินขาว).
Ko Samet is one of the driest archipelagos in Thailand. Ko Samet gets significantly less rainfall than Rayong Province, even though it is only a few kilometres offshore. The island's "rainy season" extends only from May to July, but even during this season it has less rain that other islands in Thailand. The island despite being arid, consists of lush forested hills, covered with evergreen and deciduous forest and cajeput trees grow abundantly. Owing to the lack of rain, Ko Samet still ships in potable water to the island.
Ko Samet is under the administration of Phe Subdistrict, Mueang District, Rayong Province. Ko Samet is also under the National park area (Khao Laem Ya - Mu Ko Samet National Park)
Ko Samet is 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) south of mainland Rayong province and is surrounded by the Gulf of Thailand.
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.
The classical Thai Poet, Sunthorn Phu (1786–1855), set part of his epic work, Phra Aphai Mani (sometimes transliterated as Pra Apaimanee), on the shores of the island. Statues of the title character, Prince Aphai Mani and the siren/mermaid which guided him to Ko Samet can be found on the Hat Sai Kaeo beach.
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 1 October, the Forestry Department of Thailand declared Ko Samet and its surrounding to be a national park.
There are 2 main routes on Ko Samet.
- Northern route connects Hat Sai Kaeo to Ao Klang and Ao Noina.
- Central route consists of 4 smaller roads. The first road links Sai Kaeo beach to Ao Phai and Ao Phutsa. The second road connects the center of island to Ao Wong Duean. The third road connects the first road to Ao Thapthim and Ao Nuan. The fourth road connects the first road to Ao Phrao.
Songthaew (public passenger pick-up vehicle)
The public passenger pick-up vehicles are the most popular mode of public transportation in all the town districts.
Boat Ko Samet has 5 piers: Ao Klang, Ao Phrao, Ao Wong Duean, Ao Thian and Ao Wai. Ao Klang Pier is the port to mainland. The rest are piers for diving and excursions.
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As Ko Samet is so near Bangkok, the island is ideal for those in the capital wanting to chill-out with their families for a couple of days, without having to go through all that rigmarole of having to travel down south. Ko Samet has developed steadily over the past decade or so, but it hasn’t been the victim of over zealous construction which has hit the likes of Ko Samui or even Ko Chang. The island is typified by its splendid beaches and white silky sand, surrounded by tropical coral reefs and crystal clear sea. Tourists can also enjoy a plethora of delicious cuisine and fine nightlife.
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 Nuan, Ao Cho, Ao Thian, Ao Wai, Ao Kio Na Nok 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 Kaeo (Crystal sand Beach) One of the most beautiful and most popular beaches on Ko Samet, Hat Sai Kaeo is 1 kilometer long and 25 – 30 meters wide. The name speaks for itself, Hat Sai Kaeo, which literally means Crystal Sand Beach, is a nice beach filled with activities. From dusk to dawn, it is the place for sunbathing, swimming, jet skiing, windsurfing, riding on a banana boat or even partying at night. Tourists are entertained by the spectacular fire shows and the peculiar population of short legged dogs. These dogs are believed to be interbred from many mongrel species brought over from the mainland in the 18th century by exiled Burmese hill tribes. Due to the shallow boat used by the Burmese these dogs never had a need to develop legs longer than 4 inches. The rapitidy with which this limbine evolution took place suggests a sexual rather than necessative change and is believed to be the only example in South East Asia.
- Ao Noina Ao Noina, which is located near Hat Sai Kaeo, has a different ambience to Hat Sai Kaeo. It is quieter and therefore more suitable for those looking to relax on the white, sandy beach.
- Ao Hin Khok Located close to Hat Sai Kaeo, Ao Hin Khok is therefore quite crowded. For visitors interested in sunbathing, Windsurfing, with the crystal clear water this is the good place.
- Ao Phai (Sea-Breeze, Silversand and Samed Villa Beach) Ao Phai is a small bay on Ko Samet with restaurants and a disco bar at the beach. Ao Phai offers good quality rooms for couples and families.
- Ao Phutsa Ao Phutsa, which is set in a peaceful atmosphere, is located near Ao Nuan and is well known for its white sand and clear water. Ao Phutsa has a small, cozy resort, which provides nice services in a well decorated compound.
- Ao Nuan a small quiet bay with nine bungalows.
- Ao Wong Duean Ao Wong Duean is the second largest beach on the island (the first being Hat Sai Kaeo). Ao Wong Duean attracts tourist groups during both the high and low seasons due to its beach and good accommodation. On top of this, seafood restaurants with nice views are also available.
- Ao Wai Ao Wai is located within a short walking distance of Candlelight Beach. Shaded by coconut trees, the beach is quiet and scenic.
- Ao Kio Na Nok This bay is decent for those planning to keep their distance from the busy, crowded beaches and nightlife. From Ao Kio Na Nok, visitors can actually walk to Ao Kio Na Nai is the ideal spot on the island to see the sun rise and sun set.
- Ao Karang This is the best place on the island to experience the traditional lifestyle of the residents of Ko Samet, is at Ao Karang, where there also are a number of seafood restaurants providing seafood dishes.
- Ao Phrao Ao Prow is one of the quietest beaches of Ko Samet. Located quite far away from the nightlife of Ko Samet; Ao Prow is preferred by travelers who quietly enjoy the sea, swimming and sand, Ao Prow is also best sunset view point of Ko Samet.
With its rocky coastline and offshore winds, Hin Khrong beach is a good location for windsurfing.
Snorkeling / Diving
The Ko Samet area is a popular for divers and snorkelers due its close proximity to Bangkok and abundance of clear water, colorful coral and diversity of marine life such as: turtles, tiger sharks and manta rays. Two of the most favoured locations for diving around Ko Samet are Ko Thalu and Ko Kut. Tourists can take a tour around the island and go snorkeling off the rocky uninhabited western side, or around the reefs at the southern tip. Scuba diving excursions can be arranged at Vong Duang.
Volleyball / Frisbee
Tourists enjoy playing volleyball and Frisbee on the beach.
Night fishing trips for squid are usually arranged.
These are arranged to take tourists (either by slow boat or speedboat) around the island to snorkeling and diving spots.
On the beach there are countless masseurs offering their massage service. Off the beach on the main roads are massage shops.
Ko Samet doesn't have much in the way of shopping beyond basic beach accessories (sarongs, T-shirts, etc.).
There are beer bars at virtually every beach, nearly all of them on Hat Sai Kaeo have hostesses. Besides bars there isn’t much else but restaurants selling alcohol. You can even get the popular sand bucket full of your favorite drink.
Thai Buddhism is a large part of the people’s lives on Ko Samet and so there are several temples scattered around. Many of the folk on Ko Samet however, are not originally from the island, but moved there to make a decent living through tourism.
Events / Festivals 
- Rayong Fruit Festival (งานเทศกาลผลไม้และของดีเมืองระยอง) 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 (งานวันสุนทรภู่) Organised on June 26 of each year at Sunthorn Phu Monument, Klaeng district, to honour him. There are also exhibitions and plays from his poetry.
- Changing the robe for Phra Chedi Klang Nam (งานห่มผ้าพระเจดีย์กลางน้ำ) 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 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) (งานทอดผ้าป่ากลางน้ำ) 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 prepare a monk's robe at the pier. After completing the ceremony on the boat, a monk comes to get it. Normally, the robe offering ceremony is held at the temple. This special tradition has been in existence for over a century.
Thai Boxing (Muay Thai)
Muay Thai, the well known traditional fighting sport of Thailand, is open to anyone who would like to learn. The main Thai Boxing teaching center on Ko Samet is at ‘Naga’.
There are courses where visitors can learn the art of fire-spinning. The small school is located in Nadan Village.
Local Food 
Popular local food in Ko Samet includes fried durian and fruits such as rambutan and mangosteen. The province is also well known for its seafood products such as: shrimp paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp, squid, octopus and other dried seafood.
Medical health care 
In Koh Samet there are four medical facilities:
- International clinic (International Clinic Koh Samet) located at Naadan pier (main pier) with License Emergency Medicine Doctor and escort team ( call +66 86 094 0566 ), open 24 hours, website: www.sametclinic.in.th
- Health center (no doctor or nurse) for primary wound care locate at Saikaew beach, open 10 am - 5 pm
- Pharmacy located at Samet village, near Saikaew beach (note that pharmacies in Thailand mostly don't have pharmacists), open 10 am to 5 pm
- Rescue team for emergency evacuation ( call +66 86 094 0566 )
See also 
Notes and references 
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