Ko Samet, more than a retreat from Bangkok City heat
Every trip to Thailand must include a night or two at the beach. If it isn't a requirement then it should a law. Nonetheless, if you are short on time, Koh Samet is a great island escape from the heat of Bangkok. Ko Samet is abundant in natural beauty - white sand beaches, clear blue water, palm trees. To top that, it's the closest beach to Bangkok other than Pattaya.
Koh Samet can be a bit of a paradise for those seeking relaxation. There is little shopping and night life is seafood bbq with a fire show or drinks and a bit of dancing at cozy local pubs. But it is not glitzy. In fact it is distinctly lacking of the go-go bars of Pattaya, Phuket or Koh Samui. Most of life is around Sai Keaw beach and in the small village of Na Dan just outside the park gate. Other than that there isn't much to do outside of water sports, snorkeling and diving in the coral reef.
Koh Samet, technically, is a National Park with a 400 baht entrance fee payable at the park gate. Though it is a bit touristy especially on Sai Keaw Beach, solitude is not far away but comes with a price.
The key, much like Koh Chang, is choosing the right beach which suits your purpose and holiday style and budget. Saying that, and the lack of a network of roads, you choose the beach only by choosing your accommodation.
Getting there and around:
Approach Koh Samet freom the small fishing village of Ban Phe. Ban Phe is only 3 hours by bus from Ekamai Station or catch a van from Victory Monument.
Some resorts have private transportation from Bangkok. There are vans and buses available from Pattaya. Then there is a short 30 minute cruise. The boat to Na Dan pier is 100 baht round trip. The boat leaves when there are more than 20 people. It's a 120 baht to all the other beaches except Ao Pakarang which is 200 baht.
Take advantage of CherdChai's Tours all inclusive package. The tour from Ekamai station is every hour on the hour at Ekamai between 5am and 8pm. You save a few baht if you buy a return ticket and it's open ended. They also offer a boat ferry ticket for the same price at the dock.
If you arrive late at the docks (after 6pm) you can rent a private speed boat for a 1000 baht. However, if you do arrive late then expect problems with finding accommodation, so book ahead especially on weekends and holidays. Mind, it is a favorite weekend escape for Bangkokians.
Koh Samet, for this beach bunny, is:
Sunsets are playing in the sand like a kid, but with an ice cold beer waiting at my chair. Koh Samet is my kind of weekend paradise.