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Until a few years ago, Ko Samed was a quiet tropical island with white sand beaches and only a few travelers and tourists, which found some small bungalows at the beaches in the north. Today, more and more tourists from all european countries and mainly Thais from Bangkok and the surrounding area come to the island for short daytrips or weekends, seeking fun and relaxation. Koh Samed is very easy and quick to reach from Rayong. The small village in the northeast has increasingly evolved to be a place for entertainment with discos, expensive restaurants and garbage and vermin problems. Beyond that village, the island is an national park and nature protection zone, including the sea and small islands around Koh Samed. The eastern coast has many beautiful beaches and bays with crystal clear water and fine sand. The longest beach of the island is Sai Kaeo Beach in the northeast. All beaches are mostly shadeless and without palm trees. In the northern parts, bungalows resorts are standing close together. Restaurants on the beach provide good food and some entertainment at night. Noise and garbage can be a problem here. In the southern bays, the island life is more quiet and away from hustle. Snorkeling and sunbathing is the best to do there.
After leaving the small village of Ban Na Dan, where everybody arrive at the main pier, you pay the 200 Baht entrance fee to the national park. The paved road to the bungalows in the north and to the bays in the south is quite narrow. Pickup cars carry the guests for 100-200 Baht to their accommodations. There is one crossroad which leads to the beautiful western bay of Paradise Beach (Ao Phrao).
The entire east coast consists of long white sandy beaches and sandy coves with wonderful swimming and snorkeling places. The further south you go, the more quiet and genuine Koh Samed you will find. The south is very rocky and therefore very well suited for snorkeling. The west coast is quite rocky too with a few sandy coves in the northern part. Here at Paradise Beach, the most expensive resorts on the island where built. It is also a very nice place for enjoying beautiful sunsets.
At night you can be part of the nightlife with lots of fun and parties, especially on weekends. Beach dinners, loud music and fire shows are celebrated around Ban Da Nan and Sai Khao Beach. The guests are therefore more likely very young - backpackers and students.
But if you prefer to live on Koh Samet without noise and nightlife, you should look for an accommodation in the south.
The bus departs from Bangkok or Pattaya to the coastal town of Ban Phe near Rayong. Take a boat for 50 baht per person to Ban Na Dan on Koh Samed. In high season there are also speedboats for individual transportation to all bays and beaches. This is more expensive, but makes arrival more comfortable, then using the island road passage. However, these boats need pre booking and will only leave with minimum occupation.
There are two piers in Ban Phe and private agencies, who offer tickets up to 200 baht per person. It is a bit difficult to understand, which are the official and cheap boats for 50 baht, and which are the private ones. The best advise is to head directly to the tourist information at the cashiers at the pier and avoid discussions with the Thais trying to sell their tickets quite aggressively.
Bungalow accommodations for small and big money can be found plenty on the east coast. On weekends they can be full and it is advisable to book online. Due to the many people, sometimes coming to the island, service is unfriendly or at least neutral, most bungalows in the north are outdated and sometimes dirty. The prices during holiday seasons increase significantly and are often not worth the consideration. Nevertheless, if you like to come during season from December to April, make sure to book a good room in advance. At Paradise Beach on the west coast and in the south of Samed, the best resorts are located. Prices starting from 100 per night. Probably the most beautiful bungalow resort on Koh Samed and one of the best in Thailand is the Paradee Resort and Spa.