Photo: Hanging out on Ao Thian.

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As with most of the far southern beaches on Ko Samet, the long and thin Ao Sang Thian (or Ao Thian for short) and its southern extension, Ao Lung Dam, offer the chance to enjoy a laid-back seaside getaway.

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Though the name means "Candlelight Beach," almost all of Ao Thian has now been developed, so you probably won't need a candle to find your way around. The difference between here and neighbouring Ao Wong Duen is that while both beaches are similarly long, Ao Thian is far thinner, the resorts are generally smaller and cosier, and a few simple bungalow joints hint at what Samet was like in the old days.

Separated by only a small ledge, both Ao Thian and Ao Lung Dam are a bit rocky, though some good swimming and snorkelling can be enjoyed from the former's northern end. A steep hill rises up behind both beaches. Views from some of the rooms perched on the hill are among the best on the island. Several resorts have constructed terraces set almost directly above the water, so look elsewhere if you seek long unobstructed walks on the sand.

Especially popular with Thais holidaymakers, Ao Thian's accommodation tends to fill up on weekends. On our most recent Saturday visit, we noticed only four Scandinavian chaps among the crowds of Thais. On weekdays, when Ao Thian returns to its traditional role as one of Samet's quietest beaches, good deals can be scored on accommodation.

Ao Lung Dam was named after the apparently dark-skinned man who built the first bungalows (Lung Dam means 'Uncle Blackā€), and the same low key atmosphere that he must have enjoyed has survived here until today. If you want a relatively cheap, simple bungalow set within spitting distance of the ocean, this is one of the only options on Samet.

The only dining and drinking choices come from the resorts' restaurants that often make up for their tacky-kitsch ambiance with some very good food. For more abundant choices, Ao Wong Duen is an easy 10-minute stroll away.

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