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Ao Wong Duen

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A sweeping crescent of powdery white sand, Ao Wong Duen ("Crescent Moon Bay") is Ko Samet's second most popular beach. Favoured by families seeking comforts and conveniences -- but not all-night beach parties -- this wide and well-sheltered bay is lined with resorts, restaurants, convenience stores and lounge chairs. With all of the same services you'll find on Haad Sai Kaew, Ao Wong Duen serves as a centre for all of Samet's southern beaches.

In terms of development, Ao Wong Duen went beyond the point of no return when several tightly packed resorts were constructed in 2012 and '13 from the centre to the north of the beach. These have been built on top of each other to the point that it's often difficult to tell where one ends and another begins. A large taxi stand and several motorbike rental shops are found just inland to the north, and a national park office, ferry boat ticket booth, ATM, currency exchange, internet cafe and tourist police box are situated smack in the centre of the sand.

Despite it getting more crowded each year, Wong Duen has managed to hold on to its image as a family-friendly beach. A handful of laid-back bars keep the margaritas flowing into the night, but you won't find blasting techno and full-on beach bashes here.

The serene atmosphere of Wong Duen's old days has been somewhat preserved by two of the original midrange resorts, Vong Duern Villa and Vong Deuan Resort, which mingle with abundant palms and open spaces along the hillside to the south. Either of these are fine choices for families or couples seeking a quiet yet comfortable getaway.

More secluded beaches like Ao Wai and Ao Nuan are within relatively easy reach, making Wong Duen a good base for day trips. Even if you stay closer to home, be sure to venture to one of Samet's best (and most hidden) sunset perches at the end of an unmarked dirt trail that shoots west off the main road about 50 metres south of the back entrance to Vong Deuan Resort.

Ao Wong Duen is also a hotspot for boat traffic, with ferries, speedboats, jet skis, banana boats and kayaks all jostling for space. This constant flow is not as orderly as it could be, so be aware when swimming. Ferry boats arrive to Ao Wong Duen several times daily and leave for Ban Phe at 08:30, 12:00 and 17:30 (depending on demand), making it possible to visit Samet without ever seeing the noisier northern shore.

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Text and/or map last updated on 22nd November, 2015.

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Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.

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