Ko Samet is so big, we've split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Ko Samet as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don't know where to start? Read an overview of Ko Samet's different areas.
Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Ko Samet.
The closest airport is U-Tapao (near Pattaya), about 45 kilometres west of Ban Phe. At time of writing, U-Tapao is serviced only from Bangkok or Ko Samui, by Bangkok Airways.
Air-con buses with toilets leave Bangkok's Ekkamai (Eastern) bus station for Ban Phe (the jumping off point for Ko Samet) roughly every hour from 06:00 to 18:30 daily, costing 173 baht. Buses do the reverse trip roughly every two hours from 05:00 to 18:00. The journey takes three and a half hours with little traffic, but can take over five hours if fighting through Bangkok's rush hours. Buses from Ekkamai drop passengers just west of the town centre in Ban Phe, directly across from Nuan Thip Pier, where you can catch a ferry to Ko Samet.
If you don't feel like waiting for a bus direct to Ban Phe, buses to Rayong town depart from Ekkamai station every 30 minutes. Rayong can also be reached from Bangkok's Morchit (Northern) bus station, and from the Suvarnabhumi airport transport centre. From Rayong, regular shared songthaews can take you the remaining 20 kilometres to Ban Phe for 25 baht. In Ban Phe, songthaews to Rayong depart regularly from a stand on the main coastal road, just east of Nuan Thip pier and west of Municipal pier.
There is no direct regular bus from Pattaya (or anywhere else) to Ban Phe. However, regular buses do run from Pattaya to Rayong. Regular minibuses (vans) run direct from Pattaya to Ban Phe.
A number of minibuses also depart from Ban Phe to various destinations. Several companies run from Bangkok's Victory Monument to Ban Phe and back, departing hourly from 06:00 to 18:00. These cost 200 baht and can be caught at various locations around Ban Phe, including a stand near Christie's in the town centre, another at Nuan Thip pier and another in front of Municipal pier. Minibuses to other destinations depart less frequently from a stand in front of Nuan Thip pier. Tickets for these can also be arranged through travel agents and resorts on Ko Samet. Destinations include:
Bangkok (Khao San Road): Departs at 10:00 and 13:30, costs 250 baht and takes around 4 hours.
Suvarnabhumi Airport: Departs at 10:30, 13:30 and 16:00, costs 500 baht and takes 3 hours.
Pattaya: Departs at 10:00, 13:30 and 17:00, costs 200 baht and takes 1.5 hours.
Trat / Ko Chang: Departs at 9:30 and 11:30, costs 250 baht and takes 3 hours.
Chanthaburi: Departs at 9:30, costs 250 baht and takes 2 hours.
Aranyaprathet (Cambodia border): Departs at 9:30, costs 500 baht and takes 4 hours.
Hat Lek (Cambodia border): Departs at 9:30, costs 500 baht and takes 3.5 hours.
Boats to Ko Samet leave from several different piers in Ban Phe, though some piers to the west of town are only for guests of certain resorts. If you prebook a midrange to high-end resort on Ko Samet, be sure to ask if they offer a free ferry service, and exactly where to catch it.
Most travellers hop on one of the ferries that depart from Nuan Thip pier or Ban Phe pier (located 200 metres west of Nuan Thip) and disembark at the main Nadan pier on Ko Samet's north coast. These supposedly run every hour from 08:00 to 17:00, though they only leave when they have 20 passengers so you might have to wait a bit longer. The cost is 70 baht one-way or 100 baht for a roundtrip ticket that never expires. It's a pleasant 30 to 40 minute cruise to the island.
From Nadan pier, ferries depart for Ban Phe roughly every hour from 08:00 to 17:30.
Ferries also run direct from Nuan Thip pier to Ao Wong Duen, departing at 9:30, 13:30 and 17:00 (or when they have 7 passengers), and costing 90 baht one-way or 140 baht roundtrip. From Ao Wong Duen, boats depart for Ban Phe at 8:30, 12:00 and 17:30, though this is subject to change depending on demand -- check in at the ticket office on Wong Duen for the latest schedule.
With the exception of private resort ferries, Samet's lesser beaches are reached only by speedboat from Municipal Pier, which generally wait until they have at least four or five passengers before departing. Expect to pay around 500 baht roundtrip to Ao Phai or Ao Tubtim, 600 baht roundtrip to Ao Cho and 800 baht roundtrip to Ao Thian, Ao Wai or Ao Pakarang. Private speedboats can be chartered at any time for between 2,000 and 2,500 baht, or perhaps less if you're a haggler. It takes only 15 minutes to reach Nadan pier from Ban Phe by speedboat.
It's possible to walk from one beach to the next along most of the east coast, hopping over rock outcrops and hiking trails over headlands in places, or going along the main road. It's seven kilometres from the northern tip of Haad Sai Kaew to Ao Pakarang in the far south, though this would be a long, hard walk as the main road has lots of hills. While walking on the stretches of road that have already been paved, watch out for pick-up truck taxis that sometimes blaze by at insane speeds.
Surprisingly, no one advertises bicycle rental in the village and most resorts do not offer them. One exception is Mooban Talay Resort on Ao Noi Na, though if you're not staying here, you may have to beg them to rent one of their quality mountain bikes as they're generally reserved for guests. When we asked around in the village, we got replies like, "Hold on let me call my cousin and see if her son isn't using his bike today". We wouldn't advise tackling the far southern road with a rickety bike.
Motorbikes, on the other hand, can be rented just about anywhere on Samet. The cost is 200 baht per day at most shops in the village, though this jumps to 300 baht at Ao Wong Duen and can get even more expensive if renting from resorts on the more remote beaches. Most rental motorbikes have tyres with rubber studs, which are a good idea as the main road from Haad Sai Kaew to Ao Phai and from Ao Wai to Ao Pakarang is filled with huge holes, ankle-deep mud puddles and steep, rocky hills. We don't recommend riding along these stretches unless you're very confident on a motorbike.
ATVs are another popular way to get around on Samet. These can be rented in the village for a negotiable 400 baht per hour or 1,000 baht per day.
Another reliable way to get around is by green pick-up truck taxi, though these are expensive for a private trip -- a negotiable 100 to 700 baht depending on how far you're going. If you're catching one that already has passengers on board and you don't need to go somewhere out of the way, expect to pay 20 baht for a short trip or up to 200 baht for a longer one. Be sure to negotiate the price before getting on. From Ao Wai to the village and on to Ao Noi Na, pick-up truck taxis pass by frequently throughout the day, and there are usually a few waiting along the main road near each of the beaches.
If you prefer to get around by sea, chartered speedboats can be arranged through most resorts, and kayaks are available from many resorts for 150 baht per hour or 500 baht for a full day.