Ban Phe

Ban Phe

Gateway to Ko Samet

Cooled by a fish-scented sea breeze, the coastal town of Ban Phe is mainly known as the jumping off point for Ko Samet — few travellers spend more than a mandatory half-hour here before hopping on a ferry. Wander away from the piers and seashell stands though to get a feel for the fishing lifestyle that unfolds along vast mainland beaches. The further you go, the more interesting it gets.

More on Ban Phe

Ban Phe doesn’t make the best first impression, but give the area a chance and you might find yourself hanging around for longer than planned. Its location at the centre of Rayong province’s long coastline makes it a good base for exploring modest beaches stretching for many miles. Other nearby attractions include the scenic Khao Laem Ya cape, the well-put-together Rayong Aquarium and some incredible seafood markets.

You come here to get one of these. Photo by: David Luekens.
You come here to get one of these. Photo: David Luekens

The nearby town of Klaeng is well known among Thais as the stomping grounds of Sunthorn Phu, the “Shakespeare of Thailand” who invented the Nirat form of travel poetry. A continual traveller, frequent fighter, heavy drinker and notorious adulterer, Phu spent parts of his life in jail, as a Buddhist monk and as royal director of scribes for King Rama IV. His travel-inspired works, like Nirat Muang Grang and Phra Aphai Mani, still make for captivating reading while on a trip to Thailand. A monument dedicated to Phu is found just northeast of Laem Mae Phim beach in Klaeng, 30 kilometres east of Ban Phe.

As for Ban Phe town, expect a tacky look on the main drag fronting the busy ferry piers. Package tour buses rumble by as travel agents shout, “Where you gooooo!?” There’s also a bit of sleazy spillover from Pattaya, located 80 kilometres to the west, with a few sex worker bars and “massage” shops found in side lanes near ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)

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