Exploring the island
If you want to explore the island, consider renting a motorbike for the day, or if you’re feeling more active then perhaps a bicycle.
Motorbikes are offered for about THB300 per day, and there is also an option to rent it on hourly bases (THB250 per three hours). The best place to do it is in the village immediately after you reach the island, though many guesthouses do offer this option, too.
In the south of Koh Samet there is more forest land, so this can be explored, or maybe try heading to one of the less popular and more hidden beaches, which may be a particularly good thing to do when it’s busy on the island. Motorbike is also a must if you want to travel between eastern bays, the village and Ao Prao: note that the sunsets in Ao Prao are spectacular!
Tip There is a small clinic in the village not far from the pier in case you have an accident.
Wat Ko Kaew Pitsadan
The island has just one temple that can be visited - Wat Ko Kaew Pitsadan – which has a big Buddha image and is worth a short stop if you find it on your route. It is in the village, right before ou reach the ticket office. One of the things it is known for is a friendly monk who is likely to welcome you if you do make your way here. In terms of history and culture, the temple is pretty much it – all activities tend to revolve around the beaches and ocean.
Boat trips from Koh Samet
A popular excursion from Koh Samet is the boat trip to the neighbouring islands or just around the island. There are a few different itineraries and tour companies available to choose from, but all take in pretty much the same things - beautiful beaches and small islands that are surrounded by crystal clear water and feature impressive rock formations and natural landscapes. These tours show you just how stunning the area is, and are well worth investing in.
Half-day tours or afternoon tours cost from THB400-THB500 and only bring you to Malibu bay for snorkelling (and it is not a big thing there, frankly speaking). More expensive versions (from THB600) usually last a full day and also include lunch and water, making them a fairly good deal in the end, especially by Koh Samet pricing. Expect to visit many scenic viewpoints as well as small and peaceful beaches for swimming and sunbathing.
The best tour to take is arguably a full-day tour (10am-5pm) which will include a visit to Koh Thalu, Koh Kudee and Koh Kham (from around THB1000) out of which the first one is the most impressive destination. The local expats (yes, there are expats on Koh Samet!) recommend Nong Boon Tour, though New Happy Tour, White Shark and Sea King are easier to come across.
Snorkelling and diving on Koh Samet
There’s also some reasonable diving available on Koh Samet although it’s by no means as popular to dive here as it is on some of the other Thai islands. As well as the usual array of tropical fish you can often spot puffer fish, rays and black tipped reef sharks and there is some nice coral to explore as well. As with most tours and activities, diving can be pricy, but many people do choose to do an open water dive whilst they’re on the island to get closer to the marine life.
The easiest way to have some snorkelling on Koh Samet is to head to Malibu beach where you can find some dead corals in the southern part of the bay. While corals are by no means picturesque, there are some varieties of coral fish there to keep you busy for half-an-hour.
Fireshow on Koh Samet
Though it can be not the most spectacular fireshow in your life, it looks wonderfully right to get sit in one of the beach restaurant for dinner and watch the lords of fire performing in front of you. Sai Khaew has a lot of places where fireshow is held and after 8pm you can watch it in many small bays up north from Ao Nuan. It is free but tips are welcome.
Hiking & bay-hopping on Koh Samet
Other tips outside of relaxing on beaches include the advice to travel around the island and take in a sunset if possible - these are stunning although it can be tricky to find a good location to see one as the island’s main hubs of activity are lined along the east coast.
Starting from Sai Kaew you can reach as far as Ao Malibu (Ao Wong Duean) and that makes for a wonderful afternoon stroll plus you can check all the bays on your way to choose the one that appeals to you most.
While Koh Samet won’t surprise you as far as the shopping opportunities are concerned, do check a funny make-shift shell-shop. It migrates from beach to beach and the last time we spotted it between Ao Tubtim and Ao Putsa, though earlier it was found Ao Cho And Malibu. You cannot just walk past hand-make shell bracelets and pendants!