7 reasons Koh Samet, Thailand was perfect for our family paradise beach holiday
Catching up on travel blog posts while actively travelling is so hard! I started this post on our travels in Koh Samet nearly a week ago and now two more countries later, I am having to change it all to past tense. Please ignore the merging of past and present in this post, I just want to share this now as have so much more to write about 🙂
We had been enjoying Bangkok nearly two weeks now before we went to Koh Samet. Gorging on delicious food, fresh fruits and yummy drinks, doing some city sightseeing but mostly chilling by the pool and hanging out with our friends and their new baby. It took a while to get over the jetlag and also get used to the heat before we ventured out for our beach holiday in Koh Samet with good friends visiting from Bangladesh.
Being in Thailand brings back many memories from my childhood as I used to vacation here with my parents frequently. 20 years ago Pattaya and Phuket were prime beach destinations, I remember watching the film – The Beach – and remembering when Phi Phi Island was as pristine as it looks in the movie! I was looking forward to reliving those fun beach moments with my own children just as my parents did with my sister and me.
Thailand is adorned with many beautiful islands and beaches with white sands and turquoise waters, we were recommended several, but in the end we chose Koh Samet on recommendation from our friends as we needed the island to be within a few hours reach from Bangkok (without flying) . Our friends also knew the kind of places we would like – less built up, no high-rise giant hotel chains, no malls or other such development, just a chilled out island where we could enjoy the sun and sea. Koh samet was all that and more. Here is why we loved it here and why we would recommend it to others…and also why we will be back here in July!
Lack of rapid development
Koh Samet is located just 200 km from Bangkok in the gulf of Thailand. It is a T-shaped island and is famous for its sandy white beaches and crystal clear waters. One of the reasons we were drawn to it, was because unlike some of the other islands like Koh Samui and Ko Chang, Koh Samet had not fallen into the hands of big developers and rapid ugly construction. What we really liked here was the lack of high rise buildings, massive hotel blocks, shopping plazas, and other such over zealous development. We got here by Bus and then on a Ferry, I was just ever so excited cruising through such gorgeous turqoise waters with the wind on my face. All of us were 🙂
Bungalow Style Simple Resorts right on the beach
All the resorts at Koh Samet were one level, with bungalow style rooms and houses.We stayed at Vongdeuan Resort located in Vongdeuan beach on a moon crescent shaped bay. The Resort lies on one side of the bay, away from the busier center area where few other resorts were clustered together. Our friends stayed in Samed Cabana. We all agreed Vongdeuan was the nicer of the two. Food at our Restaurant was delicious, staff were friendly (minus the reception people) and all the rooms were very simply but tastefully decorated both on the outside and the inside. Pool was large and clean, with great views of the beach. Restaurant and Bar area was right on the beach.
Our beach and few of the other ones we checked out were just perfect! I will let the pictures speak for themselves. The kids loved being on the beach in warm waters for a change. Our two had mostly swam in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean waters, in Europe and North America. Few times they had been in Mediterranean waters but they were much younger then and don’t remember those times. The crystal clear waters in Koh Samet was heaven to them and to me! I also enjoyed amazing Thai Massages, Shama’s treat was getting hair braided and Shahaar’s was doing the banana boat ride. We did lots of beach art, wrote short stories, Shahaar found a crab. We had booked ourselves on a snorkelling trip where they take you to different islands and you can enjoy swimming in coral reefs. I had really enjoyed doing this when Ashique and I had gone to Malaysia, but we opted out at the last-minute so we could spend more time with our friends.
Our fun days in the sun and sea 🙂
Excellent local cuisine
Food was excellent! Fresh fish and shellfish, variety of Thai dishes including Papaya Salads, Crab Friend Rice, several vegetable dish items and yummy cocktails. Breakfast was included in our stay and we had a wide range of choice – from continental breakfast, to Thai dishes, fresh fruits and yogurts. Breakfast was our kids favourite meal. Some of the restaurants were definitely better than others. In the evenings,the restauranters would set-up blankets, tables and pillows infront of their restaurants and serve up all kinds of BBQ and fresh fish meals.
The Fire spinning was absolutely amazing, and I am a pretty good judge of fire spinning having performed in two fire troupes for several years in USA and Bangladesh.I can tell you these guys were fantastic! Made me so nostalgic the first night I saw them. I wanted to spin but was too shy to ask, and they probably would not have let me anyhow with my brood of four kids (my two and my friend’s two) watching so intently. I promised my friend’s 5 year old son I will teach him 🙂
Ease of access
Being so close to Bangkok makes koh Samet the ideal location for both locals and tourists wanting to get away from the bustle of the city for a few days without the hassle of flying or travelling too far. 2.5 hour car ride (or 3.5 hour Bus Ride) which is what we took from Ekamai Station, costs 166 Baht to Ban Phe, followed by a short 45 minute Ferry ride and you are there in pristine waters and ready for island fun!
There are several points along the west of the islands where there are signposted scenic points that you can enjoy the sunset. On our last evening, we went on a short (but adventurous trek) to one of these points. Bit of a hilly walk, you go through these woods, short bit on the road and then you are in this cliff area where you can sit and watch the sun setting into the horizon. Ours was hardly a zen moment as we had four kids, two of which were trying to scramble down the cliffs in search of their ball that went flying as soon as we got there. Luckily a fishermen who happened to be fishing at the bottom, managed to find the ball and bring it back to us. We enjoyed the moment, even if it was not as peaceful as we had hoped!
Off to Sydney tomorrow and onwards to New Zealand to join Ashique…excited about our new adventures in new destinations. But being here in Thailand for 2.5 weeks has really struck a chord…we remember how much we love travelling in Asia, how cheap it is compared to all the travelling we did in Europe and North America the past 10 years…I know we will be back soon to experience more of Southeast Asia over the next few years 🙂