Almost everyone on Samet is there to relax and enjoy themselves, which means a general holiday and party atmosphere. The scene is typified by beachfront restaurants and bars, and unless you’re staying at the plush places on Ao Phrao (west coast) you’ll find yourself mingling with the fun ambience.
Stay on the northern strip (Hat Sai Kaew to Ao Phai) if you’ve come to join in the fun, while staying at the isolated bays of Ao Vong Dueng and Ao Thian means you get to experience the typical Thai weekender character.
Samet is a small and unhurried place with no tuk tuks, girlie bars or posh sophistication and you’re more likely to be wandering the beach by night than getting dolled up for a disco. However it’s a popular party place on weekends, and there are some fun bars and sound systems on Ao Hin Khok and Ao Phai.
The restaurants on the beach, consisting of cushions on mats on the sand, are a popular and enchanting evening experience. But there are plusher options inside the expensive resorts if you crave white linen and a proper dining experience.
Eating on Koh Samet
The restaurants that spread onto the beach at night are something of a Koh Samet institution, and it is an atmospheric way to dine. Beach-style barbecues have become popular here, especially around Ao Phai. The food is fresh and you can choose what you want from the chilled counter, and even have a baked potato or corn on the cob to go with it.
For coffee lovers, the café at Silversands does an excellent cup of fresh stuff and is a nice place for breakfast. Some of the more luxurious resorts on the west coast also have good restaurants. Ao Phrao in particular has been well reviewed, and it is easy to organise a songthaew to take you there and back at night. On Hin Khok Beach, Jeps has a popular restaurant, seated on the beach, while White Sands Restaurant has a good fresh fish selection.
Vong Duen Villas have a good and popular restaurant at Ao Vong Duen, with authentic Thai food. There are plenty more choices at all beaches, including these standalone bays, the trick is to see how many Thais are eating there to be sure of the taste, even if the service is likely to fall a bit short of impatient foreigner expectations. Ao Vong Duen, tel: (038) 644 260, mobile: 081 863 9868.
Nightlife and bars in Koh Samet
For such a small island, Koh Samet has some lively nightlife while at the same time retaining a relaxed, unsophisticated style. Silver Sand is one the most popular places with young Thais, Bangkok-based expats, and holidaymakers.
The bar is hip and the atmosphere relaxed, fun and friendly. Most people here tend to pack their tables with small buckets of cocktails and a few straws, and there is a small dance floor by the bar where you can work off your cocktail buckets. At times it can also be quite gay. Free fire-shows are often available on the beach, which are entertaining.
Some of the restaurants and bars between Ao Phai and Ao Hin Khok set up small mats with candles on the rocky sections as the evening approaches, and this is a pleasant and romantic way to enjoy a drink before dinner, overlooking the sea as the sun sets. Naga is a popular one, with its elevated bar gazing out over the beach. White Sands has an indoor dance venue that boasts a funky Filipino band, good sound system and lively crowd, one of the main places on the island to boogie.
Coin toss drinks are popular in some of the bars such as Tok’s Little Bar (opposite Tok’s Little Hut at Ao Hin Khok), with the idea being that you buy a drink and if you choose correctly you get a free drink!
If you’re staying at the other bays, such as Ao Vong Duen, Ao Cho or Ao Thian, forget anything other than a campfire on the beach with a bunch of Thai minstrels, but songteaws will take you to the action on Hin Khok. The posh crowd on Ao Phrao can sit in the hotel restaurant and sip their expensive wine contently safe in the knowledge that the partying riff-raff are on the other side of the island.