Koh Samet is an island easily reached by boat from Ban Phe pier, on the mainland. The nearest main town is Rayong – 10 minutes drive away, to which buses travel every hour from Bangkok’s Eastern Bus terminal at Ekkamai. By car the drive is around three hours.
Koh Samet ferries
There are two main piers at Ban Phe; Nuanthip pier is the nearest to the bus station while Chok Kitsada pier (opposite 7-Eleven) is a bit farther. Boats depart more frequently from Chok Kitsada pier, especially at quiet times when boats at Nuanthip often wait until they are completely full before leaving. Invariably you needn’t wait more than an hour for a departure with the journey taking 30-45 minutes.
It is better to buy a one-way ticket, as a return will tie you down to the same boat company when coming back. It is also possible to hire a speedboat, which has the added advantage of being able to take you to the beach of your choice.
Some of the higher end hotels can organise transportation for you.
Boats arrive at Na Dan pier on the island and from here it is easy to take a songthaew to your preferred beach.
Buses to Koh Samet
Buses for Ban Phe leave Bangkok from the Eastern Bus Terminal at Ekkamai (next to Ekkamai BTS station) and run every hour from 05:00 to 20:30, with the journey taking around three and a half hours.
If you are travelling by car, take the Bangkok-Chonburi/Pattaya toll way out of the city and then Highway 36 to Rayong. From Rayong travel east on Highway 3 to Ban Phe. It is possible to get a taxi from Bangkok to Ban Phe, but this is an expensive choice. Some of the more high-end resorts on the island can organise taxis for you or alternatively your hotel in Bangkok can arrange one.
From Pattaya there are regular but less frequent buses directly to Rayong, or you might have to travel first to Chon Buri and change there for a southbound bus to Rayong. From Koh Chang the bus back to Bangkok passes through Rayong usually.
Transport on Koh Samet
There are songthaews available to get around the island, but not all the beachfront areas are accessible by road. It is possible to hire a songthaew to go across the island for an evening at one of the resorts on the west coast, or vice versa. Motorbike and bicycle hire is an option here, but most of the roads tend to be muddy tracks so this form of transport is not the easiest. It is a pleasant walk all the way along the east coast, but there are some rocky patches and climbs to navigate as you go farther south.
Boats also run between the various beaches that line the east side of the island and a walking trial links them. The first few beaches from the main Ao Phai beach area are easily accessible, thereafter the trail becomes tiring and difficult.