While the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are well known and very popular, they are a considerable distance from Bangkok and require a full day of travel by road or rail. Koh Samet is a different story though; situated on the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samet is considerably closer to Bangkok. This makes the island an ideal weekend getaway destination if you need to leave the hustle and bustle of the city for a while and would like to spend time on the beach.
Visit Koh Samet and enjoy beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and a quieter atmosphere than places like Koh Samui, in a fraction of the time it takes to get there. Here are the different ways that you can travel from Bangkok to Koh Samet.
Flights to Koh Samet from Bangkok
Because Koh Samet is only 220 kilometers (137 miles) southeast of Bangkok there is no point in trying to get there by air. Koh Samet is only a small island so does not have its own airport, and the closest airport (U-Tapao–Rayong–Pattaya International Airport) on the mainland does not have any flights from Bangkok anyway, because there is no demand.
Taxi or Private Minivan to Koh Samet from Bangkok
The relatively short distance between Bangkok and Koh Samet means that a taxi or private minivan does not cost the earth, especially if you’re traveling as a family or with a group of friends. In terms of convenience, you cannot beat this service because they will pick you up from any hotel in Bangkok and take you directly to the Ban Phe ferry pier in Rayong. The drive takes around 3 hours but does not include the ferry ticket or the crossing. You will need to buy this separately once you arrive at Ban Phe, and as there’s no discount for buying a return ticket it’s safer to buy one-way in case you lose it or your plans change.
Note that ferries do not operate throughout the night, but if you arrive after they have stopped running there is a speedboat option. These speedboats operate 24 hours and have the advantage of being able to drop you directly to where you want to go, rather than just stopping at the public pier. They are more expensive than the ferries but also faster, taking approximately half the time a ferry would take.
Combined Bus and Ferry from Bangkok to Koh Samet
A much cheaper option, and some would argue no less comfortable or convenient than the private service, is a tour company minivan from Khao San Travel Mart. You can buy a combined bus and ferry ticket for a very low price, departing from Khao San Road. The bus / minivan will take you down to Rayong and the Ban Phe pier, then you already have your ticket to get on the ferry across to Koh Samet which is about a 30 minute ferry ride. The entire journey should take around 5 hours, and these buses usually leave in the morning from Bangkok.
Minivan, Minibus and Bus Services from Bangkok to Koh Samet
If you like the idea of traveling from Bangkok to Koh Samet by minivan you could pick up a minivan from Bangkok’s Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai BTS-station). These also take you all the way to the ferry piers and offer another affordable option. Or, if you’re in the south of Bangkok you can go to the Southern Bus Terminal and get a minibus to Ban Phe. These usually leave approximately every two hours and cost a little more than the minivan option.
A regular bus service is also available between Bangkok and Koh Samet. These buses also leave from Bangkok’s Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai BTS-station) and are again comparable in price to the minivans. The journey may be a little longer as there could be more stops en-route, but you should figure on it taking somewhere around 3.5 to 4 hours down to the ferry piers in Ban Phe. You can buy your ferry ticket at the same time as buying your bus ticket.
If you’re staying in Bangkok close to Mo Chit Bus Terminal this does offer one final option. However, buses from Mo Chit do not go all the way down to the ferry piers, instead stopping in Rayong itself. This is not a huge inconvenience as you can easily take a Songthaew from the town to Ban Phe for a minimal charge, and when you compare this to traveling across Bangkok to get to one of the other departure points, the buses from Mo Chit may be a better alternative for anyone staying close by.
Koh Samet National Park Entry Fee
One final thing to note is that because Koh Samet is within the Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park, everyone coming onto the island must pay a national park entrance fee upon arrival. As with the majority of these things in Thailand, the entry fee is minimal compared to Western prices and, as is usually the case, tourists do pay more than Thai nationals.