This is my first post of an island outside the Philippines. Of course, it has to be in Thailand. Actually, this was my first beach experience outside the country, and so, I made sure it would be nice. We initially planned to go to Pattaya from Bangkok, but it was a good thing I discovered this island off the coast of Rayong just an hour away from Pattaya. This makes the entire journey from Bangkok around 3 hours.
We boarded a bus that went straight to the Ban Phe pier in Rayong. These buses can be found at the Ekamai Bus Station (Ekamai BTS stop). Just ask where the bus to Koh Samet can be found. Most of the buses leave in the morning so make sure you arrive early.
Being close to Bangkok, Koh Samet is popular among the Thais, and the island is packed during weekends. We came on a weekday, so the crowd was mostly foreign, like any other place in Thailand for that matter. We arrived at night already, since unfortunately our bus stopped at all places along the way, making the journey last for 5 hours. I knew we took the wrong bus and it stopped at the Rayong city center, so for those going there, ask well if the bus is going straight to Ban Phe or more specifically, Koh Samet.
I hated Thailand after seeing Koh Samet. Imagine, just three hours away, and you get a white powder sand beach with so much activity. The closest I could think here in the Philippines that could match that was Puerto Galera. But Galera doesn't come close to Koh Samet. The island has a perfect island charm that makes you fall in love with the place.
We stayed at the Vougdern Villas, which had great cottages for just P2,500 for 4 people. Now that's a steal. And the room was really nice. It had a balcony and a nice view facing the sea. The resort had a nice restaurant and an outdoor lounge as well.
Vougdern Villas were located at Ao Vong Duan (Vong Duan Beach) that is more laid back than the more popular beach on Koh Samet, Hat Sai Kaew (Diamond Beach). We visited Diamond Beach though, and that resembled Boracay (the sand in Samet is like Boracay's FYI). Diamond Beach had a lot of resorts and water activities from jet skiing to wind surfing. It also had a wider beach than Vong Duan.
We stayed for 3 days and 2 nights in Koh Samet. I usually tour the island by foot if it's small enough. I passed through several other beaches hiking for about 2 hours. I reached the southern tip of the island to watch the sun set on a cape. It was amazing.
The verdict: Koh Samet is truly a breathtaking island getaway. Being near Bangkok, there's no excuse to spend a a day or two there. Believe me, it's worth it.