The magical crystal Island of Koh Samed...
This place is only a few hours from Bangkok (3 to be precise) and yet is under visited and simply divine! If you can stay at the right places, you will be living in paradise and yet with all the usual things a Thai Island can offer. It's quite cheap on the scale of things, a beautiful nature reserve and it grows out of mythical crystaline volcanic rock, what more could you need?
Restaurants? Its got those too, as well as a beach strip, bars, clubs but also deserted beaches, nature walks and seclusion. There's lots of great places to eat, we've got some photos of the places if you want to know, we highly recommend getting a sea food meal at some point, its really fresh and delicious.
We recommend staying at Ao Nuan beach, there's two places there (check out the pics for details) or there's more places on the beaches either side. All are near complete serene desertion or a bit of life; so you can get some water, have a meal or get some ice cream for that hot isolated beach!
Get the bus from Ekkamai in the morning (buses are either before 11am or after 12pm, roughly) and you'll be there around lunch time or at least by the afternoon. When you get off the bus, just make sure you use the right pier, the large one, there's a 'scam' motorboat counter that charges significantly more than the big boat. I say scam as they'll make you think they are the only way to get to the island and they don't point out the much cheaper boat ticket buying section elsewhere.
Once you get to the Island you can pick up a shared truck taxi for about 50 baht to the beach or hotel of your choice. You can also rent a motorbike there and then find your own place to stay, it's worth doing as a lot of places aren't bookable in advance. and a good search will find you a unique spot. Indeed, hitting the road and having an explore of Samed is part of its charm so you should plan to get a motorbike at some pont. It makes a trip to the shops or beach that much easier.
Finally there's a charge of about 200 baht if you wnat to enter the park. Most of the best places to stay are down there so accept that you will be paying it and look after the ticket as it's valid for the whole trip. We really recommend Koh Samed, it's a healing, rejuvenating place and is well worth the trip, especially if you don't have much time to go see one of the more distant islands (btw that's about 99% of them!).
There's a bit more info in the photos below...
Samed photos: Click on the arrows to scroll, or on the image for a larger version (in a pop-up)
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