There is a frequent boat service to and from Ko Samet and although there is a scheduled timetable, don’t expect the boats to stick rigidly to it. All boats to and from Ko Samet will wait until there are enough passengers before departing which means that you could have to wait for up to an hour or more during low season weekdays. However, if you are travelling to Ko Samet during the weekend or in the November-February high season, then the chances are that you won’t have to wait too long before the boat departs. Boats to and from Ko Samet operate out of the small fishing village of Ban Phe on the mainland and if you do find yourself having to wait around for boats or buses, there are a number of places to get food and drink including the ubiquitous 7-Eleven. Decent toilet facilities can be found at the area where the buses drop off and pick up passengers.
Boats waiting for passengers at Ban Phe
If you don’t have accommodation booked on Ko Samet there is a booking facility available at the piers, but they do work on a commission basis. This can still be a handy service if you don’t want to waste time checking various bungalows and resorts when you arrive. Low season and weekdays there is usually no problem finding some form of accommodation on Ko Samet, but for weekends and public holidays you should consider booking in advance of arrival. Visitors to Ko Samet must pay a National Park fee. For overseas visitors this is 200 Baht for adults and 100 Baht for children. When you buy your boat ticket you may be asked to pay this fee too. The choice is yours; you can either pay there and then and get a stamp to say it’s been paid or you can pay on arrival on Ko Samet.
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Which pier do I need?
There are a few piers in Ban Phe operated by different ferry companies, but they all provide much the same service at the same price (e.g. 50 Baht per person one-way to/from Na Dan pier on Ko Samet). All of the piers at Ban Phe are within comfortable walking distance of one another, but you will normally find that your bus or mini-bus drops you directly opposite the appropriate one which will probably be Nuan Thip pier or Ban Phe pier. The bulk of the ferries from Ban Phe go to Na Dan pier on Ko Samet which is situated on the north-east tip of the island. At Na Dan, songthaews meet arriving boats to take passengers to the beaches of Hat Sai Kaew, Ao Phai, Ao Tubtim, Ao Lung Wung and Ao Wong Duan. If you are staying at any of the other beaches on Ko Samet, look for direct boats to Ao Wong Duan, Ao Wai or Ao Kui and Pakkarang, but these services are less frequent than those to Na Dan so you may find yourself waiting around.
The ferry boat companies do publish a timetable, but this is Thailand so don’t look at your watch and start complaining when the boat is still sat at the pier 20 minutes after the scheduled departure time.
Ferry or speedboat
Most ferry services are operated by fishing-type boats. They are basic and slow, but they are cheap and are good enough for the 40-60 minute crossing. An alternative is to catch a speedboat to or from Ko Samet which can be convenient if you are going to one of the remoter parts of Ko Samet or are travelling with a large group where you can share the cost of the boat hire e.g. 10 of you each paying 250 Baht each. Speedboats are also your only option if you need to travel after the last ferry has departed. The final amount you pay will depend on where you are going to on Ko Samet and how many passengers are being carried.
Cost of ferry tickets
Tickets can be bought as a single or return. There is no financial advantage in buying a return ticket, but if you choose to do so it’s good to know that return tickets are not dated and can be used on any day that you choose to travel.
To/from Na Dan Pier – 50 Baht one way (100 Baht return)
To/from Ao Wong Duan – 70 Baht one way (140 Baht return)
To/from Ao Wai – 100 Baht one way (200 Baht return)
To/from Ao Kui/Pakarang – 100 Baht one way (200 Baht return)
Boat arriving at Na Dan pier, Ko Samet
Boat times to and from Ko Samet
The times below should be used as guide; they are not set in stone. The ferry boat companies do publish a timetable, but this is Thailand so don’t look at your watch and start complaining when the boat is still sat at the pier 20 minutes after the scheduled departure time. Please also note that during low season, boat services may be less frequent or you may be subject to longer waiting times. Additional services to the ones listed below may also be available in high season
Na Dan pier
Ban Phe to Na Dan pier: first boat 09.00 then hourly to 17.00
Na Dan pier to Ban Phe: first boat 08.00 and then hourly until 18.00
Ao Wong Duan
Ban Phe to Ao Wong Duan: 09.30/13.30
Ao Wong Duan to Ban Phe: 08.30/10.30/12.30/14.30/16.30
Ban Phe to Ao Wai: 11.00/12.00
Ao Wai to Ban Phe: 10.00/12.00/14.00/16.00
Ao Kui/Pakarang to Ban Phe: 09.30/11.30/13.30/15.30
Ban Phe to Ao Kui/Pakarang: 09.30/11.30/13.30/15.30