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Located approximately 220 kilometers from Bangkok is another delightfulresort on Thailand’s eastern coast – Rayong province. A late bloomer,the province is well known for its pristine beaches stretching along a100-kilometer coastline and scenic waterfalls amidst exoticsurroundings. Aside from this, Rayong is blessed with an abundance ofseafood products such as shrimp paste, fish sauce and dried seafood,and tropical fruits of which rambutan, mangosteen and durian are themost famous.
Coveringa total area of 3,552 square kilometers, Rayong borders ChonburiProvince on the north and the west, the Gulf of Thailand on the south,and Chantaburi Province on the east. Most of the land is marked by aseries of mountains interspersed by flat plains and large tracts offorest and fruit plantations. Administratively, the province is dividedinto Mueang Rayong, Klaeng, Ban Khai, Bang Chang, Pluak Daeng and WangChan districts and Khao Chamao and Nikhom Phatthana Sub-districts.
Boastingindispensable sea-life resources, Rayong is one of the country’s majoragricultural and industrial provinces. On the other hand, the provincehas maintained its traditions and customs in the daily lifestyle of thelocals. The best months to visit Rayong are from November to February.
Most of Ko Samet, including all of the good parts, is part of Khao Laem Ya and Mu Ko Samet National Park and has an entry fee. Thais pay 40 baht, foreigners 400 baht - a classic example of Thai dual pricing. If your ferry arrives at the main pier and you take a songthaew to the beaches, there will be a stop at the main ticket checkpoint. If your ferry arrives at one of the beaches, an officer will collect the fee as you step out of the surf. Note that there is plenty of foot traffic in and out of the park to the 7-Eleven, ATM or other shops and restaurants and if you have no bags you can nonchalantly walk into the park without anyone checking your ticket. There is a road via the temple which avoids the checkpoint entirely.
The 1st class bus from Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) to Ban Phe usually takes just over 3 hours, costs 276 baht, and terminates opposite the ferry piers (there's no direct service to Ban Phe from Moh Chit - nearest alternative is to Rayong, from there you can take a songthaew to Ban Phe). If you take a regular bus from Pattaya or Sattahip, you'll need to take a songthaew or charter a tuk-tuk to the ferry piers. Minibus services go straight to the piers.
Purimas Beach Hotel
Start: 2,000 THB .
Start: 2,100 THB .
Paradee Resort & Spa
Koh Samet, Ao Kew
Start: 10,200 THB .
Samet Cliff Resort
Noi Na Beach
Start: 1,550 THB .
Malibu Garden Resort
Start: 1,500 THB .
Palmeraie Beach Hotel
Laem Mae Pim
Start: 1,650 THB .
In town (Na Dan), there are two smallish, more traditional Thaieateries that serve good quality Thai food at fairly cheap prices. Oneis located across the road from the 7/11 near the national parkentrance, and the other is just a few shops down from the same 7/11.Both have menus in English.
If you've jonesing for some sticky rice and other country fare head down to Ao Wong Duan.
If you are after a traditional Thai breakfast there are a coupleof ladies who set up their mobile eatery daily next to the TouristPolice checkpoint that services Haat Sai Kaew. They serve boiledchicken on rice (khao man gai tom), fried chicken and rice (khao mangai tort) or rice porridge (jok) for 20-30 baht. The food is fresh andthey do a brisk trade serving locals as well as a few tourists.