Paradee Resort & Spa offers the discerning traveller such an exclusive island experience. Aptly translating as "sixth level of heaven", the resort has a spectacular location on Ao Kiew beach, at the southern tip of Koh Samed. The 40 villas, most of which come with a private pool and beach views, are decorated with an Asian flavour using teak wood, rattan and Thai silk. There's even a butler on hand to cater to your every need. When staying at Paradee, follow the resort's lead and take part in its "Adopt- a-turtle" campaign, which aims to conserve the green turtles that lay their eggs on the hotel's beach.

Another upscale option is Ao Phrao, a secluded stretch of powdery sand which attracts travellers looking for a more exclusive holiday. Still, there are plenty of pretty public beaches where you can relax or enjoy fun, water-based activities. With perfect sand, crystal-clear waters and plenty of water sports, Sai Kaew beach, which means "glassy sand", is one of the most popular beaches on Samed. Stretching fora kilometre, it's the largest on the island and a mecca for sun-worshippers. The statue of the mythical prince, Phra Apai Manee, the hero in Sunthorn Phu's poem, is located here.

Near Sai Kaew is Noi Na bay, which has a completely different vibe. Surrounded by a small fishing village, the beach is much quieter - perfect if doing nothing is your modus operandi. Further down the coast lies Wongduean bay, Samed's second-largest beach - popular with budget travellers for its pretty location, affordable accommodation and seafood restaurants. Getting to the island is easy - from Bangkok it's a three-hour drive to Ban Phe pier, then a short ferry ride. Samed also enjoys fine weather all year round - while the monsoon season from May to July means heavy showers for Thailand, the island actually sees very little rain. With so much to offer its visitors, it's no wonder the secret's out on the magic crystal island.


GETTING THERE

It's a three-hour car/bus ride from Bangkok to Ban Phe pier, a small port close to the town of Rayong. Then hop aboard a ferry and 45 minutes later you're in Samed. Rates usually range between THB20 and THB40 per person, each way. There are also several speedboat operators who also leave from Ban Phe. They will get you there faster, but expect to pay a hefty THB2,000 per person.

WHERETO STAY

Paradee
This five-star resort is nestled between two palm-fringed beaches and is every honeymooner's dream. Its unique location on a promontory means you can capture a stunning sunrise and sunset every day. www.paradeeresort.com
Sai Kaew Beach resort
This three-star resort is kind to the wallet with decent, modern rooms. www.saikaewbeachresorts.com

WHERE TO EAT

Rim Vimarn restaurant
Arguably the most romantic option on the island for diners who don't mind paying more for ambience, it's Le Vimarn Cottages & Spa's only outlet, located on Ao Phrao beach.

WHAT TO DO

Donate to the turtle conservation centre or ask staff at the Paradee to visit the reptiles on Haad Pakarang (Coral beach).

Visit the Khao Laem Ya Mu Koh Samed National Park to see wildlife such as long-tailed macaques and herons.


Koh Samet Hotels Recommendation