The joys of Thailand's eastern seaboard are notorious - an area on the opposite
coast to that hit by the recent tsunami - and most people think of Pattaya but
OutUK correspondent Robin Newbold went a little further afield to the island
of Samet and discovered what's become the weekend getaway for gay Bangkokers and
their foreign admirers.
ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE
Don't come to Samet expecting an adventure, well not an adventure of the
Most seem to be quite content soaking up paradise on one of the
many beaches but if you are of a more active bent there are island boat tours, kayaking,
snorkelling and jet-skiing to be enjoyed.
Though having a good time can cost under a
pound a day, that's a retro-style deck chair (30 baht) and one of those big inner-tubes
to float on the crystal-clear sea (20 baht).
This is the fishing boat cum ferry which no doubt you'll zip past on your privately chartered speedboat to Samet.
Add a good book and a lithe young
companion to the mix and it can be quite heavenly. You can even get a massage and
a manicure on the beach and if you can't be bother to get up they'll come to you.
There are also vendors trawling the sands at irregular intervals offering fresh
fruit, sarongs, fake RayBans and the like and they're nowhere near as intrusive
as somewhere like Pattaya where they've become a nuisance.
DANCING IN THE SAND
Don't be expecting an Ibiza-style experience from the nightlife but one of the reasons
behind Samet's surge in popularity in recent years is that it seems immune to the
government's so-called "social order campaign", which means unlike Bangkok, for
instance, the bars party on long after 2am.
You can go all night if you want -
Red Bull & vodka is incredibly cheap here and served in buckets! - and there's even
a monthly Full Moon Party on Hin Khok beach, though it's nothing on the scale of the
infamous one on Koh Pan-Ngan in southern Thailand.
There are a plethora of beach-side
bars but one of the most happening is Silver Sand Bar part of the Silver Sand Hotel on Phai beach and it's
just a short distance from Tubtim and Hin Khok. It's a gay-popular open-air bar & restaurant with a dance floor where you can twirl in the sand to
contemporary-ish dance and swig back drinks that won't set you back much more than a pound.
The place has a bar area under an awning along with a small dance floor, though the scene
also spills out onto the sand where there are strategically placed mats so you can
lay back and look up at the stars.
It's normally packed from about 10pm onwards when
a semi-naked muscled hunk performs a nightly fire show. He also doubles up as barman
so you can compliment on his skills later in the evening.
The nightly fire show at Silver Sand Bar on Phae beach makes for a fine spectacle as does the half-naked performer.
To get to Samet you can take a bus from Bangkok's Ekamai station to Ban Phe port
and then a ferry to the island. But a far more glamorous, and much, much quicker
alternative is to arrange with a friendly Bangkok taxi driver to whiz you to the
aforementioned port (don't expect to pay over 2,000 baht) and from there charter
a speedboat - well, we did say glamorous - for 1,600 baht return and travel to your
stipulated beach. Doing it the OutUK way should take about three hours door-to-door
and you should be sipping a cocktail under the palms way before sundown.
Robin Newbold is a Bangkok-based writer whose debut gay novel,
is now available.
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Jep's (Hin Khok beach; T: +66 38 644 112)
Naga Bar (36 4 Phe, Mueang Rayong District, Rayong; T: +66 38 644 035; facebook)
Silver Sand Bar & Hotel (HF74+HV5, 2 Moo 4 Tumbol Phe, Amphur Muang, Rayong; T: +66 81 996 520; Website)
Tubtim Resort (Tubtim beach; T: +66 38 644 025; Website)
Revised November 2023.
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