Khao Laem Ya reaches into the Gulf of Thailand like a long finger pointing straight at Ko Samet. Boasting a prime sunset viewpoint along with a pretty mainland beach, the rugged peninsula is worth a side trip if you’re hanging around Ban Phe and Haad Mae Ramphueng.
Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park rakes in the 200-baht entry fees on Ko Samet, but few paying travellers make it to the park’s better-protected mainland section. Here you’ll find a park-run visitor centre along with a restaurant, nature trail and accommodation that includes several hilltop bungalows and a campground set beside the beach.
Azure-blue water laps onto the crescent of fine tan sand, which is shared with the neighbouring Rayong Resort. While falling just short of the level of beauty found on Ko Samet’s beaches, the peaceful atmosphere and lack of crowds makes it worth at least an hour of swimming and lounging. Unlike on Samet, it’s possible to pitch a tent within steps of the sand.
Within sight of the beach, a couple of docks extend over the sea to put you as close as you can possibly get to Ko Samet while on the mainland. Notice the miniature statues of a magic flute-playing Phra Aphai set atop the lamp posts before gazing out towards Ao Phrao, the only west-coast beach found on Samet.
The docks are fine places to take in the sunset, but we headed towards a west-coast trail in search of a better viewpoint. After skirting the rocky coast with help from an elevated walkway, we bumped into the peninsula’s scenic end.