xmas party on Koh Samet Thailand and Laos

My brother and sister are arriving in Asia, I have to negotiate for some holiday quick. I used my Christian roots for me to have a short week of holiday to do some travelling with my family reunited for the occasion.

At the last minute, I checked the tickets on the Internet. It is soaring every day, but I have to wait for the nod from my boss before purchasing. My default choice was Air Asia $ 960 Singapore Dollars for roundtrip tickets from Singapore to Bangkok for two … it is very expensive as usually I pay $240 Singapore Dollars each, but due to the holiday season the pricing increased.

We finally arrived in Bangkok, we were wandering at the airport when we spotted a sign indicating that the shuttle bus to Novotell is at Exit B1. As we looked in front of us, we realised that we ARE at Exit B1 … wow too easy this time, so we waited for the shuttle bus while sipping my first beer Thai …Chang

singapore train

It took only 5 minutes and we were already at the hotel. The Bangkok airport Novotel, the lobby is enormous, with cathedral ceilings, several restaurants along the lobby to the front desk. Oh, I never travel in luxury hotels like that, especially since this time is the first time I am not travelling alone. My brother works with the Novotel group in Laos, we got the room at a discount, because the regular price is pretty outrageous. People who stay in this hotel are mostly people trapped between two flights at the airport on the expense account of the company. A real tourist trap!

We headed for the corporate lounge to check into our room, The room is very nice, a huge bed with view of the gigantic tropical swimming pool and a comfortable bathroom bigger than my room in Singapore. Finally, a first hot shower since September, that’s real luxury. We live in one of the most modern cities in Asia, but our bathroom does not have hot water and our toilet is « flushed » by hand. I’m not homesick at the sight of typical Bangkok and Laos. toilet.

We went to knock on the door of my brother’s room, his wife and children were happy to see me.

We must pick up the rest of my family who arrived shortly before midnight. My sister, my other brother, my niece and her boyfriend finally showed their faces, red eyes tired from the 20 hours flight … phew I’m not going to complain about my two and a half hour flight. The hugs and smiles made us all a warm welcome. It feels really strange to have his entire family in Asia. Only my mother was missing because she didn’t want to expose herself to such a long trip at her age. We are thinking of you, we’ll send you love and photos.

singapore train

The brunch was good; cheese, shrimp and a ton of bacon and coffee. That kick started a day as well and it’s even better than grilled fish.

We waited for a van which was going to lead us to Koh Samet; a small tropical island about three hours from Bangkok. For ten people the journey cost, $ 10 – $ 20 each.

My family, freshly landed in Bangkok city, enjoyed watching its many contrasts from the window of the van in silence. Example: 4 people on a motorcycle without a helmet, furniture delivery by motorcycles, temples, statues of Buddhas and photos of the King which populated the roadsides.

My nephew Arthy decided he wanted to pee, we stopped along the roadside as he looked around a field and the incessant traffic. He refused to relieve himself. His Laotian little bird is shy.

First meeting with Turkish toilets, « aye there is no paper and no seat », cried my sister. No, but there is a water tank. Do that jungle style.

my family

Only 200 kilometers from Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand, the island is well known for its pearl white sandy beaches, its crystal waters and is magnificent coral. Koh Samet unlike several islands of Thailand like Koh Samui has not experienced the influence of barbaric large hotel development and touristic infrastructure. The island hosts lots of good affordable seafood restaurants and small nightclubs on the beach.

Go there

By car or taxi

From Bangkok you must first by Sukhumvit Rd (Highway No. 3) pass through Chonburi, Si Racha, Pattaya, Sattahip and Rayong finally

By taxi
You can take a taxi from Bangkok to Ban Phe for about $ 1600 baht (53 $) with the meter, you can also negotiate a flat fee with the driver which will mostly cost higher (around $ 2,000 baht $ 60) it will add 100 additional bath for the costs of highway tolls. You can always negotiate; ask the hotel if they can arrange something. It always pays to have a local contact that provides his knowledge and native tongue. Obviously more people in the same car also means less expensive.

The trip from the (Ekkamai) Bangkok terminal to Ban Phe takes about 3.5 hours and costs 157 baht ($ 5.25). In fact you should go to Rayong and take a taxi pickup truck to the ferry in Ban Phe for less than $ 1.

There are also minivans leaving from the Victory Monument in the District Phahonyothin district. It will cost you 250 baht ($ 8.5) to go directly to the ferry in Ban Phe. It is a good way to travel more comfortably and with fewer people on the back. The trip is supposed to be quicker, but the many stops along the way makes as long as the public bus.

A ferry takes you on Samet Island, in 30 to 45 minutes from the coast for only 50 baht ($ 2.50) each way. Hurry up to arrive before 5:00, because you have to take a private yacht much more expensive to get there at dawn. Koh Samet is part of Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Marine National Park and request an admission fee. Foreigners pay 200 baht ($ 7) and Thais just over $ 1 in recognition of their contributions to Thai taxes.

The thing is if your ferry arrives at the main pier and you take a truck cab to the beach, they will stop at the checkpoint. If you arrive on the beaches, an officer will collect you the entrance fee as soon as you touch the sand. There are a lot of foot traffic in and out of the park to the 7 Eleven and ATMs, there’s a good chance that nobody annoy you with your admission ticket, $ 7 to stay on a paradise island is not the end of the world.

Go around the island

The island has only one main road around part of it is paved, but most of it is a muddy jungle road. You can simply walk, the island is not wide and it allows us to burn some calories. If you prefer to take it easy there’s also a taxi truck (songthaew) service, a truck with two large schools seat in the trunk, it cost 200 baht ($ 7) to go somewhere private or between 20 to 60 baht per person when sharing a ride filled to capacity. Expect a shaky ride, because the street is in poor condition. You can also rent a motorbike for about 300 baht ($ 10) per day, negotiate the price, because prices are not fixed and it tends to be inflated. Rent it at an official place and check the bike with your renter before you leave to avoid paying a surcharge. Some carriers like to charge you an exorbitant price for a superficial repair.

samet beach Thailand

On arrive a Rayong l

We arrived at the Rayong the only kind of city in this part of the country and we went to Ban Phe Koh Samet Ferry Terminal. Once arrived on the quayside at noon, we took out our luggage, we contemplate the sea and the island who will be our refuge dream for the next 4 days. The emerald green sea already made us dream. No time to play tourist a private boat from the hotel take us for a 20 minutes ride, wind in our hair, fishing boat, military boat and many eye candy filled our excitation. We alighted directly on the beach. A beautiful white sandy beach with average capacity resort. Koh Samet is the perfect place to enjoy the beach and tranquillity at only 3 hours from Bangkok. The prices are much more affordable than the southern islands like Phuket and Koh Samui. The tourists are mostly « expats » taking a vacation from the noisy Bangkok, Thais who come to enjoy the beach with families and independent travellers who avoid expensive and organize tours.


Samed Villa a mid-level hotel recently renovated. They have just enough luxurious bungalows and rooms with all facilities. $ 110 a night for a room with three beds is a little expensive for Thailand, but not for America and Europe , we will not complain and enjoy the sun. You can also easily find places with all amenities under $ 20 a night all around the island.

my family

The package included a very nice all -you -can -eat breakfast buffet … for me a kilo of bacon, eggs and fruit to start the day belly full. Items available to us in our room like beer and chips are a bit more expensive than 7-Eleven. But it was nothing compared with the Novotel and its 10 $ beer in the minibar.

No time for fooling around, the day starts directly at the beach. There is a beautiful little bay behind – 2 minute walk from the hotel. It is not in our plan to waste time in front of the hotel with the typical tourists crowd on the not so beautiful beach in front.

Our headquarters, a small restaurant on the beach, we can squat for the fee of some consumption, a big $ 2 for a beercan while we watch the waves dance on the turquoise sea. The next day we went to explore the beach on the other side of the island which is a few kilometers wide. We went to the tiny convenience store to buy some goods; sandals, swimwear and some small purchase helpful to our wellbeing. Prices are low and since I am with my family I don’t even attempt to bargain. For my family recently arrived from America , the low prices bring them smile and joy. And $ 10 for 1 h 30 min massage, why not? In no time a group of masseuse are serving white kings for a day.

I had forgotten how hard to satisfy 10 people at the same time, too expensive, too hot, too far, not good … i will try to take it easy, breath, breath. This time I’m not travelling alone so I need to compromise with the group.

here is a quicklist of the activities that `we had the chance to do

my family

Buy fish from local fishermen, going to the island market to buy food then eat at the restaurant on the beach in exchange of purchase our drink

Launch lanterns under the full moon

Eating fresh seafood on the beach with a fire-eater show

Dancing in a open-air bar just one steps from the beach

Being woken up by a crazy girl trying to stop cats love dance, wait a minute…. that was my sister crying wildly ..!

Swim in the deep blue sea, get a massage and enjoy the sun

Life is hard sometimes!

We took the minivan to go back to Bangkok, we must take the train the same evening to go to Laos in time to celebrate Christmas at my brother’s house.

bkk traffic

My sister- in- law who loves shopping managed to stop us in a huge mall to go shopping. For Laotians, Bangkok is a paradise of consumption. Got something interesting to buy everywhere. We left just at the right time to experience Bangkok traffic jams. Motorcycles who Zigzag on the sidewalk, cars sharing the road with hundreds of motorbike and taxi, delivery men with manual cart in the middle of this chaos. We missed the exit for the train station. It took a good half hour to go back to same place.

An exhibition on the King and royal family of Thailand was set up in the heart of the station, it’s not the time to make funny thing about the king and his family under threat of serious consequence

train bankok - Laos

8:45 en route to Nong Khai near the Laos border from Bangkok – 12 hours in a train was not too painful.
A sleeper train with air conditioning that was a little too powerful. Bring warm clothes if you do not want to refrigerate overnight.

We arrived in northern Thailand and crossed the Friendship Bridge and the Customs at lightning speed. Once on the other side we know than we arrived in Laos.

street of Laos

The dusty streets, motorcyclists without helmets with 4 passengers, Yellow Beerlao crates surrounded the streets of the capital, Beerlao yum!,

Here we are finally at home, a good BeerLao with families I missed. The house is almost finished, but unfortunately the huge pool was still under construction.

Yvan, old friend of my brother’s, who came with him over fifteen years ago is now working with him at his company Bébitte Buster.

It will be a first Christmas as a family for a long time and an exotic one ..!

The whole Lao family is proud of my new prosperity, it’s Christmas my bob ,they said to me. They are not Christians of course, but they know about the spirit of giving during Christmas. They have been generous with me during my many trips here … I gave a little money and the whole family and friends want a part of it. Hell no, forget the expense, I will gratify the entire crowd … It’s not bad for $ 60. I spread joy and gain the respect it’s a good common sense …!

Land of contrast, I am sitting in the luxurious house of my brother. I see some nearby houses made of bamboo and of sheet scraps metal piece with goats grazing in the fields quietly. On the other side of the streets a field where the farmers plant rice in the traditional manner from morning to evening under a blazing sun.

Laos ricefield

I visited my friends who run a small Lao garage, it’s only 11:00 in the morning, they opened Beerlao cans like machine gun. Stop it, calm down I have a girlfriend now. I must say that I used to drink a lot with them … I tried to foot the bill, but nothing will change their mind to treat the guest.

Everyone took the opportunity to tell my shots and my incredible adventures. I was lucky that my girlfriend not understand French :).

my family

C’est le party de Noël

It’s the Christmas party with my friends and my extended Lao family, we got food of any kind to die of exploding stomach, grilled duck from the home farm, pho soup, chicken wings and traditional lao meal.

all my friends and family come see the effects of Singapore cheap and nice food .

In just six months, I realized that Vientiane has changed significantly, as did every time I go back since 2007. This time they tore down the crappy houses and small shops on the dusty streets surrounding the most famous temple’s monument in Laos the That Luang. They also surprised me with a nice wide paved street and classy street light.

my family

The sidewalk of the Mekong river has also been revamped, a large park with statues and green park. Laos is still a lovely country where the people really nice and warm and where standards are only one brand of toilet bowl. I hope the government would allow budget carriers like Air Asia to land there very soon, then we can finally visit this jewel of country more often. Perhaps, See you again for the Lao New Year in April, .

bobby Dennie

GetLostinAsia est édité par Bobby Dennie un canadien amoureux de l'Asie basé à Singapour qui couvre le terrain depuis 2007. visitez la page a propos GetLostinAsia is edited by Bobby Dennie a Canadian based in Singapore. I am a South East Asia travelling Junkie.I am writing and discovering asia since 2007.

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