Sparkling white sand and cliffs from an azure sea… the archipelago of Same Island is the setting that inspired classical Thai poet, Sunthorn Phu, to write his most famous epic: Phra Aphai Manee, a story of princes, sages, mermaids and giants That was 150 years ago, and today you can still enjoy the magical qualities of Samet and surrounding areas. In 1981, the Royal Forest department declared the archipelago of Samet, the headland of Khao Laem Ya and 11 kilometer of Mae Ramphueng Beach to be a national park. Samet island group comprises of several islands i.e. Ko Kudi, Ko Kruai, Ko Ma Kham, Ko Ma Kham, Ko Plai Tin, Ko Thaiu and Ko Chan [Ko means island]. One has its’own uniqueness which visitors should not miss.
Located 200 kilometers southeast of Bangkok in Rayong province, Khao Laem Ya – Mu Ko Samet National Park covers 131 square kilometers of land and sea, and is an easy destination for Bangkokians and world travelers alike. Most come to relax and enjoy the beaches, but opportunities exist for more adventurous: hiking trails and exploring reefs.
Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet is a coastal area and island national park. It is located at seaside of Eastern Thai Gulf. Topography of the area is made of granite mountain around Plet and Laem Ya mountain. Samet island is made of mountains and hills such as Kra Jom mountain. The area in the east of the island is highly sloped while in the east is less sloped. Beaches lie continuously from bay to bay all around the island. The area in the middle of the island is hilly. People settle in the plain near the coast and most villagers live in the north and the east of the island. There are another three small islands at the southern tip of the island, Ko Chan (moon island), Ko San Chalam (shark fin island) and Hin Khao (White rock). Other 8 islands near the shore in the park boundary are Ko Plai Tin (foot tip island), Ko Klet Chalam (Shark scale island), Ko Makham (Tamarind island), Ko Kruai (Cone island), Ko Kudi (Monk’s Chamber island), Ko Thai Khang Kkao (Bat bottom island), Ko Talu (Hole island) and Ko Yung Kluea (Salt silo island).
Normally, Cool and dry weather starts from mid October to February. Average temperature all year is 28oC. Minimum temperature in average is 20.oC in December. Maximum temperature in average is 33 oC in April. Average rainfall all year is 1,339 mm. Minimum average rainfall in December is 4 mm and maximum rainfall in September is 255 mm. Average relative humidity all year is 77%. During December to January average wind velocity is 5 knot and maximum wind velocity is 50 knot.
Plant distribution in Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park varies depending on topography which can be classified as follow.
Dry Evergreen Forest which is majority of vegetation type can be found almost everywhere both on island and the mainland. Flora found here include Cansjera rheedei, Cleistanthus helferi, Memecylon cyaneum and Wrightia arborea etc.
Beach Forest is home to some wild flora thrived on beach. Plant and tree species generally found here are dwarf, branched and has short twig and thick leave such as Thespesia populneoides, Streblus asper, Xylocarpus rumphii and Terminalia catappa etc.
Wildlife From the survey wildlife can be classified as;
Mammals : Mammal found here such as Treeshrew, Flying Fox, Crab-eating Macaque etc.
Birds : At least 118 bird species are recorded from the survey in the national park. Some species found here are Black-winged Stilt, Plover, Sandpiper etc.
Reptiles : The survey has confirmed at least 15 species such as Spiny-tailed House Gecko, Flat-tailed Gecko, Tockay, Butterfly Lizard etc.
Amphibians : There are only 4 species of amphibians confirmed in the park such as Toad, House Tree Frog, Painted Bullfrog etc.Coral reefs are the underwater equivalent to tropical rainforests in terms of species diversity, complexity and fragility. They support an intricate interdependent web of coastal ecology. In addition to their intrinsic value, coral reefs and sea grass beds provide invaluable habitat for a multitude of organisms including some economically important species. Exploring this exquisite undersea world is easy to do without having adverse effects on the local environment Wildlife includes monitor lizards, long tailed macaques and variable squirrels. Ko Thalu harbors a colony of large fruit eating bats, sometimes refered to as “flying foxes.” A variety of birds including several species of nesting terns, herons and hornbills reside seasonally or year round in the park. Though sea turtles rarely nest on the beaches, they have in the past and still are known to frequent park waters.