Ban Phe

An Important stop over point to Koh Samed

Overall Information about Ban Phe

Ban Phe is a tiny town situated on the coast of the gulf, in Thailand’s Rayong Province at a distance of around 19 kilometres from Rayong Town. It boasts of one of the busiest ports in the province. Ban Phe serves as the transit point from where tourists can travel onwards to Koh Samed Island. Tourists can enjoy the wide variety of fresh fish which is caught in the local waters as well as the preserved seafood products like fish sauce and dried cuttlefish, shrimp, etc.

The streets in the town of Ban Phe are narrow and lined with houses and shops. Being the main point from where tourists can reach the island of Koh Samed, there are regular boats leaving the town from the three piers. The shops stock an amazing range of seafood products besides the multicoloured and attractive souvenirs and articles fashioned from shells. Avid shell collectors can find some good bargains if they have the patience to look through the stockpiles. Ban Phe enjoys the pleasant, slightly salty smell of the sea breeze and dried fish but does not attract many tourists by itself. Visitors usually do not spend more than the time required for them to get their onward bus or ferry connections.

Staying at Ban Phe is no problem as it has some nice places to eat where you can also get access to the internet and other facilities. The soi’s (side streets) just opposite the pier are dotted with a number of business places which cater to almost every need of travellers. Christie’s is a popular restaurant with a great bar and music and is frequented by travellers. For those who like to read, the Blue Sky Books, which is located next door, has a large collection of used books.

The main area of Ban Phe is like any other typical port town in Thailand. However, as you move further away from the bus station the scene changes, acquiring a more local flavour. Though the beaches on Ban Phe are nowhere as attractive as the ones on Koh Samed, the walk along the waterfront is a pleasant experience. The traveller’s cafes are an ideal waiting place for those who have a little time before their bus or boat connection.

Accommodation is not a problem for anyone who wants to stop over at Ban Phe. A wide variety of accommodation options are available with rooms at guesthouses priced reasonably in the range of 300 to 600 Baht. Many of these places are located on the main pier road. While most travellers only spend the night before proceeding to their destination, those looking to enjoy a real Thai beach experience can travel to Rayong which is to the east of Ban Phe or to Laem Mae Phim on its east.

Eating
Visitors can enjoy the simple yet delicious seafood dishes that can be expected at any seaside town. The western areas of Ban Phe have quite a few seafood restaurants and bars. Rice and noodle shops can be found all over the town.

The many food stalls in close proximity of the Nuan Thip pier ferry ticket office are a great place for seafood lovers to enjoy reasonably priced Thai seafood dishes, grilled prawns, squid and fish, chilled beer and other beverages. Cost conscious travellers can also pack some food to carry along, before they board the ferry as the prices on Samed can be as much as three times higher. You may experience the carefree, almost eccentric food court manager wearing a black tie to which a Buddhist amulet is attached. You may well mistake him for a salesman at first glance till you realise later that he is just trying to engage you in some friendly conversation in his heavily accented English. 

Bus
Hourly luxury bus services are available leaving from Ekkamai (Eastern) bus station right from 6.00 am to 18.30 hours. The trip in these air conditioned buses with toilets cost around 173 Baht. The trip back is at intervals of two hours from 5.00 to 18.00 hours. The average time for the journey is around three and a half hours but can extend to more than five hours if you get caught in Bangkok’s rush hour traffic. Travellers coming from Ekkamai can alight near the Ban Phe town centre which is just across the ferry point at Nuan Thip Pier from where they can embark on the ferry ride to Koh Samed.

Alternatively, travellers can take a bus and travel to Rayong town. Buses from Ekkamai station to Rayong town run at a 30 minutes frequency. Rayong is easily accessible from Morchit (Northern) bus station in Bangkok as well as from the Suvarnabhumi airport. Travelling the 19 kilometres distance from Rayong to Ban Phe costs 25 baht by shared songthaew, which leave every 20 minutes and are available till 6.00 in the evening. The songthaews from Ban Phe to Rayong leave from their stand, which is on the main road along the coast between the Nuan Thip pier and the Municipal pier. They also pick passengers as they make their way through the town centre.

Dedicated regular bus connections from Pattaya and other places to Ban Phe are not available. However, there are regular minibuses that ply between Pattaya and Ban Phe. Travellers can also take the Pattaya-Rayong-Ban Phe route.

Travellers can avail of the minibus service to travel to various destinations from Ban Phe. There are several operators plying from the Victory Monument in Bangkok to Ban Phe and back. The cost of the trip is approximately 200 baht. The minibuses, which operate at hourly intervals, pick up passengers from various places around Ban Phe making halts near Nuan Thip pier, Municipal pier and at the town centre near Christie’s. There are minibuses plying to other destinations as well but are much less frequent. Travel agents and some of the resorts on Koh Samed arrange tickets for travel by minibus.

Boat
Ban Phe boasts of several piers from where boats set out to Koh Samed. Some of the piers in the eastern parts of Ban Phe are reserved for transporting guests of particular resorts. Travellers who arrange their bookings of middle to high end resorts in Koh Samed in advance should confirm whether the resorts offer complimentary ferry service and the point of departure.

Travellers generally get onto any of the ferries that leave from the Ban Phe pier or from the Nuan Thip pier which are located at a distance of approximately 200 metres from each other. The ferries are officially required to leave at hourly intervals starting at 8.00 in the morning till 5.00 in the evening. However the wait is often longer as they leave only once they have at least 20 passengers. A one way ticket costs 70 baht and a round trip 100 baht. The trip to the island’s Nadan pier on the North coast takes 30 to 40 minutes and is thoroughly enjoyable.

Ferries going to Ao Wong Duen from Nuan Thip pier leave thrice a day at 9.30, 13.30 and 17.00 provided they have a minimum of 7 passengers. These cost 90 baht each way or 140 baht for a two way trip.

 

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